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.
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.
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 down-town.
- 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.
From Taoyuan Taiwan Airport
- 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.
- 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] (竹北; zhúbĕi) 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 .
- 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.
Parks and scenic sites
- 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 131.79m and the lowest 50m. 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.
Landmarks and temples
- 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.
Museums and galleries
- [dead link]Craft Glass Museum, 2 Dongda Road, ☎ . 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 9AM-5PM (ticket office closes at 4:30PM)
- [dead link]Municipal Image Museum, 65 Zhongzheng Road, ☎ . 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, 1:30-5PM, 6:30-9PM. Production times: Wed to Fri 7:10~9PM, Sat and Sun 10AM, 2PM 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
- Hsinchu Playhouse and Gallery, 17 Dongda Road, ☎ . Sec 2 (corner of Beida Road). A large concert hall and gallery featuring local and international events.
- Free Music - Bands often perform in the small outdoor auditorium under the East Gate.
- National Chiao Tung University, 1001 University Road, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com..
- [dead link]Chung-hwa University, 707 Wufu Road, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.. Sec 2.
- 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
Hsinchu is the hometown of a particular form of rice noodles, called Mifen (米粉).
- The main shopping center meanders through the roads and lanes from the main train station to Bei-da and Min-sheng Roads. SOGO Department Store is on the corner of Zhong-hua and Mintsu Roads (directly across from the railway station), and the Mitsukoshi Department Store has a large branch next to the Ambassador Hotel.
- Another major shopping center is the Far East Department store (FE21) in Xi-da Road on the corner of Xi-men Street. There is plenty of parking and it also has a wide range of movie theaters.
- The RT-Mart (大潤發, dà rùn fā) on ZhōngXiào lù (忠孝路) has food, electronics, clothes, household articles at low prices.
- A night market with a lot of character sprawls through the alleys off Wenchang Road.
- Hsinchu Flower Market is a unique and lively place on the weekends. it surrounds the Hsinchu Zoo and glass blowing museum/park area.
- Asian Handicrafts, 184 Dungmen (East Gate) Street, ☎ . Specialties are jade and Buddhist artifacts.
- Eslite Bookstore, corner of Xinyi and Dadong Roads. The best selection of English titles in Hsinchu.
- Caves, Dongda Road. A little far out from the downtown area and has limited selection.
- National Tsing Hua University. Socrates cafe on campus (next to the main library) has a good selection of second hand books, including many English titles and a surprising number of French titles too.
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.
- One Two Three (一二三), 府後街17號 (17 FuHou Street) - A great restaurant with many local dishes. Located close to the circle in down town Hsinchu.
- Golden Mountain (金山面藝術生活館), 13 Jinshan 13th Street, ☎ . While the food is good, it is definitely the ambience and architecture of this traditional style restaurant that is the main attraction.
- Yunnan Wind (雲南風), 231 Dongming Street, ☎ . Offers food from the Chinese Yunnan province, including spicy hot pots and grilled dishes. Similar to Thai food. Relaxed atmosphere. Located in a small lane off Guangfu Road Sec. 2 across from the Orange Mart.
- Curry Fans (咖哩番), San Min Street 2 No. 13, Hsinchu City. (新竹市東區三民路2巷13號), ☎ . They offers many kind of curries from various country such as Indonesia, Thailand, India and Japan. Has an English menu and is owned by a Taiwanese who speaks very good English.
- The Spice Shop, 19 XinGuang Road, ☎ . They have an English menu and they can speak English.
- Yogi House, 97 Shijye Street, ☎ . Veggie and non-veggie meals available. Prices a little high, though comparable to other organic restaurants in Taiwan.
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 list below is for all-you-can-eat buffets (at these, there is a set charge, usually over NT$250, and the meal includes dessert and coffee/tea) or menu style restaurants:
- City God Temple, 75 Zhongshan Road, ☎ . Offers vegetarian fare.
- Green-On, 24 Chuanai Street, ☎ .
- Date Tree near National Tsing Hua university is a vegetarian restaurant offering meals from as cheap as NT$50 up.
- There is a vegetarian outlet on Changan Street.
- The Lake House also known as 在水一方 is a Western style restaurant located adjacent to Ching-Tsao Lake (the lake of green grass). You can either dine right next to the lake or eat on the third floor where the view is spectacular.(新竹市明湖路1075巷80-1號)1075 Minghu Rd., Hsinchu City. Phone# (03)529-2117 
- Squares is a Western style restaurant located just southwest of the East Gate. The serve hamburgers and western breakfast. They also have some Belgian beers in bottles.(新竹市勝利路38號) 38 Shengli Rd., Hsinchu City
- Mr. Toast is a sandwich shop located close to Tsing Hua University just beside Berkeley Hotel. They serve good grilled cheese sandwiches. Topsellers are California Chicken, Philly Cheesesteak and Italian panini. Ambience is western with great music. They have an English menu and can speak English. They are a having a summer super value meal which cost only 99 NT and includes a grilled sandwich, fries, salad and a drink. Its a great deal especially for students around the area. (新竹市光復路二段276號) Guang Fu Road, Sec. 2, #276, Hsinchu City. 03-571-7373. M-Sa 10:30AM to 9:30PM, Sundays: noon to 8PM.
- American Grill in Taiwan is an American style grill located just behind the Shin Kong Mitsukosi department store. They serve flame grilled hamburgers, and sausages. The potato salad is a chef special and a favorite. Also on the menu you will find a selection of deep fried food. The menu is availalbe in both Chinese and English. (民權路24巷11號) No. 11, MinChuan Road, Lane 24. Open Monday through Saturday from 11AM.
- Nunu and Nigel's N2 Bar and Eatery, 14 Chien Shou Road. Near by Royal Hotel and The Science Park.Open Monday to Friday 5pm till late.Saturday 7pm till Midnight.Sunday closed. English speaking staff serving a Western 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.
Out door bar and deck with smoking areas.
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.
Most restaurants, pubs, and even high-class hotels carry a paltry selection of beer, consisting mainly of Heineken, Kirin, Taiwan Beer and one of a variety of mass-marketed, mass-produced American beers (Budweiser, Coors, etc.) In some bars also the German Erdinger is available.
- Minzu Road , a small road just around the corner of Sol Hotel, offers various small bars of different styles.
- [dead link]Goetheburg Bar & Restaurant (Götheburg/before Flying Pig), Minquan Rd 120 (next street of BIG CITY shopping mall), ☎ . 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), ☎ . 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), ☎ . '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 7pm 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.
Outdoor bar and deck with smoking area.
All the main chains are represented in Hsinchu, such as Starbucks and Barista. Cafes with more unique character are to be found throughout the city center, especially around Wenhua Road and Sanmin Road - just walk around, you'll find something to your taste.
- 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. [Currently closed for renovation]
- OPCafé, No. 3, 95 lane, Kuan-hwa Street, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 11AM-midnight. 1 min 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, ☎ . 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.
- Berkeley Hotel, 272 Section 2 Guan-Fu Road, ☎ . 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, ☎ .
- Kingdom Hotel, 238 section 1 Kuan-Fu Road, ☎ . Operates a free shuttle service between guests' place of work and the hotel.
- Hsinchu Berkeley Hotel, ☎ . Dowontown location. A business hotel with an English/Japanese speaking staff, continental breakfast. 
- Lakeshore Hotel, ☎ . Metropolis 1. A nice hotel with a great breakfast.
- Sol Hotel Downtown, 10 Wenhua Street, ☎ . 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, ☎ . Hsinchu's largest and most luxurious hotel.
- Howard Plaza Hotel Hsinchu, 178 Zhongzheng Road, ☎ . Taiwan's largest domestic hotel and resort chain.
- Lakeshore Hotel, 51, Lane 775, Minghu Road, ☎ . Overlooks a lake.
- Sun-View Motel (also known as Hushan 湖山), 1001, Minghu Road, ☎ . The hotel is a short drive from Ching-Tsao Lake.
- Sheraton, Dong Sec 1, Guangming 6th Rd.
- Royal Hotel, Hsinchu - Really close to all major companies
Hsinchu is one of the safest cities you'll probably ever visit and street crime is extremely rare. However, in case of an emergency, English speaking police officers can be contacted at the main foreign affairs police department: Tel+886 3 524-2103. Otherwise, like elsewhere in Taiwan, emergency numbers are:
- Police: 110
- Ambulance, Fire brigade: 119
The area dialling code for Hsinchu is 03. From overseas, dial +886 3 XXXXXXX.
- Hsin-chu Hospital (新竹醫院) - 25, Lane 442, Jinguo Road, Sec. 1. Tel:+886 3 532-6151.
- Mackay Memorial Hospital, Hsinchu（馬偕醫院新竹分院）- 690, Guangfu Rd, Sec. 2. Tel:+886 3 611-9595.
- Cathay General Hospital, Hsinchu (國泰綜合醫院新竹分院) - 678, Zhonghua Road, Sec. 2. Tel:+886 3 527-8999.
Visa applications and extensions can be made at the Foreign Affairs Police Bureau, 1 Chungshan Road. Tel:+886 3 522-4168
- Shih-tou Shan (Lion's Head Mountain) is a mountainous area on the borders of Hsinchu County and Miaoli County famous for its Buddhist temples and scenery.
- Shei-pa National Park (雪霸國家公園) spans mountains and rivers offering some great hiking, climbing and relaxation.
- Located near Hsinchu City is the Little Ding-Dong Science Park (小叮噹科學遊樂區). It is the only outdoor science theme park in Taiwan.
- Chi'ding Resort Beach, half an hour south of Hsinchu along route 61, has a basic beach. Closed during typhoons. This area has a very flat beach area great for skim boarding. The resort has jetskis, windsurfers and kite boarding.