A Taipei 101 Visitor’s Guide – Experience Taiwan’s Iconic Skyscraper

Looking up at Taipei 101, with blue sky and clouds above it

Taipei 101 (pronounced “Taipei one-oh-one” or “台北一零一” in Mandarin) in Taipei city is by far the most famous and recognizable landmark in Taiwan and one of the country’s top attractions.

For five years (end of 2004 to end of 2009), Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building. Today, it is not even in the top-10, but it remains the country’s tallest and a major tourist attraction.

There are many ways you can experience Taipei 101, including Taipei 101 Observatory, the new Skyline 460 experience, cafés and restaurants in the clouds, Taipei 101 Shopping Center, viewing the building from Elephant Mountain, exploring the area around it, and the New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

In this article, I’ll cover all of the above and more so that you can elevate your experience of this world-famous skyscraper! Here I also introduce the best places to view Taipei 101 around the city.

Taipei 101 Features

A vertical image showing Taipei 101 skyscraper from top to bottom, with a blue sky and some white clouds
Taipei 101 in all its glory

A collection of private companies called Taipei Financial Center Corporation Taipei began planning Taipei 101 in 1997. They have a 70-year lease, so the building will return to the city in 2067.

The plan was to build the world’s tallest green building, and they succeeded in doing this (according to LEED standards, certified in 2011). While the building indeed has blue-green-tinted glass windows, “green” here refers to eco-friendly features such as energy efficiency and internal water recycling system.

A horizontal image looking up at Taipei 101 with Taiwanese flags on left and right side of the entrance
The south side is the most common entrance to the building

Construction in Xinyi district (信義區, also called Eastern District or 東區, in the newer eastern end of the city) began in 1999 and was officially completed on the last day of 2004.

That night, at midnight of January 01 (which, somewhat intentionally, has the date 1 -01), the first ever Taipei 101 fireworks display took place, igniting a NYE tradition that the country is still known for today.

Taipei 101 is shaped like a towering stalk of bamboo (symbolic of learning and growth). It has 8 outward inclining tiers, evoking a Chinese pagoda or stack of ingots (a symbol of wealth and prosperity).

8 is also a lucky number in Taiwanese culture (learn more interesting facts about Taiwan here!)

Super thick cables holding up an enormous steel damper ball
The mass damper prevents the building from falling during earthquakes.

The skyscraper is built to withstand major earthquakes. A key feature is the 660-ton mass damper, a huge steel ball hanging on the 88th to 92nd floors (you can see it at the observatory). It helps to stabilize the building. During Typhoon Soudelor (2015), the ball swayed a record 1 meter!

The giant ball even has its own mascots, created by Sanrio (the Hello Kitty company), called the Damper Babies.

Taipei 101 Shopping Center is box-shaped, 7-floor luxury department store connected to the base of Taipei 101.

In 2013, the Taipei 101/World Trade Center MRT station was opened, connecting directly to B1 of Taipei 101. A pedestrian overpass also connects the building to Breeze Nanshan and other department stores across the street.

A rectangular, glass covered shopping mall on the right, connected to the base of Taipei 101 skyscraper
Taipei 101 Shopping Center is connected to the base of the tower.

The Taipei 101 Observatory is on floors 88, 89, and 91. A newer observatory (separate ticket required) is on 101F, while the Skyline 460 experience (book here) involves walking on the outside deck of the 101st floor, of the true “roof” of Taipei 101.

You can find lots of information about the building and businesses inside it on the official Taipei 101 website.

Getting There

An outdoor exit of an MRT station with the words Taipei 101 Exit 4 and some plants above it
Access is via Taipei 101 MRT station exit 4

The easiest way to get to Taipei 101 is to swipe your EasyCard and ride the Taipei MRT red line to Taipei 101/World Trade Center MRT station.

The MRT station’s exit 4 connects directly to the B1 Food Court of Taipei 101 – you’ll walk outside for 40 meters, with a great view looking up at Taipei 101 (see pic below), before entering the building right next to Din Tai Fung (a branch of Taiwan’s most famous restaurant).

Looking up at Taipei 101, Taipei 101 Shopping Center, and a connecting building between them
Looking up at the mall and Taipei 101 from exit 4 before entering the building.

If you’re heading to the Taipei 101 Observatory, find any escalator or elevator and go up to the 5F Observatory check-in area.

If you’re coming by taxi, there’s a taxi drop-off and pickup point inside the building, in the middle of B1.

If you’re coming to or from Elephant Mountain (象山 or Xiangshan), Xiangshan MRT station is the terminal stop of the red line, just one stop past Taipei 101/World Trade Center station. You can also walk from Taipei 101 to the Elephant Mountain trailhead in 15 minutes.

Hotels Near Taipei 101

A young girl facing the camera, with a window in front of her, through which we can see Taipei 101
My daugter looking out at Taipei 101 from Grand Hyatt Taipei

While there are no hotels inside Taipei 101, there are a few nearby which offer spectacular Taipei 101 views.

The pick of the bunch is Grand Hyatt Taipei (see on Booking / Agoda). We had an incredible stay here with a corner room facing Taipei 101 (only rooms on one side of the hotel face Taipei 101).

Book early and carefully if you want to get one of those rooms, and good luck trying to find one for New Year’s Eve fireworks, when they are in crazy high demand!

Looking at an angle at the corner of Taipei 101 Mall and the base of Taipei 101
Taipei 101 Shopping Center shot from our hotel room window at Grand Hyatt

Other hotels that have some rooms or a rooftop with view of Taipei 101 include W Taipei (see on Booking / Agoda), Humble House (see on Booking / Agoda), Pacific Business Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda), and Shangri-La Far Eastern Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda).

Learn more in my guide to the best luxury hotels in Taiwan and find one hostel near Taipei 101 here.

Things to do in Taipei 101 (and nearby!)

While the observatory is the most popular way for visitors to experience Taipei 101, there are several other things you can do in and around Taipei 101.

Taipei 101 Observatory

Looking out the 89F windows at Taipei 101 Observatory and mountains and houses, with a neon light outline of Taipei 101 on the wall between windows
Windows facing every direction

Taipei 101 Observatory offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Taipei City. From the 5F ticketing and check-in area, you’ll ride one of the fastest elevators in the world up to the 89F. While riding, the elevator darkens and has stars on the ceiling, while a digital panel on the side shows exactly which floors you’re passing.

A normal Taipei 101 Observatory ticket (book online here) includes access to 360-degrees windows on 89F, a cafe (KafeD Taipei 101 Shop), a photo studio, a gift shop with nice Taiwan souvenirs, and several selfie stations.

You can also take stairs up to a small (facing west only) outdoor viewing platform on 91F, but you’ll be looking out through a fence.

Two young kids lying on the floor looking out a glass window at Taipei city far below
My kids really enjoyed visiting the observatory (under 115 cm free!)

On the way out, you’ll take the stairs or elevator down one floor to 88F, which is at the bottom of the huge mass tamper, where you’ll find an elevator back down the 5F.

At slower times, there’s hardly any wait. But at peak times, the entry line on the 5F can take up to one hour. If you choose the “fast track entry” option when buying your ticket, you’ll get to skip the line, but the ticket price is double.

A outdoor metal ramp for guests to enjoy the view from the top of Taipei 101 with mountains in the distance
Skyline 460 on the roof of Taipei 101

Another ticket option available on the same Klook page is “89F + 101F”. This ticket will give you access to the normal observatory floors (88, 89, and 91) plus a newer indoor observatory on 101F.

In my experience, the view from 101F is basically the same as 89F. It’s less busy up there, so it feels a little more VIP, but I don’t feel it is quite worth the extra cost.

Skyline 460 (buy ticket here) is yet another option, and in my opinion the best possible way to experience Taipei. For this, you’ll get to ride a VIP elevator from the 5F (one entry time per day only at 3 PM). You’ll ascend to 89F then ride a secret elevator to 101F.

Then you’ll be be harnessed up!

Selfie of Nick Kembel wearing sunglasses and standing at the corner of the roof of Taipei 101 wearing a harness on his shoulders and view of mountains behind him
Me at Skyline 460

After a short safety talk, you get to walk out on the actual roof of Taipei 101 for a truly exhilarating experience! You get plenty of time to walk around the four sides of the roof (it’s very windy!)

After, you’ll also get access to the regular observatory (88, 88, and 91F). Make sure to stay until sunset!

The Skyline 460 ticket comes with some free gifts, a voucher for the café, and a framed photo of you at the top. Read about my experience doing Skyline 460 here.

Simple Kaffa Sola

Some booths and tables in a cafe beside large windows with views of taipei city
Taipei 101 cafe with amazing city views

Years ago, there was a Starbucks on the 35th floor of Taipei 101. It was the highest one in the world! While the 35F Starbucks closed permanently during COVID, now there is something even better and higher: Simple Kaffa Sola (天空興波) on the 88th floor!

Simple Kaffa is a local Taiwanese coffee chain started by an award-winning barista. It has an artistic design, epic view (you’ll be facing north), and a menu featuring single-origin coffees, interesting lattes with Taiwanese ingredients, desserts, and light meals.  

A drink on a table in a cafe with orange on the bottom half of it and coffee on the top half and bright windows behind
My “Smoky Southern Taiwan” drink at Simple Kaffa Sola

The window-side tables at Simple Kaffa seat 1-4 people and have a minimum charge of TWD 2000.

Just in from those, large booths seat 1-8 people, with a minimum spend of TWD 3000. Make a booking here up to 7 days in advance. There’s a time limit of 90 minutes.

The third row in (but you can still see the view) is first-come-first serve open seating (minimum order 1 drink).

Whether you booked a table or want to queue for open seating, check in at the Simple Kaffa Sola desk at the southwestern corner of the ground floor of Taipei 101.

Nick Kembel taking a picture of himself reflected on the glass door of the inside of an elevator in Taipei 101
Riding to the 88th floor by myself

From there, you’ll be sent on your own to take an elevator from 2F to the 60F transfer station, then another elevator from there to 88F. This is the easiest and cheapest way to enjoy Taipei 101 views on your own, instead of being crammed into an elevator with other tourists for the observatory!

When I visited the cafe at opening time (10 AM) on a weekday, the café was almost empty. I really enjoyed the “Smoky Southern Taiwan”, an iced drink with espresso, Taiwanese jelly, white gourd syrup, and sweet osmanthus flavoring.

Taipei 101 Shopping Center

Looking up at multiple floors from inside Taipei 101 Mall
Taipei 101 Mall

Some people come to Taipei 101 just for the shopping. Heads up that the mall revolves around upscale/luxury brands.

For the average visitor, you’ll probably be most interested in B1, which has a large food court, snack souvenir shops, and a few non-luxury clothing shops.

Mall Floor Plan

Large luxury stores on the 4th floor of Taipei 101 Mall
The 4th floor is especially impressive

Here’s a floor guide with some major brands you can find on each floor of Taipei 101 Mall.

  • B1: Food Court, Din Tai Fung (pre-order here for faster entry), Starbucks, Mia C’Bon (an upscale supermarket), Kavalan whiskey tasting booth (find it here), Hayashi Department Store (products from the famous historic site in Tainan), taxi pick-up and drop-off, Adidas, Sony, North Face, Lululemon, TWG tea, Crocs, Swatch, Armani Exchange, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, tax refund center and currency exchange booth
  • 1F: Huge Apple store, Zara, Rolex (and several other watch stores), Mont Blanc, Chanel, Swarovski, Dior, Boss, luggage storage lockers
  • 2F: Coach, De Beers, Zara (yes, another)
  • 3F: Versace, Saint Laurent, Gucci
  • 4F: I found this floor particularly beautiful. Louis Vuitton, Dior, Burberry, Gucci, a few restaurants, and The One @ Taipei 101 (a meeting/event venue)
  • 5F: There isn’t much else besides the Taipei 101 Observatory entrance area. There’s a nice TWG tea shop which offers afternoon tea and ABC Cooking Studio (cooking classes in Mandarin only).
Rows of whiskey bottles behind a bar
Kavalan whiskey tasting on B1

There are several other places to visit within a few blocks of Taipei 101, as follows:

Love Sign

A red statue of the word LOVE in front of the base of Taipei 101 Tower
The LOVE sign in front of Taipei 101

You can find the famous Taipei 101 Love Sign just outside the south entrance of the ground floor of Taipei 101.

(Note: there is another famous Love sign in Taipei in the riverside park beside Raohe Night Market and Rainbow Bridge.)

An embryo shaped artwork made of steel cables in front of the entrance to Taipei 101
Artwork made from Taipei 101 elevator cables

Also on the south side is a cool steel cable artwork called Infinite Life. Made from retired cables from Taipei 101 elevator, it is meant to resemble an embryo.

This plaza is often the site of very small protests in Taiwan, such as those supporting Falun Gong.

Jimmy’s Moon Bus

A bus with the sides painted blue and yellow to make it into an art installation, with yellow and golden spheres on poles around it
Bus art installation from a Taiwanese children’s book

Kitty-corner to Taipei 101, at the southeastern side, Jimmy’s Moon Bus (幾米月亮公車) is a parked bus art installation themed on the Taiwanese children’s book When the Moon Forgot (月亮忘記了, Jimmy Liao, 1999). The story is about a boy who helps return the moon after it falls from the sky.

You can board the bus for free and take a look inside. There are scenes from this and other books by the same author.

44 South Village

A row of old cement military dorms with doors painted bright blue, green, red, and Taipei 101 towering up in the sky behind them
Former military dorms by Taipei 101

When the KMT army lost the 1949 Civil War in China, hundreds of thousands of soldiers retreated to Taiwan. They were placed in military dependents’ villages (眷村) around Taiwan.

44 South Village (四四南村 or Sisinancun) is what’s left of one of these villages. Like several others, it has been converted into a cultural venue and tourist attraction, although one of the smallest ones.

There you’ll find a bubble tea stall, a bagel shop called Good Cho’s with connected souvenir shop, and views of Taipei 101 towering behind the complex’s former dormitories with colorfully painted doors.

The village is here, five-minutes on foot from the southwest corner of Taipei 101.

Elephant Mountain

People holding up their cameras to take pictures of the sunset and Taipei 101 from Elephant Mountain
Sunset crowds on Elephant Mountain

Elephant Mountain (象山 or Xiangshan) is the most famous hiking trail in Taipei. It offers the picture postcard view of Taipei, with Taipei 101 dominating the view.

To get to the trailhead from Taipei 101, walk 15-20 minutes from Taipei 101. You can also ride the MRT one stop to Xiangshan station, take exit 2, and walk 10 minutes to the same spot.

From the trailhead, it’s a 20-30 minute hike up stairs to the 6 Boulders area and best viewing platform just above it.

Other Department Stores

Looking up at a mall with words Breeze Nanshan on the side and a taller building connected to it
Breeze Nanshan is beside Taipei 101

There are several other department stores in Xinyi Area, all reachable on foot from Taipei 101.

From northwestern corner of the 2F and 3F of Taipei 101 Shopping Center, there are elevated walkways crossing Songzhi Road to Breeze Nanshan (official site), which sits at the base of the 3rd tallest building in Taipei.

Besides many shops and restaurants, Breeze Nanshan also has the iRide Taipei Flying Cinema Experience (book tickets online).

A elevated pedestrian walkways with plants on either side, connecting to a department store
Elevated walkway between department stores

From Breeze Nanshan, the elevated walkways continue to the multiple buildings of Shinkong Mitsukoshi department store (official site).

For visitors with kids, I especially recommend the 4th and 5th floors of building A8, which has an excellent toy store, children’s clothing and products, indoor playcenter, DIY slime making station, and the Totoro-themed Donguri Republic store.

A totoro statue in front of a shop with Japanese name
Donguri Republic, the “Totoro Store”

ATT4Fun (official site), which is known for its many shops, restaurants, and some of the biggest night clubs in Taipei, is yet another department store nearby.

Eslite Xinyi Store (official site) is yet another mall, housing a branch of the famous Eslite bookstore. Eslite bookstores are known for their award-winning design, and this one is even open 24 hours.

Note that this Eslite is supposed to close on December 31, 2023, and will be reopening later in a different location.  

Where to Eat in Taipei 101

Crowds of people sitting down and eating in a large food court
Taipei 101 Food Court on B1

There are multiple options for dining in Taipei 101. The Taipei 101 Food Court is on B1 and has dozens of local and international restaurants.

For vegetarian (100% vegan) food, I highly recommend VegeCreek. There, you take a bag and tongs, choose the ingredients you’d like (including fresh greens hanging on the wall), and choose a token for type of noodle.

You then line up, pay, and wait for them to cook those items in soup for you. It’s tucked away in a corner of the food court near the entrance to Mia C’bon supermarket.

The food court also has many fast food places and local/international foods like dumplings, noodle soups, pizza, curry, teppanyaki, and much more.

Close up of a bowl of noodle soup with lots of vegetables and tofu in it, with wall with green vegetables hanging behind
I loved choosing my own items to be made into vegan noodle soup at VegeCreek

Adjacent to the food court is Din Tai Fung (order online for faster entry), Starbucks, and Mia C’bon (an upscale grocery store).

There’s also a Kavalan whiskey tasting kiosk beside the food court. Although GoogleMaps calls it “101 Buckskin Taproom” (Buckskin is a beer made by Kavala), the kiosk no longer has draft beer and only has whiskey.

A soup dumpling mascot statue in front of an outdoor sign for Taipei 101 restaurant.
Din Tai Fung Taipei 101

There are a few sit-down restaurants with a more upscale vibe on the 4th floor of Taipei 101 Shopping Center, including Il Mercato and Salt & Stone.

For dining with a view, there’s Diamond Tony’s Steakhouse (see on Facebook) and the exquisite 85TD on the 85th floor, and the new A Joy 饗 (see official site), a five-star all-you-can-eat buffet on 86F. A reservation is necessary for either one.

See a full list of restaurants in Taipei 101 here.

Taipei 101 Fireworks on NYE

Red fireworks shooting from the sides of Taipei 101
Firworks from Taipei 101

Every year at midnight on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), there’s a massive fireworks display at Taipei 101. The events attracts (literally) hundreds of thousands of viewers to the streets around the skyscraper.

In recent years, the display has less fireworks and has become more of a laser, digital display, and drone show, but there are still some fireworks. As of 2022, the digital display wraps all the way around the building, so you can enjoy it from any angle.

Many viewers congregate at Taipei City Hall Plaza, where there is a concert and countdown event. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall and Elephant Mountain are other popular viewing points.

The MRT is absolutely packed all evening and night during the event. Expect major delays if you want to ride it. It’s better to walk into and out of the Taipei 101 area from a different neighborhood.

You can find viewpoints which will be less packed in my guide to the best Taipei 101 viewpoints for NYE fireworks.

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