a quick escape. If so, welcome abroad the Maokong Gondola. To get there, jump on the brown line of the metro and head south to the Taipei Zoo MRT Station. The journey alone to the gondola offers a pleasant view of sprawling 'The City of Azaleas', but it's nowhere near as exciting as the one abroad the French-made gondola.
Once abroad, the trip is 4 kilometres long from bottom to top and gives you a sweeping view of Maokong mountain scenery. Rising hundreds of metres in altitude between the Taipei Zoo and Maokong stations, spare some time to stop at the intermediate station Zhinan Station where you can admire the Zhinan Temple. Founded in the late 1800s, the Zhinan Temple is one of Taipei's oldest places of worship and still a hive of religious activity. Paying homage to Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, cross your fingers that you're lucky enough to encounter monks performing a traditional ceremony, which might bring you even more good luck!
Back abroad the gondola, it's only a short ride to the top of the mountain. Maokong Station is where you can encounter one of Taiwan's most famous tea growing areas and across the mountain are many traditional teahouses where you can sip away a few hours against a backdrop of breathtaking views. As well as the panoramic sight of the mountain and tea plantations, on a clear day you'll see right across Taipei with the Taipei 101 building never far from sight.
Tea drinking is a particularly popular pastime among locals on weekends, so visiting the gondola on weekdays is always a good idea if you're seeking some peace and quiet. Taking a thrilling ride on one of the glass floor cabin gondolas can have the opposite feeling. Peering straight down to the valleys far below might sound like a good idea but is definitely not for the feint hearted!