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Reach for the Sky: Tea & Hiking at Maokong

Maokong sits majestically on the edge of the Taipei basin, looking out over the city. In the past, Maokong was the largest tea-growing area in the capital, but these days it’s a hotspot for tea culture and hikers. Maokong is tipped as one of the things to do whilst in Taiwan, but despite that opinion is divided as to whether Maokong is an over-rated tourist trap or a zenith of beautiful views and hikes.

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If you’re going there in a stereotypical Taiwanese-way – planning to do as little walking and as much sitting in peaceful surroundings eating cute cakes as possible – then you will find that Maokong is not a quiet, secluded haven. Immediately after disembarking from the sky gondola, you’re faced with a vast array of teahouses and a sign-posted road filled with mountain buses and crowds of people. Not the tranquil cup of tea you had in mind.

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However, if like me and Luke, you’re planning on getting off the beaten track, taking the footpaths and venturing out into the tea fields, Maokong is quite incredible. Accompanied by our friend, Liezl, and new French friend, Choukri, we immediately headed down a long footpath to a river notable for its awesome potholes.

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There was a crazy number of these fuzzy black caterpillars around; some gorgeous black and electric blue butterflies too, so I guess nature evens out in the end.

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In the afternoon, we walked along the winding road deeper into the plantations and took a trail that circled round mountain views, lush lime-green bamboo groves, along the edge of the tea fields, and reached an wooden hut with Chinese messages tied to it.

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Eat: Quirky cafes and traditional teahouses are everywhere, so choice is abundant. Road-side snacks of corn, sweet potatoes and sausage meat are all around too.

Drink: Stop by the Tea Promotion Centre for a rest and a free mug of hot local tea. If tea’s not your thing, then I recommend stopping at the café covered in cute cats on the way back from the potholes, you can get fresh mango juice, or if you’re like me, an iced coffee float with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

Read: Alas, we never found the entrance to the waterfall trail which we were looking for, but a bit of retrospective handy research/reading of David on Formosa’s blog post on Hiking the Yinhe Cave Trail has set us straight for our next quest to Maokong.

See: Did I mention the awesome potholes? Go look.

Tip: Take a sun-brella with you – I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my life!

Free tea for us!

Free tea for us!

How to get there?

Maokong can be accessed by sky gondola (not to be confused with a Venetian gondola boat) from Taipei Zoo MRT station which is at the end of the brown Wenshan Line. Walk out of the MRT and take a left, about 500m on past the zoo you’ll find the gondola station on your left.

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4 thoughts on “Reach for the Sky: Tea & Hiking at Maokong

  1. Very cool! Thanks for this post. I live in Taipei (as I’m sure you already know) and I’ve only ridden up the gondola once. And that was ages ago- before I even lived in the city. At the time I was living in Changhua.

    I remember breathtaking views and an impressive array of snacks available once we finally reached the top. There have been many a weekend where my husband and I just go back to locations we’ve traveled to time and again, so thanks for the reminder. I need to get out to Maokong again!

    I remember that one of our Taiwanese friends who took us up there had said that the place is spectacularly pleasant at night. As you can see the “night view.” If you want to go up the mountain at night, however, the gondola is closed, but fear not there are busses and or taxis at your service. I would love to go up after dark!

    Even though I sometimes appreciate it, I think it’s a little strange to have so many vendors and snack sellers all the way up in the mountains, on a so-called “hiking trail.” Not exactly a rugged experience. It just goes to prove- no matter where you go on this little island crammed full of folks, you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from a vendor’s stall.

    • I definitely think if you’re into walking/hiking then it’s worth more than 1 visit. It took most of the time to get our bearings and venture in a few different directions to see what was there rather than complete a whole hike.

      We took the bus down, which was relatively easy, though we got on the wrong bus the first time and ended up going in a loop back to where we started haha! But I’m sure it’s gorgeous at night time.

  2. Pingback: On Top of Taiwan: Taipei 101 | Strangers~in Taiwan

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