Taichung, Taiwan's second-largest city has long been known just as an industrial city and has not been very famous among tourists. However, the vibrancy and excessive beauty of the land can no longer be kept concealed. In the past few decades, it has become one of the favourite marvels of globetrotters. The Japanese, who ruled the land once, realised that Taichung is one of the rare beauties, and called it “The Kyoto of Formosa”. Whether the Japanese did right by giving the land such a title, or not, you can judge for yourself.
Feng-Chia Night Market
Taichung is, of course, incomplete without its night markets. For a full-on nocturnal fun, head off to Feng-Chia night market or Fengjia Shopping Town in Xitun. In 2015, it was commended by the Ministry of Economic Affairs for its top-class management, hospitality and sustainable practices. It is also entitled "the largest night market in Taichung", with varieties of stalls, an unending display and supply of food items, clothes, fashion accessories and more.
Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake, located in Yuchi Township of Nantou County, is the largest water body in Taiwan. While the east area of the lake resembles the sun, the west with its long and slender structure resembles a crescent moon, which is from where the lake got its name. The lake, along with the neighbouring areas offer one of the most pleasing views of the country. In fact, the overall site has been designated as one of the 13 national scenic areas in Taiwan.
The lake is enclosed by trails, and you can get into a hiking/ cycling adventure. If you are hatching a plan to take a trip there, make sure it falls around the middle of autumn because that’s when the annual swimming carnival, a 3 km race, which is one of the top 100 open swimming events in the world, takes place. Other than this one time, tourists are forbidden from stepping into the lake. Other reasons why you should visit during this time of the year include concerts, laser shows, fireworks, etc. The beauty of the place knows no bounds. If you think it is too much-hyped, get to the Wenwu Temple, Ci En Pagoda or the lake’s Ropeway Cable, do look around and you will agree that it is not over but underestimated.
The lake encompasses the island of Lalu, the consecrated area of the Thao tribe, which is one of the aborigines of Taiwan. Legend has it that the water body was discovered by the Thao hunters while on a chase for a white deer. The deer which led them to the bewitchingly beautiful lake is immortalised in the form of a white marble statue in the island. Charismatic as it is, Lalu is off-limits to the public and tourists have to make do with distant views. Sun Moon Lake is a fantastic place to take a day trip and there's bus running to and from the lake regularly throughout day.
921 Earthquake Museum
This is quite different from other museums around the world. Located in the Wufeng County of Taichung, 921 Earthquake Museum, previously known as Earthquake Memorial Museum came into being after the country got hit by one of the most calamitous earthquakes in its history. On 21st September 1999, an earthquake registered 7.3 on the Richter Scale struck the centre of Taiwan at 01:47:12 local time, and killed 2415 people and left another 11305 injured. Also known as the Ji-Ji earthquake or the great earthquake of September 21, the disaster did damage to properties worth NT$300 billion. In the wake of the calamity, the government decided to make people aware that reality can be harsh and unwelcomed events like that may happen anytime at the blink of an eye and decided to preserve the sights and scenes, to remind people to be on one's guard always. Guangfu Junior High School, which collapsed and was left in ruins became the site of the museum. It preserves facts and figures that can be known regarding earthquakes, with preventive measures on how to construct houses and buildings that are safe in design and less prone to disasters as such. The place is open to the public on all days except Mondays.
The Gaomei Wetlands in Qingshui District is a blissful place for birdwatchers, nature lovers and seekers of peace. Evening is the best time of the day to visit the wetlands as the place is one of the destinations that offer mesmerizing vistas of sunset. Furthermore, the cooling sea breeze of the late afternoon is enough to refresh the most lethargic of souls. The wetlands, spread over an area of 300 hectares are visited by migratory birds every fall and winter. You will run into wild ducks every now and then, as they are all over the place. When the tides are low, you can even see mudskippers, fiddler crabs, fishes, etc. The place is officially known as Gaomei Wetlands Preservation Area. An 800-metre long, wavy walkway is constructed to make a greater part of the place accessible to the visitors, without people trampling over the muddy land and the creatures beneath. You can rent a bicycle from the information centre. However, you need to pay a certain amount for it. The information centre houses a restaurant and a counter where you can go for queries. On weekends, you will even come across stalls with mouth-watering Taiwanese snacks.
The catastrophic 921 Earthquake did much harm to Taiwan. But as the saying goes, every cloud does have a silver lining. The mystical, dream-like Lotus Forest or Misty Forest in Nantou is an aftermath of the disaster that shook the whole of Central Taiwan in 1999. The forest is at an elevation of 2000 metres and very often shrouded by fog, too thick to see through. You will come across spots that look like they have been taken right out of a movie. The Lotus Forest is the perfect destination for adventure lovers, to pass a day. As you go deeper, you will come across a plethora of flora and fauna, until you finally set your eyes on a beautiful lake in the middle of the forest. A lake formed when the 921 Earthquake caused alterations in the drainage pattern, submerging parts of the forest. You can even pick up a few souvenirs from the stalls at the entrance. If you are in for more adventure, you can drive up to the Xitou Village, which is the magical world of Japanese monster characters, 15 km away from the forest entrance and also head towards the Sun Link Sea, a recreational forest.
Taichung Cultural And Creative Industries Park
The 5.6-hectare land once used to be a Japanese distillery, when the land was under the Japanese colonial rule. After WWII, its ownership shifted to the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau. Now, it is under the Ministry of Culture and is open to the public as Taichung Cultural and Creative Industries Park. The park aims to focus on the restoration and celebration of Taiwanese culture and heritage. It even made its name amongst the most dynamic cultural centres. There are a lot of things that you can do on the park premises. It organises bazaars, exhibitions, workshops, performances, and others. You can attend lectures and DIY classes and even drop in for a brief while at the art studios. The park has a museum too, that displays vintage distillery pieces of equipment and facts on the history of alcohol production in the area.
Located in the northern part of the city, Taiching Park is the perfect place to take a break from the husle and busle of the city. Thiis picturreauwe park is the oldest in the city and is popular amongst tourists and locals. You can even rent a kayak out on the lake!
Chun Shui Tang Teahouse
Have you ever wondered what those bubbly balls are in the world-famous Bubble Tea or Pearl Milk Tea? Hopefully, Chun Shui Tang will put an end to your curiosity because this is one of the two places that claimed inventory rights of Taiwan’s national beverage. Apart from a long list of exotic teas in a perfectly done interior décor that speaks teahouses of the traditional type, the place also offers DIY bubble tea classes, guided by expert professionals. To brew your own version of the trending tea, you have to book a seat 5 days prior. Children of 6+ years and adults can enrol themselves for the classes and also learn about the history of the Bubble Tea and the past happenings of the country, while concocting the best flavour.
Zhongshe Flower Market
Also known as Chungshe Flower Garden, this market with the Pavilion of Happiness, the European Fairy Tale Cottage, etc. is the no. 1 spot for photographers and Instagrammers. Needless to say, it is one of the most hypnotising locations with flower beds spread far and wide. With vertical gardens, flower pillars and more, the place is an unending field of gardening tips. You can head over to the place to get to know a few out-of-the-box ideas. The colourful living forms are treated with the utmost respect, and walkways are created so that the flowers do not get trampled on. There is also a BBQ place. Interestingly, if you dine there, you will be granted free access to the sea of flowers. Claw machines are also installed inside the complex, making it a place that glows with fun and beauty.
National Taichung Theatre
Opened in 2016, this incredible performing arts centre is the perfect place to watch an opera. The grand theatre is one of the most stunning theatres you'll see and can seat over 2,000 people. Even if you're not looking to watch a performance, this building is a must visit and there's cafe's restaurants and shops to check out!
Botanical Garden of National Museum of Nature Science
The Botanical Garden of National Museum of Nature Science is a place for everyone to enjoy. This garden stretches 4.5 hectares of land and is a highly recommended place to visit especially if you're looking to unwind and relax.
Dreams can sometimes be frightful, seeing how people give up perfectly good jobs, just to put their dreams on a wheel. Lavender Cottage is the upshot of one such dream. It was established by 2 young women, after quitting their jobs. They envisioned a massive lavender farm, in a locale cut off from all connectivity to the outside fancy world. They stick to their dream, bought a land, vast enough to be a farm, atop a mountain. It was no easy task, but they were persistent enough to hold to their plan until the farm became a sea of purple lavenders, with breath-taking views of mountains and valleys in the backdrop.
Lavender Cottage soon started to captivate visitors with dreamy vibes and romantic hideaways, without the least interference. A part of the farm feels amusement-like because amidst wilderness and greeneries, sits a colourful carousel, ready to create beautiful moments for children and assist adults to go back to their childhood days. A life-size teddy sits in patience at the gate, too eager to greet visitors. There is also an open restaurant that serves both eastern as well as western cuisine and wheel carts selling handmade soaps, essential oils, postcards, etc. Buy yourself a postcard, give wishes to yourself, and drop them in the vividly painted, cottage-like mailboxes, and forget all about it until you suddenly receive a letter from Lavender Cottage. A letter addressed to you from you. What can be more fun and perplexing than that?
Take a Walk
One of the best ways to enjoy Taichung is on foot. Take a walk through this metropolis at night and experience the beauty of this incredible city. The downtown area is packed with great places to shop and eat.
Rainbow is a village in Nantun District, which is as vibrant as its colourful name. Originally known as Caihongjuan, it is a village which once held 1200 low-cost houses of the National Revolutionary Army troops, who followed their leader Chiang Kai- Shek and fled to Taiwan. Quirky as it is, the Rainbow Village is one of the most Instagrammable places in Taiwan and is a utopia for selfie holics.
The place remained unheard-of until it was discovered, by a group of university students. It is now one of the most famous destinations with vibrantly coloured houses and streets. If you are heading towards the village, make sure you stay until Rainbow Grandpa, the man behind the magic, appears on the scene. Rainbow Grandpa, or Huang Yung-Fu, originally from Hong Kong is one of the NRA members who came to Taiwan in 1949. Although many of the houses in the settlement were sold off to developers, he was one of the very few who refused to leave his house. Out of boredom, he started drawing sketches of birds, animals and humans on the walls of his house. Gradually, his brushes strayed off to the adjoining houses, until the whole area looks like a setting in a fictional world. Through his sketches, 11 of the 1200 houses are saved from further demolition and the magician, who is nearly 100 years of age continues to weave magic out of his paintbrushes.
The village has two souvenir shops, run by grandpa’s grandson and very often, grandpa honours the shops with his presence and hands out copies of his works to well-wishers. Even coffee cups at the snack bar deserve a separate post on Instagram. Entry to the village costs nothing, but you are welcome to slip a note or two, in the donation box.