Suggested Morning/Afternoon/Evening Walk Itineraries


Central Taichung is one of the most pleasant urban centers in Taiwan to perambulate on foot. Planners have taken full advantage of the ample space available to create comfortable room along streets for pedestrians and have designed green spaces aplenty, including long green corridors. As a quality bonus, even right in the core there’s an unusual amount of low-rises, and buildings tend to be a bit further back from the street than elsewhere in the city.


Launch your morning promenade at the lengthy Calligraphy Greenway’s north end at the National Museum of Natural Science (, opened in 1986. One of Taiwan’s finest science museums, this global-caliber facility has galleries dedicated to the subjects of science, life sciences, human cultures, and global environment. There is also a Space Theater, featuring a semi-spherical dome screen, in which science and ecological films are shown and planetarium sessions are held.

National Museum of Natural Science
Inside the museum

The museum’s adjacent bio-buzzing 4.5ha Botanical Garden is a forest of endemic plants penetrated via a web of cool, shady walkways. A transparent glass structure with exposed steel-pipe framing that resembles a monumental lunar-landing craft rises in the center above the forest’s canopy – the Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse. Stepping within, enter a humid simulated tropical rainforest complete with spraying waterfall, orchid cliff wall, and intermittent “rain” (i.e., a moisture-spray system). Among other treasures for your photo memories are 300-plus species of flowering plants, a 14m-long aquarium filled with giant Amazon fish species – including the incredible arapaima, one of our world’s largest freshwater fish – and a smaller aquarium world with an evil-looking piranha armada restrained from attack on innocent colorful tropical neighbors by an invisible glass wall.

Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse
Inside the greenhouse
Giant fish from the Amazon River

A little south from the museum, clustered close to each other, are Park Lane by CMP, Taichung Civic Square, and PARK2 Caowu Square. Park Lane by CMP is a multi-story one-time parking garage gracefully recast as an urban garden where nature and modernity harmoniously coexist. Its most salient feature is the façade’s 20m-tall vertical garden walls. The interior retail/culture space is divided according to theme – children, music, wine, etc.

Taichung Civic Square is a large lawn-centered park that serves as the stage for the acclaimed international Taichung Jazz Festival. The park is always abuzz with buskers and other entertainment on weekends/holidays.

Taichung Civic Square (Park Lane by CMP in the background)

In Taichung City tourism promotions PARK2 Caowu Square is described as a “non-classic” park combining green vegetation and brand-recognition retail, dining, and liquid-refreshment outlets. At its heart is a spacious sunken plaza featuring wood flooring and a lush array of broad-leaf and desert plants. There’s also an irregular schedule of theme markets, cultural exhibits, and live-entertainment performances.

PARK2 Caowu Square

Noon/Early Afternoon

You’ll have been on your feet for quite a spell now, and your tummy clock will without doubt be signaling you it’s time to sit down at a culturally interesting spot presenting good and filling food creations. An inspired solution – Fantasy Story – Green Ray – is to be found a short walk further south, along a peaceful lane a block-plus west of the greenway. Here, glass walls and exposed steel framework have been dynamically introduced to a long-abandoned line of 12 traditional-style Chinese dormitory residences of red brick and ceramic-tiling roofs built over 70 years ago, used by the local water corporation. Tree and vine growth that had invaded the derelict structures have been aesthetically left in place in many corners. Among the dining options here are the CYS Taichung beer bar (, specialized in local and imported craft beers; the Tasty Hipster café, serving light meals and refreshing drinks; and the (Fried) Dumpling Lab (, known for its creative dumplings that come in six different flavors and can be combined with five different sauces.

Shop of the Fantasy Story – Green Ray project

Shenji New Village is a neighborhood of rehabilitated light-yellow brick-and-concrete edifices topped with sloping ceramic-tiling roofs, dating to the 1960s, located two blocks directly south of Fantasy Story just west of the Calligraphy Greenway.

Shenji New Village

The cluster was fabricated as dormitory residences for Taiwan Provincial Government personnel (this government level is now defunct). The main street is paved with pebblestone and red brick, and paved footpaths lead through the other areas. At multiple points newly-constructed wooden staircases raise visitors up to second-story balconies and boardwalk-style walkways that connect buildings.

The community, for a time abandoned, today bubbles with trendy tourism-focused shops, studios, and other endeavors. The first wave of entrepreneurs was young cultural-creative personalities brought in under the “Catch a Star Youth Dream Taichung” program (; Chinese). The second wave consisted of owners of old shops or other types of businesses interested in new aesthetically updated locations or in trying brand-new ventures. Among your best options are a shop selling nostalgia items and postcards with cute images (Yushilab) and a tiny restaurant serving oily rice topped with Taiwanese-style sausage in mini rice steamers, as well as shaved ice and chocolate sweet-potato balls (La Jia Bong). There is also an Italian restaurant, a craft-beer bar, a creative studio inspired by window-grille patterns (ceramic wares, pins, purses, chopstick holders, etc.), and a studio crafting products featuring leather stitched to solid wood (coasters, vases, earrings, etc.

Taiwan-style meal served in mini rice steamer
Sweet-potato balls

At the greenway’s south end is the grandiose National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (, inaugurated in 1988. Taiwan’s first and only national-grade fine-arts museum, its vast collection today surpasses 19,000 works. The facility went through five full years of renovations after being damaged in the devastating earthquake that struck Taiwan in 1999, emerging even larger and with an even more visually dynamic interior and exterior.

National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

The facility’s key focus is on modern and contemporary works by Taiwanese artists, and exploration of the singular characteristics of modern visual arts in Taiwan. It is set amidst an expansive, well-manicured grassy park dotted with arresting public-artwork sculptures that lures visitors and local denizens to lay down for a good read or a snooze. Inside are 15 exhibition halls. Other viewing stations include Gallery Street, U-108 Space: The Experimental Immersive Space of Techno Art, and Floating Isle: A VR Gallery. Among the varied educational spaces is the Taiwan Children’s Art Cave.

Inside the museum

Late Afternoon/Evening

Zhongxin Market takes up a full (very small) city block right beside the Art Museum Parkway, a five-block green corridor that begins immediately south of the fine-arts museum, ending before the Liuchuan Canal. Once a busy traditional market, characterized by tight density of commercial enterprises each with generally small interiors, the warren has been transformed into a hub of creative spaces for artists and innovative entrepreneurs, bubbling with a retro feel and “hidden gem” shops. The retro feel is enhanced by the continued presence of some old-time enterprises as well, such as meat and vegetable vendors, generally open from early to mid-morning, and varied prepared-food stalls open for breakfast and lunch.

Zhongxin Market alley

The market’s heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s when the land that is now the grounds of the fine arts museum was the site of dormitory facilities for the US military. Its fortunes waned after the US switched official ties to the PRC and American personnel in Taiwan were pulled out.

Two of the popular new ventures that have been set up within the market are G-Soup and Swinhoe. G-Soup is an eatery specialized in chicken soup. It opens for dinner only, reservations required, with 1-hour dining slots at 5:30, 6:30, and 7:30pm. The soup is hearty, with a different version – and only one – available each day. Side dishes such as soy-braised savories and ban fan with truffle cream are also available; ban fan is a rice dish similar to, but simpler than, Korean bibimbap.

Enjoying a meal at G-Soup
Hearty chicken soup

Swinhoe (, a coffee shop, is named after Robert Swinhoe, an English diplomat and naturalist who pioneered the cataloguing of Taiwan’s fauna species in the 1800s. The exquisitely lovely Swinhoe’s Pheasant, also called the Taiwan Blue Pheasant, is named after him. The café is dedicated to the man’s work, the beauty of Taiwan’s bio-life, and to aesthetic living. The owner is a metalworking artist who has filled the café space with striking cuttlebone-casting artworks that are homages to Swinhoe and the living artworks of Taiwan’s natural environment that his adventures introduced to the wide world.

Swinhoe coffee shop
Icecream coffee and cake

At blank plan (; Chinese), a concept-experiment undertaking right beside the parkway, the design-team owner-operators have taken the four floors of an old building and turned them, collectively, into an immersive-experience space. The levels are presented as spaces one enters with a “blank plan,” you as “blank slate” open to new and uplifting life aesthetics.

Blank plan building

The first level is a “quiet green” tea-art experience space with vintage weathered wooden tables, wooden chairs from old-time theaters, and mottled, irregular gray walls to convey the passage of time. The rounded service bar is low, same height as the tables, to encourage customer interaction with the tea masters. The second level is a space of “day and night floating shadows,” baristas preparing hand-brewed fine coffees day-time, bartenders concocting themed, personalized wine-experience sets in the evening.

Cafe/bar on second floor

“Blue moonset” is the theme in the third-level retail and teaching space, where maverick-style, sustainable-production creations by artists and indie designers are showcased. There’s also a fine-living exhibit/teaching space. “Sunshine landing” is the concept for the fourth level, an “interpretation space” with changing sensory-experience exhibits (entry fee).

Denim shop on third floor

When exploring this quarter, note that blank plan closes significantly earlier than the other attractions in this section, so you may consider visiting it first rather than last.

About the author

Rick Charette

A Canadian, Rick has been resident in Taiwan almost continually since 1988. His book, article, and other writings, on Asian and North American destinations and subjects—encompassing travel, culture, history, business/economics—have been published widely overseas and in Taiwan. He has worked with National Geographic, Michelin, APA Insight Guides, and other Western groups internationally, and with many local publishers and central/city/county government bodies in Taiwan. Rick also handles a wide range of editorial and translation (from Mandarin Chinese) projects.