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It’s easy to forget that Taipei is a nature lover’s paradise. After all, Taiwan’s capital city is home to approximately 2.7 million residents and a skyline boasting Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings.
However, the city also lies in the valley of a basin, enclosed by nearby mountains and hills that offer sweeping vistas of the city and its surrounding greenery. Although proper hiking trails abound, here are two leisurely ways to take in wide-open spaces and panoramic views.
A Day Trip to MaokongMaokong is a popular stop for outdoorsy clients longing to escape the city for some crisp mountain air. Some say the town’s name (rough translation: “no cats”) is a nod to the area’s former reputation of being overrun with civet cats. But these days, the main attraction is the locally grown tea and the mountainside views.
To get here, visitors should make their way to Maokong Gondola station (near the Taipei Zoo’s Mass Rapid Transit station), which travels about 3 miles up into the mountains. The 25-minute ride to the top (which costs about $4, one-way) can be made more thrilling by waiting for one of the glass-bottom cable cars.
The area around the station is often bustling, but several quaint restaurants and teahouses are just a short walk away. At Longmen Restaurant, the best vantage point is from a window-side or patio table, where Taipei’s cityscape is framed by lush mountain vegetation and picturesque tea bushes.
Suggest clients carve out some time to relax, sip on a pot of the famous tieguanyin tea and sample some sanbeiji (a specialty chicken dish named for the three main ingredients in its sauce: sesame oil, Chinese rice wine and soy sauce). To combat the impending food coma, take a leisurely stroll around the nearby walking trails, which pass by a small temple and a bevy of food stalls. A full loop can take up to 2.5 hours to complete, and smaller trails diverge into bamboo groves and rock formations.
Pro tip: When heading back down to the city, grab some tea eggs for the road.
Sunset Views From “The Top”Yangmingshan, famous for its national park, is easily accessible from downtown Taipei.
The mountain destination is popular for its hot springs and hiking trails, which come complete with views of Taipei’s skyline against a scenic backdrop of rolling green hills. Plenty of easy walks can be found here near the visitor center, in the nearby Qingtiangang area.
But come sundown, the best vantage point is undoubtedly from the appropriately named “The Top.”
The restaurant and lounge offer a decidedly more cosmopolitan experience, with a variety of indoor and outdoor seating options and an extensive (albeit pricey) menu.
There, visitors can take in a breathtaking mountain sunset with a cocktail in hand. As night falls, the city lights twinkle just beyond an infinity pool that could easily belong to a mansion in California’s Hollywood Hills.
Not ready to call it a day? No problem. The Top is an affordable 15-minute Uber ride from the famous Shilin Night Market.