Taipei 101 is my favourite skyscraper by a long way. I have visited the likes of Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Jin Mao Building in Shanghai, and seen the PETRONAS Towers, too, in Malaysia, and while they are all special in their own way, none of them are quite as impressive as Taipei 101. I had until last year only seen pictures of the building online, and gasped in amazement at the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display on YouTube. Then I got the chance to visit for myself – and it didn’t disappoint.
Put simply, Taipei 101 can be seen anywhere in the city, and although as a first-timer in Taiwan I did get disoriented many times whilst walking around, it can be said that you could use the skyscraper as a centre point of the city, especially when driving. In case you hadn’t realised by now, the 101 in Taipei 101 stands for the number of floors the tower has above ground, and a few additional floors are underground in the Taipei 101 Mall (through which every guest must enter to make their way to the viewing platform ticket office). I think currently, at 509m high, Taipei 101 is the 3rd or 4th tallest building in the world.
I took a photo of the prices and information as I queuing to purchase my tickets. The line moved quite quickly and the staff were very polite and could speak good English, which is good for me as I cannot speak Taiwanese/Traditional Chinese. The price for the tickets is quite good, and certainly less pricey than at places like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai or the Tokyo SkyTree. I found it to be very good value and would actually do it all again if I ever returned to Taipei.
At Taipei 101, you cannot purchase your ticket and then immediately get the elevator upwards. You are allocated a time to return, at which point you can join the official queue (much like Disney World’s FastPass system). I had to wait around for nearly 2 hours before I was allocated to join the queue, although I was determined to wait, as Taipei 101 was the highlight of my trip to Taiwan. After walking through full-body security scanners where I had to also let them examine my camera (security is tight here), I was finally in the queue. The queue itself is basically just a queue for the elevators. There are only a few elevators taking people up to the observation decks, and I think at least one of them was out of action on the day I visited, so the wait seemed like an eternity. However, once up there, I realised one of my dreams.
It was a little smoggy in Taipei when I visited, so perhaps I didn’t get the best of views across the city, yet it was still very impressive to be so high up in the sky in such as impressive skyscraper. The indoor observatory is 391m high and is situated on the 88th and 89th floors, and has a restaurant and a souvenir shop around which to browse.
Taipei 101 is famously earthquake and typhoon proof. This is because of the design of the building with its huge steel pendulum which acts as a tuned mass damper. It is built to withstand 140mph winds, and even the most destructive of earthquakes. The steel pendulum swings freely to offset movements in the building caused by strong gusts of wind. At Taipei 101 there was also a digital presentation educating guests of how the mass damper works.
The outdoor observatory is the absolute highest point that the public can access. It is not always open in inclement weather, but on nice days, guests can step outside on the 91st floor and take in the sights and sounds. The views from up here are actually not as good as from the indoor observatory below due to the steel bars slightly obscuring things. Even higher than this, there is apparently an exclusive VIP club located on the 101st floor, but no information about this club exists online, and is not even confirmed to exist by the owners of the building. I would love to one day be invited up there and blog about my findings!
I took enough photos and videos to give me many memories of my experience, and as I walked back to my hotel it had now turned very dark. I was surprised to be Taipei 101 lit up with advertisements at the top (the N you see in the picture below was actually the last letter of Louis Vuitton, so I wonder how much they pay to advertise on the building). It was a final great sight of the day.
I have made a video my experience at Taipei 101. Please check it out here: