Exploring Taipei Underground
Urban subterranean spaces have always fascinated me. While living in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, I learned to appreciate how common and useful they are. These spaces can be quite disorientating at first, and it usually takes a while before you work out where all of the tunnels are, how they connect to each other, and eventually build a mental map.
Why are these underground spaces awesome? It’s usually faster getting between places since you don’t have to wait for traffic lights and cross streets. In some cases it can be less crowded compared to above ground. It’s also a nice way to escape bad weather (when it’s too hot, too cold, or rainy).
Most of the underground tunnels in Taipei City are named “metro malls” since they usually connect/link metro stations and have a variety of shops and businesses, all located underground. Although there are quite a few metro malls in Taipei, we will only explore four of them:
- Zhongshan Metro Mall
- Station Front Metro Mall
- Ximen Metro Mall
- East Metro Mall
Here’s an overview map of where all of these metro malls are located:
The two main malls at Taipei Main Station are Taipei City Mall and Station Front metro Mall. Both of these malls are directly connected to Taipei Main Station and branch out to the west.
Taipei City Mall opened in 2000. It is around 825 meters long, located on the north side of Taipei Main Station and reaches all the way to Beimen station.
Station Front Metro Mall opened in 2004. It is around 343 meters long, located on the south side of Taipei Main Station.
The Taipei Main Station area is definitely the most complicated since it consists of several different tunnels, sometimes at different depths. It is tricky to find good overview maps showing how the different underground areas connect but here are some of the best I’ve managed to find online:
Physical (to scale) map
3D rendering (https://imgur.com/Sek6zxx)
Branching north from Taipei Main Station is the Zhongshan Metro malls. It opened in 1999 and connects Taipei Main Station, Zhongshan station, and Shuanglian station. It is around 815 meters long. Although the map shows two separate tunnels it is in fact one long tunnel connecting three metro stations on the red line.
Additionally, disconnected from the Taipei Main Station area is the East Metro Mall. It opened in 2002 and connects Zhongxiao Fuxing station and Zhongxia Dunhua station. It is around 725 meters long.
Finally, there is a small metro mall at Ximen station. It runs north from Ximen station and almost reaches Beimen. It opened in 2002 and is around 182 meters long. If you’re walking from Beimen to Ximen it can be convenient to use the tunnel to avoid crossings or bad weather.
Taipei City Mall, Station Front Metro Mall and Zhongshan Metro Mall are all interconnected through the underground area in Taipei Main Station connecting four different stations:
- Taipei Main Station
- Beimen Station
- Zhongshan Station
- Shuanglian Station
By combining different schematics/maps of the individual malls we can get a nice overview of the entire space.
I believe the longest underground path you can walk in Taipei is from Beimen Station to Shuanglian Station, around 2.1 kilometers in total length. It is a fun adventure for a rainy day. You’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, and other activities along the way, including underground libraries or getting a massage.
(If there was an underground connection between Beimen station and the Ximen metro mall then you would be able to add another 826 meters to this distance, reaching nearly 3 kilometers. Maybe some day that will be possible!)