Taipei 101 and the Highest Starbucks in the World
It is like an obligation; to see the tallest buildings in almost every country we visit. The structures usually come with a dedicated viewing platform for the public to access and while most tourists are satisfied with admiring the construction from the outside, others spend cash and take the time in queuing to get to the top. After all, views from above are often breathtaking.
In my recent trip to Taipei, I was battling with myself if would go up the observation deck of Taipei 101 or not. Even after being dethroned by Burj Khalifa in 2010 as the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 remains to be popular. Currently, its glorious 101 floors comprise what is dubbed as the Tallest Green Building in the Word.
There are many options for those who are not fans of observatories, though. Taipei 101 is best seen from the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall where visitors can also witness the changing of guards every hour. And although there is a bit of trekking required to get to the top of the Elephant Mountain, it makes all the sweat worth it. Whether it be sunrise, in the middle of the day, or sunset; the tower makes a great backdrop for photos.
The building is within walking distance from the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. The stroll allowed us to take nicer photos than what we had right below Taipei 101.
In front of Taipei 101 is a LOVE sign commonly found in many landmarks and tourist spots around the world.
What caught me the most, though, was the sculpture called Infinite Life by Kang Muxiang. It was made from the retired steel cables which served the World’s Fastest Elevator from January 2005 to May 2010. It was coiled tightly, forming a steel embryo that has been reborn from the structure where it came from.
Many travelers or even locals do not know about this; but if you do not want to shell out money for an entrance fee to the 91st floor of the building, you can have coffee at the highest Starbucks in the World instead. It is only the 35th floor, but it still offers a pretty great view up there, most especially on a sunny day.
There used to be a free pass dispensed at the lobby to get to the 35th Floor. But now, reservation on the coffee shop at least one to two days is a must. As I was not in Taipei before my desired date, I sought help from the fantastic Oxygen Hostel staff to book a slot for me.
The earliest time to go is 9 AM. Just the perfect time to get breakfast while enjoying the gorgeous scenery. You only have to be in the lobby at least 5 minutes before your time slot as there will be a crew who will get you and give you a number to present to the barista.
No slippers and short pants are allowed, and a minimum of 200 NTD should be consumed. They accept EasyCard, which is a good thing if you are trying to max out the balance as I was.
The menu was typical, and the place is pretty simple. The space is smaller than usual cafes probably because they try to accommodate as many people as possible. There was nothing spectacular about the interior, but before I even got disappointed, I remembered that the overlooking view of Taipei is what makes this branch so special and unique.
Most people want to get the seats under the counter height table so be sure to be the first person to get out of the elevator to be able to reserve them for you and your friends. The combination of buildings and mountains surrounding the island is such a pleasant view for a coffee date or alone time.
Overall, I recommend visiting this branch of Starbucks if you want to take lovely pictures of the city from Taipei 101. It is such a great alternative for those who want to make the most out of their budget. But then again, if the greens and skyscrapers cannot convince you enough, having a cup of coffee with a friend, family or by yourself is always a good reason to go.