Taipei: Taiwan’s capital is one of the most dynamic cities in Asia. Taipei has ancient temples, a museum that holds the world’s largest collection of Chinese artifacts, vast memorials, world-class hotels, the popular Taipei 101 Tower, and endless shopping opportunities.
Green Island: Scuba dive, snorkel, or soak in a sea-water hot spring on tiny, lush Green Island (Lyudao), in the Pacific Ocean, 30km east of Taitung.
Sun Moon Lake: Walk around, or paddle across Taiwan’s largest lake in the beautiful green hills of the Central Mountain Range. Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s most popular natural tourist attraction.
Taroko Gorge: With its marble-walled canyons, remote mountains and rushing rivers, Taroko National Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. I’ve visited the area at least 50 times since moving to Taiwan and I still go back again and again to hike, swim, or just cruise along the scenic Cross Central Highway.
Hualien has a lot of charm, beautiful beaches and a laid-back atmosphere. It is the biggest city on the east coast of Taiwan and is home to many ethnic minorities. Hualien is the gateway to Taroko Gorge and one of my favorite places to surf in Taiwan.
Kenting is the most popular beach resort in Taiwan. The warm tropical weather makes it a favorite travel destination in winter. Kenting also has wicked surfing, decent scuba diving sites and some hiking trails.
Maolin has remote mountains, waterfalls, rushing rivers, hot springs, a very long suspension bridge, and even a butterfly sanctuary. This wild, unspoiled region is also home to the friendly Rukai aboriginal tribe.
Lugang is one of Taiwan’s oldest towns and is famous for its old market street, magnificent temples, curved streets, and fine traditional handicrafts.
Tainan is Taiwan’s temple capital. It’s the best place to witness ancient Chinese traditions and age-old religious ceremonies. Tainan is my favorite city in Taiwan. If you’re into photography, make sure to put Tainan way at the top of your list of places to visit in Taiwan.
Hehuan mountian is located in Central Taiwan, on the western edge of Taroko National Park. This alpine station is characterized by rolling green hills that often disappear in a sea of clouds. This is where you’ll find the most accessible high altitude hiking trails in Taiwan with most peaks reaching heights of more than 3000m.
source: taiwanese secrets
Even with a title like this, Changhua should only be on your list if you have extra time to spare during your trip in Taiwan. Why? Because the city doesn’t enjoy such a vast choice of attractions like Tainan or Lugang. Still, there are some compelling sites around town and a few culinary specialties worth trying.
Other spellings: Chang-Hua, Chang Hua, Zhanghua
You will most likely only stop here to transit to the nearby historic town of Lugang. From the train station, you can easily walk to most of the sights and restaurants introduced on this page.
Changhua’s Confucius Temple was built in 1726 and is one of the oldest in Taiwan. It’s located right downtown and is surrounded by modern shops and 7 Elevens. It is a very photogenic location.
The last time I was there was in October 2008. The day I went, there was nobody around to take care of this great historic building. The site was totally deserted.
The place was extremely dusty and tablets were on the ground in the halls. I went to the tourist office to see what was going on and they told me: “Since the KMT is in power, we haven’t received money to pay people to maintain the temple.”
You’ve probably seen pictures of this iconic 92m-tall statue in travel books before. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks on the island.
The Great Buddha sits on a 22m-high lotus flower base on top of Baguashan, or Eight Trigram Mountain. The statue is hollow and you can actually go inside to see colorful dioramas that depict the Buddha’s life.
Behind the statue, you’ll find the massive Great Buddha Temple. The third floor is a favorite spot to watch the sunset over the city.
If you feel like walking, head east to Baguashan Scenic Area where you’ll find walkways, pavilions, coffee shops and even an old military aircraft that you can climb in. On a clear day, you can see as far as Taichung from here.
If you have your own harness, shoes, rope and quick-draws (minimum 10 of them) this is the place to be on a sunny day! The wall is about 15m high and has 12 lines of solid bolts.
If you don’t have your own partner, do not… I repeat: DO NOT join the Taiwanese climbers there unless you have suicidal tendencies!
Over the years I have seen the worse climbing practices ever, like very dangerous belay techniques, top roping off a sling (YES!!!), 5 meters of loose rope when the climber is midway… and the list goes onnnnnn…….
The wall is on the grounds of National Changhua Normal University. You can climb here for free. There are no lights at night. You belay from a big sand box, so you’ll want to have a mat for your rope. Find it on my Google map.
Other attractions around town…
If you take a quick look at my Changhua map you will see that there are dozens of temples throughout the city. Walking around the little streets to find them is very interesting.
Yuancing Temple (built in 1763), is one of the most important places of worship for Taiwanese, but a fire devasted it not too long ago and there isn’t much to see at the moment.
Hong Mao (red hair) Well was built by the Dutch more than 300 years ago and is a popular spot for Taiwanese tourists. Unless you have a fascination for wells, or feel like pumping water, you can skip this site.
Cat Mouse Noodles and Meatballs
Changhua’s meatballs are hot! And for some hardcore Taiwanese food lovers, they are the main reason to make it to this part of the island. Two good places I’ve tried are on the corner of Changan and Chenling Rd.
Cat Mouse Noodles are also the pride of local residents. And I seriously don’t understand why. Really, apart from a creative name, this soup doesn’t have much to be excited about. The broth is bland and the noodles are… well… plain white noodles!
Spend a night at Rich Royal Hotel
I know what you’re thinking… You’re looking at this picture and you’re like: “there’s nothing too rich or royal about that ugly building.”
Welcome to Taiwan, home of the deceiving names! Cat Mouse Noodles… (what do you mean no cat meat!?)
It’s not the chicest, smartest or most elegant roof in town but it is good value (less than NT$1000) and it’s proximity to the train station makes it a convenient place to crash.
Getting There and Away by Train
Taichung: It’s a short 15-minute trip between the two cities. You can show up at both train stations anytime and won’t have to wait too long as there are many departures from early morning until late at night.
Taipei: slow/fast, NT$270/420, 3hrs/2.5hrs
Kaohsiung: slow/fast, NT$340/440, 3hrs/2.5hrs
Getting to Lugang (Lukang) by Bus
Buses to Lugang leave frequently from the bus station, just across the traffic circle in front of the train station. NT$50; 30 minutes.
Hike to Baguashan from Kuaiguan
This pleasant rural walk takes you through the Taiwanese countryside on a narrow paved road. It starts at Sun Moon Farm, 8km east of Baguashan and wanders through hills, forests and cemeteries.