Located around 2 hours by train from Taichung, Changhua county is the fourth smallest by area and Changhua city is the second largest city in central Taiwan, with a population of around 230.000. The county embraces incredible people, abundant resources, dramatic spots and delicious cuisine.
To continue our trip to Taiwan we decided to spend one day in Changhua in order to visit its famous Great Buddha Statue. However, once we arrived there we discovered that Changhua has a lot of different things to offer.
What to visit in Changhua
Built in 1726 to worship Confucius, this beautiful temple hosts the renown Baisha Academy, one of the four most famous academies in Taiwan. The front gate remains always closed except during worshipping day (28th of September), therefore visitors must enter through the side gate.
Lukang Old Street
One of the most popular streets in Changhua. Full of traditional taiwanese food stands, Lukang Old Street hosts many historical buildings such as Yanchanghang.
Buddha Statue of Baguashan
Built in 1961, the Great Buddha Statue of Baguashan used to be one of the biggest Buddha statues in Asia back in the days. This around 25 meter high statue is located in the hill 74 meters above sea level and its interior is separated into various different floors, each of them containing colorful dioramas representing the story of Buddha´s life.
Yes, you can actually walk around inside the monument!
It is very interesting the fact you can climb the stairs up and down to learn more about Buddha and his life. If you are a religious person you can use the ground floor to find some inner peace and pray.
Around this dramatic Buddha you will find various different statues, each of one representing something different. The most symbolic ones are the different Buddha statues (Laughing Buddha, Wise Buddha…) and the 12 Buddhist Zodiac Signs (the rabbit, the rat…).
Following the the statues you will find to the Great Buddha Temple, located behind the huge Buddha statue and built in 1972.
This temple is quite special since it is a combination of Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian beliefs in one single community. Divided by three floors, always accessible for the visitor, the first one is dedicated to Confucius, the second one enshrines the Taoist God of War (Guan Yu) and the third one is dedicated to the practice of Buddhism. Beside the temple you will find two beautiful 9-floor pagodas.
From the balcony located at the third floor you will enjoy from one of the most beautiful views ever. Starting from the whole esplanade, in the middle of which you will recognize the draw of a lotus flower, and finishing with the panorama of the whole Changhuan City. This area is known as the highest point of Changhua and it is the ideal place to find some inner peace, to have a relaxing walk and to discover more about the asian culture.
Behind the temple you will find a pond full of enormous, colorful fishes and beside it you will find more nice Buddha statues and some private areas only accessible for monks and Confucius students.
Never mind if you are not religious at all. This place is so dramatic that I recommend you to spend at least half a day discovering it. If you go during the weekend, you will probably find locals enjoying the beautiful sunset and dancing traditional music nearby the lighted water fountains located all over the place.
How to arrive to the Buddha Statue of Baguashan
There are two different ways to arrive to the top of the hill.
To go up we decided to take the “nature walk”, which means that we started from the Changhuan City Library and we followed the path up to the hill. During the walk we discovered a small old house from where we could take nice pictures of the city (some locals where have lunch and enjoying a nice talk there) and the Baguashan Silver Bridge.
To come back to the downtown we took the most touristic walk, let´s call it the “city walk”. From the Buddha Statue we descended the whole way nearby the parking. This is also a nice walk since the way is full of ancient God statues, some of which we did not know before.
Lukang Mazu Temple
Another historical temple that you should visit is the Taoist temple dedicated to Matsu (the God of the Sea). Here you will appreciate the image of black-faced Matsu, and a huge display of weapons.
This area is pedestrians only and if you decide to visit it during the weekend, you will find out a really nice market where local vendors will gently offer you some local Taiwanese snacks.
What to eat in Changhua
Visiting Changhua, as well as visiting Taiwan, means getting lost among its multiple food markets. So, if you want to enjoy the Changhua experience you should try some traditional meals including the tasty Changhua Meatball.
How to arrive to Changhua
- If your first travel destination after landing in Taipei is Changhua, you should know that there is a bus (less than 3 hours journey) that covers the route Taipei Airport-Changhua.
- If you are planning a day trip from Taipei the best option is to travel by train. You can choose between Taiwan High Speed Rail and regional trains. The price you will pay in case you take the THSR can be twice as the regional trains price (around 400NT$).
- If you are enjoying some time in Taichung – do not hesitate to take a look at my last post containing some tips about what to visit in Taichung – and you want to escape from the city, I recommend you to take a regional train from Taichung HSR Station (less than one hour journey).
Have you ever been in Changhua? Do you know any other interesting places to visit in this area? If so, feel free to share your thoughts leaving a comment below 🙂
Trip to be continued….