Taichung City ("Tai-Zhong")(台中市) is Taiwan's 3rd largest municipality region. Taichung is located almost in central Taiwan and is about a 2 hour drive south from Taipei City. Taichung and Greater Taichung boast a population of just over 2.6 million residents.
Taichung really is the "middle" of Taiwan. It isn't as international or bustling as Taipei City in the north, yet it isn't as laid back as Kaohsiung City in the south. Taichung has a bit of the international and high pace, but at the same time, it retains a feeling of friendliness and slower pace. The weather is also the same. It won't get as cold in the winter as Taipei nor get as much rain. At the same time, it's cooler than Kaohsiung and doesn't get quite as much sun.
Because of this middle ground, Taichung hosts a fairly large community of foreign expats who want to live in Taichung and no where else.
Jason Wu, the Taichung City mayor, has been a driving force to make Taichung a modern city that attracts outside events like baseball tournaments and concerts, while also creating a green e-city.
The average temperature in Taichung is between 23-25 degrees. It won't usually get as cold as Taipei nor have as many rainy days. Many days will be cloudy in the winter.
In the summer, the days are hot, but not like Kaohsiung City in the south. The mountains provide a nice breeze to keep the city cooler.
Taichung prices are also middle ground when compared to Taipei and Kaohsiung. Taipei by far boasts the highest prices for items and food. Taichung is also not the cheapest but it isn't the most expensive either. However, prices for rents, food, and general items will be noticably higher than other places south of the city.
As with the rest of Taiwan, Mandarin Chinese is the language most heard throughout the city. Taiwanese can also be heard here and there, but it is much less prevalent than in the areas of Southern Taiwan.
English in Taichung is also spoken by many from young to old. Taichung is full of university students who enjoy learning and using their English ability. Taichung also has always been a bit international and the education system, and parents, will start teaching English to students at a very young age. English definitely gives you an advantage for overseas study and eventual work in Taiwan.
If you are lost or need directions, there’s a good chance you’ll find someone who speaks well enough English to help you. On top of that, they will be proud to help you and get a chance to practice their language ability. It's very similar to Taipei.
Restaurants, coffee shops, malls, hospitals, or the train station are a lot less daunting in Taichung as well. Many places have some kind of English signage and even streets signs are written with an English Romanization. There are several English newspapers on sale and online every day that can help you orient yourself with the city and happenings.
First, most Taiwanese will tell you that Taichung is the capital of triad and gangster activity in Taiwan. It has always been prevelant as part of that city's culture.
However, like most cities in Asia, crime is a lot lower than cities in the west. Taichung is no exception. The city is open late and that means people are out on the streets. It is not uncommon to walk in a neighborhood in the early morning hours and feel completely safe. However, as with any place, one must remain careful and aware.
Taiwan does have its share of petty crime but as guns are illegal, violent offenses are rare. Most cases or violence or homicides occur between parties who know each other.
Drugs are illegal in Taiwan and punishment can be harsh. Being caught in involvement or even near involvement can result in a serious penalty. The drug trade is alive but is very underground.
Triads and gangsters are a part of the Taiwanese landscape. After living in Taiwan for a short period of time, one can point out a heavily tattooed member at close range. Generally, gangsters won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Most likely they are not spending time in your hangouts anyways. But at times, you may cross paths with some and you should be aware. For example, staring at their girlfriends or getting involved in an argument at a pub can result in serious injury to those involved. It’s best to mind your own business and they will mind theirs.
Traffic is a final caution to take in Taichung. It’s a busy and congested place at times. Crossing the street can be dangerous so, it’s wise to be extremely aware when crossing streets. Don’t assume cars or scooters will give you the right of way. Make sure vehicles are stopped or not turning before you cross.
One commonality of Asian cities is how all types of people and lifestyles live among each other throughout every area of the city. Taichung is no different. Families, singles, couples, the elderly, and expats live in all parts of the city and share all the same markets, restaurants, malls, parks, and recreation areas. Where ever you go on whatever day, you’ll be surrounded by all walks of like. Expect lots of children accompanied by parents or grandparents. College students and the twenty something crowd are also prevalent. Expats have no boundaries and participate in just about every activity available.
Stressed out in Taichung? You probably won't be. It's a lot less stressed than Taipei. Although the city is busy, there are plenty of pockets to get away from the crowds and feel like you have your own space.
There is no subway in Taichung, but they certainly could use one. Traffic can be quite congested on weekends and during rush hours. It's good to have a scooter to get around. There is a bus system as well.
Taichung has an international airport. Flights are most domestic or back and forth to China. It's a small airport and many residents must make the trip to Taipei to get international flights to most locations.
The Taichung High Speed Rail station is a major stop on the HSR line. It is always a stop on the fastest express line as well.
Taipei has no shortage of hotels space for anyone’s budget. Whether you don’t mind a small, simple love motel room near the train station, or prefer the style of the “W”, there is a choice for you. Many rooms can be found at smaller boutique hotels. The price range from 60-200 USD for a weekend stay and usually include breakfast and wifi. These types of hotel have been popping up all over Taiwan as old buildings have been given new life. They are usually smaller rooms, but clean and a good bargain.
See our EIT Visa Section for questions on getting a Taiwan visa.