So many people who visit Taiwan never make it out of Taipei, which I think is a huge mistake when there are so many other awesome cities to see! Despite a somewhat dodgy start, we found loads of awesome things to do in Taichung, and it turned out to be our favourite city in Taiwan. Deciding to save money by walking the 30 minutes from the station to our hostel we found ourselves walking through some pretty sketchy looking areas. Tower blocks, concrete high rises and busy roads made the whole place feel pretty bleak and soulless and we thought we may have made a bit of an error. We figured that we only had a one day in Taichung anyway so perhaps it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we had to stay in our apartment and get some work done.
Rounding a corner we turned into one of the coolest little neighbourhoods we’ve ever seen. Walking past little boutique shops with amazing window displays, loads of hipster restaurants and even a baking school complete with brightly coloured kitchen-aids we were completely taken aback. We then found our hostel (the Berlin Hostel, although the Box Design Hostel is also very good and very near) where our double room turned out to be a self contained apartment – a tiny but perfect little place with cute stencils on the walls, the comfiest bed and one of the nicest bathrooms we’ve had. All in all it was shaping up to be a pretty good trip and we started to get excited about spending a day in Taichung city.
If you do ever get the chance to visit it’s really simple to reach from Taipei – just two hours south on a local train with plenty of daily departures to choose from. It only costs 375NTD which is less than £10. We’d also fully recommend our hostel which had the best possible location. Once you’re in the main area the city itself is fairly walkable although it’s worth being aware that some of the most popular things to do in Taichung like Sun Moon Lake, the Wetlands and Rainbow Village are not located in the centre and are an expensive taxi ride or fairly lengthy bus ride away.
This means if you want to see all of these places it’s probably going to be best to arrange a driver or spend a few days here exploring by public transport. As we were planning to spend 10 days in Taiwan and visit plenty of cities along the way we felt one day in Taichung was enough time for us to visit the main bits that we wanted to see.
So if you’re lucky enough to have a day in Taichung, here are the best things to do!
Not often in the list of top things to do in Taichung but a beautifully maintained well laid out park that’s a lovely place to hang out for a couple of hours. It’s pretty centrally located and features a nice waterfall and a pond and bridge area. One to wander through if it’s en route to somewhere you’re headed. We loved sitting and watching the world go by, seeing the locals exercising and socialising.
Miyahara Department Store
Worth a visit, I already wrote a post about Miyahara together with a few other cool shops you should visit in Taiwan, but it’s essentially an old eye hospital that has been converted into a luxury pastry and cake shop. There’s a restaurant on the first floor, but the minimum spend is fairly high! You don’t miss much just wandering around the main store area though, it’s like a Harry Potter library where all of the books are actually cakes, so pretty perfect really. This is fairly high on my list of cool things to do in Taichung.
Taichung City Hall
This is on the walk between Miyahara and Animation Alley so is worth a quick stop to take some pictures. It features surprisingly European style architecture, with an attractive open square in front.
If you have time, this is out of the way but definitely a worthwhile thing to do in Taichung. It’s a small and unassuming alleyway in a relatively quiet residential area that features brightly painted cartoon street art. From retro Warner Brothers characters to Pokemon and more obscure anime, the art work is well done and fun to explore. You probably need about 20 minutes or so to have a walk around and take plenty of photos.
One of our favourite bizarre spots in Taiwan as a whole, this is an old style Taiwanese city village that was facing being torn down by the government until local resident Huang Yung-Fu decided to start painting in an effort to save it. He painted brightly coloured rainbow designs and patterns on the walls, floors and buildings that remained, and it soon became a popular attraction for locals. As its reputation spread tourists also began to visit and eventually it was agreed that the area would be preserved and turned into a cultural heritage site. Huang Yung-Fu is now 95 years old and still painting! You can even get the chance to meet him when you visit, and be sure to buy a few bits from the souvenir shop.
It is a bit out of the way so be prepared to negotiate local buses which take around 45 minutes from the centre of the city, or a fairly steep (£8-£10) taxi ride. It’s one of the most famous things to do in Taichung though, so fairly easy to navigate to and from.
Taichung Night Market
Another night market as this is what Taiwanese cities are really famous for doing well and Taichung is particularly good. This is a must do when it comes to things to do in Taichung. The area turns into a brightly lit walking street packed with food stalls and stalls selling various bits and bobs. Try stinky tofu or delicious roast beef sandwiches alongside all the other unusual Taiwanese street food, and grab some waffles for dessert. It’s loud and busy but everyone is really friendly and it’s a cheap and fun way to try lots of new food. Sadly I don’t have any pictures because iphone = terrible night time photography but I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like 🙂