When I first moved to Taiwan in 2008, the most recent edition of Lonely Planet Taiwan described Taichung as “hardly a must-see for the short-term visitor.” A lot has changed since, and in recent years a growing number of travelers have been coming to Taiwan with Taichung smack at the top of their list!
Below I’ve compiled 20 unique things to do in Taichung, based on multiple visits over the years, to help you plan where to go in Taichung. Keep in mind that in 2010, Taichung City merged with Taichung County, meaning that this “city” is actually over 2,000,000km2. It stretches all the way to Taroko National Park on the beautiful east coast of Taiwan, and encompasses some of the country’s highest mountains!
As I was writing out this article on what to do in Taichung, it became WAY too long, so I’ve created a separate post detailing the 11 best Taichung day trips to cover Taichung sights further away from the city center.
I hope this Taichung guide can help you plan your trip, and help to prove that Taichung is now one the places you must visit on your trip to Taiwan!
What Makes Taichung Special?
The Taichung city center offers an increasingly diverse metropolitan atmosphere and is particularly known for its artistic tendencies, café culture, and many large universities.
Among Taiwanese, Taichung offers real estate prices one third lower than in Taipei and is the birthplace of many famous chain restaurants (not to mention bubble tea, see #4 below!)
What’s more, due to the region’s unique position in a basin that is protected by the Central Mountain Range to the east and the hills of Miaoli County to the north, Taichung receives significantly less rainfall and is less affected by typhoons than other major cities in Taiwan.
A few downsides are that Taichung’s air pollution is notoriously bad, while the lack of a metro system makes exploring this very spread out city a little inconvenient. All that will change if the Taichung MRT is ever finished being built (current estimates are 2020, but they’ve been pushing back the date since 2007).
Until then, make use of YouBikes to get around, get some exercise walking, or hop on the extensive network of buses. Make sure to have an EasyCard; swipe when you get on if you see 上 or when you get off if you see 下 above the driver or back door; for longer trips you may have to do both).
I’ve include the bus information for most of the things to do in Taichung that aren’t within walking distance of the Taichung train station.
Getting from Taipei to Taichung
The fastest way to get to from Taipei to Taichung, or from any other major city on the west coast, is by HSR. From Taipei it only takes 40-60 minutes. If you’re staying in Taipei first, make sure to check out my list of 50 things to do in Taipei and my suggested Taipei itinerary.
However, the HSR is located southwest of the city center in Wuri District. These may be convenient for you if you are planning to visit Rainbow Village or sights in Southern Taichung. From Taichung HSR station, you can connect to New Wuri Station (新烏日火車站) on the regular train line, and a ride to Taichung Station in the city center only takes 10 minutes. Make sure to order your HSR tickets online to get a discount!
The bus or regular train takes about 2 to 2.5 hours. It is important to note that there are two major bus stations in Taichung. Buses from Chaoma Bus station northwest of the city center (near Feng Chia Night Market, see #14 below) in Xitun District (西屯區) are faster because you cut out some time driving in the city. But if you are staying in the city center, you may want to get the bus to Taichung Station.
If you are heading to to Cingjing Farm or Sun Moon Lake next, you can arrange a shared transfer here.
Transportation to Taichung is included in some of the Sun Moon Lake passes.
Things to Do in Taichung City Center
The below Taichung attractions are listed starting with the closest to the Taichung Train Station.
1. Miyahara Ice Cream
If you want to feel like a tourist in Taichung, head directly to Miyahara (宮原眼科), a few minutes’ walk from Taichung train station. This retail space, which is often described as having a 1940s or “Harry Potter” feel to it, occupies a building that was once an ophthalmology clinic owned by a Japanese man named Miyahara, then housed the Taichung City Government’s Public Health Bureau, then was partially destroyed by the 921 Earthquake.
Today the building is run by a pastry business. Inside, if you can get past all the camera wielding tourists, you can purchase high end cookies and pineapple cakes or dine in a chic restaurant on the second floor. There’s also an attached teashop, but what most people come for is the ice creamery on the side.
When I visited, there were over 100 people waiting patiently in line for their chance to hold (and of course photograph and Instagram) one of the ridiculously overdone “ice creams”, which come topped with entire slices of cake, pineapple cake, butterfly shaped cookies, fruits, and so on.
Since I don’t have that kind of patience, I snuck a photo of someone else’s ice cream and moved on.
Access: No. 20, Zhongshan Road, Central District.
Open 10 AM to 10 PM daily.
2. Taichung Cultural Heritage Park
Artist villages, or creative arts parks, are a big thing in Taiwan. Usually they occupy old factories, housing complexes, or abandoned communities, and every major city in Taiwan has at least a few of them.
The Taichung Cultural Heritage Park (文化部文化資產園區) is one such art park. Like Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei (see my list of top things to do in Taipei), it occupies former sake distillery from the Japanese colonial era. It was later taken over by the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. then abandoned in 1998.
Today the park displays publics works of art, houses artists’ studios, and is often a venue for events or weekend bazaars. In the TTL Taichung Wine Village (台中酒莊) you can view old brewing equipment, a tower of beer bottles, and of course, sip on a beer. There are also a few cafés and restaurants on site, but the craft beer bar that was once here is no longer.
It’s also worth seeking out the impressive Noah’s Ark statue in the park.
Access: No. 362, Section 3, Fuxing Road (10-minute walk from train station)
Open 6 AM to 10 PM.
3. Natural Way Six Arts Cultural Center (Taichung Martial Arts Hall)
The Natural Way Six Arts Cultural Center is the official name today for what was during the Japanese colonial period a butokuden, or martial arts training center, for workers at the Taichung Prison.
It is one of the most beautiful butokudens in Taiwan, and is a highly photogenic reminder of Japan’s colonial past in Taiwan. The building actually burned down in the past but has been beautifully restored. There’s a small but very atmospheric restaurant in the side building, and the calm garden at the back has an enormous banyan tree with lanterns hanging in it. It doesn’t take long to visit, but it is certainly worth a quick look.
Here’s a very detailed introduction to Natural Way Six Arts Cultural Center.
Access: No. 33, Linsen Road, West District (15-minute walk from Taichung train station)
Open 9:30 AM to 10 PM daily (to 5 PM on Mondays)
4. Chun Shui Tang, the Homeland of Pearl Milk Tea
If you’re a fan of bubble tea (also known as boba or pearl milk tea), then a pilgrimage to the teahouse in Taichung that claims to have invented it is in order. And for really serious fans, you can even learn how to make your own bubble tea in a DIY class at Chun Shui Tang (春水堂)!
Supposedly the founder of Chun Shui Tang first thought of serving Chinese tea cold after noticing on a trip to Japan that people iced their coffee there. Later in a meeting, a staff member poured her Taiwanese dessert, fen yuan, into her iced tea, and everyone loved it.
Today there are more than 15 Chun Shui Tang locations in Taiwan, and more in Japan and Hong Kong, but the original Taichung location remains the Holy Grail. It is a top Taichung attraction for visiting tourists, so don’t expect to be surrounded by locals here…
One glass of the original pearl milk tea is NT85 for a small, or NT160 for a VERY BIG medium), and the pearls may be smaller than you are used to.
While the pearl milk tea tastes like…pearl milk tea, one surprise is that the food at Chun Shui Tang is quite excellent, so do come for a meal! We especially liked the side dishes like braised bean curd and enoki mushrooms. The shop also specializes in high quality Taiwanese teas and aims to promote Taiwan’s traditional tea culture.
Access: No. 30號, Siwei Street, West District (12-minute walk from Taichung train station)
Open 8 AM to 10 PM
5. Painted Animation Lane
When in Taichung, you can’t miss Painted Animation Lane (動漫彩繪巷), an alley covered with paintings of famous Japanese and Western cartoon characters. There’s not much to do besides pose for countless selfies, but serious cartoon fans can also purchase toys and anime paraphernalia from a few shops near the entrance.
It’s worth noting that there’s also a Totoro bus stop here, so if you don’t want to walk or take the bus all the way to the famous one (see #12 below) for a photo, here’s your chance!
Near Painted Animation Lane, Liuchuan Riverside Walk (柳川水岸景觀步道), is a lovely place to take a stroll, but the section near Painted Animation Lane was being renovated when I last visited (April 2019) and was not a pretty sight.
Access: No.102, Linsen Rd., West Dist. (20-minute walk from Taichung train station)
24 hours, free.
6. Taichung Park
The largest park in the Taichung city center, Taichung Park (台中公園) is a lush green space suitable for an afternoon stroll. There’s a pond called 日月湖, almost the same as the name for Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), and the view of the Taichung Park Pavilion (湖心亭) across the lake is one of the most beautiful scenes in Taichung City, especially at night.
The Shinto Shrine at the northern end of the park is also worth a quick look.
Access: No. 65, Section 1, Shuangshi Road, North District (10-minute walk north of Taichung train station
7. Taichung Second Market
For some very local eats in a unique indoor market, check out Taichung Second Market (台中第二市場). The market building dates to the Japanese colonial period, when it specialized in upscale goods.
Entrances on all sides of the building lead to a hexagonal courtyard at the center. I would personally recommend Yang Mama Lishi (楊媽媽立食) an excellent restaurant at the heart of the market specializing in creative sushi, Japanese cold sesame noodles (胡麻麵), and fish skin stew.
No. 65, Section 1, Shuangshi Road, North District (12-minute walk from Taichung train station)
Open 11 AM to 4 PM, closed Mondays.
8. ShenJi 368 New Village
One of the hippest new places to go in Taichung is Shenji 368 New Village (審計368新創聚落) Beware of weekend crowds!
Here an old dormitory compound built by the government for employees in the auditing office has been repurposed into a craft market and collection of cute eateries and cafés run by the young local entrepreneurs. It’s a great place to come for an ice cream on a lazy, sunny afternoon.
The village is not very big and it’s just a quick hop over from one section of the Calligraphy Greenway (see #9). Head up to the second floor of one of the buildings to discover more shops and for a nice view down on the market.
Access: No. 12, Alley 2, Lane 368, Minsheng Road, West District
24-hours, but most cafés open around 10 or 11 AM and run until 9 or 10 PM.
9. Calligraphy Greenway
The Calligraphy Greenway (草悟道) is a 3.6-kilometer strips of thin, interconnected green spaces connecting the National Museum of Natural Science (see #10) in the north to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in the south. It is supposedly named after the fact that the diversity of artistic displays, museums, events, and activities found along it flow like the cursive movements of Chinese calligraphy.
While the park itself is not a absolute must for your Taichung trip, a walk along the greenway, especially on a weekend, provides a window into the Taichung way of life.
Instagrammers may however consider I’m Talato Ice Cream Shop (愛台灣的義式冰淇淋英才路旗艦門市) beside the Calligraphy Greenway one of the essential places to visit in Taichung. This clever shop has devoted half of its floor space to a selfie station, where guests can lie in a pool of scoops of ice cream, while their friend climbs a ladder to a platform above the pool to take the perfect picture from above.
What about the ice cream itself, you ask? I had watermelon sorbet, and it was excellent.
Note that CMP Block Museum of Arts, one of the most popular stops along the Calligraphy Greenway, was completely closed and under construction when I visited (April 2019).
Access: It’s a 30-minute walk from Taichung train station to National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts at the southern end of the Calligraphy Greenway. You can also take Taichung bus #71, Ubus #75, or Chuan Hang bus #5 (about 15 minutes) to Art Museum (Wuquan W. Rd.) stop 美術館(五權西路).
10. National Museum of Natural Science
If you’ve got kids (or happen to love dinosaurs), then you can’t miss the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung (國立自然科學博物館). We drove all the way down from Taipei just for this museum, and it was totally worth it. See here for more information on traveling around Taiwan with kids and things to do in Taipei with kids!
The museum is huge and you’ll have to decide which gallery you want to visit when you pay. But what we went for was the dinosaur exhibit in the Life Science Hall. What makes it so awesome? The life-size dinosaurs actually move! (see the video we took above)
My kids are massively into dinosaurs right now, but they were literally terrified when we visited because the dinosaurs were so lifelike. There are a few more dinos hiding in the large park outside the museum, too.
The museum also has a 3D theater, IMAX theater, conservatory, and multiple permanent and rotating galleries. See more information on the official website.
Access: No. 1, Guanqian Road, North District (45-minute walk from Taichung train station) or take Taichung bus #11, 35, 70, 304, 307, 309, 310, 323, 324, or 325.
Open 9 AM to 5 PM, closed Mondays.
Entrance to Life Science galley: NT100 (adults), 70 (6 and above), free under 6.
11. Confucius Temple Taichung
While it’s a bit of a journey from other sights on this list, if you’re into temples than it’s worth checking out the Taichung Confucius Temple (台中孔廟). Unlike typical Taiwanese temples, Confucius temples tend to be simple in design and serene places where you are likely to be one of, or perhaps the only visitor when you go.
The large structure dates to 1976, and sits beside the Taichung Martyr’s Shrine (臺中市忠烈祠), which itself sits on the site of the former Taichung Shinto Shrine.
Access: The Taichung Confucius Temple is a 15-minute walk north of Taichung Park. You could also hop on bus #41, 49, 67, 142, or 163, or do like I did and just jump in a cab.
12. Totoro Bus Stop
Are you geeky enough to go well out of your way in Taichung just to wait in a line to take a quick photo of yourself beside Totoro and No-Face waiting for a bus? So long as you know that’s all you’ll find there, you won’t be disappointed. The Totoro Bus Stop (立體龍貓公車站) is even marked on GoogleMaps.
These fan-made sculptures have become one of the must-visit stops in Taichung, despite their inconvenient location. If you don’t want to make the journey, there’s now also a second Totoro Bus Stop at Painted Animation Lane (#5).
Access: No. 133, Qiaocheng Road, Dali District (30-minute walk south of Taichung train station or take bus #18 to Dazhi Qiaocheng Intersections (大智喬城路口) bus stop. Free, 24-hours.
Northern and Western Taichung City Center
13. National Taichung Theater
The National Taichung Theater (台中國家歌劇院) is a gorgeously designed opera house in Taichung’s Xitun district northwest of the city center near Feng Chia. Night Market (see #14). It is the work of Japanese architect Toyo Ito, who is known for his virtual-meets-physical “conceptual” architecture and is regarded as one of the world’s most influential architects.
Since the building officially opened in 2016, it has become a favorite of Instagrammers looking to find awe-inspiring patterns and backdrops.
Access: No.101, Huilai Rd. Section 2, Xitun District
12-minute walk from Chao Ma bus stop or 30 minutes from Feng Chia Night Market. See detailed information on getting there from different parts of Taichung by bus here.
14. Feng-Chia Night Market
Feng Chia Night Market (also spelled Feng Jia Night Market or 逢甲夜市) is Taichung’s largest and most famous night market, and one of the most well-known night markets in all of Taiwan.
One great thing about this night market is that, unlike most night markets in Taiwan, many of the stalls open as early as 2 PM. I went around 4-5 PM and found that at least half were open, and it was pleasantly non-crowded, with short lines at only the most famous of stalls. But if you come around peak time 6-9 PM, be prepared to squeeze your way through!
The market was originally set up along Wenhua road, but has spread out to Fengjia road, Fushin road, Xian street, and beyond. What to eat at Fengchia night market? Well, you can find a bit of everything here, from stinky tofu and sausages stuffed into rice sausages to fried chicken and all manner of roasted seafood. I personally enjoyed a bowl of Korean tteokbokki and some deep fried fish cakes, and green onion cakes.
If you are a serious night market fan, also check out my article on the best night markets in Taipei!
Access: Wenhua Road, Xitun District (20-minute walk from Chaoma Bus Station or take bus #25 or 35 to Feng Chia University stop.
Open 2 PM (most stalls around 4 PM) to 1 AM.
15. Rainbow Village
Although it comes toward the end of my list because it is quite a ways from the city center, Rainbow Village has in recent years become one of Taichung’s most compelling sights, and many people come to Taichung for this sight alone.
Rainbow Village is a courtyard home in a military dependent’s village originally built to house KMT soldiers from China. Most of the community was abandoned, but one ex-Chinese soldier, Huang Yong-Fu, refused to leave. To convince the bulldozers to stay away, he began painting the walls of his home in psychedelic colors and designs.
Now 94, Huang Yong-Fu (who is lovingly referred to as “Rainbow Grandpa”) still lives there and maintains the walls. His home is free to visit and makes the perfect backdrop for photos.
For more details, see my complete article on Rainbow Village.
Rainbow Village is also included on this popular day tour of Rainbow Village and Gaomei Wetland.
Access: #25, lane 56, Chun An Street, Nantun District
A taxi from the Taichung HSR station will cost around NT150, or you can catch bus #617. From the Taichung City Center, a taxi will cost around NT300.
From Taichung train station, cross the street and take bus #27 to Gancheng Village 6 stop (千城六村站), which takes about an hour. It’s a 10-minute walk from the bus stop.
You can also take bus #56 from Gancheng (干城) or Xinwuri (新烏日) train stations, which both stop right in front of Rainbow Village.
16. Luce Memorial Chapel
Another iconic Taichung attraction that is a little out of the way is Luce Memorial Chapel (路思義教堂) on Tunghai University (Donghai University or東海大學) campus. The 19.2-meter tent-like structure is a central landmark at the university, and nothing like the other buildings on campus.
The building was designed by I. M. Pei (貝聿銘), who did much of the other early work at the university, and contains 500 seats. It is named after Rev. Henry W. Luce, an American missionary in China in the late 19th century.
If you want to actually enter the chapel, you can attend a service on Sunday at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:15 AM. Otherwise, you can just peek in the windows at the lovely interior.
For something really interesting, you can see a super detailed miniature version of Luce Memorial Chapel at the Museum of World Religions in Taipei.
If you’re in the area and want to explore further, there’s an arts-oriented street called Tunghai Arts Shopping District, and Tunghai has its own night market, the Tunghai Villa Night Market.
Access: From the Taichung HSR station, take bus #69 to Taichung Veteran’s Hospital stop. From Taichung train station, take bus #60, 88, or 147 to the same stop. A taxi from the city center will cost around NT350.
To access the below sights, there are two buses that are extremely useful. One is the #151, which departs from the Taichung HSR and the other is the Ubus #50, which connects these sights to central Taichung.
17. Dali Art Plaza
No, it’s not named after the artist Salvador Dali, though that’s what I initially thought, too. The Dali Art Plaza (Dali Art藝術廣場) is an art-focused complex in Dali District. It houses dozens of art galleries and shops, although I personally found it had a bit of a department store feel to it.
Make a quick stop to photograph the enormous blow-up man checking his cellphone and move on like I did, or perhaps give this one a miss. There were a lot of kids activities going on in the large courtyard when I visited, so it may be a worthwhile stop with kids once you’ve explored Taichung’s other sights.
Access: No. 1號, Keji Road, Dali District (take bus #50 to Caohu (草湖) stop.
Open 11 AM to 9 PM (weekdays) and 10 AM to 10 PM (weekends).
18. Wufeng Lin Family Garden
If you’re familiar with Taipei, you may also have been to the Lin Family Mansion in Banqiao, New Taipei City, but Lin Family Garden in Wufeng (霧峰林家宮保第園區) has no relation to it (Lin is just super common Chinese surname).
Here you’ll find one of the most beautifully preserved traditional mansions in Taiwan. The sight is divided into three sections; a lower and upper compound that were occupied by two branches of the family, and a lovely garden (search for Lai-Yuan of Wufeng’s Lin Family or 霧峰林家萊園) a few steps away.
Only two halls are actually open to the public, while members of the Lin family still occupy other parts. It is free to enter, but you can see more if you join a guided tour (N250, Mandarin only).
Access: No. 26, Minsheng Road, Wufeng District (take bus #50, 100, or 281 to Wufeng Post Office (霧峰郵局) bus stop.
Open daily 9 AM to 12 PM and 1 to 5 PM.
19. Guangfu New Village
Among all the art centers/village on this list of things to do in Taichung, Guangfu Village (光復新村) is definitely where you’ll find the hippest locals. Like Rainbow Village (and Treasure Hill and 44 South Village; see my list of things to do in Taipei), Guanfu Village is a former military dependent’s village, but in this case it was originally built to house higher level civil servants in the education department.
Several blocks of homes are now converted into ultra cute cafés, artist’s exhibits, restaurants, organic produce stores, and even a chocolate factory. Some rows are left in their dilapidated condition and are a magnet for photographers. People doing wedding shoots can often be seen here.
Come early or on a weekday to have it mostly to yourself, or on a weekend afternoon when all the shops are open and it has a livelier atmosphere and crowds of people.
Access: From the Taichung HSR station, take bus #151 to Kengkou Village (Guangfu New Village) stop (30 minutes, swipe when you get on and again when you get off). You can easily walk to the next stop and then catch bus #50 back to the city center from there.
20. 921 Earthquake Museum
Of all the Taichung attractions I’ve visited, the 921 Earthquake Museum (九二一地震教育園區) in Wufeng District is the only one that literally made me say “Wow.”
The 7.3 magnitude 921 earthquake struck Taiwan on Tuesday, 21 September 1999 at 01:47 AM was the deadliest and most disastrous in Taiwan’s history. 2415 people died and over NT300 billion in damage was caused. Images from the Guanfu Junior High School, now the 921 Earthquake Museum, were among the most poignant in media coverage of the event.
The school sits directly on the fault on which the earthquake occurred. Touring the museum starts with an indoor section where you can see the actual fault, then observe the two-meter displacement along a distorted track & field. The Earthquake Engineering Hall contains a kids’ playing area, while the Image Galley Building shows 3D films (NT170) and a simulated earthquake experience (NT25) roughly every 30 minutes. I tried the latter, and it was pretty fun!
The most striking feature, though, is the partially collapsed classroom building, which has been preserved in situ under a canopy. Also watch for the bent railway tracks near the road at the front.
Access: Take bus #151 from the Taichung HSR station to Guangfu Village then walk (10 minutes). To leave, cross the bridge over the river near the ticketing building and take Ubus #50 to Lin Family Mansion, Dali Art Plaza, or central Taichung.
Entrance: NT50, free for kids under 6, free on Wednesdays before 10 AM.
Open 9 AM to 5 PM, closed Mondays.
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