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.
If you arrive via subway, you exit up here for a lovely view of the tower.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The shops here are the same high-end stores that are in every mall everywhere. Looks pretty cool though.
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.
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.
Around the core are some shops, including an ice cream store that has some legitimately great coffee ice cream.
If you have vertigo, approach with caution.
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!
Largely residential in this direction. Just to the upper right of center is the Taipei Medical University.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
East again, with Elephant mountain shrouded in darkness.
There's something very sci-fi about streets lit like this. Check out my tour of Tokyo's Skytree for a lot more.
The greater Taipei area is home to around 7 million people. For a capital city, especially in Asia, that's not very big.
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).
That sign is accurate.
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.
At 5.5 meters, or 18 feet, in diameter, and weighing 660 metric, 728 US, tons, it's the largest in the world.
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.
The angled design of the building's facade makes it's easier to get a look nearly straight down.
One tricky aspect is that the lights from the shops are so bright, it makes photos of the city through the glass rather challenging.
Depending on the weather, this is either the way home, or the way up to the outdoor observation deck.
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!
You can bet I had a solid two hands on my phone to get this photo.
Being outside makes being up this high more tangibly real. Because of the wind, only the west-facing side was open.
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.
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.
The edge of the building itself.
Can't see my house from here, but my hostel is down there somewhere.
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.
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.
There are lots of places to stop, however, and enjoy the view.
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.