Taichung is a city on the west coast which has a lot to offer! Read here what you definitely have to check out!
Transport to and in Taichung
Taichung does have its own airport, but flights from abroad do not land there and it is purely domestic. If you just arrived at Taoyuan airport, there is a bus that will bring you directly to Taichung. If you stay in Homey Hostel in Taipei, you can either use said domestic airport, go by bus or train (takes 2 to 2,5 hours). There are two big bus stations in Taichung, one near the city center at Taichung Station and one more outside the city at Chaoma Bus station朝馬轉運站near Feng Chia Night Market in the Xitun District西屯區.
If you book your train ticket in advance, there are discounts for high speed trains (takes 40 – 60 minutes) available. Please ask at the front desk for this guest discount!
A nice thing to know is, that the buses in Taichung city are free for rides below 10 km. Swipe your EasyCard when you get on and off the bus!
There is currently an MRT system under construction, though the finishing date gets being pushed further and further ahead. Since Taichung is a pretty spread out city, getting around the town is best with the buses or a YouBike.
Pros and Cons of Taichung 台中
On the good side, due to the location in a natural basin, Taichung is most of the time protected by the Central Mountain Range on the east side and hills in the north from heavy rainfall. It has a lot more sunny days than notoriously rainy Taipei. On the downside, the air pollution thanks to the nearby Taiwan Power Cooperation operated coal power station and occasional smog clouds blown over from Mainland China is pretty high.
Miyahara Ice Cream 宮原眼科
The first thing to do if you arrive at Taichung train station is taking a short walk into the city and head straight for Miyahara’s Ice Cream shop (named after the Japanese Ophthalmologist Miyahara, who owned the former clinic). It has a retro feel to it and is a super popular tourist spot, also selling some of the best pastries in the city. Get some cookies or pineapple cake and enjoy the 1849s Japanese retro style ambience either in the main selling shop’s restaurant on the second floor, the attached tea shop or the (for most people main attraction) the infamous ice cream shop at the corner of the building.
Please note that there is always a long line for the ice cream, but there is a second shop a few minutes further on where you might not have to wait for so long. They sell drinks and waffles too, but you need to wait in a different line.
Natural Way Six Arts Cultural Center
Also called the Taichung Martial Arts Hall, it is a relic from the Japanese colonial period when it still served as a training center (butokuden). It might be the most beautiful one still preserved in Taiwan (others can be found in Longtan, Daxi or Tainan), and covers a large area with several buildings now used as museums dedicated to Japanese art and culture (like Calligraphy and Japanese ink painting, which you also can try at Homey Hostel, or Origami) which you can visit for free. Please take off your shoes at the entrance!
There is also a ridiculously big banyan tree in the middle of the center, with a little scenic restaurant next to it. They have a large glass front from where you can enjoy your coffee and cake, overlooking the tree and the walk ways. A large part of the original building burned down in the past, but was restored with care. Please look here for more a detailed guide to the Center.
Grap a drink at Chun Shui Tang 春水堂
All fans of bubble tea have found their paradise in Taiwan, but supposedly the founder of the global hit can be found in Taichung. After a accidentally discovery, the founder of Chun Shui Tang served and sold the allegedly first Bubble Tea. Since it is a known tourist hot spot be prepared not to be the only one standing in line. While you are there, you can also order some side dishes which are supposedly very good! As for the price range, it is about 85 NTD for a small and 160 NTD for a medium cup of pearl milk tea. The shop is open from 8 am to 10 pm.
National Taichung Theatre 台中國家歌劇院
Even if you are not planning to see a performance, the building itself is worth a visit. The stunning architecture (designed by the acclaimed Japanese architect Toyo Ito) aside, there is a fountain pool in front of it and the whole first floor also a shopping area designated to beautiful decoration and hand crafts.