Maokong is only one of a few Gondolas in Taiwan, but it is the most accessible. You can get there via the Taipei MRT. After embarking on the Gondola, you can view grand vistas of Southern Taipei, and then explore the mountainous streets of Maokong, which has tea shops, street food, restaurants, temples, hiking trails, and great views.
The Maokong Gondola was completed in 2007 to improve transportation to Maokong, a tea growing area in Southern Wenshan District of Taipei City. Before, the district could only be reached by small mountain roads.
The Gondola was closed from 2008-2010 due to Typhoon damage.
Popular activities in the area include tea drinking, hiking, and picture taking.
There are four stations on the Gondola: Taipei Zoo Station, Taipei Zoo South Station, Zhinan Temple Station, and Maokong Station. A one way trip takes 12 minutes, and gondola cars which can fit up to eight people (five people in glass cars) come every few seconds.
Maokong gets its name from the eroded holes in the rocks around the area; the name literally means “Cat Hole.” The area has been one of the largest areas for tea production in Taipei since the Qing Dynasty. After the completion of the Gondola in 2007, tourists to the area have increased significantly.
9 AM to 9 PM
120 NT per person one way from Taipei Zoo Station to Maokong Station.
50 NT per trip for Taipei City residents
How to get there:
By MRT: Take the brown line MRT to the Taipei Zoo station, then walk south a few hundred meters until you reach the gondola station on the east side of the main road.
By Car/Scooter: Drive to the Taipei Zoo, and park somewhere on the street or in a parking lot, the walk to the Gondola Station.
(You can also take the Gondola from the southern station inside the Zoo or from Zhinan Temple)
Please see below:
For our drone video of the area, see below:
I have been to Maokong numerous times, and every time has been great. As you can see in the photo above, the Taipei Zoo Gondola Station lies on the south side of the road. Just walk in and swipe your Easy Card to start a ride.
For our full blog on Taipei City Zoo, click here.
I suggest going in the morning on a sunny day so you get better views of Taipei. It would also be best if you visit right after it has rained so there is no haze.
Above is a 360 view of the Maokong Gondola near the Taipei Zoo station.
Another 360 degree view from farther up.
It may seem like a pretty penny (240 per person for a round trip), but the views are some of the best in Taipei.
Chinan Temple 指南宮
Chinan Temple is the main stop along the Gondola between the zoo and Maokong. For an overview of the area, see our video above.
Midway through the ride, you will pass Chihnan Temple Station (指南宮), which is a Taoist Temple built in 1920. From the temple here, you can also see great views of Taipei.
Pagoda and golden dragon fountain near Chihnan Temple.
360 drone view from above Chinan Temple.
another view of Chinan Temple via drone.
View of the temple from the bottom of its famous steps.
Lanterns inside the main shrine.
The Chinan Temple is also connected to a number of new temples that lead to the gondola.
This golden dragon fountain sits right next to the gondola station.
There is also a commercial street, or old street type place, that connects Chinan Temple with the main road. You can buy treats and snacks here.
The steps from the old street then lead up to the temple.
You can also see old rail tracks from when they were constructing the temple complex.
View from near the temple.
View looking south from the temple.
For more views of Maokong from Chinan temple, see the gallery above.
You can also check out our other video of Maokong from near Chinan Temple above.
Now back to the gondola ride.
View of the 101 peeking behind a hill.
The full view of Taipei is pretty magnificent. However pictures are going to be tainted by dirty Gondola Glass and haze, especially in the late afternoon. Don't expect to see much on cloudy days and rainy days.
View of the 101 and the trash incinerator in Muzha.
National Freeway 3 under the Gondola.
View of the Gondola with National Freeway 3 in the background.
The Gondola has to go up and down four mountains to get to the top of Maokong. This is a view of Chihnan Temple Station.
View to the south of Shenkeng.
View to the North of Wenshan and Xindian with some major sunlit haze.
View of the mountains to the north.
Another view of southern Taipei.
The Gondola will take you up and down hills all the way to Maokong Station. You can get off at the Zhinan temple station and check out the temple and trails there, or just keep going all the way to Maokong.
If you get a glass car, you get the added enjoyment of being able to see straight down to the ground, like you are floating on air.
Last leg of the journey before reaching Maokong Station.
Around Maokong there are a few shops and an outdoor food court with things you would find at a night market. There will also be taxi drivers who will harass you, but actually taking a taxi down the mountain with 5 other passengers can be cheaper than taking the gondola back down.
One artifact of importance next to the station is the hanging signal (pictured above) which dates back to the Qing Dynasty.
The picture above gives an explanation in Chinese. It worked like a bell to warn the local villagers of an aboriginal attacks. The local villagers set guards here day and night.
View from the signal tower.
View of Maokong Station with a backdrop of Taipei.
As you walk along the road away from Maokong Station, you will find a bunch of tea shops and coffee shops along the side of the road, taking advantage of the great views of Taipei.
Walking along the one lane road can be dangerous, so they have installed a walkway along the roadside which should be finished now.
A roadside restaurant with great views of Taipei.
Another view of Taipei next to a farmer's field. We saw tea fields and pomelo groves in the area.
After the sun goes down, you can enjoy the beautiful Taipei night scape. But we did linger on for that long.
If you keep walking along the main road, you will see the entrance to the Pothole Trail, where you can see the holes in the rocks that give Maokong its name.
The main road here is closed on weekends and holidays for foot traffic.
Map of the trails in the area.
Trail down to the potholes.
The potholes can be seen from this rope suspension bridge.
On either side of the bridge are statues of cats, to go along with Maokong's name (literally meaning cat holes).
View of the cat holes from the bridge.
View further up the stream.
Closeup on the holes.
More photos of the trail in the gallery above.
Near the trail there is also a large viewing platform called Xiaofukong Trail.
There are also many other tea shops and tea farms in the area.
And there are plenty of old Qing Dynasty era houses here to be discovered.
Further down the mountain on the east side is a popular swimming location. Or splash area for kids.
You can also see some amazing views from there.
And you can sit and contemplate your existence on top of the bridge like this man.
There is much more to explore in Maokong and this blog only covers a small part.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our blogs about Taipei to come.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.