The best place for spectacular views of Taipei 101 and the surrounding city is on Elephant Mountain. I was able to hike the mountain right before sunset to get some beautiful photographs of the city skyline.
Supposedly, the entrance to the mountain is about a 15-20 minute walk from Taipei 101 and also easily accessible through the MRT. I don’t really know because our hotel was in another area so I had to take a cab and B line it if I wanted to arrive during golden and twilight hours. I also told my cab driver to drop me off at the main entrance of Elephant Mountain; I only realized later that I was not dropped off at the main entrance but at another entrance closer to the Taipei Medical University Hospital. While it turned out that either of these entrances is perfectly fine to use, it appeared that taking the main entrance has more available signs, clearer directions, and has more vantage points on the main path.
I was running late and it was getting dark, so I didn’t take a lot of time documenting the numerous stops and different vantage points along the way. I pretty much ran straight up to the highest peak of elephant mountain which took me about 12 minutes to get to that point. But a normal pace could probably get to the top in about 20 minutes. It’s not really a difficult hike…but there are definitely A LOT of the stairs! At least the steps are pretty short. It was pretty hot and humid and by the time I got to the top, I was completely drenched in sweat. At the top, however, there was a very nice breeze that really cooled and dried me off.
Elephant Mountain is a very popular spot for tourists and locals, so expect to see a lot of people in the evenings and on weekends. You will see many couples, college kids, elderly people and people that want to workout, as there are outdoor workout stations available. Two middle-aged women chatted with me [while guiding me to the top] saying they play badminton with each other and hike the mountain frequently for exercise.
When I got to the top, the area was filled with tourists and photographers. I was able to find a spot where I could raise my camera on my tripod without hindering other people. The views are pretty amazing and it’s a great (and free) activity for anyone.
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