With my very limited time in Taiwan, I tried to cover as much places as I could possibly do. Hand with information I researched on the web and the easily available local transportation (though not always comfortable as what I was hoping it will be), in a day I made my way to two destination consider as out of the city trips- Yangmingshan National Park and Maokong Gondola.
One of the most admirable aspect of the city of Taipei is how close one can get to nature. Simply by boarding the MRT to Jiantan or Shilin Station then switching to R5 bus, this will bring you to the national park tourist entrance area. From the entrance area, a shuttle bus 108 will circle the national park and you can go down on the designated stop.
The start area is populated by visitors waiting for the bus 108 and vendors selling local produce. If you don’t speak or read Chinese, don’t worry- chances are you will meet a local that can converse well in English and will answer your question of “which bus, what time and how much”, for my case, it was a group of weekend hikers.
For the local residence, Yangmishan National Park is a weekend city escape. It is a much needed diversion from the view of the crowded buildings and busy streets of Taipei to a peaceful, more cooler breeze of nature. One can either hike all the way up to Mount Qixing or be satisfied with just a short walk around Country Road 101 trail.
Located at the opposite side of Taipei (I know, poor planning on my end) is the Maokong Gondola.
The time that I arrived at the ticket gate, the service of the gondola has temporarily stopped due to strong winds. After 30 minutes or so, they resume and started to board visitors.
The line has four stops and the operating price depends on how many station one wishes to travel. I bought the 50 TWD ticket that will bring me all the way to the last station. For the same price, you can either board the typical cabin or wait for the availability of the crystal cabin called “Eye of Maokong Gondola”.
I would recommend to include both places on your itinerary particularly the gondola ride (option to include a visit to Taipei Zoo) if you happen to be travelling with kids.