The Taichung Rundown
It is customary to encourage would-be wanderlusters to take a keen interest in the less fashionable, more diminutive corners of any given country. In the case of Taichung, the de facto third city of Taiwan behind Taipei and Kaohsiung, diminutive is hardly a word you can use. Indeed, as Taiwan’s rapid urban momentum and uncommon allure with new generations of travellers on mainland China endure, tourism to Taichung is sure to spike.
Even as it stands, the city offers much to admire and enjoy. Taichung covers a vast area that evinces the best of Taiwan, from industrious urban pockets to lush highlands, feverish night markets to austere temples.
The majority of urban Taichung inhabits a basin and plain with exquisite backdrop scenery in the Central Mountain Range. The city’s proximity to some of the most idyllic, primeval regions of an island in constant hyper-development drive is a valuable asset that seldom escapes the notice of countless annual domestic tourists. Taichung’s next challenge is to parlay those patent geographic advantages into a dynamic international tourism sector. The result is inevitable. The core of the city, which includes the busy districts of Central, North, South, East, West, is a convivial hub and beyond, coastal and mountain townships beckon with telltale, singular charms. All in all, Taichung is well worth a special detour from the likes of Taipei, Penghu and the geothermal attractions that lure so many to Taiwan.
Taichung’s Top 10
10. Taichung Folk Park is worth a trip north of the city centre to peruse panoply of authentic native artefacts.
5. Lecheng Temple, or Heihsi Matsu Temple, is a national historic landmark that dates back to the 18th century.
9. Dakeng Scenic Area is a lush highland sanctuary and recreation ground in Beitun District.
4. National Museum of Natural Science sprawls over 9 hectares and includes a Space IMAX Theater, Science Center, Life Science Hall, Chinese Science Hall, Global Environment Hall and Botanical Gardens.
8. Stock 20 is a paramount hive of creative activity and contemporary art.
3. Taichung City Hall is by far the most important civic landmark in the city.
7. Wen-Hsin Forest Park is a popular city oasis with a wonderful amphitheatre.
2. Chishan Gate is a prominent example of early 20th century Formosan architecture.
6. Paochueh Temple is a paragon shrine with a photogenic jolly Buddha sculpture.
1. National Museum of Fine Arts unfurls one of the best collections of native art on the island of Taiwan.
- Taichung City Hall – Built by a world-class architect and includes a large courtyard.
- Taichung Tower – Made in the unique shape of bamboo and the tallest building in Taichung.
- Martyr’s Shrine – Dedicated to the heroes of Taiwan.
- Taichung Folklore Park – Offers real and recreated streets and buildings of a “rustic” Taiwan.
- Lecheng Temple – One of the city’s big attractions is more than 200 years old.
Taichung Art & Culture
- National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts – Home to an extensive collection with modern art and rotating exhibits.
- National Museum of Natural Science – Seven museums in one includes a botanical garden, greenhouse, earthquake museum and theatres.
- Stock 20 – A space for modern art displays housed in a former railroad warehouse.
- Taichung Metropolitan Opera House – Wonderful opera house designed by Toyo Ito, the famous architect.
- Taichung Municipal Cultural Center – Offers cultural events and rotating exhibits in Taichung.
- Feng Chia Night Market – A big night market with many vendors and restaurants.
- Gegeiscoming – This small store offers handmade goods and specialty items such as bags, purses and one-of-a-kind items.
- Fu Man Men – The flagship mall is a two-level building in Taichung with specialty stores and vendors.
- Chiao Hui Wang – This small shop makes special items with photos provided by customers.
- Xiang Shang Market – One of the many traditional markets that offer fresh produce, groceries and all kinds of delicacies.
Gay & Lesbian Taichung
- Sydney Disco – A friendly pub in Taichung with great dancing.
- Ai Quio – An upbeat and trendy place to go for karaoke either before or after dinner.
- G Plus Lounge Bar – A new place that offers a great nightlife scene.
- Big Elephant – A nicely decorated joint with cool music and friendly people.
- Purple Grindery – A friendly karaoke bar.
- Taichung Winery – Still in operation today and dating back to the Japanese era, it includes a museum on wine, its making and history.
- Dasyueshan – The Great Snow Mountain is a National Forest Recreational Area in Taichung
- The Parkway – A lovely strip of a green parkway that runs north and south between some of the city’s attractions.
- DaKeng – Offers some wonderful hiking trails that go along elevated walkways.
- Fulfillment Amphitheater – Found in the Wenxin Forest Park and offering a wide assortment of open-air performances.
- The Taichung Compass Football Team is an expat soccer team in Taichung that plays at the Morrison Academy Campus.
- The Sinun Bulls baseball team plays at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium.
- The Londerer Sports Bar in Taichung is a great place for catching one of your favourite sports teams on a flatscreen TV.
- The ING Marathon is a 10K race held in the Metropolitan Park each September.
- The Taichung City Sports Meet is celebrated each year in September.
With a total area of 2,200 km², Taichung covers more ground than Greater London. About half the city, however, takes in vast swaths of the Central Mountain Range foothills and, as such, is out of reach and somewhat remote. A metro population of 2.6 million resides in a cluster of easily accessible districts.
East District is one of the main urban areas of Taichung and a prominent base for hotels, restaurants and the like.
West District is home to a number of fine museums and landmarks, from the National Museum of Natural Science to the National Museum of Fine Art.
South District is a residential and college town enclave of Taichung.
North District packs close to 150,000 people in a tidy 7 km²
Nantun District is a vital area of the city that over 150,000 people call home.
Xitun District is the prominent home of Fengjia Night Market and Taichung Metropolitan Park.
Fengyuan District is a green enclave of the city with a decent night market.
Beitun District encompasses close to a quarter of a million people but also contains the rural area of Dakeng.
Central District is the densely populated heart of Taichung, with some 22,000 people in just under 1 km²
Taichung Eat & Drink
Taiwan is a paradise for globetrotter gourmets. With a blend of night market food stalls, upscale restaurants and traditional kitchens, Taichung, the birthplace of bubble tea, is a cardinal stop on the island for intrepid epicures.
Gulu Gulu (2, Lane 13, Wuquan W. 4th Street) is a popular dispenser of indigenous Taiwanese cuisine.
Tonton Philou (459-3, Dongshan Rd, Sec 1, Beitun District) is run by a French expat chef who whips up comfort staples from the Continent.
Wu Wei Tsao Tang Teahouse (106 Gongyi Rd, Sec 2 Restaurant & Bar District) transforms humble cups of tea into elegant, age-old rituals.
Kaiseki Ryori BBQ (138-15, WenXin Rd, Sec 3) is a DIY Japanese grill pleasure palace.
Little India Muslim Restaurant (60 Boguan 3rd St, West District) is proof positive that Taichung has a sophisticated ethnic and international culinary landscape.
|Li Ren Sun Mian (3, Taizhonggang Rd, Sec 1) serves exclusively organic, homestyle vegetarian cuisine with flair.|
Jinjiang Korean Restaurant (167 Taizhonggang Rd, Sec 1) serves copious amounts of Seoul-ful barbecue.
Xi Wei Xiang (341 Gongyi Rd, Sec 2) has been a Sichuan favourite in Taichung for over two decades.
Finga’s Base Camp (61 Zhongming S Rd, Restaurant & Bar District) has a Kiwi owner and Tex-Mex menu.
Angel’s Kitchen & Kiwi Kafe (471, Xingan Rd, Sec 2, Beitun District) is a humble joint run by a locavore chef who cut her teeth in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The calendar of annual events in Taichung is a mix of Chinese traditional and more contemporary festivals.
Chinese New Year is of no less importance in Taiwan and as a big city, Taichung celebrates with gusto and verve.
Shang Yuan or Lantern Festival, is the official last bash of the New Year celebration and takes place every year on the fifteenth day of the first Chinese calendar month. A host of inherent rituals and foods mark the luminous festival in Taichung.
Taichung Jazz Festival is the most famous annual event in Taichung and lures a number of acts to to the city every October.
Night Markets qualify as events in of themselves in Taiwan and nowhere is this more germane than in Taiching. Fengjia Night Market is a requisite first stop for a cornucopia of savoury and sweet snacks, apparel and consumer goods galore . The open-air food court and bazaar is second to Shilin Night Market in Taipei in overall area but is easily as vibrant. Other worthwhile night markets in Taichung include Zhong Hua and Zhong Xiao.
Taiwan has a notable and impressive record as a baseball powerhouse. The Sinon Bulls represent Taichung in the Chinese Professional Baseball League and play out of the all grass, 19,000 capacity Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium.
Dajia Mazu Cultural Festival is a wildly colourful and venerable week-long temple pilgrimage festival that takes place in March. One of the most important annual religious events in Taiwan, the festival celebrates Mazu (Matsu), the native deity of the sea and a major figure in southern coastal Chinese culture.
Duanwu Festival, or Double Fifth, occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese calendar and is the traditional time for Dragon Boat races.
Autumn Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival, is an ancient, 3,000 year old commemoration of the autumnal equinox and one of the most vital holidays on the Chinese calendar.
Double Ten Day takes place, naturally, on October 10 and salutes the events of 1911 that led to the implosion of the Qing Dynasty in China and subsequent creation of the Republic of China. Concerts and fireworks mark the de facto national day of celebration throughout Taiwan.
When To Go
Like Taipei, Taichung has a humid subtropical climate that features close to 80% humidity from month to month and sporadic scrapes from typhoons off the South China Sea coast. Whereas the northern part of Taiwan typically receives heavy rainfall from January until late March, the bulk of annual precipitation descends on Taichung from May through to August. July is the worst month for showers, with over 340 mm on average.
The rain is not the only reason to avoid Taichung in summer. From June to August, the city swelters and rarely sees temperatures fall or rise beyond the 76°F (24°C) to 91°F (33°C) range. A simple stroll on hectic Gongyi Road can, as a result, turn into a vexatious ordeal.
The best counsel then is to visit Taichung in the winter or a month like March, when the torrid weather tapers off significantly and the protection of the Central Mountain Range comes into play. Between December and March, travellers can expect little rainfall and temperatures to waver between 57°F (14°C) and 76°F (24°C).
What To Miss
Like the rest of Taiwan, Taichung has a reputation as a safe destination. A minority of visitors on the island for a week or two make the effort to visit the tertiary city, which is a boon for those who do. The city, on the whole, is free of crass traps and churlish conduct vis-à-vis outsiders, with scant traces of the opportunism one often encounters, if not in Taiwan, then certainly in busier hot spots in East and Southeast Asia.
Taichung Airport (Taichung Ching Chuang Kang Airport) is primarily a domestic hub but has seen a recent increase in service to and from the People’s Republic of China and Southeast Asia. As such, visitors can access the city directly from the likes of Hong Kong, Ningbo, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai-Pudong, Shenzhen and Ho Chi Minh City.
Despite the airport’s growth in recent years, a train or coach bus from Taipei is by far the most popular mode of transport to Taichung. The rapid rail option is worth the extra premium and takes 2 hours from Taiwan’s capital. The fast train from Kaohsiung comes in at 2.5 hours. A relatively new high-speed train from Taipei cuts the time in half but is prohibitively expensive for some.
Though Taichung covers a big area, the downtown commercial core is compact enough to traverse on foot. A proper mass rapid transit system is in the works but will take years to fully develop. As a result, visitors must rely on taxis and a few vital bus lines to get from one point to another. Happily, both options are reliable and affordable in Taichung.
Though Taipei and to a lesser extent, Kaohsiung, get all the glory in Taiwan, the city of Taichung is worth a look as well. With just over one million people, Taichung is a dynamic city with many fine cultural attractions, superb cuisine and lively night markets.
Though Taichung was effectively settled in the early 18th century by the Qing Dynasty and inhabited by aboriginal peoples for centuries, the city was not officially established until 1920. Despite the short life of Taichung however, the city has many splendid landmarks and monuments. Exemplary temples and family shrines dot the cityscape by the dozens and range in nature from Hindu to Shinto, Buddhist to Taoist. The best of the lot include Lecheng Temple, Pao Hueh Temple and Wen Chang Temple. Other relevant points of interest in Taichung are Chisan Gate, the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Natural Science and Taichung Folklore Park.
Attractions & Activities
- Lecheng Temple
- Chishan Gate
- Taichung City Hall
- National Museum of Fine Arts
- National Museum of Natural Science
- Taichung Jazz Festival
- Sinon Bulls Baseball
- Zhong Xiao Night Market
- Feng Chia Night Market
- Zhong Hua Night Market
Restaurant & Nightlife
- Ba Dou Shi Fu
- Yuan Mini Hot Pot
- Yoo Ga Ne
- Feng Ming Shan
- Lounge Bar
- Domo Night Bar
Taichung Folklore Park
Home to perhaps the best repository of native arts and crafts in the city, Taichung Folklore Park evokes a traditional, throwback side of Taiwan. A good family fun bet in Taichung.National Museum of Natural Science
Taichung’s National Museum of Natural Science is a sprawling complex of visually arresting interactive exhibits. The NMNS is actually several museums in one, with specific wings devoted to earthquakes, global cultures, the environment and other topics of interest.Taichung Winery
A winery in Taichung, Taiwan? Indeed. The Taichung Winery dates back to the Japanese occupation and may be one of the most unique attractions in the city.Art Street
This funky Taichung promenade is full of superb cafés, bars, restaurants and galleries.Taichung Metropolitan Opera House
Iconoclast and innovative architect Toyo Ito won the bid for the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House in 2006. When the doors on the green, irreverent opera house open in 2013, the entire world is going to take notice. Until then, keep it on your radar.Guguan Hot Springs
The best hot springs hotels and resorts outside of Taichung reside in Guguan, within the gorgeous Dakeng Scenic Area. The thermal waters and other inherent recreation attractions here draw scores of tourists throughout the year.
Taichung has a humid monsoon climate, with heavy rain between March and September.
- Winter (December to February) 5-14°C
- Spring (March to May) 6-23°C
- Summer (June to September) 22-31°C
- Fall (October to November) 12-24°C
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