A trip to Taipei isn’t complete without a visit to their landmark building. The Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world until the Burj Khalifa in Dubai opened in 2010. The “101” comes from the building having 101 floors, which is insane. Taipei 101 dominates the Taipei skyline, and it puts on a stunning fireworks show for New Year’s. It is also the tallest “green” building in the world, and has Platinum LEED certification.
I went to Taipei during late January, when the city is preparing to celebrate Chinese New Year. This is a great time to visit since the weather is awesome (60s and 70s), and everything is festively decorated, similar to Christmas in the US.
Taipei reminded me a lot of Tokyo. The city is crowded, but there’s a sense of controlled chaos. To be honest, I was expecting something similar to Chinatown, but Taipei was very clean and modern. From what I’ve heard it is very different from mainland China, something the Taiwanese are proud of.
The sculpture in front of the building is made of the same steel cables that were used in construction of the elevator. It is quite impressive up close.
Taipei 101 also boasts the world’s fastest elevator. It climbs at an impressive 3,313 ft/min. You can definitely feel the speed, and you ears are guaranteed to pop.
From the observation deck you get 360 views of Taipei, all the way to the mountains and beyond. There are signs in English explaining how 101 was built and any landmarks in the view outside the window. And if you’re wondering why the pictures are so cloudy, don’t worry, it’s not smog. The windows were just kind of dirty.
Being able to view Taipei from the top gives you a visual of how intensely crowded Taipei is. It is a huge city, packed tightly with high rises, and it is continuing to grow.
Another cool thing to look at is the world’s largest and heaviest damper. A damper is a large metal pendulum that swings to counter any movement of the building. It is used to protect the building against earthquakes and typhoons. The picture does not capture how large it is. The damper is around 3 stories tall and cost around $4 million to build.
Taipei 101 also has an impressive collection of jade art. I wouldn’t recommend buying any jade from here though. You can find something nice to bring home for much cheaper at a night market. However, it is fun to walk through and gape at the pieces selling for tens of thousands of dollars.
I usually don’t visit architectural attractions, but I’m glad I was dragged here by my engineer friend. It was very interesting to learn about the construction of the building and all their bragging rights. You also can’t beat the views of the entire city.