Really enjoyed my trip to Maokong. The gondola ride is really a fun experience and it's nice to go to one of the tea places to chill and have a meal. Don't go on Mondays when the gondolas are down for maintenance. The price for riding a crystal cabin and a normal one are the same. Immediately after you arrive at the base station, get a queue number for the crystal cabin tickets (there will be a staff calling under a makeshift tent) to get an earlier time slot first before queueing up to buy tickets from the counter. If you aren't interested in waiting for a crystal cabin, then there's not need to get a queue number and you can just but your tickets straight away. If I recall, you can only get queue numbers for the crystal cabin from the base station and the taipei zoo station to go up. Otherwise, it just depends on your luck.
Price of the ticket depends on which station you are going to. Most people just buy a round trip straight to the Makong station. This will allow you a ride there and back and one addition stop at any other station. I would not recommend stopping at any station on the way up as it can be quite difficult to get an available cabin when you want to head back up again. Stopping on the way down the mountain is much easier and most of the time you can even get a cabin to yourself.
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