I spent three years living and working in Taiwan, and 2 out of those three years I lived in Taichung City. Taichung is the city I considered my home in Taiwan. I had some great memories there, and I want to share the things I loved most about the city I called home.
Places to live
If you are planning on coming to Taiwan to live, you’ll need help finding an apartment. 591 is a website for searching apartments. You may still need help from a local to help you navigate this site, but if you already have a job someone at your work will likely be able and willing to help you.
The apartment building I lived in was a great location for expats because there is a strip of western bars and restaurants on the ground level, great for meeting people and socializing. This is the “Soho street” of Taichung. Many of the apartments in this building have interesting interiors. The prices I paid for my apartments that I lived in alone were $13,000 TWD (about $400 USD) for a small 1.5 bedroom, kitchen, living area and bathroom.
Places to work
Taichung has plenty of job opportunities for native English speakers. With my teaching, license I was able to work at a public school. Many of the public school positions are outside of the city, but my school was one of the few that was located very central, allowing me to live in the city, and have a short commute to work every day. There are many other extracurricular “cram” schools, kindergartens, and other private schools that always want a native English speaker teaching their students. Usually, these schools require a four-year degree. To start the process of looking for a job you can contact Dewey.
Transportation – Getting around Taichung
One of the best things about Taichung is how perfect it is for commuting by scooter. There is currently work being done to build a subway. Getting around by scooter is my favorite way to get around a city because you’re not subject to the tight quarters of the subway (Taipei’s MRT getting very crowded, I was never a claustrophobe until I endured the MRT) and you are in control of the route that you take everywhere you go. Scooters are awesome because you can always scooter right ahead of all the cars. But you must beware. Most expats get into some kind of accident during their time in Taiwan. These accidents aren’t usually deadly, but enough to shake you up a bit.
Recreational Activities – Outdoors
There are countless recreational activities to do for fun in Taichung. Here I will briefly touch upon some of my favorites that a hit up more than once during my time there.
Let’s be honest, the biggest challenge of living in this climate is the humid heat! The outdoors is no place to be unless there is something to cool you down. There aren’t much for beautiful, comfortable beaches around here, but we have some nearby waterfalls! There is a great waterfall not too far outside the city in the Taiping District, east of the city. It’s about a 45-minute scooter drive from the center of the city. My favorite thing about this waterfall (besides the amazing cool down!) is an awesome adventure water tracing hike to get to the waterfall. It can be difficult and even dangerous if you’re not good with your footing, but if you are, it is totally fun. It’s just like being a kid again, seeing how you can climb over big rocks, out of caves, etc to get to the waterfall. The walk to get there is 20-30 minutes, not too far, but a good adventure to get there.
Once you get to the waterfall there is a rope you can swing off of from the top of the other side. I’ve seen others have a great time jumping off there, as for me, it’s more fun watching others do the jumping! The first steps into the water are rather uncomfortable on your feet, water shoes would be the best equipment to wear, but come on, who has water shoes? Splashing in the water is great, and there are rocks to sit on and chat, drink the beer you brought and cooled for a little while in the water.
Taiwan is home to a whole lot of great hiking. Taichung is home to the Da Keng hiking trail, and many other great hiking trails. I went to De Keng several times, there a lot routes. The hiking in Taiwan can be very intense, steep steps, and Da Keng is no exception. It’s a great workout and provides awesome views of the mountainous terrain. To be honest, I was never in the driver seat of this hike every time I went there, therefore didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to the different trails and such you can take. For more information on the actual trails you can visit this site I found here.
Eagle Beak Mountain
Near Taichung, there is an awesome, somewhat scary hike called Eagle Beak Mountain. This hike would take about 4 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level. It is an awesome adventure, a beautiful hike, and some fun hikes along a cliff, but you need to be careful doing because if you fall you will die. Without a doubt.
Hash House Harriers walking/running/eating/drinking Group
There are Hash House Harriers groups in cities all over the world, and Taichung is no exception. Everyday Saturday this group walk/runs a trail in or around Taichung with beer and refresher stops along the way. It’s a great way to get out and explore the different scenic places to walk/run/hike in Taichung while having the chance to socialize with a large group of people.
Guguan Wild Hot Spring
Guguan is an area in Taichung known for its luxurious hot springs in fancy hotels, but there is a wild hot spring that you need to hike/water trace to get to. This is a really nice outdoor winter activity. The river tracing can be a little dangerous, the river is not deep, but sure is slippery at the bottom, and there’s no avoiding crossing it several times to get to the hot spring. The hike getting there is probably about 1.5-2 hours walking over large stones the whole way.
Taiwan, in general, is famous for very popular, very crowded night markets. Taichung has 2 very popular night markets – Feng Jia night market which is near Feng Jia University, and YiJong Night Market, which is near Taichung First High School. Night markets are places with several stores and outdoor vendors get together and sell food, clothing, gadgets, most anything you can think of that can be sold at a cheap price. And the prices are just that – cheap. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of night markets because after shopping there a few times you really get to understand why the products are so cheap. Most of the clothing is made out of very uncomfortable material, the gadgets break easily, etc. Plus, if you got on a night, especially between Thursday and Sunday, it is so crowded it’s really hard to not punch people in the back of the head so you can actually move faster than a meter a minute. Ain’t no place for this impatient New England chick! But anyway, it is a good local experience, particularly if you are going to try out the food stands which can be very delicious!
It seems I didn’t take much for photos at night markets, so for pictures or more information click here.
Indoor Recreational Activities
Karaoke TeleVision (KTV) is huge in Taiwan and a whole lot of fun! It’s basically like a private karaoke bar. This is great for people like me who should only be singing in front of those who will still talk to you after you “sing” in front of them. You rent out a room for a night in a KTV establishment for a set number of hours and blast the night away. Many of these places come with an all-you-can-eat layout of various Asian and western foods. KTV usually costs about $500 TWD ($15 USD) per person, varying based on the place, the number of hours you rented, and the number of people renting the room. Somehow my video below came out very distorted, BUT you can get the idea!
Small cafes and restaurants
Taichung has its share of small artsy, carefully decorated coffee shops and restaurants. Living in the “Soho” area of Taichung, I was spoiled with lots of cool places to eat, and I was always so impressed with how much character the owners put into their decor. They really go all out in making a cafe look quaint and cute! There were even some cat cafes with those smushy-faced cute/ugly cats that were sooo cute!!!
Department Stores and Movie Theaters
One of the best ways to beat the cold, rain, or nasty humidity and catch some free AC is browse around one of the many multi-story, fancy-dancy department stores of Taichung. There are several – Sogo, Topcity, Mitzukoshi, and others (with Chinese names). These dapartment stores always have something interesting to see. One even had a giant Christmas Tree and fake snow falling to the ground that I went to on Christmas night! It was a great, while being so far away from home on Christmas, in a country that doesn’t completely celebrate Christmas, to still see that the people of Taiwan somehow understand and can create the magic of Christmas. (Or just have a really great marketing skills, but let’s be optimitic here ;).
Inside Toroko department stores lives a very small ice-skating rink. When I say small, I do mean it’s a small rink. They set you up with knees pads and helmets, but you do need to sing a paper if you chose to not wear a helmet. The price was about $300 TWD (about $10 USD) to stay for a couple of hours. It’s a good place to revisit some childhood ice-skating experiences you have had like I did growing up in an icy climate.
This blog captures some of my favorite places and things to do in the Asian city that was my home! These memories hold a special place in my heart, and I hoped you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed reliving my favorites things about a place I miss dearly!