Last week, I spent four days in Taiwan with my mom. I’d say it’s one of my most favorite destinations to date (not that I haven’t traveled a lot), because we were able to see, taste, and experience so much on a fairly affordable budget!
Our first stop after a couple of hours’ rest at our hotel was the Maokong Gondola and Zhinan Temple. It is a Taoist temple found on the slopes of Houshan (Monkey Mountain) and is very near the Taipei Zoo. It is said that Lü Dongbin, the temple’s main deity, has the power to break couples up, so that lovers must never visit the temple together. Fortunately that wasn’t a concern for me and my mom :p
It is free to enter the Temple complex and you can spend up to an hour there, walking through the temples and gardens and breathing in the fresh, almost holy air. It was early afternoon when we went and there were hardly any visitors, which added to the surreal and mystical feel of the place! I also heard that the sunset view there was majestic.
To get to Zhinan temple we rode the Maokong Gondola, which is an itinerary item in itself. For about 20 minutes you get uninhibited views of the mountain side and the city. The Taipei 101 in particular was very easy to spot from the distance.
To make the experience more interesting you can opt to line up for the Crystal / Eye of Maokong Gondolas, which have fiber glass floors!
How to get to Maokong Gondola / Zhinan Temple:
- From any MRT station, ride to Taipei Zoo Station (Brown Line). You might have to switch platforms, but Taiwan’s MRT system is pretty easy to memorize and navigate.
- Get off the station and walk towards the Maokong Gondola station. You’ll spot it right away.
- You can use your EasyCard (for trains and buses) to pay for your Gondola ride. The ride to Zhinan is 70 NTD and 100 NTD going back to Taipei Zoo station
- On the way up, you can opt to stop at the last station (Maokong) and dine at the teahouses there. There are also bus tours there that can take you to some spots but they weren’t available when we went. At Zhinan temple station there is a cafe as well.
- The lines for the crystal gondola can get long, so you can opt to ride a regular one going up, and the crystal one going down. 🙂
- When wind conditions are very strong, gondola operations are stopped. Voice advisories on trains headed for Taipei Zoo will inform people if this is the case, so pay attention!