Taiwan is a beautiful place; however, as a person who has lived 2 and a half years of my life in Taichung, the middle of Taiwan, I feel that I need to give tips and ideas to those who would like to visit this dear island and this great city. So, in this I’ll be detailing things to do and places to go. This article will be more suited to those who are planning to stay in Taiwan for quite a while and whether you’ll be working or purely studying then this article will, hopefully, be suitable for your needs.
As I’ve lived here for quite a long time, I’ve come to know Taichung quite well and when I compare it my home city in London, the first thing I compare is price. Taichung is by far cheaper and the standard of living is high because of that. When it comes to public transport, food, study, outings, clothing and many more things, Taichung is far cheaper than western countries.
The food is also exceptional and that’s something I’ve personally taken advantage of. The people are also nice and are very welcoming.
While I’d say that Taichung is a big city, there aren’t that many western people, so if you’re western looking you’ll receive stares from others; almost as if you’re from another world. This makes it easier for westerners/others to engage with the locals and if you are able to speak English, a lot of Taiwanese people will try and practice their English with you. In some ways it’s quite endearing as you would not get as much of where I used to live in London.
However, as with anything it requires a little effort, but if you make the effort to find friends, you’ll eventually find the right ones.
So, what to do:
- Learn Mandarin
- Visit the night markets
- Go for a cheap massage
- Visit Taichung park
- Visit Yamay (Water theme park)
1. Learn Mandarin
Learning Mandarin is at the top of my list of things to do in Taiwan, let alone Taichung. It’s cheaper, from my small search online, than Chinese schools that offer Mandarin programs in China and I feel the environment is a lot more modern and the people are a lot nicer in Taiwan than they are in China. (Huge generalisation, I know.) To make myself feel better, according to statistics and the latest news China has extremely bad environmental records. – So, come to Taiwan instead. To move things on a bit, where should you study Mandarin in Taichung? Here’s a nice list that I’ve put together:
- Feng Chia Language Center
- National Taichung University, Chinese Language Center
- Asia University
- Dong Hai University
Personally, I studied at a university’s language centre in a university known as “Feng-Chia University” and it offers an excellent program for beginners, novice and advanced Mandarin Chinese students. — It’s where I made the majority of my friends in Taiwan and it really made me happy. At first, my learning ability of other languages was dreadful, but after learning Mandarin-Chinese, I feel that my ability to learn other languages has increased as I know I can speak other languages if put effort into it; rather than thinking, “I will never have the ability to learn other languages”. This was something that I genuinely believed before. Anyways, Learn Mandarin! It’s a useful language and an emerging global language!
2. Visit the Night Markets
Taichung is popular for its many night markets and the night life in Taiwan as a whole is unlike any other when compared to western countries. Especially, as a person from England, I can say that Taichung has an exciting night life and that you should come over here, make friends, work, and go out to these night markets to buy drinks, eat food, buy clothes and practice your new Mandarin speaking skills!
However, it’s okay if you can’t yet speak Mandarin, as most places have signs that are in English and even the workers can speak enough English to understand what you want. I recommend trying the famous Pearl Milk Tea (珍珠奶茶) and the delicious cheap food in the night markets.
Night Markets to visit:
- Feng-Chia night market
- Yi-Zhong-Jie night market
My personal favourites are the 2 listed above as they are situated in nice locations and are crowded. (Yes, I like people.) However, there are more night markets out there if you look and I haven’t been to all of them, so I’m not going to speak for them.
Buying clothes advice
When my sister visited Taiwan, the one thing she found that was cheaper than England was the clothing and shoes. The shoes can be really cheap. But, I don’t want people to buy cheap stuff that won’t last long, as that type of clothing does exist and in the end it’s a waste of money if the clothing you buy only lasts a month or so. I would recommend paying at least $500-1,000NT for a nice pair of jeans and at least $1,500NT for a nice pair of shoes. Anything below that amount, I would not consider as high enough quality for purchase. I could be wrong and you could indeed find a bargain, and that is the beauty of purchasing things in Taiwan, you can find bargains and you can find a whole new look. Also, if you are purchasing stuff at night market, I’d recommend that you purchase inside shops rather than stools. In my opinion the stools sell the lower quality goods that won’t last long and maybe after a couple wash cycles, they’ll be faded and will look old.
Go for a massage (按摩). You could not find a masseuse in the UK that would offer to massage your back for 20 minutes and only charge you $200NT. Or, for an hour long full-body massage you’ll only have to pay $600NT. It’s damn cheap. However, there is a reason why it’s cheap and that’s because the people massaging you are actually blind. They do a superb job and I really am feeling better after a good massage from them.
Take advantage of the nice back rub that you haven’t had in years!
4. Visit Taichung Park
There is this beautiful park in Taichung called Taichung Park (中山公園; 中山公園). There is a small lake which encompasses a small island in the middle that has a pavilion on it where you can view directly from the middle of the lake. You can also hire one of those small blue boats and row around the lake.
It’s quite beautiful and it’s not too far away from Yi Zhong Street night market, so you can go here first then go to Yi Zhong Street for lunch, dinner or to buy stuff. The park is usually full in the mornings and afternoons.
I would only recommend going to this place if you want to go to relax, have a picnic, exercise, or if you want to go sight-seeing. Though, of course, others may find this place boring.
5. Visit Yamay (Water park)
You visit this water park that is in Taichung County called Yamay. It’s a lot of fun and I would recommend this to everyone. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures as I didn’t want to take my electronics out of bag and I just wanted to have fun! The place features a FULL water themed park along with roller coasters, food stalls, restaurants, a massive wave mountain and massive water slides! I would highly recommend this place.