Table of Contents
How to See the Best of Taichung: a 1 or 2-Day Taichung Itinerary
In this Taichung travel guide, I’ve included my suggested 1-day Taichung itinerary and 2-day Taichung itinerary, with travel tips based on my own personal experience.
I’ve also added several more suggestions for day trips and alternative Taichung attractions that are not included in either of the two itineraries.
All of the things to do in Taichung included in the itineraries are within walking distance of the city center, except for Rainbow Village. I included it in the 1-day itinerary anyway because, for me, it’s a must-see.
The story behind this place is so inspirational, and it was one of my top favorite experiences of my whole Taiwan trip. But if after reading my article about Rainbow Village you’re still not convinced, you could swap it out for the Qianyue Building.
This would save you time, and you might be able to squeeze in a couple more of the Taichung attractions from the 2-day itinerary. Though to be honest, I really think Taichung deserves at least two full days, especially if you are interested in arts and culture.
If you wanted to cover all the Taichung attractions listed in the Alternative Things to Do in Taichung section, it would take you about a week.
But some of them are sure to appeal to you more than others, so feel free to pick and choose according to your tastes. Remember, this is a Taichung DIY itinerary, so you can use it however you like!
One Day Taichung Itinerary
Even if you only have one day in Taichung, you’ll still be able to see a lot. This Taichung one day itinerary will give you a good taste of what this city has to offer.
Open daily 8 am to 6 pm.
Start out early to beat the crowds at Rainbow Village, which is deservedly one of Taichung’s most popular attractions. This military dependents’ village was destined for demolition, until the last remaining resident started painting the walls in bright, vibrant colors.
Now known as Rainbow Grandpa, he started this project when he was in his late eighties, and he’s still going strong at 96! Local university students successfully petitioned the government to save the village, and it now attracts visitors from around the world.
To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have visited Taichung at all if it hadn’t been for Rainbow Village. It turns out, there’s plenty to see in this often overlooked city, so I’m glad I added it to my Taiwan itinerary.
Rainbow Village is still my favorite of all, though, mostly because of the inspiring story behind it.
CMP Block Museum of Arts
Temporarily closed for renovations.
What started out as an outdoor museum of contemporary art is currently being transformed into a brick and mortar art gallery.
It’s currently closed while the construction works are underway, but check their Facebook page for the latest developments. If it has reopened by the time you read this, it would definitely be worth checking out.
I really hope the exhibit with the half-buried cars in the grassy field is still there when it reopens. What I’ve seen of it in photos looks amazing!
Open daily 24 hours.
This elongated park makes for a pleasant walk between the CMP Block Museum of Arts and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (described below). You’ll pass by a number of statues along the way, including a large one of Arthas Menethil from World of Warcraft.
The calligraphy stele that give the park its name are located on the southern end, near the fine arts museum. While the greenway alone is probably not worth a special trip to this side of town, it’s a nice place for a stroll if you’re planning to visit any of the nearby museums.
There’s also the National Museum of Natural Science on the far northern end. It’s not included in this itinerary, but you may want to add it if you’re traveling with kids, or if you’re into dinosaurs.
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
Open 10 am to 6 pm, closed Mondays.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go inside this museum because the day I was in the area was a Monday, the museum’s weekly closure day. I’m including it in this itinerary, though, because a friend of mine who lives in Taichung highly recommends it.
Entrance is free, and the exhibit on printmaking looks especially interesting. The museum is accessible to the visually impaired and is also kid-friendly, with cool places to play and DIY workshops
You could also chop two carrots with one knife by visiting the branch of the Chun Shui Tang café inside the museum, famous for inventing bubble tea. The original location of Chung Shui Tang is included on day two in the 2-day version of this itinerary.
Lunch at Vegan Daily
Open 7 am to 3 pm, closed Wednesday to Friday.
Taichung may not have quite as many vegan restaurants as Taipei, but it still has more than enough to choose froj.
This cute little vegan café serves sandwiches as well as some rice-based dishes. The real highlight for me, though, was their vegan popcorn chicken, a popular Taiwanese snack.
I’m not sure how they do it, but the texture is very realistic! Prices are quite reasonable here. There’s no English menu, but the staff can translate for you.
Painted Animation Lane
Open daily 24 hours.
Street art and anime fans will enjoy this small back alley filled with murals featuring lots of famous cartoon characters. It reminded me of Batman’s Alley, my favorite attraction in São Paulo, Brazil, but on a smaller scale.
Most of the characters are from Japanese anime, which I'm not very familiar with. I did recognize a few characters from Western cartoons, though, including Minions, Angry Birds and Warner Brothers. For Ghibli Studio fans, there’s also a Totoro bus stop here.
There were a few people around taking selfies at Painted Animation Lane, but it was not as crowded as Rainbow Village.
Liuchuan Riverside Walk
Open 6 am to 10 pm Monday to Friday, 6 am to midnight Saturday and Sunday.
Even though the Chinese name Liuchuan (柳川) means “willow river”, this seems more like a man-made canal than an actual river.
Still, it’s a very pleasant place for a stroll, and once it’s completed it will be a great way to get between Painted Animation Lane and the Taichung Second Market. When I visited, though, the areas near Painted Animation Lane were still under construction.
The water channel meanders right through the heart of the city, with walking paths on either side and occasional stepping stones so you can cross from one side to the other.
Dinner or Tea at Veganday Café
Open 11:30 am to 4 pm and 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, closed Monday to Wednesday.
I loved the atmosphere of this café, with its old stone walls and wooden bar. The menu is definitely not Taiwanese, but it’s fun for a change of pace if you’re craving different flavors. Think pasta, moussaka and shepherd’s pie.
Main dishes cost about NT$ 250 each, so it’s a bit pricier than other veg restaurants but worth the splurge. And while the savory dishes are good, for me the real highlight is the desserts. Their chocolate and pumpkin mousse cake is awesome!
I would love to go back for their vegan afternoon tea. Note that on Google Maps this place is called Bluesomeone’s Vegan Café.
Two Day Taichung Itinerary
For the two-day version of this itinerary, the first day is the same one-day itinerary set out above. The second day focuses on sights in the center of town, and all the distances are easily walkable.
Day 2 Taichung Itinerary
Qianyue Building (千越大楼)
Open daily 24 hours.
Like Rainbow Village, this place also offers some great open-air art for your viewing pleasure, but it’s much rougher around the edges. Once a popular entertainment and residential building in the 1970s, the Qianyue building now lies abandoned.
Or almost abandoned, as it’s now been taken over by a street artist collective called Escape PLAN-X Taiwan Graffiti Crew (EPX). This is an easy introduction to urbex for anyone who’s curious about exploring abandoned buildings.
There’s no gate or fence to jump; it’s located right in the city center and no one will stop you from walking up the stairs from the street. Apparently one of the elevators even works, though I certainly wouldn't try it. Most of the art is on the fifth and sixth floors, and also up on the roof.
The UFO-type round thing on the roof used to be a rotating restaurant. Its top-level floor has collapsed, so I wouldn't go up there for safety reasons, but everywhere else seemed pretty safe.
It seems like EPX has big plans for this place, so it will be exciting to see what it becomes. I’ve read conflicting information about visitors being charged a “maintenance fee” of NT$ 100. Some reports say that people asking for money on the first floor are actually not part of EPX, and you shouldn’t pay them.
No one asked us for money, but I did see a donation box on the fifth floor. If in doubt, offer to leave your donation there. For more photos of the art and the building, check out this article on Kathmandu and Beyond.
Taichung Cultural Heritage Park
Open 10 am to 6 pm, closed Mondays.
It seems like every city in Taiwan has at least one creative art park, but some of them are filled mostly with shops where you can buy art and artsy little trinkets. This one, however, is much less commercial than others I’ve been to.
Once a Japanese sake distillery, this large space has been converted into exhibition rooms for temporary art exhibits. When I visited, there was an interesting exhibit about one of Taiwan's indigenous tribes and another one about underwater cultural heritage.
The only shop I saw was inside what appeared to be the old bottling room. Wine and local liqueurs are now sold here. My favorite part of all, though, was the distillery tanks outside that have been turned into canvases for street art.
Natural Way Six Arts Cultural Center
Open daily 9:30 am to 6 pm, closes early at 5 pm on Mondays.
Another repurposed historical building from the Japanese colonial era, this one used to be a Japanese martial arts compound where people practiced kendo and judo. Later, it was used as a dormitory for prison workers at a prison that has since shut down.
It’s now the only remaining example of Japanese Meiji-era Wude Dojo architecture in Taichung. Periodic cultural events are held here, such as calligraphy and archery workshops.
One one side of the courtyard is a small café, and on the other a traditional Japanese-style teahouse where you sit on cushions on the floor. The complex is pretty small, but it’s quiet and peaceful and worth a visit.
Chun Shui Tang
Open daily 8 am to 10 pm.
Bubble tea aficionados will probably want to make a pilgrimage to Chun Shui Tang, the place where the boba craze began. They do serve milk bubble tea made with soy milk, but only as part of their seasonal winter menu.
At other times of the year, dairy-free bubble tea options include pearl black tea and pearl jasmine tea. You’ll need to tell the server how much ice you want, and how much sugar.
I had read that the “regular sugar” option was super sweet, so I went with a 50% sugar pearl jasmine tea. To be honest, I found it somewhat bitter and wished I had ordered regular. This place is apparently very popular with tourists, but it wasn’t too crowded when I was there.
Lunch at Taichung Second Market OR 96 Vegetarian (九六素食)
Taichung Second Market: Open 7 am to 8 pm, closed Mondays.
A-Hua vegetarian food stall inside the market: Open 6:00 am to 1:30 pm Monday to Friday, 6 am to 1:30 pm Sunday.
96 Vegetarian: Open daily 7:30 am to 7:30 pm.
Taiwan is famous for its night markets, but there are also markets like this one that are open during the daytime. Taichung Second Market is an indoor market with stalls selling all kinds of things, including produce, clothes and ready-to-eat food.
Walking through its narrow corridors is a fun way to experience a slice of daily life in Taiwan. Unfortunately, the meat and fish stalls are mixed in with the rest, so it’s hard to avoid the unpleasant sight of dismembered bodies.
There is a vegetarian food stall here, though, called A-Hua, that’s open for breakfast and lunch.
Alternatively, head back towards the station for lunch at 96 Vegetarian (九六素食 in Chinese). This is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Taichung and has been around for 53 years.
It’s a family-run place owned by four generations of vegetarians. Both buffet and à la carte Taiwanese dishes are available. The owner is very friendly and will probably ask to take a selfie with you (which he will post on Facebook).
Dessert at Miyahara Ice Cream OR The Fourth Credit Union
Miyahara: Open daily 10 am to 10 pm.
Fourth Credit Union: Open daily 10 am to 9 pm.
Whether you eat lunch in the market or at 96 Vegetarian, be sure to save room for dessert. Most Taichung itineraries will tell you that you must have ice cream at the famous Miyahara Ice Cream Shop.
But while it’s worth taking a peek inside at the beautiful building, avoid the huge queues by walking three minutes down the street to Fourth Credit Union, which serves exactly the same ice cream.
The Miyahara Ice Cream Shop used to be an ophthalmologist office run by a Japanese man named Miyahara.
Its walls are lined with old drawers and bookshelves, and it’s often been likened to a Harry Potter set. While not as Harry Potteresque as the House of Mina Lima in London or the Lello Bookstore in Porto, it’s still impressive.
The inside is not a sweet option, with a few vegan options like peanut brittle flavored with black sesame or seaweed. But most people come for the ice cream. For that there’s no seating, just a takeaway window outside.
And the queues can be enormous, even at 9:30 am, half an hour before they open. But what most people seem not to know is that the same company runs a sit-down ice cream shop just down the street that serves the very same ice cream. And the wait is much shorter!
Another renovated historical building, Fourth Credit Union was originally, of course, a credit union. Go upstairs to find more seating, including a bar made out of what used to be the bank teller windows.
Unfortunately none of the chocolate flavors are vegan, but according to the staff the following fruit flavors are: Irwin mango, passion fruit, sugar cane, kumquat lime and kyoho grape. Three other flavors are dairy-free but contain honey.
Open daily 24 hours.
This centrally located park has lots of greenery and a man-made lake called 日月湖, which means Sun Moon Lake. Don’t confuse this with the famous Sun Moon Lake about 70 kilometres away.
That one is called 日月潭 in Chinese, which is more like Sun Moon Pond, even though it's obviously the bigger of the two by far.
The lake in the park is a popular place to rent rowboats, and the gazebo out on the water is the oldest example of Japanese colonial architecture in the city.
I was here on a Sunday afternoon and it was very lively, with lots of people having picnics and some kind of festival going on.
If you still have some time left in the day, from here it’s not too far to the Taichung Confucius Temple (see description in the next section). Just remember that it closes at 5 pm and is closed all day on Mondays.
Dinner at Guan Shi Yin Organic Lifestyle OR Yizhong Street Night Market
Guan Shi Yin Organic Lifestyle: Open daily 10 am to 7:30 pm.
Yizhong Street Night Market: Open daily 11 am to 10:10 pm, open late until midnight on Sundays.
If you’re not continuing to the Confucius Temple, then head back toward the station for dinner at Guan Shi Yin Organic Lifestyle (觀世音有機生活館). The friendly owner of this vegetarian restaurant speaks very good English, although she’s also happy to speak in Chinese if you want to practice.
I highly recommend ordering the king oyster mushrooms with rosemary and soy sauce! Even though the seasoning didn’t look or taste like rosemary, the mushrooms themselves were delicious.
You can order this either as a single dish or as part of a set meal with side dishes and soup. There’s also a health food store within the same space.
Otherwise, if coming from the Confucius Temple then you’ll pass Yizhong Street Night Market on your way back to the city center. I haven’t tried this one yet, but if you want to have the typical night market experience in Taiwan, this could be a good chance.
Almost all night markets have at least a few vegan options, such as fried mushrooms, corn on the cob, or sweet potato balls.
Alternative Things to Do in Taichung and Day Trip Options
The following attractions are all a bit further away from the Taichung city center, which is why I didn’t include them in the 1-day or 2-day Taichung itineraries.
Some are located in the Taichung outskirts, while others are completely out of the city and will take the better part of a day to reach. Nevertheless, if you have extra time you might find it worth seeking some of them out, depending on your interests.
Most of these I haven’t been to yet, so the info below is based on online research. I’ve indicated in the descriptions below what kind of traveler each site will likely appeal to the most.
Luce Memorial Chapel
Open Sundays 9 am to 10:15 am and 11 am to 12:15 pm.
This small chapel sits on the Tunghai University campus and was designed by the firm of the famous Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei. It’s named in honor of a 19th-century American missionary to China.
Its striking design is somewhat reminiscent of a teepee, with a steeply slanting roof that reaches all the way down to the ground. The chapel is open for services on Sundays only, but most people just come to take photos from the outside anyway.
Appeals most to: Photographers/Instagrammers and fans of modern architecture.
Taichung Confucius Temple
Open 9 am to 5 pm, closed Mondays.
This is one of four major Confucius Temples in Taiwan. It’s about a 30-minute walk from the train station, but in the opposite direction from most other places of interest.
I did try to visit this one, but I made the mistake of going on a Monday. The Confucius Temple in Tainan was under major renovation when I visited there, and I also somehow missed the ones in Taipei and Kaohsiung, so I just don't have good luck with Confucius temples in Taiwan. It looks beautiful in the photos I’ve seen, though.
Appeals most to: cultural travelers.
National Taichung Theater
No set opening hours, depends on performances.
This modern opera house and concert hall is another one for modern architecture lovers. A variety of concerts and other cultural events are held here, though judging by Instagram, most people just come to pose in front of the wavy façade.
There are also some shops and eateries inside. Guided tours are available in English by prior reservation for NT$ 100.
Appeals most to: Photographers/Instagrammers, fans of modern architecture, cultural travelers
Feng Chia Night Market (逢甲夜市)
Open daily 4 pm to 2 am, closes early at 1 am on Mondays.
Also sometimes transliterated as the Fengjia Night Market, this is arguably the most famous night market in the entire country, and also the largest. And that’s saying a lot in a country that goes wild for night markets!
However, I was advised by local friends to skip it. Not only is it super crowded, but you have to dodge scooters zipping through the rows as well as people.
From what I’ve heard from local vegans, there are a few vegan options, but nothing you can't find elsewhere. Yizhong and Zhongxiao are two more centrally located night markets.
And if you're going to make a special trip out of the center, for a vegan night market experience you’ll want to go to the Taichung Ruifeng International Gourmet Village (台中瑞豐國際美食村).
Here you’ll find a whole row of at least four vegetarian stalls next to each other. The Gourmet Village is closed Monday through Wednesday, but on other days it’s open from 5 pm to 12 am.
It’s about as far from the center as Feng Chia is, although you could actually walk there from Rainbow Village in about 30 to 40 minutes.
Totoro Bus Stop
Open daily 24 hours.
If you’re a die-hard fan of the Ghibli Studio films and of My Neighbor Totoro in particular, then you might want to make a trip out to the Totoro bus stop.
Remember, though, there is also a similar bus stop at Painted Animation Lane, which casual fans will probably be satisfied with.
The main difference between the two is that the Painted Animation Lane bus stop is a bench in front of a painted mural, whereas this one features life-sized sculptures of Totoro and No Face.
It’s the brainchild of a Totoro fan who made the sculptures from scrap materials.
Appeals most to: Hardcore fans of My Neighbor Totoro and Ghibli Studio.
This vast wetland north of Taichung harbor is famous for its sunsets, its wind turbines and its bird-watching opportunities. Be prepared for strong winds, especially if you go during the winter.
There’s an 800-meter-long wooden walkway that you can follow out into the bay. Most people arrive in the afternoon, around 4 pm, and then stay to watch the sunset.
Appeals most to: Photographers/Instagrammers and nature lovers.
Zhongshe Flower Market
If you enjoy posing for photos in the middle of a field of colorful flowers, then this is the place for you. There are even some props to add extra pizazz to your IG shots, like a fake windmill and a fake piano. From January to March, you can even find tulips growing here. Quite an impressive feat in the scorching heat of Taiwan!
Appeals most to: Instagrammers and botany enthusiasts
921 Earthquake Museum
This museum was built around the remains of a junior high school that was destroyed by a devastating earthquake on 21 September 1999. Just as 9/11 holds bitter memories for many Americans, so does the date 9/21 for Taiwanese.
Inside the museum are displays on the science of earthquakes, but it also serves as a memorial to those who lost their lives and as a reminder of the need to prepare for future disasters. Judging by Taiwan’s impeccable handling of COVID-19 thus far, the country seems to have taken the lesson to heart.
Appeals most to: those interested in history and/or dark tourism
Wufeng Lin Family Mansion and Garden
This Chinese-style mansion is one of the last remaining examples of Qing-dynasty architecture in Taiwan. Entrance costs NT$ 250 but includes a free audio guide. You can walk here from the 921 Earthquake museum in 30 to 40 minutes, or take bus No. 50 between the two.Appeals most to: history and cultural travelers
Getting Around Taichung
The Taichung metro is supposedly set to open soon, but they’ve been saying that for years now. Until then, you’ll have to make do with buses, taxis and you’re on two feet.
But the good news is, bus rides of up to 10 kilometres are free! You still have to tap in and out with an IC card, but you should definitely get one of those anyway as soon as you arrive in Taiwan.
Lots of buses run down Taiwan Boulevard, aka Highway 12. It has a dedicated bus lane, so you’re unlikely to get stuck in traffic. Sights that can be reached easily from this highway include Calligraphy Greenway, the CMP Block Museum of Arts when it reopens, the National Taichung Theater and Luce Memorial Chapel.
Bus No. 75 goes to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts from near the Taipei main station, and it also passes by Veganday Cuisine. Bus No. 81 goes to the Confucius Temple from the main station, and Bus No. 309 goes to Gaomei Wetlands.
Directions in Google Maps are pretty accurate in Taiwan, so that’s probably the best way to find the bus routes for where you want to go.
As a reminder, you’ll only really need to take transport if you’re visiting Rainbow Village or the alternative Taichung attractions listed in the above section. Everything else in this two-day Taichung itinerary can be visited on foot.
Taichung Itinerary Map
You’ll find all the Taichung attractions mentioned in this guide marked on the map below. The 1-day Taichung itinerary is marked in green, the second day of the 2-day Taichung itinerary is marked in red, and the alternative attractions are marked in black.
Click the star next to the title to save the map to your own Google account..
Where to Stay in Taichung
We stayed at the Chance Hotel, which offers a good standard of service at a bargain price, at least during the week.
It’s very central, close to the station, and the rooms are modern and comfortable. Other facilities include a laundry room with a washer and dryer, and automated check-in and check-out.
If you arrive early, you won’t be allowed to check in until 3 pm, but you can store your luggage in the lobby.
This building right across the street from Chance Hotel caught my eye, and I just had to find out what it was. It looks like it belongs in Barcelona, right alongside Gaudi’s fantastical designs.
Turns out, it’s also a hotel. And judging from the photos online, it looks like the walls and ceilings of the rooms and communal areas are covered with colorful murals as well. This would be a fun place to stay if traveling with kids.See more photos and read reviews of Blues Hotel here.
Survival Chinese for Traveling in Taiwan
Knowing a bit of the local language is a huge help when traveling in Taiwan. There are many languages spoken in Taiwan, but Mandarin Chinese is the lingua franca, and pretty much everyone understands it.
If you want to learn some super useful words and phrases in Chinese, check out my list of 100+ useful Chinese words and phrases.
uTalk is perfect for learning set words and phrases for just about any situation you may find yourself in while traveling in Taiwan. And you can also use it as an electronic phrasebook to quickly look up the phrase you need at any given moment.
Click the image below to get a 20% discount on Chinese or any other language on uTalk!
And if you want to go beyond just memorizing set phrases, ChinesePod offers more than 4,000 lessons at all levels, all the way from newbie to advanced.
What I love most about ChinesePod is that I learn so much about the culture while also learning the language.
They've recently changed up their website, and you can now access most of their content for free just by signing up for a free account. It's an incredible deal!