Taichung is a west-central Taiwanese city that is the second largest in Taiwan and a former provincial capital of the Qing Dynasty. This rich heritage means the city has a wealth of culturally appealing offerings and sites that have actually grown in number in recent years thanks to economic prosperity and renewed interest in the arts. Taichung’s temperate climate also makes it ideal for travelers looking to relax and escape either oppressive, humid heat or wintertime cold, as it has often been likened to California or other such Mediterranean climates that experience plenty of sun and mild daytime highs.
As in other major Taiwanese cities, the culture of market stalls serving an array of tantalizing street bites pervades city streets after dark. Not only do night markets provide excitement in the form of exotic, locally made goods and culinary samplings, they are also a chance to witness street performers and live musicians in front-row fashion. Typical street food options available at the many local night markets, such as the Feng Chia Night Market, include grilled scallops,fried pork,and chicken cutlets, as well as beverages like bubble tea. Outside the markets, culinary aficionados will be far from disappointed where the local restaurant and bar scene is concerned. An eclectic variety of cuisine types, such as Chinese, Greek, and Indian, can be found, and quirky, unique Taiwanese options are prevalent too, like an eatery specializing in several styles of smoked goose meat.
Taichung is a city built upon the shoulders of manufacturing that has now evolved into an exciting cultural destination and attraction for Taiwanese youths. It is also arguably the richest Taiwanese city in terms of its market culture of vendors that serve up local delicacies on the streets after dark. Travelers who seek full immersion in both the old-world and modern cultures of Taiwan will find what they seek in Taichung.
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Now one of the most popular attractions in Taichung, the Rainbow Village is actually one of many small housing communities that were set up for Taiwan’s military veterans and their families. A former soldier, Huang Yung-Fu, began painting the buildings, and with time his works of art have spread across nearly the entire village in dramatic fashion. The scenery in his paintings includes the typical subject matter of natural scenes, depicting birds, animals, and humans. Photographs are welcome in the village, and it’s recommendable to visit on a weekday, as weekends are known to get fairly crowded in the small space. There is also a souvenir shop featuring colorful artworks and keepsakes for sale.
Formerly an ophthalmology clinic during the Japanese colonial period, what is now the retail space known as Miyahara later became a health clinic before being abandoned and experiencing a period of slow decay. Today, however, the storefront has transformed into a home for Dawn Cake – a pastry company renowned for its pineapple cakes and other sweet baked goods and treats. The original red brick walls and archway of the building were preserved, but the rest has been redone in elegant fashion, and the shop has gained a far-reaching reputation for its ice cream. Visitors will be struck by the astounding variety of its ice cream flavors. Miyahara offers 17 variations on chocolate ice cream alone that are made from cocoa beans sourced from different regions.
The nation of Taiwan features several creative parks, which are essentially art and design venues meant to serve as cultural centers. Within walking distance from the main railway station, the Taichung Creative Park is one of the country’s most successful of said parks that features a number of art installations, as well as some food and beverage offerings. Music and dance practice rooms are also provided in this dynamic facility, which was converted from an old winery and distillery. Former warehouses that served winery purposes are now open to the public in the Taichung Creative Park’s spaces that today include a library, exhibition rooms, and performance venues. The former storage warehouse that is now known as Yatang Hall is where the most popular and acclaimed exhibitions take place.
An ideal place to sample any and all of the delicious street food dishes Taiwan has to offer, the Fengjia Night Market features both affordable prices and adventuresome dishes, as well as one of Taiwan’s best bubble tea selections in terms of flavor. The market is open most evenings from roughly 7 to 10 p.m., and it is typically at its busiest from 8 p.m. onward. The market is located next to Feng Chia University, which means it is extremely popular for students. Some of the available offerings here, depending on the night, include pork sausage, deep fried squid on a stick, black tea stinky tofu, banana roti, German pig knuckles, and Korean-style chicken wings. And beyond just a hotspot for food, the Fengjia Night Market is also known for featuring a number of stalls that sell beautiful handmade clothing items.
As bubble tea originated in Taiwan, it comes as no surprise that some of the world’s best stores serving the sweet drink filled with tapioca pearls are found in and around Taichung. But the undisputed origin and nucleus of bubble tea cultures – at least for most – is Chun Shui Tang, a store that is said to be the home of the original bubble tea. Chun Shui Tang serves the drink in its purest form, adding only tea, milk, sugar, and tapioca, along with desired flavoring. And while the exact place of origin for this tasty pearl milk tea may be up for debate, few would argue with Chun Shui Tang’s claim that it is one of the world’s top places to order bubble tea. Travelers will find the drink, which is traditionally served cold and at times even on ice, especially refreshing during the hot days of summer.
Located between the National Museum of Natural Science and the National Museum of Fine Arts, the CMP Block Museum of Arts holds different art exhibitions throughout the year, depending on different trends and holiday seasons. With respect to the museum’s overall aesthetic vision, the main concept was to create a park-like environment in which art was set alongside a natural space. In this way, it was thought that a new generation of Taiwanese would carry forth traditions of valuing “local culture” and “daily-life art” and be attracted to the installations. This guiding principle of incorporating art into daily life is most evident in the CMB Block museum’s arrangement of its sculpture pieces primarily on outdoor lawns and walkways. It has been dubbed a “living museum” for this reason. The museum also houses a gourmet cafe that travelers may wish to visit on either side of touring the art.
Taichung’s National Museum of Nature and Science is an expansive, elaborate museum with the defining trait of education as a focal point. Highlights include a sizeable botanical garden and greenhouse, a Life Sciences section, earthquake museum, and a giant mosquito. This is undoubtedly one of the better entertainment options for visitors to Taichung who have kids, as the hands-on nature of the museum’s exhibits is sure to garner the full attention of excited, curious children. The museum also has an IMAX Space Theater attached where guests may view a constantly rotating selection of films. Typical showings at the theater range widely from highly focused scientific documentaries to 3D adventure cartoons. When touring the National Museum of Nature and Science, be sure to stop through the newly renovated Hall of Human Cultures sections, which examines the medicine, technology, and spiritual life of the Han people, in addition to exploring Taiwan’s aboriginal culture.
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