Ask the concierge: Taichung
Taichung, Taiwan’s third largest city, can be invariably summed up in just three words: sophisticated, cosmopolitan and intriguing. To get an insider’s perspective on this vibrant city, we had a chat with Scott Lee, chief concierge at Millennium Vee Hotel Taichung.
Taichung possesses an allure not found in any other city in Taiwan. It is relatively easy to lose all sense of time as you explore its meandering cityscape, which is punctuated by tranquil pockets of lush greenery and gleaming contemporary spires.
There is also never a dull moment in the cultural heart of Taiwan. This colourful city plays host to a range of international and local cultural events, including the Taichung Jazz Festival and Dajia Matsu holy pilgrimage. Venerable temples and museums dot its landscape, all of which add to the nascent charm of this city.
Besides offering visitors a glimpse into Taiwan’s chequered history, Taichung has now become synonymous with shopping, with its downtown retail experience rivaling that of larger metropolitan areas, such as Tokyo or Manhattan.
Need some last minute travel inspiration? Don’t fret. Here’s a rundown of Lee’s top picks for visitors to enigmatic Taichung:
Don’t miss these attractions
- The Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, which is scheduled to open sometime in 2016, is a modern architectural masterpiece designed by the Japanese master builder, Toyo Ito. It has become a defining landmark for Taichung, reflecting the upbeat vibe that runs through the city.
- For a rather interesting way to pass the time, check out the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan and experience the seismic events that took place on 21 September, 1999, when Taiwan was hit by an earthquake that measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. This unique museum, housed within a former school that was devastated by the earthquake, features highly interactive exhibits and simulations designed to depict the destructive forces of nature.
Make time for these activities
- Taichung's vibrant night markets, which are packed with street food, souvenirs, fashion items and trinkets, are a must-do. Fengjia is not only the city's largest and most popular night bazaar; its food stalls are renowned for being the best in town when it comes to tantalising and unique local snacks. Fried chicken cutlet anyone?
- Taichung is often used as a starting point to explore the surrounding Taiwanese countryside. To commune with nature, head out to Taichung’s scenic area on the city’s rural perimeter, which features a network of winding hiking trails and breathtaking vistas.
Give your tastebuds a treat
- Dine at Ding Wang Spicy Hotpot for a tongue-numbing gastronomic experience your palate won't forget. Szechuan pepper infused mala or the sour Napa and pork? It’s your choice.
- Treat yourself to a refreshing glass of bubble tea within the chic and sumptuous confines of Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House. Ardent fans of this milky concoction will be glad to know that this delightful teahouse prides itself on its authenticity. Did you know that this Taichung establishment is the birthplace of bubble tea and still makes its signature black tapioca pearls by hand?
Leave space in your luggage for souvenirs
- Make sure you don’t leave Taichung without buying a box of hand-made sun cakes, which are a flaky confection filled with maltose.
- Almond crisps, which are wafer-thin biscuits encrusted in almonds, are a local speciality found within the opulent halls of Miyahara, an eclectic gourmet store.
Here’s a bit of practical information: High-speed rail is the fastest way to get to Taichung. The journey from Taiwan's main international gateway, Taipei, takes approximately one hour. No idea where to stay? Head over to Millennium Hotels and Resorts to check out its accommodation deals.