When you visit a city for the first time, there’s usually a list of things you need to do as a tourist. In London, you put on your tourist pants and take a selfie with the Big Ben. In Amsterdam you visit the Rijksmuseum, because of course you’re not there for anything else in particular. We went to Taipei the other day, so what’s the thing you have to do there? That’s right: ascend the Taipei 101!
At 508m, Taipei 101 is one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. In fact, it was once the tallest, until it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in 2009. But as you can see from the way it towers over the rest of the city, the massive bamboo stalk design is still absolutely impressive.
How to get to Taipei 101
First things first, when you go to Taipei, you should buy an EasyCard at one of the MRT stations for NT$500 (NT$100 deposit + NT$400 usable value on card). With this, you can use the metro system without having to buy a ticket each time.
To get to Taipei 101, take the red number 2 MRT line in the direction of Xiangshan and get off at the stop Taipei 101/World Trade Center. Follow the exit signs to the tower. Alternatively, simply follow the foreigner in front of you wearing khaki shorts and a fanny pack.
Also worth a mention for us internet addicts: there’s very decent free wifi in the entire Taipei 101 tower.
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Taipei 101 mall
The first five floors of the tower consist of a luxury mall – think Chanel and Louis Vuitton, so it’s not your everyday mall where you can spend an afternoon shopping for some nice boots and shirts (or I can’t, at least). However, the ground floor of Taipei 101 has a food court, a gift shop where you can buy typical Taiwanese delicacies, and most importantly: the famous (and surprisingly inexpensive) restaurant Din Tai Fung. Seriously, a visit to Taipei 101 is not complete without lunch/dinner here.
Going up to the Taipei 101 Observatory
You can buy tickets on the fifth floor of the tower. Tickets are NTD 500,-, for which you can stay in the Taipei 101 Observatory on the 89th floor as long as you want between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. After buying the tickets, the ride to the Observatory is a bit of an adventure in itself – the lift goes up at 1010m per minute, so it only takes 40 seconds of ear-popping to get to the top.
Once at the top, it’s time to overcome your fear of heights… and take in the view.
I’m not afraid of heights, but I still felt a little tingle of nerves standing close to the windows for the first time. If you’re lucky, the outdoor deck one floor higher will be open as well. The breeze there is nice!
The exit of the Observatory is one floor down, and you will be whisked through all of their souvenir shops before you’re allowed to take the lift back to the mall. You also get to see the massive ball that keeps the tower stable during earthquakes and strong gusts of wind. And once you’re back down on the ground, you know what to do. Go to Din Tai Fung. Right now!