The Ultimate Travel Guide: Taichung
Regarded as an art and cultural hub of Taiwan, the beauty of Taichung comes from its sheer variety of artistic, natural and travel-tingling delights! Despite receiving much less attention than other places around the country, Taichung is often considered the most livable city in Taiwan!
While proudly clinging to its vibrant history, the city is also at the forefront of modernization and for decades has been on a one-way path towards earning an international reputation.
As such, the city is well worth adding to your Taiwanese itinerary! So in that case, let me guide you through everything you need to know about the city of Taichung!
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A Brief Introduction to Taichung
Known as Taichū in Japanese, the city of Taichung was first developed by the aforementioned colonists who planned to create the first “modern” area of Taiwan. Additionally, the city was given the prestigious title of “the Kyoto of Formosa” during the Japanese era due to its abundance of natural beauty and tranquil vibes.
They finally succeeded in their mission by helping turn Taichung into the major economic and cultural centre that it is today.
But above all that, the city has an even bigger claim to fame! Taichung is believed to be the birthplace of one of Taiwan’s biggest cultural icons – bubble tea!
Where Is Taichung?
Taichung, officially known as Taichung City, is a special municipality located in central Taiwan. With a population of just under 2.8 million people, Taichung is the second most populated city in the country and acts as Taiwan’s central hub.
How to Get to Taichung?
Despite being an up-and-coming international city, Taichung isn’t well-connected internationally. Though there is an international airport, routes are very limited.
The best way to access the city is by first travelling to another major city i.e. Taipei or Kaohsiung, before heading the rest of the way. Thankfully, Taichung is very well connected domestically.
Getting to Taichung by Flight
Though Taichung does have an international airport, sadly, there aren’t that many routes on offer. In fact, destinations are limited to Japan, Hong Kong, Macao, Vietnam and only a handful of domestic routes.
As far as domestic routes are concerned, they’re also very limited! For the most part, flights only depart for the smaller islands that surround Taiwan.
|Nangan||1 hr 46||NT$2427|
Getting From the Airport to Taichung City Centre
Getting from the airport to the city centre can be a bit of a hassle. The easiest way is to book a private transfer or even by taxi.
Alternatively, there are a couple of bus routes which will lead you to the city centre:
- Take bus number 302.
- Take bus number 162 to Zhongshan Taiwan Blvd. Intersection then transfer onto bus number 303.
- Take bus number 162 to Zhongshan Taiwan Blvd. Intersection then walk to Chulin Elementary School Bus Stop and transfer to bus numbers 308 or 306.
- Take bus number 162 to Luoquan Village and walk to Juren Village Bus Stop and transfer to bus number 305.
- Take bus number 500 to MRT Wenxin Zhongqing Station and transfer to bus number 86.
Getting to Taichung by Train
The railway systems in Taiwan are fast, efficient and pretty cheap too! The railways cover the entire coastline of the country, making it very easy to get dropped off in any city.
Taiwan also offers both a High-Speed Rail (HSR) as well as the more traditional regular trains (TRA).
Getting to Taichung by High-Speed Rail
Taiwan’s High-Speed Rail (HSR) is one of the fastest and most efficient in the world! You can get from one side of the country to the other in just over an hour!
The railway covers the entire West coast, stopping off in all major cities along the way.
Getting to Taichung by Regular Trains (TRA)
Though Taiwan does have a High-Speed railway line that gets you across the West coast in a flash, it also has a slower variety.
Travel times for these can vary considerably based on the number of stops that they make. The good news for travellers though is that it’s still pretty fast and they’re much cheaper!
Getting to Taichung by Bus
There are also a number of long-distance bus routes which travel between the cities along the west coast. They’re very practical and tickets can be purchased right at the bus station.
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How to Get Around Taichung?
Like other major cities in Taiwan, Taichung has its own MRT system, though it’s only one line (Green Line). In conjunction with the rail networks and bus routes that cross the city, it’s pretty quick and easy to get around.
Getting Around Taichung by Subway
As of now, Taichung only has one subway line (Green Line), though construction is underway for many more to come.
Fares start at NT$20 and are capped at NT$50. The price increases by NT$5 for every 2 kilometres you travel.
Getting Around Taichung by Bus
As with any other destination, buses are by far the cheapest option, but few are as cheap as Taichung! Any trip less than 10km is absolutely free (while using a transport card)!
After that, the basic fare is NT$20 for 10 km. Any further than that gets a little complicated as it’s calculated as NT$2.431*(1+5% tax) per km. Regardless, still a very cheap option!
Getting Around Taichung by Taxi
In some instances, you may not want to take public transportation, so you’ll be pleased to know that Uber is available in Taichung as well. Generally speaking though, taxis aren’t that expensive compared to other countries!
Fares start at NT$85 and cost NT$25.5 per mile after that.
Transportation is very convenient in Taiwan. To make things easier for travellers and locals alike, public transportation can be paid for with a discount by using an EasyCard.
This highly practical transport card works for transportation throughout Taiwan. It serves the MRT in Taipei, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung as well as public buses in Taipei, New Taipei City, Keelung, Taichung, Yilan County, Matsu and Tainan.
EasyCards can also be used to pay for taxis, ferries, TRA trains, supermarkets, YouBikes and convenience stores. These cards can be bought in any major convenience store, including 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Hi-Life, or OK Mart. They can also be topped up at those stores too as well as subway stations.
By using this card in Taichung, any bus journey less than 10km will be free.
What Is There to See in Taichung?
The city of Taichung really has an immense amount of variety covering all elements of what makes Taiwan such a vibrant nation! From pristine nature to cultural phenomenons and artistic delights, there’s good wholesome fun for the whole family!
This former military village is now considered the best highlight in Taichung! This colourful collection of vibrantly painted houses was once a collection of cheaply constructed houses given to soldiers of the Nationalist Kuomintang Army who fled mainland China.
As the city grew, developers destroyed many of these dilapidated villages. Though one determined former soldier, Huang Yung-Fu (now affectionately known as Rainbow Grandpa), refused to leave. He began painting the buildings in the village with colourful, eye-catching designs which ultimately led to it being saved from demolition.
Today, over 1 million people visit the village each year! On some days, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Rainbow Grandpa himself, who still lives in the village and continues to paint to this day!
921 Earthquake Museum
Taiwan is sadly a country which is prone to regular earthquakes. On 21st September 1999, a devastating earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale rocked the country, making it one of the worst natural disasters in Taiwan’s recent history.
Almost 2,500 people lost their lives and over 100,000 Taiwanese were left homeless. As a memorial to this devastating event, the 921 Earthquake Museum stands as a living reminder of that day.
The museum is found on the former site of Guangfu High School which partly crosses the fault on which the earthquake occurred. You’ll be able to see the catastrophic damage the tremors caused the nearby buildings and the extent to which the ground was raised.
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The Gaomei Wetlands
Located towards the expansive coastlines of Taichung, the Gaomei Wetlands are an array of tidal flats renowned for their natural beauty, particularly during sunsets!
The area is also an important ecological spot as its home to an extensive amount of wildlife, including 120 bird species, crabs and mudskippers.
However, the area’s most notable feature is the row of giant wind turbines that make its way out into the Pacific and the pristine 800-meter curved boardwalk that leads to their end.
Dakeng Trail No.2
Located outside the city centre, the mountain ranges snuggly tuck Taichung up against the coast. These vast vistas also make for some spectacular hiking trails which overlook the rest of the city. Of all the trails on offer, the best is Dakeng Trail No. 2.
While other trails are a gentle stroll through a peaceful forest, this one is a real adventure! The majority of the trail is made up of a log-built pathway which haphazardly makes its way up the ascents and down the valleys of this incredible mountain range. It’s definitely no ordinary nature trail!
Once the home of an old ophthalmology clinic and Taichung’s Public Health Bureau, today Miyahara is renowned for its iconic interior design looking like something straight out of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley!
Yet, the quirky interior is only part of the appeal! Miyahara is also famous for its desserts, especially its homemade pineapple cakes and an extensive array of ice cream. As such, its a popular spot for tourists to regroup and recharge with some sugary treats!
Chun Shui Tang
Though it’s hotly debated amongst locals, many consider that bubble tea was first created in Taichung! Otherwise known as Boba or pearl tea, this unique beverage consists of milk tea (actually made from condensed milk) and is combined with a number of toppings, mostly tapioca balls.
It’s by far one of Taiwan’s biggest cultural phenomenons and is sold in their thousands throughout the country. Yet, the long-storied history of this drink is believed to have started in Taichung’s Chun Shui Tang store in the 1980s. So, where better to try it for the first time?!
If you want to learn more about bubble tea, then check out What is Bubble Tea? The Rise of a Global Trend.
Zhongshe Flower Market
The vibrant city of Taichung is at its brightest at the Zhongshe Flower Market! This highly instagrammable site is full of beautifully manicured gardens, stunning water features and bountiful flowers creating an immaculate scenery!
The market blossoms year-round with its immense collection of flora. Some of the most pho-worthy spots include fields full of lavender and sunflower fields, all of which stand before a beautiful mountain backdrop.
Lavender Cottage Farm
Speaking of lavender, how about an entire cottage dedicated to the delicate flower? From November to April the fields beside the Lavender Cottage burst into a hue of purple and draw crowds from far and wide.
The site was established by two farm-loving ladies who left behind the rat race to grow lavender in the mountains outside Taichung. So why not follow in the footsteps of these gals and escape the hustle and bustle of the city too?
Feng Chia Night Market
Taiwan certainly knows a thing or two about night markets, and you’re bound to find plenty in the cities. Taichung is home to one of the country’s biggest, and many consider it to be the best.
Home to an estimated 15,000 shops, restaurants, and stalls and as many as 30,000 people passing through it during the weekends, it’s certainly a sight to see! Packed with amazing food and cheap clothes galore, it’s also one of the favourite spots amongst Taichung’s youth.
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Taichung Industries and Creative Park
During the Japanese era, the Taishō Brewing Company was the largest brewery in Taiwan. The once-booming factory lot has since been repurposed into the Taichung Industries and Creative Park, an area used to promote all things artistic.
Amongst its different exhibition halls are a number of displays from sculptors, writers, painters and performers who come to showcase their talents. These exhibits also stand amongst a scattering of art studios, craft stores and a few insightful museums providing an artistic crash-course.
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Not only is the ice cream store famous for its mouth-watering snacks (particularly the upside-down ice cream cone), but it’s only known for its funky interior. It comes fully equipped with a swimming pool filled with giant ice cream floats! You can almost hear the crowds of influencers!
Painted Animation Lane
One of Taichung’s quirkiest attractions is hidden amongst the city’s main streets. Painted Animation Lane is decorated from one side to the other with a myriad of our favourite animated characters.
From Super Mario and the Simpsons to Looney Tunes and Marvel superheroes, it’s a wonderful little childhood bit of nostalgia hopping from one piece of art to another. Whoever made it did a pretty damn good job!
The name Confucius is very significant in Taiwanese culture! The teacher and philosopher greatly influenced Chinese culture and seeped into surrounding Asian countries. As such, many cities across the continent have humble temples dedicated to him.
This particular one is actually one of 20 temples dedicated to Confucius in Taichung! Dating back to 1899, the temple is a peaceful retreat and a humble reminder of the spirituality that runs deep in this city.
For more information on temples in Taiwan, then check out The Ultimate Guide to Taiwanese Temples.
I don’t often add individual restaurants as highlights, though this one is certainly an exception! Functioning as a traditional Japanese restaurant with authentic floor seating, it’s a beautiful throwback to the area’s colonial past, but that’s far from the best part!
The restaurant also comes with its own zen garden which overlooks the mountain landscape and provides a stunning view back across to Taichung! Certainly, one of the most stunning restaurants the city has to offer!
Taichung knows exactly how to break up the monotony of city life, and the Calligraphy Greenway is a beautiful example of that!
The 3.6km tree-lined boulevard is a wonderful artistic pathway which leads passed sites including the National Museum of Natural Science and National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and countless other engaging spots.
While sometimes the pathway acts as a peaceful retreat, other times it bursts into life with creative individuals who come to enjoy the same beauty.
National Taichung Theater
A common stop for many tour groups in the area, the National Taichung Theater is by far one of the most eye-catching buildings in the city!
Drawn from the concept of the Sound Cave, the theatre has a peculiar streamlined and cave-like design which required the latest in architectural techniques to create this cultural venue.
Guguan Hot Spring
Taiwan is also fortunate enough to have a number of hot springs scattered across this volcanic island. Situated amongst rugged mountain terrain, Guguan is a sulfur-rich hot spring that provides toasty waters year-round.
The high sulphur content of the water creates a less appealing odour, though it does cause wonders for the skin! Legend has it that the Meiji emperor of Japan had a son after visiting the hot spring, which is how it earned the nickname “Son Springs.”
Dajia Jenn Lann Temple
In a country of many fascinating temples, this is Taichung’s prettiest offering. The most iconic Matsu temple in Taiwan has a 200-year-long history and attracts pilgrimages year-round.
Though it may not be as grandiose as others, it contains some of the country’s biggest religious treasures. The violet jade Mazu and the Golden Mazu are considered highly significant, and well worth a look!
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Wufeng Lin Family Garden
From a humble show of faith to a more lavish show of wealth, the Wufeng Lin Family House is the collective name given to the garden and residences of the imperial scholar Lin Wen-hsien.
First built in the Qing dynasty, the house and gardens become renowned throughout Taiwan for their elegance. In later decades, and with the increased influx of outside influences, the gardens slowly began gaining some Japanese and even Western modification, creating the strange but beautiful amalgamation we have today.
Yet another Creative Park, but a far livelier one than our previous offering. Amongst the narrow streets of this little neighbourhood is a vibrant craft market where locals gather to sell their unique and wholly original creations.
Hordes of youthful locals come to browse the extensive amount of jewellery, hand-crafted clothing and all manner of trinkets to add to their individual styles.
Where to Stay in Taichung?
In a booming industrial city, there are plenty of hotels and cheap budget stays on offer to fit all requirements.
Prices for budget hostels start as low as NT$300 and capsule hotels from NT$440. You can even find some basic hotel rooms at NT$500!
What to Eat in Taichung?
One of Taichung’s most iconic offerings is the delicious array of sun cakes that are sold throughout the city. Consisting of a flaky pastry with a chewy maltose centre, it’s a sweet crumbly delight!
You’ll find them everywhere from specialist stores to markets and everything in between! They’re also a favoured treat around Spring Festival and Lantern festival too!
As mentioned before, many believe that this iconic beverage was created right here in Taichung! Though you can find them sold by a myriad of independent and chain vendors throughout the city (and the country in fact), there’s no better place to sample is than in the original Chun Shui Tang Teahouse!
Served hot or cold with all manner of fillings to fit your needs, it’s one of the Taiwan bucket list must-dos!
Taichung even has its own version of the classic meatball, but this one comes with a Taiwanese twist. The contents include spiced meat mixed with fresh bamboo and green onions, all of which are held together by a glutinous rice pastry-like casing.
This treat is yet another remnant of the Japanese colonial period and is rarely found outside the city. Therefore, this could be your only chance to try it!
Tube Rice Pudding (Tong zai mi gao)
Though to the untrained eye it might look like a dumped-out tin of cat food, don’t be quick to judge! This combination of glutinous rice and braised meat is readily available throughout the city and is a quick, simple and delicious snack.
Some places might modify the recipe to contain oysters rather than pork, and might even switch up the rice for a more sticky variety. Who knows what you’ll find!
Another Taiwanese classic, pineapple cakes are amongst the most favoured and iconic desserts in the country. Yet another treat which can be found pretty much anywhere in Taiwan, there are even a number of traditional brands that can be found in any supermarket, including SunnyHills and Chia Te.
Yet, there’s nothing better than trying a local offering and the region’s unique take on it!
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