In 2018, I wrote my first guide to Rainbow Village (彩虹村) after visiting with my wife and kids. In it, I praised the site for its “psychedelic” artwork and called it one of the most “Instagrammable” places in Taiwan. TaiwanNews even reported on my article here.
The story behind Rainbow Village is special, but comes with a tragic ending. A former KMT soldier painted his house in this way to save it from demolition. Until he passed away in January 2024, you could even meet “Rainbow Grandpa” (彩虹爺爺) himself when you visited.
When I last visited Rainbow Village, in late 2023, I found a depressing scene. Around 50% of the artwork had been vandalized in an incident in 2022. On top of that, a towering apartment block was being built right next to the residence. Rainbow Grandpa, age 100, was sitting in front of his house, begging visitors for money. Now that he’s no longer with us, only time will tell what will happen to his former residence.
For these reasons, Rainbow Village is not the appealing attraction it once was. You may still find it worth visiting, if anything to support Rainbow Grandpa, but you should set your expectations low.
Rainbow Village Introduction
Huang Yong-Fu (黃永阜) was born in Guangdong province, China in 1924. Along with hundreds of thousands of other Chinese KMT soldiers, he fled to Taiwan after they lost the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
These soldiers were placed in “military dependents’ villages” (眷村) all over Taiwan. Huang was placed in one such village to the west of Taichung’s city center, near the modern-day Taichung HSR station (see my Taichung city guide).
(Note: many other such villages across Taiwan are now tourist attractions, and popular Cingjing Farm was established by KMT veterans).
Huang fought for Taiwan in the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. He was discharged from service at the age of 55.
In the 1990s, local governments across Taiwan were demolishing many of these decaying villages, putting the residents up in newer housing. But Huang refused to leave his house.
In 2008, only a dozen or so of the original 1200 homes in this village were left in Huang’s village. With the goal of saving his house from the bulldozers, he painted its walls with colorful designs, transforming his residence to an open-air art gallery.
Rainbow Village Before It Was Destroyed
Huang’s painting style is often described as child-like, surrealist, and cute.
Some have gone as far as to called him the Hayao Miyazaki of Taiwan (after the Japanese creator of Totoro and Spirited Away – the latter often falsely claimed to be inspired by Jiufen in Taiwan).
Huang’s tactic worked. His home caught the public’s attention, and many locals, including university students, initiated the Save Rainbow Village Campaign (搶救彩虹村).
In 2010, the city agreed to preserve Rainbow Village as an art park. The attention also brought tourists. By the late 2010s, Rainbow Village had become one of Taichung’s hottest attractions.
At its peak of popularity, there was even a small shop selling clothing and other souvenirs with Huang’s artwork on them, a café with coffee cups also covered in his art, and masses of visitors every day.
For more photos of what Rainbow Village used to look like, see my 2018 Rainbow Village article.
The Defacing of Rainbow Village
In mid-2022, there was a contract dispute. The Taichung city government gave the operator managing the tourist site (Rainbow Creative Co.) very short notice (only 5 days) to vacate the property for six months so the site could be renovated.
The 14 or so workers and their boss, angry about their sudden loss of jobs, protested by painting over many of Huang’s murals.
The artwork was forever lost, as Huang was too old to repaint them. Huang and the public blamed Wei Pi-Jen (魏丕仁), the owner of Rainbow Creative Co, who defended the workers’ actions. Rainbow Creative Co still profits from Huang’s designs.
Following the dispute, Rainbow Village was closed for one year for said renovations. Even though it reopened again in June 2023, it looks very different now than before.
The damaged murals are now covered with artwork made by local schoolchildren and artists. Some of them attempt to replicate Huang’s style (like the pangolin mural above), while others don’t like anything like Huang’s original work (see below three images).
The residence is also smaller than before, with fewer paintings and artworks overall, no more cafe, and no more shop.
As I mentioned in the introduction, a brand-new skyscraper is nearing completion right next to Rainbow Village (see image below).
The skyscraper’s outer wall has been constructed mere inches away from Huang’s house (see second image below). It felt like they were literally trying to squeeze him out.
My most recent visit to Rainbow Village was the first time I met Huang. He was sitting in a wheelchair out front, holding a sign saying that he is 100 years old and giving permission to take photos.
Many tourists rushed in to take their selfies beside the murals, without even realizing that their creator was sitting outside.
Getting to Rainbow Village
Rainbow Village is in Taichung city’s Nantun district (南屯區), about 7.5 km west of Taichung Train Station and 2.5 km north of Taichung High Speed Rail station. It’s a little out of the way and not close to any other major attractions in Taichung.
Because of its proximity, it’s easiest to visit from Taichung HSR station. See my guide to booking HSR tickets in Taiwan and buy discounted HSR tickets here on Klook. If you’re arriving in Taichung by HSR, consider to visit Rainbow Village first before going into the city.
If you’ve got luggage, you can store it in a locker in the HSR station or even take it to Rainbow Village and leave it on the side while you visit.
From the HSR station, rent a car and drive (only 7 minutes), take a taxi, or take bus 70, GR1 (15 minutes) or a few others that require more walking – use GoogleMaps directions to find the best option.
From Taichung Station area in the Taichung city center, try bus 27, 30, 290, or others (around 45 minutes, again use GoogleMaps to find the stops and times). Alternatively, take a local train to Xinwuri Station, which is connected to the HSR station, then go from there.
You can also rent a scooter here (IDP with motorcycle endorsement needed).
Rainbow Village Tours
Several Taichung day tours make a stop at Rainbow Village. This Taichung day tour includes Rainbow Village, Miyahara Ice Cream, National Taichung Theater, Gaomei Wetlands for dinner, and finishes at Feng Chia Night Market.
Visiting Rainbow Village Today
Most visitors arrive at Rainbow Village’s north side. A long, painted cement wall and sidewalk lead to a small square in front of Rainbow Village. I shot the above photo of the wall in 2018 – today the colors on that wall have faded a lot.
The square in front of Rainbow Village now has a small children’s playground meant for residents the new apartment block now towering to the side, which was still being constructed when I last visited.
The slide in the playground is painted like Rainbow Village, which feels like a slap in the face the Rainbow Grandpa.
If you happen to come from the south side like I did (because I drove and parked here), you’ll be approaching the back side of the residence.
You’ll have to squeeze through the extremely narrow space between Huang’s house and the apartment’s outer fence in order to get around to the front.
At the front, before going in, there sat Huang. He often sat there in his wheelchair holding up a sign in Mandarin which said something like: Rainbow Grandpa, 100 years old, welcome to take pictures.
If you did take photos or selfies with him, he’d ask for money after.
A narrow hall leads into the residence’s courtyard. It is painted on either side. Any paintings that look very new (such as the above mural) are not Huang’s, but they are inspired by his style.
There are also some canvas paintings hanging on the wall, in order to cover damaged spots, which are very obviously not his work (see second image below).
Some walls in the courtyard, and on the back of the building, are covered with woven geometric designs – these also are not Huang’s work, either, but again meant to cover walls that were destroyed.
The shop and café, once run by the same company that ultimately destroyed Huang’s work, are of course no longer on site. You can see the empty space which once held the cafe on the right side of the below photo.
You may be surprised at how small the site is – keep in mind this is just one house and not a “village” as the name may suggest. You can see everything there is to see in 5-10 minutes.
Most visitors spend around 30 minutes, though, which includes some time for standing around waiting for tourists to move out of your way so you can take pictures.
Where to Stay and Eat Around Rainbow Village
I don’t recommend spending the night around Rainbow Village. Besides Rainbow Village itself, there’s nothing of interest in the neighborhood.
It’s much better to stay in the Taichung city center, either around Taichung station or Feng Chia Night Market. See my Taichung hotel recommendations here.
Likewise, there are few notable restaurants around Rainbow Village. If you really need a bite to eat, consider Mao Men Restaurant (貓門餐廳, literally “Cat Gate Restaurant”), a cat-themed café with ice cream and some light meals.