Known as a high-tech manufacturing hub, the city of Taichung in Taiwan also has plenty of attractions for travellers, from serene Zen temples to lively shopping districts. It is widely considered to be the birthplace of bubble tea (a tea-based drink containing tapioca balls) – most travellers won't leave before trying the concoction at one of the many shops around town. On the outskirts of the city lie verdant forests and hiking trails just waiting to be explored.
Taichung hostels are fun and friendly. There are spacious bunks in modern dorms, as well as colourful rooms in traditional Taiwanese townhouses. You can stay in a cycling-themed hostel or have dinner under the stars at an urban loft with a rooftop dining space. You'll usually find free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities and thoughtful extras such as slippers in a Taichung hostel. Some hostels even have air purifiers for a better night’s sleep.
Taichung’s old town was nicknamed Little Kyoto by Japanese colonialists, who ruled Taiwan during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here, visitors can stroll along the Shin Sei Green Waterway or sample a traditional suncake (a pastry with a maltose filling). The popular Xitun District is northwest of the centre. It’s famous for the Feng Chia Night Market, which buzzes with numerous vendors selling street food like sausages and deep-fried squid. The Beitun District is the gateway to the gentle hiking trails of the Dakeng Scenic Area.
Taichung is brimming with photo-worthy attractions. For a classic example of Song Dynasty architecture, head to the Taichung Confucius Temple in the North District. In the Longjing District, Panding Church is a pretty place of worship that's shaped like a boat. At the Zhongshe Flower Market, you can pose for photos in sunflower fields. Rainbow Village is another popular spot. The walls of this hamlet are covered with delightfully colourful artwork, which are the masterpieces of an elderly resident who saved it from demolition.
Visitors flying in from other parts of Asia land at Taichung International Airport, around 15km north of the centre. From here, the best way to travel into the city is by taxi. International flights land at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, which connects to Taichung HSR Station via high-speed rail in about an hour. In Taichung, bus rides under 10km are free, making them a great way to get around town.