Escape the big city for the day and soar through the sky, over the forests, to Maokong Mountain. It makes for a wonderful day out and it's right on Taipei's doorstep. Maokong is a region southeast of Taipei City and is famous mostly for its tea plantations, but in recent years it has grown in popularity for its traditional tea culture, and for viewing Taipei City at night. A trip to the hills of MaoKong is a family friendly full-day event that can include a visit to the zoo to see pandas, koalas, and over 130 bird species, a cable car ride, a temple visit, something to eat and some tea with a view overlooking Taipei city.
Maokong: The Gondola.
The Maokong Gondola has 4 different stations, the highest one reaches a point of over 200 meters. You will find the first station is just a short walk from the Taipei Zoo MRT station and is part of Taipei’s MRT system, so you can use your Easycard Cards to pay. The ride is incredibly cheap and only costs about $1.65 USD each way. You can get a bus to the top but it is a winding bumpy trip, and not worth it unless you are afraid of heights.
The Gondola runs most days, except for Mondays and on days of extreme weather. Arrive early in the day to avoid lines or visit the gondola during the week when the lines are much shorter. If you don't mind the wait, there are glass-bottomed cars for an enhanced experience, but the line is long and apart from the glass floor, the view is the same as the regular cars.
Maokong: What to do there.
Once at the top, there are food stalls near the Maokong Gondola station serving all sorts of delicious finger foods. If you walk further, however, about 10 minutes, you will find a number of restaurants where you can sit and enjoy the views.
Two of the earliest teahouses are here:
- The Liu Xiang tea plantation is perched high near the top of the valley and offers sweeping views of the plantation. You can try some of their teas or buy some to take home with you.
- Lower down the hill on the main road that circles the valley is Yao yue teahouse, which sells similar teas and foods at similar prices. Yao yue however is hidden among the trees and ferns and has a stream. You can also buy their tea.
Chang Nai-miao Memorial Tea Museum: If you have the time, you can do a tea-tasting and admire handmade teapots . Chang Nai-Miao was a pioneer tea farmer (from Japan) who taught Maokong residents Baozhong tea planting.
Tea Promotion Center : Also offers free tea tasting if you are on a budget. You can see how tea is made and enjoy the scenery but the display area is quite small.
Hikes and trails: If you enjoy hiking, grab a hiking map from Maokong Station and hike up higher into the mountains. Follow trails to the top and see the wooded forests of Monkey Mountain.
Zhinan Temple: Hop off the Maokong Gondola at the Zhinan Temple stop (third stop), you will find the Zhinan Temple a short walk away from the station stop. Zhinan Temple, also known as Xiangong Temple, is located at the peak of Houshan (Monkey Mountain). The temple incorporates elements from Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism and is one of the most revered temples in Taiwan, showcasing beautiful interiors and amazing views. You can also hire a docent to give a tour of the temple in English.
The Taipei Zoo: Taipei Zoo ( Gondola stop one), and Taipei Zoo South, (Gondola stop two) can be visited on your way up to Maokong. Taipei Zoo is a fun and interesting way to start your day, especially if you have children. The zoo is the largest in Asia and home to Yuan Zai the panda. There are also many other interesting animals including koalas so go in the morning to give yourself time for everything.
Maokong: How to get there.
- From Taipei Main Station catch the Red Line to Daan
- From Daan take the Brown Line to the Taipei Zoo
- Walk to the Maokong Gondola Taipei Zoo Station (about 350 meters). You won't find this hard as there are obvious signs in English and in Chinese to guide you
Take a Bus :
From Taipei you can Take Bus ; 236, 237, 282, 294, 295, 611, 676, 679, 793, 933, S12, BR3, BR6, BR11, BR15, BR18, BR21, G1, 1501, 1503 , 1558 or Maokong Tour Bus to the Maokong Gondola Taipei Zoo Station. (Taipei Bus Information )
Travel by Car:
Maokong: Some tips.
- Bring an extra layer of clothes if you are heading to MaoKong for dinner and expect cold weather during autumn through spring
- The gondola closes at 9:30 pm. Remember the trip is about 30 minutes one way.
- Check the weather forecast before you go.