Once known for its industrial output, there are lots of things to do in Taichung and it is totally worthy of your time. Located on Taiwan’s west coast, Taichung is becoming increasingly popular with domestic and other Asian tourists with heaps of attractions. We were practically the only westerners visiting here during our Taiwanese adventure so it made it feel kind of special.
Given the scope of things to see and do (and eat!) in the city, we are pretty sure it will be different next time we visit, so try and visit Taichung before the tourist masses invade. We visited Taichung after Taipei and stayed here for 2 nights as part of our 3 week Taiwan itinerary. Here is our things to do in Taichung travel guide:
Things to do in Taichung and attractions
Shen Ji New Village
Push your way through the hardcore hipsters and selfie snappers and this pretty independent retail village is actually a rather enjoyable area to explore. From boutique breweries to cute coffee shops, it is easy to spend an afternoon (and the contents of your wallet) here.
Formerly a 1960’s dormitory complex for the Taiwan Provincial Government, the site retains its historical charm and you can still explore the nooks, crannies and mezzanine staircases to the second floor. We visited one Friday afternoon during what we think was the last day of school or university as there were lots of students posing for graduation photos all over the village. The local youngsters love it here, especially posing in the British style red phone box.
Taichung Creative and Cultural Industries Park
Taiwan creative parks are frequent in number and vary in terms of the visitor experience – the one in Taichung is OK to visit but nothing outstanding (we preferred Shen Ji New Village above). And if you gauge Taiwan’s creative parks purely by their Instagram opportunities, this one doesn’t really have many vibrant murals or wall paintings like the the others.
We liked it as it was easy to walk around, quiet and we got to see a pop-up exhibition about Vietnam, plus visit a rather interesting brewery shop (it felt like stepping back 50 years into a time-warp). The presence of the brewery shop is a nod to the fact this 6 acre site used to be the largest brewery in the whole of Taiwan.
Taichung has lots of open green spaces but most frequented and loved by locals is the eponymous Taichung Park (also the oldest in the city). We wandered around the lake and explored the large Japanese style pagoda, the main feature of the park.
We were amazed by the sheer number of large fish (likely koi carp) in the lake. In fact, a family next to us were feeding the fish with bread and the carp were battling the ducks for the bread (kam-’koi’-kaze?). To get up close to the wildlife or the huge fountain, pedalos can be hired to take out on the lake here.
Taichung River Walk
The Da’an River flows through the centre of Taichung and efforts have been made to make the central sections accessible, by creating paved walkways along either side of the river, as well as water sculptures and stepping stones across the river.
It has been really well done, and lots of local people hang out here having their lunch or walking with friends (very popular with young mums and their pushchairs). It reminded us of a mini version of the redeveloped and pedestrianised Cheonggyecheon creek area in Seoul, South Korea.
One minor point – if you plan to have a picnic or bring an ice-cream from nearby Miyahara, there are no bins anywhere along the pedestrianised stretch of river so make sure you bring something to take your rubbish / recycling back with you.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream! Miyahara is a beautiful and Instagrammable ‘olde worlde’ red brick building from the 1920s (a former ophthalmology clinic), which now houses an incredibly popular ice-cream shop alongside a retail shop and high-end restaurant.
The shop interior resembles Hogwarts from the Harry Potter movies and has to be seen to be be believed – large bookcases and gleaming shop counters, with staff all besuited in immaculate uniforms. You will find local snacks such as pineapple cakes, plus luxury tea and coffee, cookies and gourmet chocolates, all presented in beautiful packaging and kept (tantalisingly) behind glass. Upstairs you’ll find a restaurant called Moon Pavillion which serves up old Taiwanese gourmet cuisine in a retro setting.
Eating one of Miyahara’s ice creams is one of Taichung’s top things to do and the queues are crazy busy. If you do not want to queue for an hour or so, we would recommend going to get your ice-cream early in the morning (ice-cream for breakfast needs to become a thing!) or late in the evening.
There are over 50 fantastic flavours of ice cream and 1 scoop will cost you about NT$90. Toppings such as cheesecake, waffles and pineapple cake are available at an extra cost.
These are in our opinion the best steamed buns in Taichung (or even Taiwan)? We’re including BashiBao as a highlight as it was one of the tastiest dishes we tried during our stay – it is also a stone’s throw away from the riverwalk / Zhongshan Green River Bridge, making it the perfect picnic opportunity.
The whole experience was ‘bao-tiful’ from start to finish. You order your baos from a vending machine (the world’s first gau bao vending machine no less) and they are then freshly cooked to order. The main centrepiece of the hole in the wall outlet is their almost 60 year old Chinese bamboo steamer (authentic as!).
As our understanding of Taiwanese is limited to two or three key critical sentences (yes, please, beer etc), the staff kindly explained the menu to us. They recommended their signature ‘Taichung traditional stir fried noodle’ bao, (which was delicious and much better than it sounds), along with a more conventional pork bao. Other options on their menu included a shrimp cheese bao (!) and a jute and toffee ice-cream bao (!!)
If we may be so bold as to recommend a lunchtime coupling of BashiBao gua baos followed by a Miyahara ice-cream, we think you will you be a pretty happy camper (cheques in the post please to ‘CK Travels…’).
Taichung Night Markets
The city is home to the largest night market in Taiwan – Fengjia Night Market, one of the best attractions in Taichung. However, it is quite far out of the city (a long bus ride – definitely not easily walkable) so we visited the Zhongxiao Night Market for our nocturnal noodles.
A short walk away from all the main hotels and hostels in the city, Zhongxiao night market runs along both sides of a main street and has a combination of street-food stalls and restaurants with outdoor seating areas. Unlike Kaohsiung’s tourist night market, the main road remains open throughout so watch out for errant mopeds joining the food stall queues.
There is a nice range of food stalls here, with plenty of choice. We recommend the pizza stall selling delicious slices of pepperoni pizza (don’t judge us – we’d had a week of back to back local food and were just craving something western!).
FURTHER READING – 10 of the best night markets in Taiwan
Fourth Credit Union
A relative newcomer to the Taichung dining scene, this is a food court with a difference; situated over three floors of a former bank, this opulent retro setting really makes the most of its historic surroundings. There is a lot of culinary choices here, (mostly desserts including a second branch of Miyahara Ice Cream) – all reasonably priced, so in keeping with your surroundings, it won’t break the bank!
Taichung Totoro Bus Stop
Although not totally legit (and not approved by Studio Ghibli), this loving recreated bus stop from the movie ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ (when Satsuki waits at the bus stop for her parents and Totoro shelters her from the rain) is a little away from Taichung’s attractions, but ‘Totoro-y’ worth your time!
Although not an actual bus stop (just in case you spend hours waiting for a bus), this has been created by a local resident, whose workshop is to the left of the Totoro bus-stop – when we visited, he beckoned us in to see his latest creation, a Harry Potter trolley disappearing into the wall on platform 9 3/4 (like the one at King’s Cross Station, but without the two hour queue to get your photo taken).
There are lots of awesome anime inspired photo opportunities and it is free to visit, but it located on the side of a very busy road, so you have to weave through the traffic to get the best shots from across the other side of the street.
Totoro Bus Stop (大里龍貓公車站) – Address: No. 133, Qiao Cheng Road, Dali District, Taichung City, Taiwan
Channel your inner anime by visiting Taichung’s animation alley – this is two laneways adorned with paintings of all your favourite cartoon characters including a Super Mario, the Simpsons and Pokemon (plus loads more that we can’t name!)
We were a little underwhelmed by our animation alley visit – it takes about one minute to see them all, and the alleyway itself is nothing special plus some of the paintings are peeling and little slapdash. If you have limited time in Taichung, stick to the Totoro bus-stop.
Talato cafe is worth going to just to pose with the random ice-cream sculptures located directly outside their entrance.
As with the unusual outdoor decor, choosing an ice-cream here is a little different than the norm – you buy an entry ticket (150 NTD) which allows you 2 scoops of ice-cream plus one hour to enjoy the surroundings and take photos inside with all the gelato related sculptures – n-’ice’!
Taichung train station
Taichung’s swish new train station is an unexpected great photo spot in the city. Head over to admire some of the awesome art installations dotted around outside.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit Rainbow Village this trip, but we thought we would highlight it nevertheless. A labour of love for local resident Mr Huang (who often greets visitors and can be seen painting new murals), Rainbow Village is a former drab residential area earmarked for demolition that has been painted with vibrant, rich colours – not a single service is left unpainted and the effect has been so dramatic that it is now a protected cultural area.
Day trips from Taichung
One of the most popular side trips from Taichung is a trip to Sun Moon Lake, which is a 2 hour drive away. We only visited the city for 2 nights so we didn’t have the chance to do any excursions, but if we were to return to Taichung we would definitely love to visit Sun Moon Lake on a group tour or by ourselves on the bus.
Here are some examples of tours you can do from Taichung:
Have you been to Taichung? Do you have any other suggestions for things to do in Taichung? Let us know in the comments!
How to get to Taichung
Taichung has it’s own airport and you can take a bus from the airport into town in just 30 minutes. Plan your route in advance online using Rome2rio.
To get to Taichung from Taipei, you should take the Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) from Taipei Main Station (or Banqiao and Nangang stations) to Taichung’s HSR Station. The journey takes around 1 hour and costs approximately TWD 670-750. Taichung’s HSR station is located a little bit out of the city but you can connect to downtown Taichung City by taking either a bus or taxi. Book your high speed rail ticket online with Klook for convenience.
It is best to book your seats on these popular routes well in advance (especially during the Taiwan public holidays like Chinese New Year).
There is an alternative and much cheaper TRA train from Taipei (Tze-Chiang Limited Express train) that costs only TWD 241 – but the journey time is so much longer at around 2-3 hours. This is a great choice for travellers who are on a budget and not time limited.
You can also take the bus to Taichung from Taipei. The travel time is around 2.5 hours, costs around TWD 220-260 and runs frequently throughout the day. Use this link to plan your bus route.
How to get around Taichung
There is no underground metro system in Taichung but they do have a great bus network. An added bonus is that any bus in Taichung is free up to a 10 km ride – Amazing! This link is a useful guide to using Taichung buses.
If you are staying in the city for a while you might want to consider purchasing an Easycard or an iPass which you can use to pay for your bus rides (plus you can use them on the MRTs in Taipei and Kaohsiung). These can be purchased and topped up in convenience stores such as 7-Eleven and Family Mart.
Uber is also available in Taichung but we didn’t use this whilst we were staying there.
Pocket WIFI rental in Taichung
Having a pocket wifi device was super handy during our trip. We pre-ordered one online with Klook and collected the device at Taipei airport and dropped it off at Kaohsiung’s airport. The rental cost was pretty cheap at only £1.25 per day, and we were both able to connect our phones to it.
There is a huge range of accommodation options in Taichung which are very affordable and highly rated! Here are some suggestions for all types of budget in Taichung:
Budget Taichung accommodation
Some hostel accommodations that come highly rated include:
Backpacker 41 hostel
Trendy hostel located 5 minutes walking distance from Taichung Train Station. Check out prices and availability for Backpacker 41 hostel.
Comfortable and clean hostel with women’s only floor located 1 minute from Taichung Train Station. Dorms and private rooms, plus free breakfast everyday. Check out prices and availability for Loosha Hostel.
Mid range Taichung hotels
If you are looking for something mid range then these hotels are in excellent locations with great reviews.
CityInn Hotel Plus Taichung Station
This is the hotel we stayed at – modern and only 2 minutes walk from Taichung train station. Check out prices and availability for CityInn Hotel Plus Taichung Station.
Shin Sei Bashi Hoteli
Comfortable clean rooms within walking distance from train station. Check out prices and availability for Shin Sei Bashi.
More Taiwan inspiration
- Best things to do in Taipei
- Awesome things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- Tainan destination guide, Taiwan
- Taiwan’s ‘7-Eleven’s’ – what to eat and drink
- Photo guide to Taiwan’s night markets
- Day trip to Houtong Cat Village
- Guide to the Anping District in Tainan, Taiwan
- Tasting Taiwanese local dishes on a Taipei food tour
Things to do in Taichung – words and photography by Caroline Keyzor and Neil Hassall.
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