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Taipei 101: views of and from one of the tallest buildings in the world

Once the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 is still an incredible and unique structure. Here's how it looks up close, along with the tremendous views from it's 89th and 91st floors.

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Geoffrey Morrison
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Taipei 101

There are many ways to get to Taipei 101. My personal favorite is befriending someone who works at the hostel and have them offer to give you a lift on their scooter. Zooooom!

Check out Taipei 101: Exploring one of the tallest buildings in the world for the story behind this story. 

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Touching the sky

If you arrive via subway, you exit up here for a lovely view of the tower.

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Tallest by far

Much like the Burj Khalifa, Taipei 101 dwarfs tall buildings nearby, in this case like the 48-story Taipei Nan Shan Plaza that's about a block away.

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101

This stylized logo is everywhere, not just on signs but on the faces of the various mascots of the tower, the "1's" as eyes and the "0" the mouth.

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Design

One of my favorite aspects of the 101 is unique design, reflecting as it does the culture of the country. For instance, it has eight segments since "8" is a lucky number in China and Taiwan.

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Mall

As you probably guessed, there's a mall around the base of the tower. I like how an edge of the 101 can be seen in the corner of this building. You can see it through the skylights too, but not in this photo.

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Shop, I guess?

The shops here are the same high-end stores that are in every mall everywhere. Looks pretty cool though. 

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Entrance

You have to go all the way up to the fifth floor to get the elevators to the observatory. If there's a line for tickets like you see here, there are a bunch of automated ticket machines to the left.

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High speed

There are two high-speed elevators that whiz you to the top in about half a minute. 1,010 meters per minute, or about 37.7 mph. It's so fast, you don't get any sense of the height of the building. They were the fastest in the world for 12 years. 

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Windows and shops

Around the core are some shops, including an ice cream store that has some legitimately great coffee ice cream.

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The view

If you have vertigo, approach with caution.

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East

That's the second tallest building in Taipei, and we're more than double the height of its tallest floor. The mountain on the right is Xiangshan, or "Elephant mountain." We'll get back to that.

Also, check out that shadow!

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South

Largely residential in this direction. Just to the upper right of center is the Taipei Medical University.

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West

A bit hard to get is a photo towards the sun, but you should be able to get the general idea. The orange building on the right is the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

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North

Taipei 101 is on the southeast side of the city. Looking north you can see the Taipei Dome, Songshan airport (not the larger Taoyuan International airport which is much farther west), and in the distance, the mountains of Yangmingshan National Park.

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Decorative

As I mentioned before, the design of the building, not just its height, is what sets it apart. It's rare to have so much ornate decoration on a skyscraper. There are exceptions, of course -- the Petronas Towers in Malaysia being another example.

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Nightfall

It's worth it to time your visit to be able to see both daytime and nighttime. That might make for a long wait up top, but the views are worth it. 

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North at dusk

The view north again, with the many bridges over the Keelung river lit up. The helipad is on the roof of the Taipei City Government building.

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Busy

I visited twice to get the photos you're eyeballing, and both times it was quite busy. However, it wasn't difficult to get to the window you want. There are limits to how many people they'll let up at once, and you can buy tickets for a specific time if you want.

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Dark mountains

East again, with Elephant mountain shrouded in darkness.

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City streets

There's something very sci-fi about streets lit like this. Check out my tour of Tokyo's Skytree for a lot more. 

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Xinyi Road

The main drag is Xinyi Road, also notable as the street with the original Din Tai Fung. Just writing that has made me hungry.

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Taipei

The greater Taipei area is home to around 7 million people. For a capital city, especially in Asia, that's not very big. 

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North at night

It doesn't have the frenetic, crowded feel of many cities in Asia. Also, the people are wonderfully friendly and the food is incredible (and cheap).

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Follow that sign

That sign is accurate.

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Super Big Wind Damper

Almost all tall buildings have a tuned mass damper, which counteracts a building's movement from the wind or other external forces, but rarely can you see them. None are as oddly gorgeous as this one. 

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World's largest

At 5.5 meters, or 18 feet, in diameter, and weighing 660 metric, 728 US, tons, it's the largest in the world.

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Secured

It looks tightly secured, but of course the whole point is that it isn't. So when the building starts to wobble, it fights back

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Angles

The angled design of the building's facade makes it's easier to get a look nearly straight down.

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Shops at night

One tricky aspect is that the lights from the shops are so bright, it makes photos of the city through the glass rather challenging.

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Heading out

Depending on the weather, this is either the way home, or the way up to the outdoor observation deck.

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Up, for sure

Though I've presented the photos above as if it were one day, I actually came back a week later to get the night photos. I'm glad I did, because the 91st floor wasn't open on my first visit, but it was partially open on my second. Score!

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Grip

You can bet I had a solid two hands on my phone to get this photo.

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Outside

Being outside makes being up this high more tangibly real. Because of the wind, only the west-facing side was open.

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Spire

Floors 92 to 100 are labeled "Communications Floors" for broadcast and cellular transmissions. The 101st floor is a VIP club. I am not a VIP.

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To the horizon

There's oddly less of a vertigo feeling up here, as just beyond the safety fence is a flat surface that extends out several feet/meters. So you can't look almost straight down like you can on the 89th floor.

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SW

The edge of the building itself.

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NW

Can't see my house from here, but my hostel is down there somewhere.

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Shop before you drop

Once you're done with the sights, you catch a ride back down from the 88th floor. This floor is like a huge jewelry store, with display cases showing many shinies. There was a lot of red coral.

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Hike for a view

To get the best view of Taipei 101, you need to hike up Xiangshan, aka Elephant Mountain. I'll warn you, there are a ton of stairs and if you're an idiot like me and go in August, it's also oppressively hot and humid. 

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Twilight

There are lots of places to stop, however, and enjoy the view. 

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City lights

I waited at the top until a bit after sunset, and this photo (from my Instagram) was definitely worth it. 

For the rest of the story behind this little adventure, check out Tower over Taipei: exploring one of the tallest buildings in the world.

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