Shopping

Around the Corner

When you walk down Wenhua Road for the first time, you may find it hard to resist the temptation to buy clothes, knickknacks and jewelry from millions of vendors who set up a shop and overflow the narrow street as soon as the sun is about to set.

After 7-8 p.m., unbearable crowds of shoppers transform this road into a hectic market. Here, you can find anything you need to survive at Feng Chia University without ever having to go downtown! Most of the clothes are cheap — in price and quality — but with a little bit of browsing, good bargains surely can be found. You'll see lots of replicated designer items such as Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Versace and Calvin Klein.

Preparation

Pack light. There is no need to pack your whole wardrobe and bring every type of toiletry item you can get your hands on. You can find just about every necessity in Taichung for a reasonable price. We recommnend saving some space in your suitcase to bring back some sovenirs or for things you bought here.

Below are some items you should definitely bring:

Cash – traveller's check and international credit card will also be useful.
Prescriptions – for medication or contact lenses. Although it's not required to purchase without prescriptions in Taiwan, it'll come in handy for examiners to review your record. Glasses and contact lenses are extremely cheap here.
Cultural gadgets – bring something from your home country to share with your fellow students.
Copy of marriage certificate 
International driver's license

Aside from the items above, you can find everything you need in Taichung. Again, pack light, perhaps enough clothes to last you a 2 weeks. On your first night, you will probably make a trip to Carrefour, a hypermarket 15 minutes away, to buy what you need for the first month.

Around the Corner

When you walk down Wenhua Road for the first time, you may find it hard to resist the temptation to buy clothes, knickknacks and jewelry from millions of vendors who set up a shop and overflow the narrow street as soon as the sun is about to set.

After 7-8 p.m., unbearable crowds of shoppers transform this road into a hectic market. Here, you can find anything you need to survive at Feng Chia University without ever having to go downtown! Most of the clothes are cheap — in price and quality — but with a little bit of browsing, good bargains surely can be found. You'll see lots of replicated designer items such as Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Versace and Calvin Klein.

Preparation

Pack light. There is no need to pack your whole wardrobe and bring every type of toiletry item you can get your hands on. You can find just about every necessity in Taichung for a reasonable price. We recommnend saving some space in your suitcase to bring back some sovenirs or for things you bought here.

Below are some items you should definitely bring:

Cash – traveller's check and international credit card will also be useful.
Prescriptions – for medication or contact lenses. Although it's not required to purchase without prescriptions in Taiwan, it'll come in handy for examiners to review your record. Glasses and contact lenses are extremely cheap here.
Cultural gadgets – bring something from your home country to share with your fellow students.
Copy of marriage certificate 
International driver's license

Aside from the items above, you can find everything you need in Taichung. Again, pack light, perhaps enough clothes to last you a 2 weeks. On your first night, you will probably make a trip to Carrefour, a hypermarket 15 minutes away, to buy what you need for the first month.

Places to Shop

Department Stores

A trip downtown or to one of the big department stores is necessary if you want higher quality clothes, shoes, etc. The prices are sometimes even higher than those in Europe or the States, but seasonal sales offer great discounts (January and July). And even if you don't need anything, browsing around these classy stores can be an entertaining pastime.

Don't forget to check out the department stores, especially Shin Kong Mitsukoshiabout which is not too far from Feng Chia University, on Zhonggang Road and Zhong You, down the street from the Taichung Institute of Technology, at #161, Section 3, Sanmin Road. It's supposedly the biggest department store in Taiwan, some even boast it's the biggest in South-east Asia. You can walk (20 minutes) or take a taxi to Zhong You from downtown. The lone Taichung Sogo is at the intersection of Zhonggang Road and Meicun Road. Our neck of the woods continues to put up department stores, with the addition of Tiger City, one intersection after Zhonggang Road when heading south on He'nan Road.
Convenience Stores

For your daily necessities, the convenience stores around Feng Chia University will do. Remember that as of 1 October 2002, convenience stores and supermarkets won't distribute free plastic bags anymore. The government is systematically trying to curb the really bad habit of wrapping every single item in a plastic bag that then is thrown away. Get yourself a sturdy shopping bag and make your small contribution to a cleaner and healthier environment. Be sure to remember that the FCU campus has officially banned all disposable bags; a sign at the main gate admonishes you not to carry any such bags on campus.

Grocery Shopping

The closest supermarket is Matsusei which is a 5 minute walk away from the University on Feng Chia Road. Sounds Japanese? Yup, Matsusei carries several Japanese products and goods are reasonably priced. If you're in the mood for cooking your own western food, you can take the bus to an import store and check their stock. Refried beans and tortillas, Campbell's Soup, cheeses, cereals, spaghetti sauce, etc. should be available. The most popular import store is Mei Chen Hsiang Bakery and Grocery at No. 116, Section 1, Meicun Road, with a branch downtown at No. 87, Zhongshan Road. You may find a smaller selection of imported goods at Finga's Base Camp, (No. 61, Zhongming South Road, 2327-7750). Ming Feng Bakery Supply is also a popular shop for buying Western food products. They are at No. 151-25, Zhongqing Road (near the Taichung domestic airport). Closed on Mondays, open from 08:30 to 19:00. Not that many imported products as one would hope, but for sure the best prices for whatever you can think of can be found at one of the three Carrefours No. 625, Sec.1, Cungde Road (next door to Church's Fried Chicken), on Zhongqing Road, a little past the exit ramp, and No. 533 Datun Road, (2310-8467). A very large assortment of fruits, vegetables and meat and a decent choice of cheaper French wine. The purchase of a fresh baguette, a bottle of wine and a Camembert could make for a nice French evening at a reasonable price.

For imported food items you may also want to check out the Japanese Yumaowu supermarkets or the food departments in the basements of Mitsukoshi, Sogo and Zhong You. In particular, the basement supermarket in Mitsukoshi has an excellent variety of imported Italian, Thai and of course Japanese food products. The Frog branch in this supermarket has a wide variety of French cheese, but their stuff tends to be pretty pricy. A branch of Carrefour opened in 2004, just down the way from us at No. 207-18, Section 2, Qinghai Rd.

Costco, America's largest wholesale retailer, also opened its Taichung branch in 2008. You'll find a lot of goods from the United States plus good quality meat and produce. If you can store bulks of food in your apartment or dorm, Costco isyour choice of grocery. Like every costco chain, you will need a membership card to enter. And of course, a car. The Taichung Branch is located on No.289 Wenxin South 3rd Rd. Nantun District

Entertainment

Movie Theaters

Taichung offers about 80 movie screens and it should be no wonder since Chinese see more pictures each year than Americans, averaging about 40 films annually! Only the Indians beat them in attendance. Nearly every weekend at least one new Western picture opens so you'll have no trouble in finding a show. The problem comes with many of the theaters: their audio often is muddy (because Chinese people read the words, not listen to them), and the government censors often mercilessly chop up the steamy scenes. Some movies are butchered so terribly that they are hard to follow in Taiwan, so consider yourself warned. On the other end of the spectrum, there are new movie complexes in Sin Kong Mitsukoshi and Tiger City, the latter additionally offering private luxury rooms.

Most first-run films start at NT$ 190 and can go as high as NT$ 260. Your student ID from Feng Chia can qualify you for a student discount at quite a few theaters, so take it with you! Or another solution is to go to either Da Zhong or New Student Sound CD store or the Kingstone bookstore and buy a movie coupon at NT$ 190 that you exchange for the movie ticket of your choice at the theater.

Cultural Events

You don't necessarily have to go up to Taipei to find some interesting cultural performances, though the big stars (Madonna, Michael Jackson, Sting, Phil Collins, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Wynton Marsalis, the Cranberries, Pat Metheny, Beastie Boys…) naturally only visit the capital. If you keep your eyes and ears open, tell your local friends to inform you about cultural performances or regularly drop by at the Cultural Center or the Main Library (behind Taichung Park, at the corner of Shuangshi Road and Qingwu Road) to pick up some information, you will undoubtedly be able to sample quite a variety of spectacles. They may range from Taiwanese puppet shows to Chinese opera, or classical concerts in both Chinese and Western, to theatrical productions or modern dance performances of international level. Most of the time these events are held in either the Zhong Shan Hall (Xueshi Road, next to the Zhong Zheng Park) or the Zhong Xing Hall (next to the Main Library, behind Taichung Park). Especially the Zhong Shan Hall is worth being mentioned because it has a very comfortable 2000-seat auditorium with nearly perfect acoustics. See our Practical and Social Venues page for more details on addresses and telephone numbers. Tickets for most events are available at local bookstores that have a computer hookup, such as Caves and Senseio.

Kala Ok or KTV (Karaoke)

Karaoke clubs, aka Ka La O.K. in Chinese, aka KTVs (a karaoke in your own private room) are Asia's claim to fame. Seemingly shy people stand up with a microphone in hand and croon into a speaker with the words and background music of their favorite songs. The first time you go, you'll laugh at the sudden transformation of your Chinese friends, but soon after, it gets old real quick. Quite a few people like to spend hours there, so expect to sing several old songs you have already long forgotten if you go. Anyway, it's harmless fun unless you walk into an MTV or KTV that is run by the Chinese Mafia or a place where semi-naked hostesses toast with you for a fee and eulogize your Chinese as soon as you say a simple, badly pronounced Ni hao. So choose a nice, clean and well-lit establishment. Besides, it is a perfect occasion to practice your reading ability of Chinese characters once you're in a higher level and an ideal way to become accepted by the locals if you are ready to sing some songs in Mandarin or even Taiwanese. With some drinks beforehand (or you buy some before and smuggle them in, because some places can be really expensive) and a blend of Chinese and Western friends, this may become an evening you will remember forever! Kala OKs are going out of business or havr turned into membership clubs, because the privacy of a KTV allows for more fun and less initial embarrassment. Of course there's the endless variation on this theme in places such as an RTV (restaurant Karaoke), DTV (disco) or PDK(piano bar-disco-karaoke). There are so many places that it won't be a problem to find one on your own. Actually quite a few touring buses have complete libraries of prerecorded Kala OK tapes for their eager passengers and often a real hostess will start the warm-up singing. Get ready for our cultural trips, because most of the time, the coaches that we use also provide that service.

Pubs and Nightclubs

Around Feng Chia there aren'tt any real pubs or bars (any more). Pub crawling is seemingly not a Taiwanese invention. Most students seem to be happy with the offer they get from the tea shops, video game arcades, internet cafes, KTVs, bowling alleys and snooker palaces. So, for the real action you will have to go downtown.

Downtown Taichung and the newly developed area south of TaichungGang Road and West of Wenxin Road has a very busy nightlife, some say the best in Taiwan. The local nightlife is fueled by hundreds of pubs, discos, clubs, bars and the like turning the otherwise relaxed city into one big hectic party venue. It is quite impossible to keep an extensive list of all the popular hangouts updated, since they come and they go so fast. As for restaurants and teashops, your best bet is to pick up the latest copy of the Compass magazine or to log on to their website and check out the Nightlife link. Also check Taiwannights.com , a website exclusive to all nightclub events and parties in Taiwan. Most of the listings will be events in Taipei, but you'll find a couple big promotions for Taichung here and then.

Suffice it to say that The Frogs, Ala's Saxophone Pub, 19th Hole, JD's and Cocona have been around for quite some years, though it's no guarantee that they will still be there today… You just go out there and explore!