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bootlegga Hsinchu - A travel report by James
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Hsinchu,  Taiwan - flag Taiwan -  T'ai-pei
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bootlegga's travel reports

Taiwan’s Silicon Valley

  18 votes
Page: 1 2
Hsinchu is a medium sized city about an hour west of Taipei, Taiwan’s capital. It is very well known for its computer factories and is also called Taiwan’s Silicon Valley. Odds are, if your electronics were made in Taiwan, they were made here.

Hsinchu travelogue picture
A city of about 500,000 people, Hsinchu has some pleasant surprises. Although it is a factory town, there are many things to do. On the weekends, most people head downtown and enjoy Tung Men Gate and adjoining Chin Tsue Park.

A trip into the nearby mountains can be a lot of fun. There tourists can go hiking, bird-watching, or tour Lentoo park and look at aboriginal life and culture.

Taiwan’s climate is very warm and only a couple of the highest mountains on the island receive any snow at all. During the winter, most of the island remains well above the freezing mark and is quite comfortable. When I arrived in mid-February, it was +18 (Celsius). The summers tend to be very warm and humid.

Favourite spots:
Tung Men gate
Tung Men gate
Tung Men square; in the center of town, surrounded by a traffic circle (roundabout for you Brits), is Tung Men square. Here all that remains of the old city walls and the main gate stand. Besides the actual gate itself, Chin Tsue park runs both north and south from here, with a babbling brook in the middle and greenspace on both banks.

What's really great:
Hsinchu travelogue picture
One thing that I really liked was the cheap electronics! Being Taiwan’s “Silicon Valley”, there are dozens of shops selling high-end electronics at very good prices. When I was here in 2002, I bought a 20 gig external hard drive for $100 US that was smaller than a pack of cigarettes!

Another thing that is great are the people. There are tons of ex-pats in Hsinchu. For some this might not be very exciting, but they are from all over the world and there for a good time.

Hsinchu Train Station
Hsinchu Train Station
Just to the northwest of Tung Men is Cheng Huang temple, dedicated to one of the most powerful of Chinese gods.

In Hsinchu, there are 2 night markets. While they aren’t as good as the ones in Taipei, they still offer some good deals. One, the Tsing Han is near the city’s university. The other, the Ming Fu, is near in the northwest part of the city. An excellent daytime market also runs beside the sports stadium on the weekends. There you can find food, CDs/DVDs, and cool electronics and gadgets.

Besides Tung Men gate, another reminder of the Japanese occupation is the train station, built during the First World War.

One of Hsinchu's biggest temples
One of Hsinchu's biggest temples
There are a variety of places to stay in Hsinchu, but many of them are quite expensive, as most travelers are businessmen. I stayed at the Sol Hotel Unique while in Hsinchu, and though a little expensive, it offers bilingual service, has a sushi restaurant onsite, and has hi-speed internet in all the rooms. As it’s main clientele were businessmen, it was expensive, but worth it IMO.

There are plenty of smaller, cheaper hotels near the train station.

Hsinchu is busy at night
Hsinchu is busy at night
There are several places in town where you can go to dance the night away. The most popular is the Flying Pig. Here, a local DJ spins tunes long into the night.

A fun place on Sunday afternoons is the Pig Pen, where local Filipina maids come to party after going to church. Don’t ask me why it is busiest on Sunday afternoons, but that’s when it the craziest.

Hsinchu travelogue picture
My favourite pub was Banjo’s, run by an Australian ex-pat. It is a block away from Tung men square. The selection of spirits was both good and affordable, and there is a live band on the weekends, playing mostly cover music.

One other place popular with ex-pats was Mr. 7. It sits next to Chin Tsue park and it was enjoyable to spend warm evenings drinking cold beer, sitting on the patio, overlooking the park.

Chin Tsue park
Chin Tsue park
One favourite was 123 Restaurant, a place that had affordable Chinese fare. It is just off Tung Men square on Chin Hsue Park’s western bank. There was also a Sizzler, where you could get go for an all-you-can-eat buffet for about $15 US.

If you were into Japanese food, there was a Yoshinoya near the train station. The donburi (beef-rice bowl) was both cheap and filling. Another good place was Kok and Café just a few minutes away from downtown.

Other recommendations:
The Martyr's Shrine
The Martyr's Shrine
Taipei is only a short train or bus ride away. For about $15, you can ride a very comfortable bus from Hsinchu to Taipei. The train is even cheaper, but not as comfortable. Both take about one hour. Taipei has all manner of fun to check out.

The National Museum houses the largest collection of Chinese artifacts in the world. Over 700,000 items are stored here and they are rotated on a regular basis. To see everything the museum has, you would need to visit once a week for an entire year.

Chang Kai-shek Memorial is one of Taiwan’s most stunning buildings. A gleaming white edifice that rises out of the ground, it memorializes the former leader of the Kuomintang and the Republic of China.

For military history buffs, a visit to the Martyr’s Shrine is almost mandatory. This is the ceremonial resting place of soldiers who died fighting for the republic. Guards here stand motionless for hours on end, similar to the guards at Buckingham Palace.

Published on Wednesday June 8th, 2005

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Fri, Dec 02 2005 - 08:07 PM rating by jorgesanchez

no exception, all your reports deserve 5 points!

Wed, Jun 15 2005 - 02:16 AM rating by britman

You have done it again! -excellent writing, excellent pictures, excellent information = *****. Briliant!

Thu, Jun 09 2005 - 05:24 AM rating by rangutan

Excellent report with very fine pictures

Thu, Jun 09 2005 - 01:24 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii james
wonderful report

Wed, Jun 08 2005 - 11:57 PM rating by gloriajames

great report! 5*.
when's your next adventure??

Wed, Jun 08 2005 - 11:56 PM rating by davidx

Not a place on my wish list but a fine report.

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