Despite its modest 15-year history, Taipei 101 has quickly cemented its place as one of the most iconic and beloved landmarks on the island.
The eight-tiered skyscraper, slender and understated, yet majestic, is impossible to miss, be it near or from afar – and both literally and figuratively, what with its image plastered onto T-shirts, keychains, postcards, and a bevy of other merchandise found in department stores and night markets across the city. To locals, Taipei 101 has become a familiar presence, one that we often find ourselves instinctively on the lookout for when admiring the scenery from a rooftop or some other great height. Naturally, the stately tower attracts millions of visitors each year (it welcomed its 20-millionth visitor in the spring of 2016), excluding, without fail, the thousands that flock to the area to take in the fantastic fireworks display up close every New Year’s Eve.
In June of 2019, management announced that the gates to the observation deck on the top floor would be opened to the public for the first time, as well as the debut of its new Skyline 460 feature; the outdoor deck now serves as a companion to the original viewing platform on the 89th floor.
Chances are, you’ve come across the widely shared photographs of history’s freshest prince, Will Smith, posing up a storm on one of the world’s highest terraces when he visited Taiwan last October to promote his film, Gemini Man.
Taiwan Observer was recently invited to experience Taipei’s pride and joy from a fresh and exciting perspective, a special adventure arranged by MyTaiwanTour. (click the link to take the tour)
Fun facts captured in infographics, an interactive multimedia wall, and sculptures dotted along the corridor entertained those waiting for their turn on the elevator. Designed and erected by C. Y. Lee & Partners, a local architectural firm, Taipei 101 shattered the world record when it was first unveiled in October 2004. It achieved the title of tallest building in the world at its impressive height of 1,667 feet (508 m), sailing past the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, and remained unrivaled until 2010, its thunder snatched by the 2,716-ft-tall (828 m) Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The skyscraper has since been demoted to 11th place, sandwiched between Beijing’s China Zun and the Shanghai World Financial Center.
After a headcount and a brief breakdown on the day’s activities, we rocketed to the 89th floor in 37 seconds flat, as indicated by the video screen on top of the elevator buttons. The lift to the lower observatory, which travels at a speed of 60.67 km/h (37.7 mph), is among the fastest of its kind.
As to be expected, the indoor observatory was astir with tourists and sightseers peering out the floor-to-ceiling windows, amusing themselves with touch-screens and displays, and browsing the gift shops.
Before the main event, we were shepherded into a separate room to check out the gargantuan globe suspended between the 87th and 92nd floor, which was installed with the island’s high propensity for earthquakes and typhoons in mind. The innovative design of the “tuned mass damper,” which weighs a whopping 660 tons and is capable of absorbing up to 40% of the tower’s movements, effectively stabilizes and guards the structure against these acts of God.
To access the observation deck on the top floor, we rode up two different elevators and scaled another flight of stairs. Those looking to conquer their acrophobia may find comfort in the fact that all sky-walkers were required to strap into safety harnesses provided by the staff. Clear plastic pockets with neck straps, for those who wished to bring their cellphones with them, were also available.
Upon entering the 360-degree observation deck, our guides clipped our harnesses onto the railing, which some of us clung onto for dear life. All nerves, however, were almost instantly calmed by the stunning panoramic view that greeted us, coupled with the embrace of an exhilarating breeze. For the next 40 minutes, we marveled at and snapped multiple shots of the seemingly endless circuit board-esque vista, all the more enhanced by the sliver of gold slicing through the horizon.
Our stroll among the clouds was topped off with a cloud of a different kind. Following our trip to the outdoor observatory, we headed down to the chic and aptly-named Bar 88 on the 88th floor. Here, we enjoyed a round of their signature beverages: a selection of “cloud” coffees and teas. The “cloud” bubble tea (雲朵珍奶), crowned with a delightful afro of cotton candy, is definitely one to try out. Those who aren’t keen on tapioca pearls can opt for coffee (雲朵咖啡), which is presented with the illusion of a cloud hovering over your mug.
A cool gift bag, which included a collectible mug, a souvenir photo from the Skyline 460 experience, and a flat bottle of “pocket water” completed our adventure.
If you want to take this tour of 101 visit MyTaiwanTour to book it now.