Taichung, a city in western Taiwan, is full of fascinating culture, excellent shopping and lots of opportunities for adventurous food tasting. The Xitun District in the north-west offers a compact area to sample the best the city has to offer. The bustling main street, also known as Xitun, is not only one of the oldest streets in Taichung, it’s also the best place to start your explorations.
Two of Xitun’s highlights are the infamous Fengjia Night Market and the brand new Metropolitan Opera House. For foodies, the Fengjia Night Market is a hungry traveller’s paradise. Dougan (tofu), squid balls, duck, pizza – no one will go hungry thanks to the sheer number of food and drink stalls at Fengjia. But it’s not just about food; the market also has clothes, accessories, home goods and just about anything else you can think of. Some owners will open their stall as early as 2pm, but the peak hours are from 7pm to 1am. While students and tourists are the primary marketgoers, you’ll also see many locals meeting friends for a bite to eat or doing a spot of shopping after work. The entrance to Fengjia Market is located near Feng Chia University.
Also in Xitun is the much-hyped Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, which opened in 2016. Designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the striking space is notable for its curving lines and cavernous interior, which features three theatres and a restaurant. Even if you aren’t an opera fan, the theatre is a worth a visit if only to gawp at its beautiful architecture. Another place for art lovers is the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. The museum has a permanent exhibition as well as temporary shows spotlighting Taiwanese and other Asian artists, plus an expansive outdoor sculpture park. With an interactive kids’ area inside the museum and the sculpture park outdoors, it is an excellent place to explore with the family.
One of Taiwan’s largest (and highest) parks is located in Xitun. Taichung Metropolitan Park sits at about 300 metres above sea level and offers lots of open space for walks and , if it’s a clear day, excellent views of the island. There are marked walking paths, trees and ponds as well as a number of built attractions including pavilions and bridges.
Shopping is easy to come by in Xitun, even if you aren’t into the market scene. Located right next door to each other are Shin Kong Mitsukoshi and Top City, two of Taiwan’s most popular shopping centres. Other well-known department stores located in Xitun include Idee and Tiger City.
Xitun District is the city’s administrative centre as well as being home to a number of universities, including Feng Chia and Tunghai. Located on the Tunghai campus is one of the district’s hidden gems: the Luce Memorial Chapel, which was designed by the firm of noted Chinese architect I. M. Pei. Completed in 1963, the Christian chapel was named after an American missionary. The slopping A-frame structure is complemented by a light-filled swooping interior.
Buses will easily get you around the Xitun District. Services arrive and depart frequently from Taizhonggang Road. The district’s main street is Xitun and the best way to explore its bustling shops and stalls is on foot.