If you’re looking for things to do in Hsinchu, this list is 110% for you!
Often touted as somewhat of a dull city, Hsinchu City (新竹) actually has a lot going for it. I’ve lived in Hsinchu for more than ten years, and while it was a rather boring place when I just landed, it has changed a lot over the past few years. Today, Hsinchu is so much more than just another concrete-jungle studded city in Taiwan. In fact, it’s jam-packed with quirky outdoor art installations, bustling food markets, scenic parks, and plenty to do.
Whether you’re visiting Hsinchu City on a day trip from Taipei or planning a quick weekend jaunt, there are loads to keep you busy! Here’s my insider’s guide on the very best things to do in Hsinchu!
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The Best Things to do in Hsinchu City
Wander along the Hsinchu Moat Park
The Hsinchu Moat (護城河) runs from Linsen Road (near the train station) to Beida Road (near the Hsinchu Cathedral).
Built around the city’s oldest moat, this sprawling riverbank park is a great place to hang out, enjoy a walkabout, and even listen to live music. If you’re feeling hungry, there are plenty of cute cafes and eateries here too. Mum Mum is a super Instagrammable cafe that makes pretty cakes, while 居酒屋隱酒藏 dishes up delicious Japanese food!
However, if you simply want to soak up the vibes, grab a seat on one of the many benches dotted along the walkways. Here you can chill out under the shady trees, admire the quirky art installations, or people watch.
Check out the East Gate
East Gate, also known as Dongmen Gate or Yingximen (竹塹城迎曦門), is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. The must-visit attraction is a short walk from the train station, and several roads actually lead straight to it.
The gate was built in 1826 and is the only remaining remnant of the old city wall. Located in the middle of the city’s busiest roundabout, Dongmen Gate is a great spot for night photography. And within its square, there’s a lovely little amphitheater where you can catch all kinds of performances on weekends and special holidays.
If you want to snap a picture right under the gate or check out the square, the safest way to get there is via the underground passageway.
Drop by the Image Museum
If you’re looking for something more unique to do in Hsinchu, the Image Museum (新竹市影像博物館) is a must.
Originally built in the early 1930s, the Image Museum once served as a theatre during the Japanese Occupation and was the first air-conditioned theater in Taiwan.
Over the years, the museum changed many hands and even had to undergo numerous reconstructions. Today, it’s an educational hub where you can learn a little more about the history of Taiwanese cinema and watch vintage films.
Slip into the Dongmen Market
Dongmen Market (東門市場) is right next to the Image Museum, so there’s no reason not to check it out.
Dongmen Market has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a wet market full of grandma’s selling everything from fresh fruit and veg to sequence-studded clothing and fresh meat. Today, it’s a thriving hangout spot chockfull with eateries, cozy cafes, and a handful of cute boutiques stores.
While you can definitely visit during the day, the market only comes to life at night when most eateries are open.
Visit the City God Temple (and Eat Some More)
Chenghuang Temple, also more commonly known as the Hsinchu City God Temple (新竹城隍廟), is the most prominent temple in the city and dates back more than 250 years. Within its incense-smoke-filled halls, you can admire several Taoist and Buddhist deities, ornate wooden and stone structures, and the temple’s beautiful caisson ceiling.
Besides being a historical and cultural hub, what really makes the City God Temple such a popular Hsinchu attraction is the bustling market that sits right in front of it. While Hsinchu doesn’t have nearly as many famous foods as elsewhere in Taiwan, there are a few local specialties that you simply have to try. Meatballs, rice noodles, and pork ball soup are among the most popular foods to try here.
Just a head’s up – the temple complex is always busy, so get ready to join the scrum!
Relax at Hsinchu Park
Hsinchu Park (新竹公園) is the most beautiful park in the city and a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing.
The park offers a natural escape away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is home to beautiful ponds, sprawling gardens, funky outdoor installations, and several cozy eateries. It’s a great place to stroll around, have a picnic under the trees, or learn a little more about the city’s glass industry.
Special events are often held here, too. On some weekends, there’s a lovely open-air market with dozens of local artisans selling everything from handmade leather bags and jewelry to baked goods and more.
Towards the rear of the park, slip into the stunning Confucius Temple with its intricate wooden doors and windows. If you happen to come on a weekend, don’t miss the nearby weekend market. It’s a great place to sample Taiwanese street food, buy knick-knacks and browse through the beautiful flower market.
Pop into the Glass Museum
No list of things to do in Hsinchu would be complete without a visit to Glass Museum (新竹市文化局玻璃工藝博物館). Set within the Hsinchu Park, the Glass Museum features dozens of unique glassworks, interactive displays, and a chance to join a fun DIY glassblowing workshop.
There’s a small entrance fee to enter the museum, but it’s worth every penny because the pieces are truly spectacular. Make sure to visit all the exhibitions and pop by the Jail of Glass also housed within the museum. On the top floor, you can also buy mini glass figurines – the perfect souvenir!
Visit the Hsinchu Zoo
While Hsinchu Zoo (新竹市立動物園) is tiny compared to Taipei Zoo, it is the oldest zoo in Taiwan and shouldn’t be overlooked on your list of things to do in Hsinchu.
The zoo was fully revamped in 2019, and today, it’s one of the city’s most popular attractions with more than 400,000 visitors annually. More than 300 animals from various species live here, with Bornean Orangutans being the shining stars. Besides the Primate Enclosure, other must-see sections include the Birds’ Paradise and Tropical Rainforest.
There are loads of cool places to shop in Hsinchu with Big City (遠東巨城購物中心), among the most popular. It’s the largest department store in the city and jam-packed with everything from chain stores to swanky designer stores. It’s a great place to shop, grab a bite and even catch a movie! However, if you’re not a fan of crowds, it’s best to avoid weekends!
Another great place to go shopping is in the downtown area. The streets jolting off from the Dongmen Gate, especially towards the east, are full of clothes, shoes, and accessory stores. In fact, if you’re looking for the latest fashion trends from Korea or Japan, this is your best bet. Zhongzhengtai Trend Boutique Mall (New 中正台夜市) is a great place to start, but also make sure to wander through all the nooks and crannies nearby because there are loads of hidden gems!
Stroll along Sanmin Road
Sanmin Road (三民路) is one of my favorite places in Hsinchu. The street runs across several blocks and is a great place for a walkabout. A lovely park full of quirky outdoor installations and shady trees runs through it. It’s quite a popular spot, especially in the mornings, when many locals hang out under the shady trees playing board games or doing tai chi.
However, what really makes Sanmin Road such a cool spot is that it’s lined with oodles of cozy cafes and boutique stores. Check out Table Joe if you’re after the best burger in town and 一百種味道 if you have a sweet tooth. A few blocks down, also pop into Bar Back – a cozy bar that serves delicious cakes, drip coffee, and boozy cocktails!
Hike 18 Peaks Mountain
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, then 18 Peaks Mountian (十八尖山公園) is a great place for some fresh air and low-key hiking.
Located less than 1.5km from the Hsinchu Zoo, this sprawling mountain range with its 18 peaks is perfect for spending a few hours in nature. There are loads of trails to follow amid the lush forest, offering great views over the city and mountains. And if you’re up to it, you can even hike to the highest peak’s summit, which stands 132m tall!
Stroll Around Green Grass Lake
Green Grass Lake (青草湖), more commonly known as Ching-Tsao Lake, is yet another attraction that deserves a spot on your Hsinchu to-do list!
The lake sits just on the city’s edges, and it’s yet another great place to enjoy a slice of nature. Green Grass Lake is a popular spot among bird watchers, hikers and fitness fanatics. In fact, you can walk all around the lake. And while it’s a pretty easy walk, don’t expect to do it in less than 45 minutes!
If you’re not into exercise, there’s plenty of room to relax. Along the walkways, you’ll find loads of wooden benches, where you can sit down and admire the scenery. There’s also a tiny island in the middle of the lake, offering gorgeous views over the lake. Access the island by crossing the beautiful ornate bridge.
Enjoy the Nightlife
Hsinchu’s nightlife scene can’t compete with all the awesome things to do in Taipei at night. But if you’re looking for a place to kick back with an ice-cold beer and mingle with the expat crowd, then check out these spots.
Lane 33 near the Moat Park is probably the most well-known nightlife area in the city. There are several little bars here, with Red Bar being a popular hangout spot among expats. It can get quite rowdy here, so if that’s not your scene, head to the best craft beer bar in town, Zhangmen. It’s a short stroll from Red Bar and located right next to Cafe Grazie.
October Bar on Lane 18 is another popular go-to bar and a great place to mingle with locals and expats alike. They play decent music, and the beers are cold! Go around 11 pm, when it gets really lively! If you want to grab a bite first, pop into my favorite izakaya, 小居酒日式串燒 or try the lamb fried noodles at 公園羊肉炒麵經國店.
Where to Stay in Hsinchu
I’m not going to lie; Hsinchu doesn’t have nearly as many cool accommodation options as other big cities in Taiwan. And if you want to stay somewhere decent, get ready to fork out a bit more on accommodation. Here are the best places to stay.
Mid-Range: If you want to stay right in the hustle and bustle of Hsinchu downtown, Shin Yuan Park Hotel is the place for you. Shin Yuan Park Hotel overlooks the Hsinchu Moat Park and is located mere steps from the Hsinchu Train Station. The 3-star hotel offers spacious rooms with modern interiors. Check rates and availability here.
Lux: Fleur Lis is a beautiful 4-star hotel perfect for those that want to be close to the city’s best attractions without sacrificing style and comfort. The hotel features beautifully decorated rooms and several onsite restaurants. Don’t miss the cocktails at the Ocean Bar! Check rates and availability here.
If you’ve got your own wheels and don’t mind traveling to the city center, check-in at Hotel Royal or Hotel Indigo. Both sit on Guangfu Road near the Science Park and offer an upscale stay.
How to get to Hsinchu
Hsinchu City is situated on the northwestern coast of Taiwan, less than 1h30 drive from Taipei. Since Hsinchu is home to one of Taiwan’s biggest and most important Science Parks, it’s easily accessible from just about anywhere in Taiwan. With that said, the easiest ways to get here are by train, bus, or high-speed rail.
The Hsinchu Bus Station is located right behind the iconic Hsinchu Train Station, and it’s easy to explore the downtown area from either stations on foot. However, the fastest way to get to Hsinchu, especially from Taipei, Taichung, or Kaohsiung, is by HSR train. Grab a discounted ticket here to guarantee a seat or check schedules and rates here. Just a heads up – the HSR Station is actually located in Jhubei, Hsinchu’s hip neighbor. To get from the HSR Station to the city center, take a taxi (roughly TWD300), catch a city bus, or hop on a train. The Liujia TRA Station sits right next to the HSR station. Another option, of course, is to rent a car.
How to Get Around During Your Hsinchu Itinerary
Unlike Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung, Hsinchu does not have a subway. But there are loads of buses, taxis, and even ride-share services like Uber ready to transport you to all corners of the city. If you’re only planning to explore the city’s downtown area, you can easily do so on foot. Most of the attractions are within walking distance from one another. If you prefer to cycle, grab a bike at the nearest YouBike station to explore the city at your own pace.
Another fun way to get around the city is by scooter. You can rent a scooter or a Gogoro here via Klook. Pickup is near the train station and super easy. Just remember to bring your local driver’s license (or IDP) because you won’t be able to rent one without it!
What to do in Hsinchu, Taiwan in Conclusion
While Hsinchu City might not get as much hype as other cities in Taiwan, it’s still a great add-on to any Taiwan itinerary. If you still want to add a few more things to your Hsinhcu attractions list, these day trips from Hsinchu will come in handy.
Well, that’s all I have on things to do in Hsinchu for now! What’s your favorite thing to do in Taiwan’s Windy City? Let me know in the comments below!
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