Last Updated: 10/10/20 | October 10th, 2020
I’m scared of heights. It’s not so much being high up that scares me, it’s more the fear of falling. Hike with me up a mountain and watch me stay far away from any edge.
I once went hiking with a girlfriend and made her get away from the edge because it freaked me out too much. She laughed at me but I was visibly scared. Driving along winding mountain roads also freaks me out. I can’t sit on the road side of the car. Most of the time I will just close my eyes and try not to freak out!
I only got over my fear of roller coasters a few years ago. Any sign of turbulence in an airplane and my white knuckles grab the seat.
Essentially, I don’t like being high up.
(The fact that one time my plane dropped 20,000 feet in a matter of moments didn’t help things, either!)
So it was with a little fear and trepidation that I went to go visit one of the tallest buildings in the world: Taipei 101.
Construction on the tower began in 1999 and was completed in 2004. From then until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in 2010 it was the tallest building in the world, standing a whopping 509 meters. The building is designed to withstand both earthquakes and typhoons, making the tower one of the most structurally sound buildings in the country – if not the world. In fact, an earthquake occurred during construction which toppled cranes and killed 5 people, but the building itself was undamaged.
The building itself sort of looks like a massive pagoda or a stalk of bamboo, stretching far above any other buildings in the city. On New Year’s Eve, an epic fireworks show explodes from the building, which can be seen all across the city.
Even though I don’t like heights, Taipei 101 is truly a sight to behold. I visited the building on my very last day living in Taiwan, and it was majestic. I’ve always seen the building as I moved through the city and I’ve been near it as there are a number of clubs in the surrounding district, but I’d never actually gone to see inside it or even seen it in daylight.
But there it was rising up from the city in a wave of green. It’s like a rocket ship.
Taipei 101 is one of the most impressive modern structure I’ve ever seen (and I live in NYC, so I’m familiar with epic buildings!). It rises up and towers over the surrounding area. 101 is a beautiful building built like a bamboo reed.
Construction began in 1997 and was completed in 2004. It’s the tallest building in the world (well, it was until the one in Dubai was built and now an even taller structure is going to beat that) and, well, I can’t say this enough, quite impressive. It’s a very high-end building, and its offices and apartments are for those with money.
There’s also the Taipei 101 mall, where you’ll find stores like Dolce and Gabana, Prada, Armani, Gucci, and many high-end restaurants. On my last night, I did eat at the sushi restaurant here, and though it cost me a fortune, it was the best meal I had in Taiwan.
Visitors can head up to the 88th–91st floors and take a look outside at the surrounding city and mountains. Being the sadist I am, I bought my ticket, waited in line, and headed up the elevator. The elevator ride is actually really fun. There’s a screen that shows how fast you’re moving and where you are in the building. It takes about 30 seconds to go from bottom to top. I even felt my ears pop a little because you are going so high up! I mean that is insane!
Getting up to the 89th floor, I got to see Taipei and the surrounding area in all its glory. It took me about 10 minutes before I even got up to the glass, but when I did, I saw how beautiful Taipei is from above. The city sort of reminded me of the game Sim City. All of the buildings, apartments, and industrial zones are laid out so perfectly that they almost seem artificial from above.
After walking around and learning about the history of the area, I headed up to the 91st floor, where you can actually go outside. There are huge bars making sure people don’t fall or jump off, and the wind actually creates a loud pitch when it moves through the bars. The view isn’t that great because the iron bars sort of block your view, but you can get a good view of the tower that makes 101 the tallest building in the world.
It also took me about 10 minutes to get to the edge and after a photo, I crawled right back to the center.
What I really liked seeing was the building’s earthquake dampener. Down on the 88th floor, this big metal ball in the middle of the building is designed to help absorb any sway from powerful winds or earthquakes. Leading up to the ball is this very cool floor that is touch sensitive. When you walk over it, clouds disappear to show Taipei. I managed to get an OK video, but the tour groups that kept walking by me always got in my shot. Check it out:
(It took me a while but eventually, I made my way towards the window for the view. Yes, my fear is so irrational that I will am scared to go to the edge while inside a building!)
Overall, Taipei 101 was stunning. It’s amazing to see. It’s beautiful. And it’s really impressive to think that people made that. When you consider the technology and new thinking that had to go into it, it makes your jaw drop. It’s by far one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen, and at night, when it’s all lit up, it’s still surreal.
The next time you’re in Taiwan, be sure to visit Tapei 101. You’ll be sorry if you don’t!
How to Visit Taipei 101
The tower’s address is No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District. The Observatory is open daily from 9am-10pm, with last ticket sale at 9:15pm. Tickets are 600 NT$ for adults and 540 NT$ for students and kids (but free for small children under 115cm).
If you’re going there to watch the sunset, just make sure to get there early as it can sometimes get busy during the summer months.
You can get more information at the tower’s official website.
Book Your Trip to Taiwan: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.