The best day trips from Taichung

Gaomei wetlands
Gaomei wetlands | © Tai-Hua Lu / Flickr
Ciaran McEneaney

Taichung is a wonderful weekend destination, and the city itself is full of interesting things to see and do. However, it’s also a fantastic base for some day trips to the surrounding countryside, where you can see everything from the country’s largest body of inland water to a wonderfully quirky mock European castle.

1. Sun Moon Lake

Natural Feature
© Eddy Tsai / Flickr
Sun Moon Lake pushes Taroko Gorge for the title of most popular tourist destination outside Taipei, and it’s pretty easy to see why. This incredible man-made lake and the villages that surround it make for some of the best holiday photos you’ll take anywhere in Taiwan. It’s well worth a visit, even if just for a quick day trip. The best way to get to the lake is by bus, which you can get at Taichung Train Station. It’s about an hour’s drive to get to the picturesque Shuishe where you can take a boat tour of the lake. You can also visit the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, which is just a short cable car ride from the edge of the lake.

2. Gaomei wetlands

Natural Feature
© 攝影家9號 / Flickr
This is a quick day trip that many locals make just for a chance to get outside the city. The wetlands consist of a network of boardwalks that run through the muddy banks of the river mouth and coastline. Here, you’ll see plenty of local wildlife, such as birds, mud skipper, and crabs while the sunsets are pretty spectacular. To get there, take the train to Qingshui Station, then take bus 178 or 179 to the tourist center. Many people prefer to drive or hire a taxi for a round trip since it’s fast and more convenient.

3. Dakeng HikingTrails

Natural Feature
© Joe Lo / Flickr

Dakeng Hiking Trails are famous for scenic hiking just outside the city. There are 10 trails and all are well maintained and extremely popular. Trails numbered 6-10 are the easiest and also the busiest, and you may have to deal with large crowds on weekends and holidays. The hikes aren’t too difficult, and there are some nice wooden pathways and handrails, many of which are very popular with photographers. Getting to Dakeng is simple enough; the area is served by public transport. Take bus 21 or 31 from the Taichung First Plaza getting off at Dakeng Stop. Alternatively, you can drive (there’s ample parking) or take a taxi for the day.

4. Xinshe Castle

Botanical Garden
© MiNe / Flickr

A European-style castle in the mountains of central Taiwan—why wouldn’t you check this place out? Surrounded by lush gardens and a lake, the castle is everything you could hope for. It’s often chosen as the backdrop for wedding and family photography. Getting there isn’t quite so easy. Public transport involves several changes and a bit of walking, so most visitors either drive or take a taxi to the castle.

5. Zhongshe Flower Market

Botanical Garden

Located in the town of Houli just a short drive outside Taichung City, Zhongshe Flower Market is a huge flower garden covering six hectares. It’s a popular tourist attraction where many visitors go to take photos by the windmill or in the sea of flowers. As with Xinshe Castle, the best way to get to this attraction is to drive yourself or hire a taxi for a half-day. If this is not an option, then take the train to Houli Station, then it’s a short taxi ride to the market.

6. Wuqi Fisherman's Wharf

© PoYang_博仰 / Flickr

Once a small fishing village in the Qingshui District of Taichung, Wuqi Fisherman’s Wharf is now a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can buy seafood fresh off the boat, enjoy some great street food snacks, or dine at one of the many seafood restaurants. To get to the wharf, take a train to Qingshui Station then share a taxi to the wharf. Public buses require several changes and take quite some time.

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