Taipei 101, TaiwanI have two little skyscraper fanatics with me when I travel. And, if you twist my arm, I may admit that I’ve always enjoyed skyscraper tourism myself. I was excited to go to the top of New York’s former World Trade Center and Chicago’s Sears Tower, back when they were the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

Now it seems that tallest-skyscraper recognition has gotten more competitive. On a trip to Taiwan this summer (see my earlier post), instead of going to the tallest building in the world, I now went up the third tallest (after the Burj Khalifa, in the Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia).

Still, we enjoyed our visit to the Observation Tower of Taipei 101, an impressive 508 meters/1667 feet high skyscraper designed to look like a giant stalk of bamboo. Work on this skyscraper was completed in 2004, and, until 2010, it was the tallest skyscraper in the world. Many elements of fengshui, (literally “wind, water”) the Chinese discipline of harmony for buildings, homes and offices, have been put in place by the architectural design team.

Taipei, TaiwanThe kids enjoyed taking the fastest elevators in the world up to the top. The Japanese-designed elevators travel at 16.83 meters/55.22 feet per second. VERY impressive, wish they could install something similar in my office.

The views over Taipei from the Observation floor are also impressive, and provide a great birds’ eye overview of the city. It’s impressive to see the Tamsui River winding through the city, and the rugged mountains that ring the metropolis. Because Taipei is a plain surrounded by mountains, it is actually one of the world’s most densely populated cities (when taking into account number of residents per square kilometer), although it doesn’t feel that way to a tourist.

Damper ball, Taipei 101, TaiwanThe Damper Ball, which visitors can visit, is an impressive engineering feat. Taiwan receives many typhoons and, as one can imagine, this creates stability problems for skyscrapers.

The Damper Ball is an ingenious invention, it sways depending on the direction of the high-speed winds hitting the tower, thereby adjusting the building’s core stability while providing needed flexibility for high winds.

Taipei 101, TaiwanThey’ve even converted this engineering feat into the skyscraper’s mascot. Adorable little Damper Babies are set out in every corner of the building, and my youngest son was happy to collect all the colors to bring home with him.

And the nice thing is that after your visit to enjoy the spectacular views over Taipei, you can eat delicious dumplings at Din Tai Fung in the Taipei 101 shopping mall.

There’s always a long wait at this restaurant (you get a number, and watch the counter carefully so as not to miss your table), but the dumplings are well worth it.

Taipei 101, TaiwanYou can see the chefs preparing the dumplings, with eight perfect folds on top, behind a glass wall. For my dumpling-addicted kids, this was a popular eating place during our stay.

So don’t miss your visit to Taipei 101, the world’s third-highest skyscraper. FYI, it also makes a great landmark all over the city when you want to know where you are.

Since I was navigating around Taipei alone with two kids in tow, I was always grateful to see Taipei 101 looming on the horizon, allowing me to understand exactly where I was in the city.

Enjoy skyscraper tourism in Taipei!