If you’ve had enough of Taipei and Kaohsiung on your past Taiwan trips, one region worth checking out is Taichung 台中 on the western coast of Taiwan. Also known as Taiwan’s 2nd largest city, it’s a place I need to spend a little more time in. I first visited Taichung briefly on my Career Break back in 2016, and breezed through again in 2018 on #TaiwanderingWithScoot, so I’ve checked off a number of the cool things to do in Taichung, but really there’s a lot more I want to check out in future.
In the meantime I’ve put together this guide to Taichung as well as some popular nearby spots like Sun Moon Lake and Cingjing Farm even though they are technically part of Nantou, but are some of the more popular day trips to take from Taichung City.
This post is sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Board of Singapore. The content and travel in this post is from a mix of my past personal and sponsored trips to Taiwan
A bit about Taichung
Taichung has quite a different vibe from Taipei and that’s probably due to its history – it was almost the capital because of its central location, and when the Japanese colonised Taiwan, they looked to build up Taichung as a modern city centre so you can still see many remnants of that Japanese influence today, though sadly Taichung lost a lot of its original historical architecture in that quest for modernisation.
After the capital Taipei, Taichung is the next busiest city in Taiwan and quite a popular place to pass through for those exploring Taiwan down its western coastline. It’s conveniently located on the High Speed Rail (HSR) line and takes a mere 40mins to reach, so definitely very doable even if you are a tight schedule. Even by car or bus or the slow train, the journey is 2-3 hours which isn’t too bad if you are on a budget and have some time to spare.
What I like about Taipei is the convenience of getting to most places by the MRT, but in Taichung the main sights are quite a lot more spread out and when I visited, I mostly got around the main city area by bus, and further out places by taxi. In April 2021 they just launched Taichung’s first MRT line and while it’s set to expand, right now it only covers a handful of the downtown highlights.
Things to do in Taichung City
Feng Chia Night Market 逢甲夜市
If you only have time and energy for one night market in Taichung, Feng Chia Night Market in the Xitun District is your best bet. Taichung’s most famous night market is also its largest night market, sprawling across quite a large area. The market is next to Feng Chia University so lots of budget friendly options for food and shopping.
You can find all your typical Taiwanese street food and night market stalls here, though some of the stalls with long queues are for food like Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang 大肠包小肠 (Taiwanese sausage wrapped in glutinous rice), egg pancake, stinky tofu and takoyaki balls. I’m a lazy person so I went with my favourites fried mushrooms and coffin bread.
Location: Wenhua Road, Xitun District, Taichung. It’s not far from Taichung Central Park. Probably best to take a bus or taxi, it’s about 30mins by walking or 10 min drive from the nearest MRT Station Wenxin Yinghua.
This building’s unusual name coms from the Japanese ophthalmology clinic that was here during the Japanese colonial times. It also belonged to the Taichung Health Bureau for a bit after WWII but was pretty much in disrepair and left to decay for quite awhile until pastry shop Dawncake 日出 came along and revitalised it completely. Inside the red bricked building you are greeted with lovely high ceilings and soaring wooden shelves. Great place to pick up souvenirs or grab a bite!
Location: 20 Zhongshan Road, Central District, Taichung. It’s right next to the Taichung Railway Station
Fourth Credit Union 第四信用合作社
Further along Zhongshan Road from Miyahara is another gentrified old building run by the same people who own Miyahara. This building used to be a bank and you can see touches of that from vault doors to coins covering the entire floor. This place is larger than Miyahara so there’s more room to sit down and chill. Dawncake is known for their desserts so I had myself a waffle cup of ice cream and some popcorn chicken for dinner (the joys of solo travel, no one to nag you about proper meals!). Not the cheapest of meals, but definitely quite a cool experience.
Location: 72 Zhongshan Road, Central District, Taichung. Just down the road from Miyahara
Chun Shui Tang 春水堂
Bubble tea lovers will want to check out Chun Shui Tang, a Taichung tea shop that claims to be THE shop that invented bubble tea. They have many branches across Taiwan but originated here in Taichung, so I made my way to the original shop in Taichung’s West District to try it out for myself. The interior has quite a traditional tea house feel, and the pearl milk tea is served in an absolutely massive glass which was practically a meal in itself.
Location: 30 Siwei Street, West District, Taichung. About 20 minutes away on foot from Taichung Train Station and not far from Painted Animation Lane.
Rainbow Village 彩虹眷村
Rainbow Village is hard to miss because its walls, floors and everything around it has been covered with vibrant paint and figures. A project by an old soldier Huang Yung Fu who lived in one of Taiwan’s old veteran’s villages wanted to protect his home from getting torn down by developers. He unleashed his art across the walls one day as a way to stave off his boredom as all his neighbours started moving out. Local Taiwanese students discovered this gem and helped petitioned to save it and it’s become one of the most popular spots with tourists in Taichung today.
Rainbow Village makes for a nice short stop, but the compound isn’t very big and there’s not much else around the Xitun district. It also isn’t the easiest place to get to – I visited this in a hired taxi that also took me to Gaomei Wetlands (more on that below).
Location: 408 Nantun District, Taichung. It’s about 30 minutes by car from Taichung Train Station.
Gaomei Wetlands 高美湿地
The Gaomei Wetlands sit at the mouth of the Dajia River along the western coastline in Qingshui district. It’s a very popular sunset spot but unfortunately I had really cloudy weather so my photos are pretty dull in comparison to what you might find on the internet. I basically just chilled out, ate my grilled cuttlefish as I strolled the boardwalk and admired the scenery. Despite the overcast weather there were still quite a lot of people there wandering around the sand. It was low tide as well, perfect to check out the crabs and sedge grass.
Here’s a big tip before you go: make the sure the weather is good if you want that perfect snapshot. I was there on quite an overcast day so while it was scenic, I missed out on the fiery orange sunsets that you might have seen in other photos.
Location: Gaomei Wetlands, Qingshui District, Taichung. Located along Taichung’s western coastline and not far from Taichung Airport.
Cingjing Farm 清境農場
Another popular daytrip from Taichung is to head out to neighbouring Nantou county. I had made some friends in my hostel, so 4 of us split a cab to take us to Cingjing Farm and Sun Moon Lake for the day. Unfortunately we weren’t quite lucky with the weather and it was raining a fair bit, so not very picturesque photos! I wrote a little about this experience for Expedia sometime back, and they weren’t very happy with the grey photos but I can’t control the weather, can I?
First stop was Cingjing Farm, also known as Qingjing Farm. 1,750m above sea level in the Hehuanshan mountain range, it was noticeably cooler and foggier up here, especially so in the rain.
We visited the northern part of the farm, a place called Green Green Grassland 青青草原 which is where you get to see the farm’s livestock. There was a sheep shearing demonstration going on, though it was hard to see huddled with the crowds in the rain! There is usually a horse riding show as well but given the gloomy weather, we didn’t hang around for too long.
Location: Cingjing Farm 170 Renhe Road, Ren’ai Township, Nantou. The biggest ‘town’ area nearby is probably Puli in Nantou and it took us about 1.5-2 hours to drive over from Taichung.
Sun Moon Lake 日月潭
Sun Moon Lake is the other highlight of Nantou as it is the largest lake in all of Taiwan. Unfortunately it was also equally gloomy and foggy. We alighted at Shuishe Pier at the northern part of the lake and did the requisite touristy thing by buying a boat ticket to cross the lake. There’s a little sacred island called Lalu in the middle, but other than that our mountain views were obscured by the fog.
We got off the boat at Ita Thao (Yidashao) on the southern side of the lake and rode the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway. I enjoyed this ride even if it was foggy, felt a bit twilight zonish disappearing into the mist. The cable car brings you to the Formosan Cultural Aboriginal Village (FACV), it’s a bit of an odd mix of things like an aboriginal-themed theme park with rides and all along with European Gardens and Aboriginal Culture Museum. Again because the weather wasn’t great, we decided not to go in and just headed back down the cable car.
When we got back down, our cab driver picked us up and we made a last stop at Wenwu Temple 文武廟. This temple is actually elevated above the level of the lake and before the road was built, people had to climb a ‘stairway to heaven’ to reach this temple. We had a look around this pretty impressive looking temple before heading back to Taichung in the evening.
Location: Sun Moon Lake, Yuchi Township, Nantou.
Where to stay in Taichung
Dive Cube Hotel 潛立方旅館
DiveCube Hotel was definitely one of the more unusual hotels I’ve ever stayed in. While the rooms are pretty basic, what’s remarkable about this 4-storey hotel is that it is home to a 21m deep pool where you can learn to scuba dive or freedive in despite not being anywhere near the coastline!
Location: 69 Anhe West Road, Xitun District, Taichung.
Read my original post about some unusual things to do along Taiwan’s West Coast
Mini Hotels Taichung Station
MINI HOTELS Taichung Station is pretty compact but cute and has everything a traveller needs. The best part is also that it’s really close to Taichung Train Station, just 5 mins walk away. I had a loft bed and my own private toilet which are luxuries for someone who’s used to staying in a lot of shared dorms.
This hotel also has a lot of interesting art and instagrammable features around the lobby, as well as nice rooftop hangout area with a view of downtown Taichung City.
Read my original post about my favourite posh hostels in Taiwan
Looking for more posts about Taiwan? I have plenty of guides to Taiwan especially for solo travellers or those looking or more unusual things to do: