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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.