Taichung Is My Go-To City In Taiwan. Here's Why
Taipei is my favourite city in Taiwan. It has massive night markets, an easy-to-navigate MRT, and on good days, you can get to beaches, mountains, and hot springs in about an hour.
But despite Taipei’s vibrant atmosphere and metropolitan charms, I hardly ever stay there for more than a couple days at a time. Instead, I’ve chosen Taichung, the island’s third-largest city – which has just one MRT line, and is a two-hour bus ride from Taoyuan International Airport – as my hub, the place where I can return to after day trips to more ulu locales.
Taichung is sleepier, harder to navigate, and much smaller than Taipei. But visiting Taiwan over the years, I’ve come to recognise how Taichung's suburban charms lend themselves to a sense of discovery, especially when you need a break from the urban sprawl of cities like Singapore. Taichung flies so under the radar, that going there feels like a truly immersive Taiwanese experience.
Speaking of Singapore, my husband and I heard nary a Singaporean accent during our brief stay earlier this month. While we of course enjoy occasionally running into our fellow countrymen abroad, being on our own made our short time in Taichung feel like a true getaway.
Best of all, the vibes in Taichung are relaxed AF without completely forgoing convenience. There are still 7-Elevens, Family Marts, and bubble tea shops on every corner. And the High Speed Rail (HSR), located on the edge of town, functions as a gateway to other cities should you grow restless.
Here are some reasons you should consider a stay in Taichung – while this list is nowhere near exhaustive, you can use it as a starting point for discovering some of Taiwan’s most underrated offerings:
1. The weather is 🧑🍳😙🤌
Taichung has THE BEST weather. It’s less rainy than Taipei and more temperate than Kaoshiung. The Xueshan Range, the Central Mountain Range, and the peaks of Miaoli also protect the city from the brunt of summertime typhoons.
Taichung’s stable climate makes it relatively easy to plan dates around the area. But if you’re not a fan of tropical weather, I would caution against going between June and August, when it is hottest and rainiest, in favour of October to December, when you can enjoy clear skies and sweater weather.
SIX ARTS NATURAL WAY| IMAGE: WONDERWALL.SG
2. There's an abundance of art markets and creative parks
Taiwan is synonymous with night markets, and if you’ve ever heard of Taichung, then you’re probably familiar with Feng Chia and Yizhong, where you can jostle with the madding crowd for fried chicken cutlet, sweet potato balls, and stinky tofu.
But over the past few years, I’ve fallen in love with a different kind of market. Peep the post below:
This is an ‘art market’ at a creative park, where local craftspeople, designers, pastry chefs, and the like set up booths with their wares. Think of it as Public Garden, but held outdoors, and on a near-daily basis.
You'll find all sorts of treasures here, from handmade earrings, to homebaked caneles, to handbags shaped like Mount Fuji. You can find the market above at Natural Way Six Arts Center, a colonial-era dojo that has since been repurposed into a cultural hub replete with live music, a traditional teahouse, and the occasional exhibition.
SHEN JI NEW VILLAGE | IMAGE: WONDERWALL.SG
If you've still got itchy fingers, head on over to Shen Ji New Village (less than 2km away), which originally served as government housing, but which today has become a hub for creatives. While there, we spotted a leather workshop, design studio, and small cafes serving specialty coffee, Taiwanese shaved ice, and spicy noodles.
On the weekends, you'll also find vendors on the walkway next to Park Lane by CMP but the wares here feel slightly geared toward an older crowd - if you're on the younger side, you'll want to take a 5-minute stroll down to PARK2 Caowu Square, which husband described as having "Bugis energy".
Because they are smaller than most of their counterparts up north, like Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei, I find Taichung's creative parks are far less overwhelming to navigate. And I also find myself buying more because they're small enough for me to do one round of surveying before I commit to getting anything.
Just one of the many picturesque pitstops along HouFeng Bikeway| IMAGE: WONDERWALL.SG
3. Easy access to other locales
Renting a car? Going on an islandwide road trip is fun, but Taichung is perfect if you'd like to make one city your base, and to spend your time going on day trips.
Given its central location, Taichung is within a 1.5-hour drive from Sun Moon Lake and Qingjing (a.k.a. the sheep farm that's all over IG), and Guguan Hot Springs. Want some historical vibes? Head on down to Lukang, just 50-minute drive south of Taichung. Do all of these places still sound too far away? Drive to Gaomei Wetlands at the end of the day for some 🌇 sunset vibes 🌇 - it'll take you just over 45 minutes by car!
You can even get some exercise in when you hike up Dakeng Trail No. 10, just a 25-minute drive away from downtown Taichung, or drive 40 minutes to HouFeng Bikeway, a 5km mountain railway-turned-cycling path where you'll get an idyllic view of the Dajia River.
And although it's gotten pretty touristy over the years, I still enjoy making the one-hour drive to Lavender Cottage for a hint of Provence in Taiwan. (And hey, those long drives aren't too bad when you're surrounded by Taiwan's mountain ranges and greenery.)
Traveling to other major cities is easy as well when you're based in Taichung. Taipei and Kaohsiung are each less than an hour away by HSR, as is Tainan, which you can get to in under 40 minutes if you catch an express train on the HSR.
4. Cafes galore
Like Singapore, Taiwan has a buzzing specialty coffee scene, and Taichung is no exception. What I appreciate about Taichung's cafes is that they're a little low-key: light on the aesthetics, with a narrow food menu, and with little to no queues (meanwhile, I queued almost 20 minutes in 34-degree heat outside Simple Kaffa in Taipei).
My first stop: BeanGood, a cafe I'd seen all over Instagram, renowned for its iced pourover and homely vibes.
What Instagram won't show you: the cafe is located behind racks of laundry and adjacent to a wet market. Homely vibes indeed! | IMAGE: WONDERWALL.SG
We also chanced upon this coffee bar housed in an actual shack. Don't be fooled by its humble appearance: Tamp Temper has a 4.9 star rating on Google with over 1,100 reviews.
The space is a little squeezy, but the baristas will blast you with some of that famed Taiwanese hospitality as soon as you walk in.
5. You'll be forced to explore the city on foot
As someone who insisted on buying a flat next to the MRT, and who will absolutely book Grab instead of walking over 20 minutes in Singapore, I'm ready to admit that Taichung's limited MRT system can be a major turnoff to visitors. There are alternatives: buses, bicycle sharing services, and Uber. But if you go during cooler months, it's nice to walk - that's how you'll discover small gems like BakkiHandmade, a small book-and-stationery store selling pound cake, and Ware Way, a shop dedicated to vintage cutlery.
And of course, no trip to Taiwan is complete without following your nose to a local eatery - something that'll happen far more often when you're on foot:
Xinxiang Paomo Black Tea, down the road from Yizhong Night Market, offers traditional Taiwanese breakfast sandwiches and dan bing (egg crepes) alongside bubble tea. But be warned: lines are long and seats are few!
I'm not going to pretend that this list is at all comprehensive. I haven't even covered the usual tourist destinations, like the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Painted Animation Lane, and Miyahara. Book a week-long stay in the city and you'll have plenty of time to explore these places, but if I've convinced you to at least give Taichung a try, then I'll consider myself successful.