travel

Maokong Gondola: Crystal glass cable car ride in Taipei (TW Day 1)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

November 24, 2019 — Euphoric. I couldn’t believe that I’m actually in a foreign land as this is my first time traveling internationally. My mom and I arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at 10 this morning. It took some time to adjust to a whole different setting. Along with that, we felt like a lost puppy figuring out a different system of transportation, as well as getting context from an entirely different language. (Nonetheless, my goal was to at least visit Maokong Gondola today.)

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

After getting introduced to this new environment, by afternoon, we decided to head to Maokong Gondola as our first tourist destination. We left our bags at the care of the hotel back in Ximen and rode the train going to Taipei Zoo Station. It was about 3 or 4 in the afternoon when we got there. We opted not to visit Taipei Zoo as we wanted to catch the gondola ride. We could’ve toured the zoo but the crowd discouraged us from doing so. Today was Sunday after all.

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

We were in the queue for 10-20 minutes. For this trip, I depended heavily on the information I briefly scanned on the internet a while back. Many blogs say that the ride, back and forth, costs NTD 240. As my mom and I recalled, our EasyCards were only loaded with around NTD 130-140. We weren’t sure then if we’ll pass through the registration booth smoothly using the card payment, but the thrill of not knowing if we had enough load made it more exciting. (We can always pay in cash anyway.)

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

There was the typical cable car, and then there was the crystal glass cable car.  In a regular cable car, a maximum of 7-8 persons per ride is allowed while the crystal glass ride can accommodate only up to 5 people.  Most of the people ahead in line came by group, so my mom and I were fortunate to skip the long queue and experience the crystal glass cable car with another group of three. Luckily, my mom and I got through without hassle and was charged NTD 120 per head for a one-way trip to Maokong Station.

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

Passengers coming from Taipei Zoo Station have the option to disembark at these three stations: Taipei Zoo Sout Station (1,297m distance), Zhinan Temple Station (2,925m distance), or Maokong Station (4,033m distance.) We got off at Maokong Station which was situated at Maokong Mountain.

Maokong Station can be reached via 2-3 hours of walking, but we got there in 30 minutes via the cable car ride. The gondola hung at 275.2 meters high, giving us the view of seemingly endless rows of trees and a gorgeous sunset to admire while we approach different levels of heights. Dawn perhaps is the best time to go because by then, the sunset kissed everything with a golden glow.

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

The highs and lows throughout the ride made it feel like a mild rollercoaster experience. I am still an amateur to foreign travels, but contrary to most reviews I’ve read, although it could’ve been better if the crystal glass was indeed crystal clear, I still felt like my experience was unique.

That afternoon, we didn’t have a clue about where to go next or what to do at Maokong Station. It didn’t take long for us to find a short hiking trail and wandered around a bit. Of the many destinations we may still encounter, we found ourselves slowing down in an alley where we eventually stopped to grab some quick snacks. This was the first time we ever tasted the local food here, such as traditional mochi, Taiwanese sausage, and green onion pancake.

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

Eating and walking never felt this good. We passed by vegetation, ice cream shops, restaurants, and tea houses for tourists and locals alike who would want to make most out of the stroll. The tea products were not exactly cheap but for enthusiasts, I can only imagine how they would love everything here at Maokong Station.

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

As we continued walking back to the main station, our legs and feet were tired from the few steep flights of stairs along the way. Much to our surprise, we didn’t peg Taiwan as a mountainous place because we pictured Taipei as a business center. You know, skyscrapers and expressways were the things that came to mind.

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

A pair of EasyCards is all we’re relying on for our way back to Ximending where we’re staying for the next four nights. Buses of different codes and colors came and went but nobody answered us in English so it was hard to decide which bus to take and how we’ll go home.

Incidentally, we fell in line for the bus and overheard two women speaking in Tagalog. There were Filipinas in their 20s, raised and living in Japan, who then told us about which bus to take, which should only cost us NTD 15 per person. However, when we were about to pay the fare, we were informed that they only charge through EasyCard. My mother and I forgot that we ran out of load earlier so we got off the bus and waited for the loading machine to get fixed. After more or less than an hour, the maintenance people were stil fixing the machine and we couldn’t wait any longer. It was getting dark so we just hopped onto a shared taxi and paid NTD 50 (or was that NTD 75?) per person to get back to Taipei Zoo Station.

 

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

Maokong Gondola Taipei Taiwan (24)

 

And after 15 minutes of land travel, we finally made it back on the main road. For the first day, that was what I would call an adventure.

 

 

Guide to Maokong Gondola

  • Learn from our mistakes lol. Load up your EasyCards so you won’t have to worry about the fees.
  • Save time. Ride a taxi when you are unsure of the bus routes.

 

Itinerary and Budget

Day 1
10:15 AM ETA at Taoyuan International Airport, eat at airport, pickup SIM card and EasyCard at airport via Klook
1:00 PM ETD to Taipei Main Station via MRT NTD 160/fare (purple line train)
1:40 PM ETA at Taipei Main Station, walk to Lio Ximending Hotel, leave things at reception
2:15 PM Travel via MRT from Ximending Station to Taipei Zoo Station
3:00 PM ETA at Taipei Zoo Station, walk to entrance of Maokong Gondola Ride, free time NTD 120/cable car ride
5:40 PM ETD to Taipei Zoo Station via shared taxi NTD 75/person
6:15 PM ETA at Taipei Zoo Station, travel to Ximending Station via MRT
7:00 PM ETA at Ximending Station, stroll

 

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