The Maokong Gondola (貓空纜車; Māokōng lǎnchē) is a four kilometre long cable car system in the mountains south of Taipei. It runs between the Taipei Zoo and Maokong with intermediate stops at the Taipei Zoo (inside station) and Zhinan Temple (指南宮; Zhǐnán Gōng).
You can take a short ride on the gondola to visit the Taipei Zoo or you can go further to Zhinan Temple and Maokong. There are hiking trails further up into the mountains from both these places. Maokong is famous as a tea growing area and has many tea houses where you can drink tea and enjoy the views of Taipei.
The Taipei Zoo Gondola Station is located about 300 metres from the Taipei Zoo MRT Station. Tickets cost NT$30, 40 or 50 depending on the number of stations. The system is operated by the Taipei MRT and you can use the Easy Card (悠遊卡) to pay the fare or purchase tickets in the stations. The gondola has proved very popular so expect long queues on the weekends.
The Gondola is closed for maintainence every Monday. This was because of numerous problems with the operations since the official opening (Taipei Times, 26 July 2007). The hours of operation are 9:00 am to 9:00 pm from Tuesday to Thursday, 9:00am to 10:00pm on Friday, 8:30 am to 10:00 pm on Saturday and national holidays and 8:30am to 9:00pm on Sunday.
Details about the closure of the Maokong Gondola from October 2008 to March 2010 are below for archive purposes.
Latest update: The Maokong Gondola resumed normal operations on 30 March 2010.
Update: On 1 October 2008 operations of the Maokong Gondola were suspended. This was because of erosion under a pillar caused by rain from Typhoon Jangmi. The problems are quite serious from an engineering point of view. At least one pillar needs to be relocated. One of the major criticisms is that the project was never subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). On 23 January 2009 Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin announced that pillar T-16 would be relocated and hoped that the gondola could resume operations by the end of the year. The gondola reopened for free test rides for six days from 23 March. It officially resumed operations on 30 March. Below are links to news articles detailing the problems.