Taichung Taiwan – For a long time, Taipei was the main and only stop in Taiwan that foreigners visited, but that time as come and gone, and today, Taichung has really placed itself on the map as one of the best places to visit whilst in Taiwan. It may be that it’s easily accessible from the main Taipei City itself, being only an hour away by train, or it may be that people are discovering that it’s home to one of the biggest night markets in all of Taiwan, or it could even be that the city itself is home to some excellent gastronomical goals for foodies and many exciting and unique sightseeing activities, and yet it’s also close to many nature activities that are friendly for families, couples, and even those who are extreme outdoor enthusiasts.
Trailing not far behind from Taipei for bucket list items to do in Taiwan, Taichung is really a place that can cater for even the most diverse crowd of travellers. For a city that’s just started to make a dent in itineraries for people visiting Taiwan, it caters quite well for foreigners, with many places offering English menus (although for the truly authentic Taiwanese establishments with raging crowds, loud servers and Chinese-only shop signboards, we can’t help you there!).
Whereas Taipei is a relative concrete jungle through and through, with spurts of greenery here and there, and Hualien is an absolute dream for those who feel the most as ease with nature, Taichung is a wonderful mix of both, and definitely deserving of a visit (or two, or three – we can almost guarantee you’ll want to return after just one visit!).
How To Get There?
From Taipei Main Station, hop onto the High Speed Rail (HSR) train to Taichung Station directly. It will take roughly 60-minutes, and cost $700 TWD ($23USD) for one person, one way. This is the most efficient way to travel to Taichung. You can also catch a bus from Taipei Bus Station directly to Taichung City for only $230 TWD ($7.50 USD), but it will take more than double the time of a train ride (160-minutes).
Where To Stay?
Taichung Taiwan Guesthouse – Mr. Mantter
Located in the midst of a number of Taichung City attractions, it can’t get much better than Mr.Mantter, especially for the affordable prices that the rooms go for. All guestrooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, private bathroom, and fridge, and offering superior city views. You can walk to Taichung Park and Zhongzheng Park, and the famous Fengjia Night Market is only 5.5km away. Clean, modern and stylish room décor will make you feel like at home, so much so that you may not want to leave!
Why Guests Love It: “Price was really good with a high standard of service. Room had good amenities, i.e. shaving, shampoo, toothbrush/paste, brush, hair dryer, etc. There was a big fridge in the room so we were able to store some of our fruit and drinks. It’s got everything you need so no need to bring or buy for your stay”, “Hotel was located near several bus stops which was all that matters since one will mostly travel around Taichung by bus. Room was spacious and comfortable”.
Book It Now: Mr. Mantter
Taichung Taiwan Hotel – Military75 Hotel
The stylish wooden interior of the Military75 hotel is sure to hook and reel you in the moment you lay eyes on it. It may be the stunningly decorated lobby, gym, dining, and fitness centre that first catch your eye, and the fact that each room provides air-conditioning, a private bathroom, flat-screen TV, bottled water, and tree toiletries, but it’ll be the complimentary toasts and drinks served 24-hours in the lobby that keep you returning for more (and more, and more). Around 10-minutes drive from Taichung Railway Station and 18-minutes from Taichung High-Speed Rail Way, it’s a steal for the price you’re paying.
Why Guests Love It: “The reception and living/dining area is stylish and pleasant, the staff are friendly and helpful. The room is clean and comfortable. They provide free hot/cold drinks and bread at the reception. Recommended”, “Free buffet bar for 24/hours with jam and cream toast, lemon tea, milk tea, and coffee.”, “The rooms are clean and comfortable. Service is excellent and very friendly. All in all, it’s a very informal hotel, yet offers great service and good rooms.”
Book It Now: Military75 Hotel
What to Eat?
Taichung Taiwan – Pearl Milk Tea
If you’re staying in the main city, you need to stop by the original pearl milk tea shop, Chun Shui Tang. It’s one of the defining aspects of Taichung to visitors, and it’s totally a bucket-list thing. Chun Shiu Tang actually has two stores in the city, but if you’re after the original store, look out for the ‘original stores’ label on Google Map. We speak about it later anyway. 😉
Taichung Taiwan – Charcoal Pepper Buns
Some of the most delicious food items are often some of the simplest, and we can attest to that being true in Taichung, with one of the best things to come from their markets being the charcoal pepper pork buns. Basically, it consists of a simple bun with a filling of pork mince, pepper, and seasoning, wrapped in a thick flour casing and charcoal grilled. It makes a great snack.
Taichung Taiwan – Jianbing
One of the best things to come from the area is the flat jianbing savoury pancakes that you will find being made fresh at the streets. They’re usually filled with delicious mince, spring onions, and eggs, but often they will also make them without filling, cut up, with just simple seasoning on top. Why not try both?
Taichung Taiwan – Dakeng Trails
Nature is just a stone throw away from the city of Taichung, and this is evident in the number of natural landmarks and activities surrounding the city that tourists participate in. One such activity is the Dakeng Trails, a set of ten walking trails located in Dakeng that has been raved on by locals for countless years now, and has only really began to gain traction with foreigners in the many recent years.
The trails all vary in length and difficulty level. Trails # 1 to #4 are notoriously difficult, being the longest and the steepest of all the trails. They consist of mainly an (often steep) uphill climb along wooden log trails and the occasional flat ground across the mountain. They have ropes on either side so that you can pull yourself up at times, and it is entertaining to witness the various methods that the locals use the ropes to get up and down the trails. It’s recommended that you use gloves to avoid callouses and blisters whilst using the ropes, but it is not necessary at all. What is necessary, however, is bringing lots of water, as you’ll be exposed to the sun and strenuous climbing, so it is important to stay hydrated. Also, there are a plethora of bugs out there, so insect spray is recommended. Trail #5 is just the flat trail across the top that connects trails #1 to #4 trail. That means you can choose to go up one trail, and walking along trail #5 and come down another.
Along the way, there are resting stations with pagodas where you can sit down and take a breather. Many Taiwanese hikers will pack along a grand lunch and spread their food after the difficult hike to rest and re-energise. At the peak of all the trails especially, you will see many families eating from rice bowls and sipping on soup that they’ve determinedly hiked up all the way to top, just so they can have lunch with a view.
If you have a small family, or strenuous climbing is just not your cup of tea, you can participate in trails #6 to #10, which are shorter than the aforementioned trails, and definitely not as steep. The tracks are on a lower elevation, and take you through the forest, as opposed to up the mountain. Similar to the previous four, you can also head up any of the trails between #6 and #10, and come down another.
You will find that the Taiwanese people love the outdoors, and at the base of the start of Dakeng Trail No. 4, for example, is Chung Cheng Campsite, a camping/outdoor barbequing ground for those who enjoy fresh air and no crowds.
Access: To get to trails #9 and #10, catch bus no. 1/15/16/20/21/31/51/66/68/85 from the Taipower Dongshan Service Bus Stop in Taichung City, and alight once you hear them mention Dakeng. Trails #6, #7 and #8 are connected to trails #9 and #10. To get to trails #1, #2, and #3, you will need to catch an additional bus no. 66 from outside the trails #9 and #10. To get to trail #4, you will most likely need your own vehicle or hire a taxi to get you there. Just ask the driver to head to the Chung Cheng Campsite, and the trail head will begin at the car park from there.
Chung Cheng Campsite: 406, Taiwan, Taichung City, Beitun District
Taichung Taiwan – Fenjia Night Market
Fengjia Night Market is the epitome of what a Taiwanese night market should look and feel like. It’s incredibly busy all nights of the week, drawing thousands of people across the country and even the globe down to its narrow streets filled with loud stall-owners busting out their specialties and Taiwanese spices filling the air. Unlike many other stalls, Fengjia market encompasses quite a large area, including the likes of the busy Fengjia Road, Xitun Road, and even hosts the Wenhua Night Market, making it a busy cross-section even for those not visiting the market. It’s 1km long, and with grills, barbeques, hot plates, and deep-fryers filling both sides of the street, displaying tantilising foods being prepared fresh and on-the-spot for customers, it will be very difficult to pass through without want a piece of everything.
The food options here are incredibly diverse, but what’s surprising is that the drinks options are also just as diverse, with options like freshly pressed sugar cane juice, watermelon juice, star fruit juice, and of course, bubble tea options that will make you more confused the more you look at the extensive menu.
Of course, like most night markets in Taiwan, food isn’t the only thing on display here. There are plenty of stalls selling electronics, small gifts and souvenirs, and stores selling fashion items. Running adjacent to the night market along Fuxing Road is a plethora of international branded stores such as Nike and Adidas that will appease to those who want to knock two birds with one stone – head there early and shop until you’re ready to drop, and then head to the market to re-fuel again!
Access: From Taichung Railway Station, take the bus no. 25 or 35 to the Fengjia University. Alight there, and it should be a few minutes walk from there.
Taichung Taiwan – Gaomei Wetlands
If Taichung were to have a best-kept secret, it would be that it has some of the best sunsets in all of Taiwan. There’s something about this city and its coastline that just brings an extra level of beauty to the sunsets there, and you will understand when you see the entire sky lit up like fire and fairy floss every afternoon.
It’s undisputed that one of the best places to watch the sunset is at the Gaomei Wetlands. Located just under an hour from the city, it’s the pinnacle of where the sea and the land meet. It’s a natural water area that’s lucky enough to be uninterrupted by modernisation, so much so that people travel far and wide just to see the sky reflect off its still waters. Whilst there are many activities to do there, ever since the 800m board was installed by the Taichung Government, it’s been the main attraction, with people accessing the wetlands along those boardwalks to capture the sunset in the most gorgeous setting.
If the boardwalk becomes too crowded, you can also perch yourself along the Gaomei Landscape Bridge, an enormous and stunning white bridge that stretches over the wetlands and provides uninterrupted views into the far distance.
If you arrive a tad early, you’ll even be able to pick out the little critters in the wetlands, such as the crabs, mud-skippers, and birds such as egrets and spoonbills.
Access: Our recommendation is to get here via a rental car or via a taxi, as public transport is still rather clunky. However, on weekends, public holidays, and summer and winter holidays (mid-June to mid-September, and mid-January to February), bus no. 655 from Taichung THSR Station will connect Rainbow Village, Gaomei Wetlands Visitor Centre and Taichung Fishing Port.
Taichung Taiwan – Dessert at Miyahara
If ever you had to pick a place to have dessert for the last time, Miyahara in Taichung should at least make your top three choices. It’s an extremely popular dessert and sweets restaurant right in the middle of the city that meets both the hype and everyone’s expectations of how delicious their products are.
The most popular item to get here is there ice cream. During the middle of the day, don’t be surprised to have to wait in a spectacularly long line to purchase a serving – to make it worth it, we recommend getting at last three scoops! The flavours are incredibly unique – you can choose from a wide variety of chocolate flavours, sourced from various regions around the world. They also have a great range of Taiwanese-esque flavours such as earl grey tea and a plethora of fruity choices such as native pineapple.
From there, you can also choose toppings to go onto your ice cream, such as crumbs of pineapple cake (another one of their specialities that you can get there), and red bean (a Taiwanese dessert topping favourite) and many more.
After you finish your ice cream, we recommend you walk around the store and purchase some souvenirs to bring home. Quite similar to sweets stores in Japan, this store is filled to the brim with gorgeously packed sweets and desserts that would make great gifts to bring back home. Imagine the likes of locally and internationally sourced gourmet chocolates and authentic Taiwanese pineapple cakes. You simply can’t walk out empty handed.
Access: From Taichung Station, it is only a 5-minute walk.
Taichung Taiwan – Rainbow Village (Caihongjuan Village)
For those looking for the next Instagram-able place in Taiwan, Rainbow Village has got to be it. It’s whacky, it’s colourful, it’s fun, and it’s a feast for your eyes – what more could you want?
The history of the rainbow village is incredibly sweet. It was originally a place where veterans resided (aptly called the veterans village), but as they slowly moved on, one lonesome veteran decided that to pass-by time and brighten up the houses, he would paint. So he painted, and painted, and painted. He began with the insides of his own home, and then moved outdoors, and eventually painted the entire village. No efforts were made on his behalf to advertise this effort – he simply wanted to paint. When the government announced plans to demolish the area for new residents, local students discovered this artwork and protested to protect this area – and thus, here we are!
It’s not that big of an area, so you wouldn’t exactly spend hours and hours perusing the streets here, but the gorgeous and unique artworks will make quite a memorable impression on you – it’s art, but not like you’ve seen it before. The humble grandpa, nicknamed Rainbow Grandpa (but whose real name is Huang Yong Fu), can sometimes still be seen around the village selling his pieces of art. If you come across him, remember to say hi and show some support!
Access: From Taichung Main Station, hop on the bus no. 27/29/30/40 and alight at Ling Tung University. It is a 5-10-minute walk from there.
Taichung Taiwan – Original Pearl Milk Tea – Chun Shui Tang (Original Store)
Bubble tea, pearl milk tea, tapioca tea – whatever it is you call it, it’s an invention that’s taken the world by storm so hard and so fast that it’s become almost a religion for some people. If you’re wondering whereabouts it originated from, well, Taichung might have the answer.
Chun Shiu Tang, a Chinese restaurant chain, claims to be the very first inventors of the now famous bubble tea. Apparently the idea came to the owner decided he wanted to serve cold tea in the 1980s, and added tapioca balls in to complete it. Whilst it’s located all around the world, it still retains its old-school charm with traditional oriental interiors and authentic Chinese food.
The original Chun Shui Tang is located in Taichung. Now don’t be mistaken, as there are two stores, but on Google Maps, the original store will actually have ‘original store’ next to its name. Once you visit, have a look down at the cement flooring at the entrance and you’ll even see ‘original bubble tea’ engraved on the stone. They’ve even got a banner inside that claims they’re the first! Their belief that they’re the pioneers is no joke.
Whilst their bubble tea is just as good as the next, you can officially tick off ‘trying the original bubble tea’ off your bucket list!
Access: From Taichung Station, it is a 20-minute walk.
Taichung Taiwan – Guguan Hot Spring
It seems that activities for rest and relaxation are somewhat lacking in Taiwan, with their main sources of activity being eating away at the night markets or hiking the mountains across the country. However, the Guguan Hot Springs near Taichung beg to differ. These hot springs located in the mountains at an altitude of 800m offer an opportunity for visitors to escape the city life to an area of lush forests, towering trees, and of course, simmering hot springs to ease away sore muscles of all the walking and hiking you’d no doubt have done in Taichung.
It’s located in the Guguan Recreation Area that also offers a range of other activities, including camping, swimming, fishing, and hiking. To be able to experience the hot springs, you will need to have booked a hotel in the Guguan area. Most of the hotels have their own access to the hot springs, and some even have private options for the rooms booked.
Price: from $2,511 TWD ($81USD) for 2 people/night
Price: from $6060 TWD ($195USD) for 2 people/night
Taichung is surprisingly filled to the brim with exciting activities to do, despite not being as boldly imprinted on the map like Taipei City. It’s arguably as diverse as the country’s capital in terms of attractions, and obviously from the list above, is as unique in traditional, creative, and natural experiences. Do yourself a favour and expand your horizons to Taichung.