Hsinchu

Travel Guide Asia Taiwan Hsinchu

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Introduction

Hsinchu (新竹; Xīnzhú) is a city in the northwestern part of Taiwan. With a history of almost 400 years, Hsinchu is the oldest city in northern Taiwan. It was originally inhabited by an aboriginal tribe called Taokas who called the city 'Chuchang', and the present name, Hsinchu, was adopted at the end of the 19th century, during the reign of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Guangxu. It was also during the later Qing Dynasty that the city was expanded and the city's walls constructed, of which only the Eastern Gate remains.

During the Japanese colonial era (1895 to 1945), Hsinchu was the main administrative center between Taipei and Taichung, and it was during this period that glass production (for which Hsinchu later became famous) was introduced to the city. Originally, production was limited to medical equipment, but with the founding of the island's largest glass company in 1954, production was expanded, though still limited to mostly industrial glass. Craft items were added to the list of products in the 1960s, and soon Hsinchu gained recognition as a center of excellence for decorative glass products.

In 1980, the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (more often called simply 'The Science Park') was founded. The park has been very successful, and hosts companies like TSMC, AU Optronics, UMC and numerous other semiconductor manufacturers. The establishment of the park was a major boost to the economy of the area and as a result, Hsinchu, despite its relatively small population (around 350,000), has some surprisingly high standard hotels and shopping complexes. The average wage of the citizens of Hsinchu is now the highest in Taiwan, surpassing even that of the capital, Taipei.

Hsinchu is a very pleasant city, though definitely not a tourist destination, and most overseas visitors travel here only to attend conferences or business meetings. However, with its abundance of hotels and good transportation links, the city is perhaps the best location to explore the beautiful mountain areas of Hsinchu County.

Due to the constant gusts of wind that blow in from the Taiwan Strait, Hsinchu is often referred to as the Windy City. While the wind keeps the city relatively pollution free, it also makes it a very cold place in the winter, especially around the time of the Chinese (Lunar) New Year celebrations.

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Sights and Activities

  • The central reservations of Wenhua, Xinyi and Sanmin roads have been converted into parks. These stretches of green are great for taking a leisurely stroll on a sultry summer day or escaping from the office during lunch break. The parks along Wenhua and Xinyi streets are especially pleasant - and quite romantic at night--as they have incorporated the city's historic moat into their design.
  • Eighteen Peaks Mountain (drive along Guang Fu Road, turning left onto Nanda Road, and then onto Baoshan Rd) is best described as a large hill or small mountainous area circling the eastern and southern suburbs of Hsinchu. The highest of the eighteen peaks is 131.79 metres and the lowest 50 metres. It has a large number well maintained stepways, concrete paths and Tarmac pathways, making it ideal for walks in the forest without the hardships of true country hiking. It can get very crowded at weekends or in the early morning, and some may find the canned music a little unnatural. If you do not mind crowds the best time to visit is during a flower festival, at this time you may be lucky enough to be able to visit the Japanese underground shelters that are sometimes opened on these occasions. From some locations you are able to enjoy views of Hsinchu, but generally there are limited views of the city due to heavy tree cover.
  • Hsinchu Botanical Garden, Baoshan Road (near the Tsing-hua University) has some great hiking trails and provides the opportunity to become acquainted with more than 300 varieties of Taiwan's indigeneous flora.
  • Green Grass Lake (Qing-cao Hu) off Ming-hu Road is a parkland surrounding a lake - a great place to relax and watch water fowl gliding with the clouds.
  • Hsinchu Zoo, 279 Kungyung Road. This is the oldest and smallest zoo in Taiwan, founded by the Japanese in 1936. The zoo is recently and very tastefully renovated and proudly displays 250 animals and 70 species, including tigers, crocodiles, monkeys, bears and all kinds of birds. The grounds are lovely and garden like and the animals seem to be having a good time. A great place to bring children. Entrance is NT$10. Open 8:30 to 5:00 all year, but not Mondays and Chinese New Year's Eve.
  • City God Temple (城隍廟;chénghuángmiào) - Built in 1748. Located on the corner of Zhongshan Road and Dongmen Street, is a typical Taoist temple with lots of colorful frescoes.
  • Guan Di Temple - Built in 1776. Located on the corner of Wenchang St. and Zhongshan Road, is noted for its refined ornamentation and inscriptions carved by local scholars on the temple pillars.
  • East Gate (東門) - Constructed from granite and with a distinctive arched entrance, the historic East Gate is the city center's most well known landmark. It is located at the junction of Dongmen and Zhongzheng Roads.
  • Hsinchu Railway Station - Built in 1913 in the classic Baroque style that was popular in Taiwan at the beginning of the 20th century. There is nothing to see inside, but the facade provides a good backdrop for souvenir photographs of the city.

Craft Glass Museum, 2 Dongda Road, ☎ +886 3 562-6091. The, sec 1. A gallery dedicated to Hsinchu's long association with the craft of glass making. It is in the park directly behind the railway station. Open: Wed to Sun 9:00am-5:00pm (ticket office closes at 4:30pm).

  • Municipal Image Museum, 65 Zhongzheng Road, ☎ +886 3 528-5840. The museum is in the renovated former movie theater building, and in addition to images and documents of film and theater in Taiwan, the museum also has an auditorium where movies and plays are performed. Open: From Wed to Sun 9:30am-12 noon, 1:30-5:00pm, 6:30-9:00pm. Production times: Wed to Fri 7:10~9:00pm, Sat and Sun 10:00am, 2:00pm and 7:10pm.
  • Space, warehouses 3, 4 and 5 Hsinchu Railway Station - a space for art workshops and exhibitions. Also includes a humanistic recreation area with restaurant.
  • Hsinchu City Art Gallery & Reclaimation Hall
  • Hsinchu City Black Bat Squadron Memorial Hall
  • The Residence of Hsin Chih-Ping
  • Hsinchu City Military Dependent's Villages Museum

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Events and Festivals

Buddha Bathing Festival

The Buddha bathing festival takes place on April 8 and is a Buddhist religious ceremony celebrating the birth of the Lord Buddha. The faithful bow three times to the Lord Buddha and then pour water and flowers of a statue of the baby Buddha.

Tomb Sweeping Day

Tomb Sweeping Day usually falls in early April and is a public holiday in Taiwan. Taiwanese people pray and tend to the graves of their departed relatives. Willow branches are used to decorate graves and doors in some areas and the flying of kites, carrying of flowers, and burning of incense, paper and joss sticks is common.

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a June public holiday originating from China that is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The day is celebrated in Taiwan with dragon boat races, eating glutinous rice dumplings, drinking wine and writing spells.

Autumn Moon Festival

The Moon Festival talks place in late September or early October, on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival celebrates harvest time and is characterized by giving and eating moon cakes. Dragon dances, floating lanterns, fireworks and burning incense are also common.

Ghost Festival

September is Ghost Month in Taiwan with the gates of the underworld opening on the first day and closing on the last. Throughout the month, both Buddhist and Taoist religious rituals take place that include to offerings of food, drink and burnt paper money appease the dead. Many Taiwanese avoid moving house or getting married during this month.

Double Ten Day

Double Ten Day falls on the tenth of October and is the Republic of China National Day, celebrating the start of the Wuching uprising in 1911 that resulted in the defeat of the Qing Dynasty. Proceedings begin with the raising of the Republic of China flag and singing of the Republic of China national anthem. There is a Taiwanese presidential speech and celebrations include lion dances, drumming, and fireworks.

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Getting There

By Plane

The nearest airport is Taoyuan International Airport, which is about a thirty minute drive in the dead of night with no traffic and a speeding taxi driver. Safest to allow around an hour from Science Park or a little longer from downtown.

By Train

The TRA (or regular train) station is in the city centre and is a major stop on the main line between Taipei and Kaohsiung/Taichung. It costs from NT$114 to NT$180 for an adult and takes approximately one to two hours to get there from Taipei main station, depending upon the type of train you take.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) has a Hsinchu stop located in the neighbouring city of Chubei and is approximately 30 minutes by taxi from the city centre. A local train line (Liujia Line), opened in late 2011, runs between Hsinchu and Liujia TRA stations (Liujia being located less than 100m from the THSR station). The THSR also offers a free shuttle service from the station to Hsinchu approximately every 20 minutes. The journey from Taipei takes approximately 30 minutes.

By Car

Hsinchu is on the main Taipei - Kaohsiung rail and freeway routes, and it takes about one hour and ten minutes to reach the city from Taipei.

Take highway number 1 or 3. There are two toll gates between Taipei and Hsinchu. Books of 9+1 tickets can be bought at the gates with yellow sign at NT$40 each. Tickets can also be bought at post offices for a little less then NT$40. Tickets holders can use gates with a blue sign.

The speed limit on Highway number one is in general 100km/h and on number 3 110km/h. Speed cameras are active and there are regular speed traps.

By Bus

The How-Tai Bus Company (豪泰客運) (NT$110) run a fast, bus company with efficient and very comfortable (extra wide seats with personal video screens) service from Taipei to Hsinchu. In Taipei, the red buses depart every fifteen minutes from bay 22 at the Taipei Bus Terminal (See: Taipei 'Get in'). From Hsinchu, the buses depart from next to the Hsinchu Railway Station (when exiting the station, the bus stop is a two minute walk to the left, just past the Hsinchu Bus Station), and makes a stop at the National Tsing Hua University bus station en-route to the freeway. If your ticket is not collected before departure, hang on to it. It will need to be given to the driver when getting off. The journey takes between 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.

There are no direct buses from Taoyuan Taiwan Airport (Taipei International Airport) to Hsinchu, but the U-bus company offers a link, with passengers changing buses at the 'Jhongli Transit Station'.

Taichung Bus (台中客運) and Guoguang Bus (國光客運) connect Hsinchu to Taichung.

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Getting Around

Hsinchu is large enough for a local bus service, which connects the suburbs with the downtown area, though not large enough for taxis to cruise. You'll need to go to the station or a department store to pick one up from a taxi rank - or call, if you can speak Chinese.

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Eat

Hsinchu is a typical Taiwanese city containing thousands of restaurants, and, because of the relatively large ex-pat community, many offer international cuisine.

Dishes popular with domestic tourists are rice noodles (米粉;mĭfēn), meatballs served in a broth soup(貢丸湯;gòngwántāng) and stuffed meatball (肉圓;Ròyuán). A popular place to eat these dishes is at City God temple. Uncooked rice noodles and meatballs can be purchased here and also near the entrances to freeway's number 1 and 3. Literally surrounding the Chenghuang Temple are numerous small booths selling cheap, local delicacies. This will be a good place to go to sample local dishes.

As in most major cities in Taiwan, vegetarian buffets are common in many neighborhoods in Hsinchu. The price at a buffet is estimated by the weight of the food on your plate. Rice (there is usually a choice of brown or white) is charged separately, but soup is free and you can refill as many times as you like. NT$90-110 will buy you a good sized, nutritious meal.

The night market at the end of GuangFu Road (Garden Street), otherwise rather disappointing, has a very popular shop selling food from Singapore. It is located close to the entrance of the night market. The curries and fried noodles start from around NT$60. The night market here is one of the few places to find real homemade American style cookies but the vendor is not always there. If you really have a craving you can order them and have them delivered by calling 0973200868.

There's a night market on NanDa Road behind the train station every Tuesday and Thursday. Follow the crowds, you can't miss it.

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Drink

  • Minzu Road, a small road just around the corner of Sol Hotel, offers various small bars of different styles.
  • Goetheburg Bar & Restaurant (Götheburg/before Flying Pig), Minquan Rd 120 (next street of BIG CITY shopping mall), ☎ +886-35422916. Mo-So 18:00~02:00, Fri/Sat to 4:00 is Club Night with regular different party events. Götheburg is on Minquan Rd corner of Sanmin Rd. Large restaurant & bar with three floors and outdoor terrace, the bottom floor is a hairdressers.
  • Gooky Grill Bar & Restaurant 谷奇, No.147 ShenLi Rd. 勝利路147號 (behind FE’ 21 Dept, Store), ☎ +886 3-5265559. M-Sa 18:30~2:00. Lively Japanese lounge and an American bar, also has a selection of grill and seafood.
  • Nunu and Nigel's N2 Bar and Eatery, 14 Chien Shou rd (Near Royal Hotel), ☎ +886 3 5776828. 'Nunu and Nigel's N2 Bar and Eatery'. 14 Chien Shou Road, near Royal Hotel and the Science Park. Open Monday to Friday 5pm till late. Saturday 7:00pm till midnight. Sunday closed. English speaking staff, ice cold draft and bottled beer,full cocktail menu. serving a Western food menu including burger, salads, pasta, and house specials. NT$200-300. A great place to meet Westerners and local executives from the semi-conductor business. Tel 03 5776828 or 0936126038. Owned by Nunu and Nigel previously of 4Q2 and the Pig and Whistle. Reservations are not required but it is recommended that you call ahead.
  • Tung Cafe, 2F. 31 Fuhou Street (on the other side of the moat from Sol Hotel) - with a wide wooden balcony that overlooks the city moat and the surrounding park, Tung Cafe is a great place to relax and unwind.
  • OPCafé, No. 3, 95 lane, Kuan-hwa Street, ☎ +886 3-5153351, e-mail: boss@opcafe.net. 11:00am-midnight. 1 minute away from RT Mart - OPcafé is a small and cozy cafe offering coffee, tea, snacks and Belgium beer. They also sell CDs, Zakka. NT$80-120.
  • Louise, 250 Zhongyang Road, ☎ +886 3 535-8824. A modern, but cozy cafe popular with young up-and-coming types. Located directly across from the Windance Shopping Mall.
  • Yraropmetnoc (代當), 65, Jincheng 1st Rd., East District. 2PM-11PM. A simple place with good coffee. The name means counter-contemporary. NT$100-150.

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Sleep

  • Berkeley Hotel, 272 Section 2 Guan-Fu Road, ☎ +886 3 572-8668. English/Japanese speaking staff. Located between two national universities and the famed Hsinchu Science Park. Value choice for lodging and visiting Hsinchu.
  • Golden Swallow Hotel, 13 Minzu Road, ☎ +886 3 522 7151.
  • Kingdom Hotel, 238 section 1 Kuan-Fu Road, ☎ +886 3 563-1155. Operates a free shuttle service between guests' place of work and the hotel.
  • Hsinchu Berkeley Hotel, ☎ +886 3 525-1155. Dowontown location. A business hotel with an English/Japanese speaking staff, continental breakfast.
  • Lakeshore Hotel, ☎ +886 3 611-6111. Metropolis 1. A nice hotel with a great breakfast.
  • Sol Hotel Downtown, 10 Wenhua Street, ☎ +886 3 534-7266. Centrally located on the very pleasant tree-lined Wenhua Street adjacent to Hsinchu's historic moat. Terrific restaurant nearby too.
  • The Ambassador Hotel, Zhonghua Road, ☎ +886 3 515-1111. Hsinchu's largest and most luxurious hotel.
  • Howard Plaza Hotel Hsinchu, 178 Zhongzheng Road, ☎ +886 3 528-2323. Taiwan's largest domestic hotel and resort chain.
  • Lakeshore Hotel, 51, Lane 775, Minghu Road, ☎ +886 3 520-3181. Overlooks a lake.
  • Sun-View Motel (also known as Hushan 湖山), 1001, Minghu Road, ☎ +886 3 520-3000. The hotel is a short drive from Ching-Tsao Lake.
  • Sheraton, Dong Sec 1, Guangming 6th Rd.
  • Royal Hotel - Really close to all major companies.

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Learn

  • National Chiao Tung University, 1001 University Road, ☎ +886 3 513-1231, fax: +886 3 572-1431, e-mail: cdaisy@mail.nctu.edu.tw.. edit
  • Chung-hwa University, 707 Wufu Road, ☎ +886 3 518-6175, fax: +886 3 518-6174, e-mail: international@chu.edu.tw.. Sec 2. edit
  • National Tsing Hua University - a large and prestigious university - specialties include electrical engineering, physical sciences and humanities.
  • National Chiao Tung University - a large university offering a high standard of education.
  • Chung-hwa University

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are plentiful, although you may have to wander around before finding one. Rather, Internet cafes in Taiwan should be called gaming cafes. These are often found on the first or second floor of a building, and equipped with very comfortable chairs and large screens. Each hour of Internet access/game play is cheap, coming in at around $20. For free internet access in big cities, try out the local libraries. In addition, a wireless internet accessing net covering all of Taipei City is available and Kaohsiung City is currently under construction. There is also a common wifi network available at every McDonald's.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international calling code for Taiwan is 886. The emergency numbers include 110 (police) 119 (medical, fire) and the standard GSM emergency number 112 is supported in mobile networks. Numbers starting with 0800 are commercial toll-free numbers. Mobile phone coverage is generally excellent in Taiwan, with the exception of some remote mountainous areas. Among the major providers are Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone and Vibo. Taiwan has both GSM 900/1800 and 3G (UMTS/W-CDMA 2100) networks and roaming might be possible for users of such mobile phones, subject to agreements between operators. If you bring your own cellphone, buy a local SIM-card for the lowest prices and be sure your phone is unlocked.

Post

Chungwa Post is the national postal service of Taiwan. It offers fast and reliable postal services, both domestic and internationally. Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 5:00pm during weekdays, though some keep longer hours or are open on Saturday (morning). Prices for sending postcards or letters (up to 20 grams) start at NT$5 within the country, while postcards by airmail to other countries start at around NT$10-12 per item, and letters are slightly more expensive. There is a wide range in prices regarding international parcel sending, and other companies like DHL, TNT, FedEx and UPS offer similar services.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 15:12 on Mar 11, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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