A Travel Guide to Taichung, Taiwan’s Middle City

A park in Taichung city lit up at night with boardwalk in foreground and buildings in background

Taichung City is literally Taiwan’s “middle city”, according to its name tai (臺) for Taiwan + zhong (中) meaning “middle”.

For many travelers, Taichung is a stepping stone to famous attractions like Sun Moon Lake, Cingjing Farm, and Hehuanshan in the mountains of neighboring Nantou county.

But don’t rush through! There are several reasons to stay in Taichung city for a day or two. These include Miyahara Ice Cream (and its partner store Fourth Credit Union), Chun Shui Tang (birthplace of bubble tea), and Feng Chia Night Market.

Outside of the city center, big-name attractions like Rainbow Village, Zhongshe Flower Market, Gaomei Wetland, and Lihpao Discovery Land are a few more.

Consider getting the Klook Taichung Pass, which can save you money during your Taichung trip.

Taichung City Introduction

Taichung lies between Miaoli to the north and Changhua to the south.

Originally Taiwanese aboriginal territory, Taichung was the capital of Taiwan for a brief period in the late 1800s, between when the capital was moved from Tainan to Taipei.

In 2010, Taichung city and Taichung county (a vast area that encompassed the high mountains of Shei-Pa National Park and almost reaches Taroko Gorge on the eastern side of Taiwan) were merged, so the entire area is now called Taichung City. The same thing has happened in Taoyuan, Tainan, and Kaohsiung.

This so-called “city” is home to 2.8 million people, making it the third largest city in Taiwan, after New Taipei City and Kaohsiung City (though technically, Taipei + New Taipei is Taiwan’s largest population center). Only about half of Taichung residents live in the actual city center, or original Taichung city area before it was merged with the large county.

Taichung city keeps developing and attracting more people. Taiwanese people view it as a cheaper alternative to Taipei, not to mention the better weather. In 2021, the Taichung MRT opened, with a single Green Line. Several more lines are currently being planned.

Giant, the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer, started in Taichung in 1972.

Getting to Taichung

A plaza in front of a large train station with a colorful statue
Taichung Station in the city center

Taichung International Airport has a limited number of direct flights to other Asian countries (see which budget airlines fly to Taichung and find the cheapest flights here). Taichung is well connected to other cities on the highly developed west coast of Taiwan.

If you’re coming from Yilan, Hualien, or elsewhere on the east coast, there may be a few direct trains, but you’ll have more options if you transfer in Taipei.

If you plan to use Taichung as a base for visiting places in Sun Moon Lake, Cingjing Farm, and Hehuanshan, I highly recommend renting a car at Taichung HSR station like I did!

High Speed Rail

The very pointy front end of an HSR train car parked at a platform in taiwan
An HSR parked on the platform

The HSR only runs down the west coast of Taiwan. It only takes about 1 hour to reach Taichung from Taipei or from Zuoying (Kaohsiung). If you’re coming from Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, you can ride the Airport MRT to Taoyuan station, from where it’s a 40-minute HSR ride to Taichung.

However, one consideration is that the Taichung High Speed Rail station is outside of the city center, to the west of the city.

The HSR from Taipei to Taichung costs TWD 790, more than twice as much as the TRA (regular) train. You can get an early bird price on HSR tickets if you book them early enough (28 to 30 days in advance) on the official site or 20% off if you book them on Klook.

Find more info how how to book either way in my HSR ticket booking guide.

TRA (Regular) Train

TRA trains from Taipei to Taichung cost TWD 241 to 375 and take 2 to 3.5 hours. On the plus side, they will arrive Taichung Station in the city center, close to most hotels and attractions.

Book your TRA tickets on the TRA website up to 28 days in advance. You can also just show up at the station and swipe an EasyCard to board most trains (except express ones), but you may not get a seat.

Find out here how to buy mobile tickets (e-tickets) for trains in Taiwan.

By Bus

A bus company ticket desk with two staff members
Nantou Bus Company desk at Taichung HSR station

Several bus companies operate buses from Taipei and other major cities on the west coast to Taichung. You can buy tickets for them online here.

There are a few major bus stations in Taichung. Chao Ma Bus Station is somewhat close to Feng Chia Night Market in the northwest of the city center, while most intercity buses start / end at Taichung Bus Terminal just north of the train station.

Some buses, for example ones to Sun Moon Lake and to Cingjing Farm, stop at the collection of bus company offices called Gancheng Station, which is one block north of Taichung train station, or on the street just outside the north side of the station. See more info in my guide to getting from Taichung to Cingjing.

There are also shared/private transfers to Sun Moon Lake and shared/private transfers to Cingjing Farm.

Getting Around Taichung

A route map of the Taichung MRT system
Only the green line of the Taichung MRT is running so far.

If you arrive by HSR, you’ll need to take a taxi (20 minutes) or local train from Xinwuri station (connected to the HSR station) to Taichung Station in the city center. Consider visiting Rainbow Village first, which is somewhat close to the HSR station.

You could also ride the MRT Green Line from the HSR station to Wenxin Yinghua station, which is 15 minutes on foot from Feng Chia Night Market – some people choose to stay around the night market instead of around Taichung Station in the city center.

You can cover the main attractions of Taichung city center on foot, around Taichung train station. Hiring a YouBike will be very handy, as the sights are a little spread out.

Until they build more MRT lines, you’ll need to take some taxis or ride local buses to reach sights like Feng Chia Night Market, National Taichung Theater, and 921 Earthquake Museum.

Despite what many English language articles report, local buses in Taichung are only free for citizens / Taichung residents who have registered their card. As a traveler, you’ll need to pay, but Taichung buses are very cheap (price charged according to distance). Swipe your EasyCard when you get on and again when you get off.

For the most convenience, you can hire a private driver for the day in Taichung. You can also rent a car or scooter for exploring Taichung.

Where to Stay in Taichung

A hotel lobby with doors on the left chandelier hanging above, and a wall that looks like a tall stack of travel suitcases
Lobby of Blue Sky Hotel, where I recently stayed in Taichung

The most popular and convenient area to stay in Taichung is around the train station in the Taichung city center. Most attractions are in the area north of the train station.

For budget travelers, I recommend Norden Ruder Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda), which has an amazing 12F view of the city.

For families and mid-range travelers, I recommend the super friendly Central Land Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda, also called Old School), RedDot (see on Agoda), which has a super cool slide into the lobby, or the nicely designed Blue Sky Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda).

In the luxury category, Windsor Hotel Taichung (see on Booking / Agoda) is the city’s finest hotel.

Some travelers also choose to stay around Feng Chia Night Market, for the convenience of going directly from the famous market to their hotel. From cheaper to more expensive, try Green Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda), Beacon Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda), Hotel 7 (see on Booking / Agoda), or La Vida Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda).

Top Things to Do in Taichung

Looking up at the interior of Miyahara with bookshelves on the left and a giant ice cream with many toppings on the right.
Ice cream at Miyahara

In Taichung city center, the area north of Taichung Station has a handful of attractions that you can visit in a half day on foot.

The Harry Potter-like Miyahara Ice Cream is extremely popular (expect long lines) while Fourth Credit Union nearby is less busy and has the same ice cream. Nearby, Taiwan Sun Cake Museum honors in the invention of sun cakes (太陽餅) in a cool heritage building. You can taste/buy them and learn all about their history.

Chun Shui Tang Si Wei Original Store, where pearl milk tea was supposedly invented, is also a top spot.

Taichung Cultural Heritage Park, Taichung Second Market, Painted Animation Lane, Taichung Park, Shenji New Village, Calligraphy Greenway, and Yizhong Street Night Market are other sights worth considering.

Exterior of the large National taichung Theater reflection in a water pool beside it
National Taichung Theater

National Museum of Natural Science (with moving dinosaurs) National Taichung Theater (popular photo spot), and Fengchia Night Market are northwest of the city center.

To the west of the city near the HSR station Rainbow Village is Taichung’s most famous attraction. After a whole year of being closed after it was defaced, it has finally reopened but will look a little different than before. Expect about an hour to get there by bus.

South of the city center, Wufeng Lin Family Garden, Guangfu New Village, and 921 Earthquake Museum are a collection of cool attractions that could be a half-day trip. East of the city center, Lavender Cottage (lavender season is January and February) and Xinshe Castle are popular but not super easy to reach.

A tall Ferris wheel rising above a colorful outlet mall in Taichung
Largest Ferris wheel in Taiwan at Lihpao Land

Going even further from the city, but to the north, Zhongshe Flower Market, Gaomei Wetland, Lihapao Discovery Land, or HouFeng Bikeway are all popular. Consider each one a half-day trip. Choose two and that would be a full day trip, as it takes time to travel between them.

Just outside of the city, Dakeng Scenic Area (大坑風景區) is considered the Yangmingshan of Taichung, with network of hiking trails and a few hot spring hotels.

A sea of orange flowers with windmill in background
Zhongshe Flower Market

Last but not least, eastern Taichung city stretches 100 kilometers to the eastern side of Taiwan. You can drive the slow, winding, high mountain Central Cross Island Highway (Highway 8) past Guguan Hot Springs all the way to beautiful Lishan area and even Taroko Gorge in Hualien county.

However, this highway is subject to landslides and is often closed for repairs. See here (click the small arrow next to Highway 8) for the most recent updates about highway closing times.

Wuling Farm, famous for its cherry blossoms and other flowers, and Xueshan (Snow Mountain) are also in eastern Taichung, but easier to reach from the east coast of Taiwan.

Best Taichung Tours

If you’re time in Taichung is limited but you want to see a lot, joining a day tour is a good idea. The most popular tour is this one, which includes Miyahara Ice Cream, National Taichung Theater (closed Monday), Rainbow Village, Gaomei Wetland, and drop off at Feng Chia Night Market.

For a tour that includes Zhongshe Flower Market, try this one.

There are also day tours from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake, Cingjing Farm (or see both in one day with this tour), Hehuanshan, and Lihpao Discovery Land.

To make your own tour schedule, hire a driver for the day.

How to Plan Your Taichung Itinerary

Colorful painted walls in Rainbow Village
Rainbow Village is Taichung’s top attraction

Most travelers spend 1-2 days in Taichung on their round-Taiwan tour.

With one full day in Taichung, you could spend the morning exploring the sights in the Taichung city center, afternoon at Rainbow Village, and evening at Feng Chia Night Market.

Add a second day if you want to visit any of the places further from the city center, such as Zhongshe Flower Market, Gaomei Wetland, Lihpao Discovery Land, Houfeng Bikeway, and so on.

If you’re coming from Taipei, consider going there are early as you can on the High Speed Rail, go directly to Rainbow Village (opens 9 AM), then proceed to the city center.

If you’re planning to go to Sun Moon Lake or Cingjing Farm next, try to stay around Taichung station in the city center, where you’ll be catching the bus. It takes 1.5 hours to reach Sun Moon Lake and 2.5 hours to reach Sun Moon Lake, so make sure you leave Taichung early enough to have enough time at those places.

Where to Eat in Taichung

Close up of a glass mug of pearl milk tea with bubbles on the bottom and foam on the top
The original pearl milk tea in Taiwan at Chun Shui Tang

Taichung is well known for its food. For a traditional Taiwanese breakfast or lunch in the city center, Taichung Second Market has some good food stalls. There are also similar Taichung Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth markets in the city (the “first” one is now a ASEAN Square).

Miyahara ice cream is an attraction itself. Getting a pearl milk tea at Chun Shui Tang Siwei Original Store is another must. Chun Shui Tang also has decent food. Yet another experience for foodies is buying or tasting sun cakes at Taiwan Sun Cake Museum.

In terms of night markets, Feng Chia Night Market is Taichung’s largest and one of the most famous night markets in Taiwan. If you’re vegetarian, see my recommended vegetarian foods at Fengchia.

Feng Chia isn’t super close to the city center, though. For a more convenient option, Yizhong Street Night Market, just north of Taichung Park, is also very cool.

Taichung Events

A carpet of flowers mostly yellow but also purple, red, green, and pink, at Xinshe Flower Carpet Festival
Xinshe Flower Festival

One of the biggest events of the year in Taichung is the Xinshe Sea of Flowers Festival (新社花海). The event is usually held for a couple weeks in early December here in Xinshe, east of the Taichung city center. There are usually free shuttle buses from the Green MRT line.

Taichung’s New Year’s Eve party and fireworks usually take place at Lihpao Discovery Land, while Christmas lights can be seen at locations around the city.

The huge Matsu Pilgrimage takes place for nine days in Taichung and nearby counties. It starts at Dajia district in northwestern Taichung and travels mostly through rural areas. It takes place around Matsu’s birthday (23rd day of 3rd lunar month).

Lantern Festival (15th day of Lunar New Year) and Dragon Boat Festival races (5th day of 5th lunar month) take place at different locations every year.

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