Our Guide to Hsinchu 新竹懶人包
Hsinchu is not only Taiwan's technological hub, but is also rich with historical sights, Hakka culture, and natural beauty. It has numerous old streets, preserved Japanese-era and Qing-era buildings, zoos, mountains, lakes, rivers, beaches, and much more to explore. It is definitely worth a stop on your next trip to Taiwan.
History of Hsinchu:
After the settlement of the area by Han Chinese farmers in about 1711, what was then known as Zhuqianshe became the most important economic area in northern Taiwan. By 1723, a walled city was built here out of bamboo, because brick walls were forbidden for fear of a revolt against the Qing authorities. The name Zhuqiancheng (竹塹城) literally means bamboo moat city. The bamboo-walled city had four gates and its perimeter was about 1.4 KM long. In 1806, the city was upgraded with earthen walls. In 1828, the city walls and gates were finally made into brick, with the perimeter covering 2.7 KM, and walls 5 meters high, the center of the city being the Chenghuang City God Temple. In 1901, the Japanese government decided to redesign the City of Hsinchu and destroyed all the gates and walls except the existing East Gate.
In the ROC era, the Hsinchu Science Park was established in 1980 under President Chiang Jingkuo, and was made to model silicon valley. TSMC, Taiwan's most important corporation, was formed in 1987 with its headquarters in the park and created a technological hub, making Hsinchu indispensable to Taiwan's economy.
When to visit:
It is best to visit from April to November when the weather is warm and less windy.
There is a constant, cold northeasterly wind from December to March especially along the coast. However, the winter in general is more dry.
Where to stay:
Most of the accommodation you will find is near the city center. If you will only visit downtown, you can consider a day trip from Taipei.
You can find out where to stay in our Taiwan hotels guide or search for the best hotel deals in Taiwan here.
How to get around in Hsinchu:
As always, we recommend renting a scooter as the best way to see Taiwan. However, you can also a great deal of Miaoli by taking the train, inter-city bus, or local bus. Getting around in a car is also a convenient option as there is plenty of parking pretty much everywhere in this less crowded county. You can look for rentals, tours, and other transportation options here.
See below for a map of places we will cover in this blog:
Maokong Gondola 貓空纜車
Maokong is only one of a few Gondolas in Taiwan, but it is the most accessible. You can get there via the Taipei MRT. After embarking on the Gondola, you can view grand vistas of Southern Taipei, and then explore the mountainous streets of Maokong, which has tea shops, street food, restaurants, temples, hiking trails, and great views.
The Maokong Gondola was completed in 2007 to improve transportation to Maokong, a tea growing area in Southern Wenshan District of Taipei City. Before, the district could only be reached by small mountain roads.
The Gondola was closed from 2008-2010 due to Typhoon damage.
Popular activities in the area include tea drinking, hiking, and picture taking.
There are four stations on the Gondola: Taipei Zoo Station, Taipei Zoo South Station, Zhinan Temple Station, and Maokong Station. A one way trip takes 12 minutes, and gondola cars which can fit up to eight people (five people in glass cars) come every few seconds.
Maokong gets its name from the eroded holes in the rocks around the area; the name literally means “Cat Hole.” The area has been one of the largest areas for tea production in Taipei since the Qing Dynasty. After the completion of the Gondola in 2007, tourists to the area have increased significantly.
9 AM to 9 PM
120 NT per person one way from Taipei Zoo Station to Maokong Station.
50 NT per trip for Taipei City residents
How to get there:
By MRT: Take the brown line MRT to the Taipei Zoo station, then walk south a few hundred meters until you reach the gondola station on the east side of the main road.
By Car/Scooter: Drive to the Taipei Zoo, and park somewhere on the street or in a parking lot, the walk to the Gondola Station.
(You can also take the Gondola from the southern station inside the Zoo or from Zhinan Temple)
Please see below:
Fudekeng Environmental Restoration Park is one of the best parks in Taipei City. The park is built on top of a used landfill, and many parts of the park are made out of recycled materials. There are also solar panels in this park. The best parts about this park though is the large green spaces, lack of people, and amazing views of Shenkeng and Wenshan Districts. Other popular activities here are sledding down grass hills, flying remote control airplanes and drones, kite flying, and dog walking.
The landfill at Fudekeng was created in 1980 to relieve capacity at Neihu's garbage mountain (also now a park). It was filled in and discontinued use in 1994, and was replaced by the Shanzhuku landfill which is still in use. In 2004, it officially was transformed into Fudekeng Environmental Restoration Park. In 2017, many solar panels were installed at the park.
How to get there:
By car/scooter: From central Taipei, take highway 106 to Shenkeng and head up Muzha Road Section 5 Lane 43 up the mountain to the eco park. There is plenty of parking inside the park. It never gets full.
By bus: From Taipei Zoo MRT Station, take bus S12 Extend Zoo to Fudekeng Environmental Protection Repopulation Park bus stop.
Please see below:
Taipei Zoo 臺北市立動物園
The Taipei Zoo is not only the largest and most varied zoo in Taiwan, it is also one of the best zoos in Asia, and at the same time has an extremely affordable price of only 60 NT per adult. If you have time you should definitely stop by and visit this zoo, if not for anything else but to see Taiwan's ingenious animals like the Formosan Black Bear and Sika Deer which are hard to see in the wild.
The Taipei City Zoo was originally established during the Japanese Era in 1914 near the Yuanshan Hotel. After the ROC took control of Taiwan, elephants, lions, and bears were added to the zoo in 1952. Because there was not enough land to expand the zoo, it was moved to Wenshan District in 1986. Two employees have been killed by animals, one from an elephant and one from a black bear both in the 1970s. There have been no fatalities at the zoo since. The Maokong Gondola was built next to the zoo in 2007, connecting Taipei Zoo with Maokong.
The current zoo includes a Taiwan indigenous animal exhibit, children's petting zoo, tropical rain forest exhibit, desert animal exhibit, Australian and African animal exhibits, tropical animal exhibit, petting zoo, insect exhibit, and bird exhibit. There is also indoor Panda exhibit, insect exhibit, amphibian and reptile exhibit, koala exhibit, and penguin exhibit.
9 AM to 5 PM, tickets are not sold after 4:00 PM.
Sometimes in the summer twilight hours are extended to 9:00 PM, but it's not worth going as most all of the animal exhibits are closed after 5:00 PM.
60 NT per person
How to get there:
By MRT: Take the brown line MRT to the Taipei Zoo station, then walk north a few hundred meters until you reach the zoo entrance.
By Car/Scooter: Drive to the Taipei Zoo (via highway 3 or county road 106), and park somewhere on the street or in a parking lot, then walk to the zoo entrance.
Please see below:
One Day Taipei Itinerary 臺北一日游
Taiwan is the best kept secret in Asia, and is a great destination to travel. But if you come to Taipei on a business trip or layover, what are the best things to see and do in the city with limited time?
Below we have laid out what we feel are the best one day itineraries in Taipei for those coming to Taiwan for the first time.
Before we get started, below is a map of the places mentioned in this blog:
Taipei FAQ 臺北常見問題
Foreword: Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of questions. This is meant to only give a basic overview of Taipei to those who have never been there.
How do you pronounce Taipei?
Where is Taipei on a Map?/Where is Taipei in Taiwan?
Taipei City is located in northern Taiwan, laying in the middle of the Taipei Basin surrounded by New Taipei City. Please refer to the map below:
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.