If you want the facts about Taipei 101, please scroll down to: “The Facts & Nothing But The Facts”, but if you want a funny little story, you may proceed here.
Before I start– let me tell you… this surprised me as much as it will surprise you.
Everyone who reads my blog knows that I love just about every little thing about living in Okinawa. We’ve been living here for just under a year now, and I’ve yet to feel homesick. Sure, sometimes I miss my parents, my sister and my best friends/bridesmaids. A lot of times I miss T.J. Maxx and shoes that fit my size 8.5 feet. But other than that… there is really nothing else I find myself missing.
That said… when I walked into Taipei 101, I was immediately confronted by a smell that brought tears to my eyes. “Oh my gosh,” I said grabbing Shannon’s arm with genuine surprise. “I feel homesick.”
Now let’s be real here for a second… I was standing in the middle of a mall… surrounded by Gucci, Dior and Hermes. And all of a sudden I felt homesick?!? I have never ONCE made a purchase in any of these stores. In fact, I have rarely even stepped foot in them in my lifetime. This was the last place in the world that I would have expected to be overcome by a feeling of homesickness. Nothing about these places remind me of home! And yet, all I can tell you is that it smelled like home. The lighting reminded me of home. The sounds reminded me of home. Even the planters reminded me of home. Everything about the shopping portion of Taipei 101 made me feel homesick for the first time in a year.
Maybe it’s because we don’t have malls in Okinawa (I lie- we just got our first real mall, but it is so jam packed with selfie-stick toting tourists that nothing could feel less like home.)
So that’s that. Luxury shopping smells like home. Weird. I know.
For those of you out there who have been to a real mall in the last year, I don’t expect you to have any of the same feelings when you walk into Taipei 101. So let me just break it down for you without all the emotions now.
Address: 89 F, No. 7, Xinyi Road Section 5 Taipei City, Taiwan
Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Breakdown: Floors 1-5 make up the beautiful mall I discussed, at length, above. Although it’s mostly comprised of high end stores, not everything will break the bank. For a full list of shopping & dining, here is a ridiculously comprehensive list on Yahoo Answers.
Additionally, there are dozens of fabulous restaurants, cafes and specialty food shops. We found dozens of teas that Shannon couldn’t live without at TWG, but with her wedding days away, and her budget still very much on her mind, she’s going to try to manage.
On the 5th Floor you can buy tickets to go up to the Observatory, which is likely, the only reason you are here anyway.
The wait time for a normal ticket was 3 hours when we went, which might be doable if you planned to get your ticket upon arrival and then go explore the mall, but on our tight time schedule- it wasn’t an option. I asked if there was anyway to get up faster, and only then did I notice the Fast Pass option. For an extra 16 USD we got to skip the line to go up, skip the line to come back down, and got a little souvenir book with a “Guide to Taipei 101”, some coupons (none of which we used), and a postcard (that I forgot to send home).
The Fast Pass is the only option in my opinion. But that is coming from someone who hates lines.
Okay, now on to the Elevator. Everyone around us kept buzzing about how excited they were to go on the elevator. I had NO clue why. I’m slightly claustrophobic and elevators have never been a highlight of anything for me. But some of these people seemed more excited about the elevator than they were about getting to the top! Come to find out, it’s the fastest elevator in the world.
There’s actually a little screen on the wall of the elevator that shows you your progress. It lights up numbers with the floor you’re passing, the height you’re at, the speed you’re going and the time it’s taken. It took us 42 seconds to get to the top. I’m still not sure I could really tell I was on the world’s fastest elevator, but I guess it’s cool to say I’ve ridden it.
The observatory is probably one of the coolest that I have visited. The entire 89th floor is encapsulated by windows so as you walk around you get a 365° view of Taipei. The landscape is surprisingly mountainous and beautiful. Along with the fastpass you get a map, that when unfolded, gives you an idea of what you are looking at.
The structure of the observatory is also pretty cool. It has, what they call, an Infinity Sky, meaning that there are mirrors both above and below you to reflect both the sky and the earth.
If you continue up two more floors, the 91st floor has an outdoor observation deck. This one reminded me a lot of the Empire State building. High fences, crowds and a limited area to walk. In my opinion, the 89th Floor Observatory was definitely the best place for pictures and to enjoy the whole experience.
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.