From Tainan we went to the beautiful Lukang Township in Changhua County, Central Taiwan. Unlike the rest of the country, both Tainan and Lukang have some historic heritage. Happily, we walked down its narrow alleys, entered old temples, and chatted with locals. Lukang used to be Taiwan’s main trading port for rice and sugar sent to Mainland China, thus its importance. At the beginning of the 20th century, the port closed and the city ceased to develop. The good thing is that the historical core remained unaltered. It includes plenty of old houses, 19th century mansions, and several interesting temples.
- 1 What is Lukang Township Like
- 2 Lukang Old Street
- 3 Lukang Longshan Temple
- 4 Lugang Mazu Temple
- 5 Lukang Folk Arts Museum
- 6 Other Lukang Sites
- 7 What to Do in Lukang, Taiwan
- 8 Where to Stay in Lukang
- 9 Where to Eat or Have Coffee
- 10 How to Get to Lukang From Changhua
- 11 How to Get to Lukang From Taichung
What is Lukang Township Like
Lukang Township is probably Taiwan’s most authentic town. The island’s economic development in the past decades propelled the destruction of heritage and the construction of new buildings. But as Taiwan prospered, Lukang fell into decay. Thanks to that, a decent chunk of its historical core survived. The town’s main drag is Zhongshan Road, a nice avenue packed with Japanese merchant houses, shops, and restaurants. West of said road, we find Lukang’s Old Town with several curvy pedestrian streets, old temples, and quaint shops. Two canals on the south and the Taiwan Strait on the west surround the town.
Lukang Old Street
The town’s main highlight is the so-called Lukang Old Street, famous all across Taiwan. Historically, its name used to be Lugang Old Street and referred to Butou and Dayou Streets left of Zhongshan Road. Nowadays and broadly speaking, the name refers to a large pedestrian area of curvy streets paved with red bricks. The area begins to the south of the city, at the Longshang Temple next to Sanmin Road. It ends in the north, around Minsheng Road. Besides the main streets that go parallel to Zhongshan Road, there are a few isolated alleys. The most popular one is the incredibly narrow Molu Lane, also known as Breast touching lane or Gentelmen Lane.
Lukang Longshan Temple
Among several interesting temples in Lukang, Longshan Temple is the most important one. It is the best-preserved temple from the Qing Dynasty in Taiwan. With an area of some 10.000 m2, it is Lukang’s largest temple, dedicated to the female bodhisattva Guanyin. The original temple from the 17th century used to be near the old port canal. However, in 1786 they moved it to its present location. The building is an architectural masterpiece with a superb courtyard, delicately painted murals, woodcarvings, carved stone, and an impressive octagonal ceiling. Supposedly, the Caisson ceiling protects the temple from evil. The acoustics inside the temple is fantastic!
Lugang Mazu Temple
Another interesting temple in downtown Lukang is Lugang Mazu Temple, also known as Tianhou Temple. This Taoist temple is for the glory of sea-goddess Mazu, Taiwan’s most popular deity. Unlike Longshan Temple, it is quite colorful and ornate, with typical figurines on its roof. The exact date of its construction is unknown. However, it was moved to its present location in 1725. The temple follows the classical model: three halls and two courtyards. The distinct woodwork in the front hall comes from a nearby temple destroyed in 1933. While the emperor would pray here, his officials had their own temple nearby, Lukang Xinzu Temple.
Lukang Folk Arts Museum
Taiwan was under Japanese rule for 50 years, from 1895 to 1945. There are many remnants of those times all around the island. Lukang’s finest example is the Koo Family Building from 1919. Actually, the building is not purely Japanese. It incorporates traditionally European components, such as renaissance columns, a mansard roof, and two belfries on the main façade. The Koo Family donated their house to the government, which turned it into the Lukang Folk Arts Museum in 1973. Its collection includes vintage photographs, porcelain, carved stones, embroidery, musical instruments, furniture, old books, etc.
Other Lukang Sites
Lukang has plenty of less popular but equally impressive sites, especially around the city center. Among its several old houses, the Ding Family Mansion is the nicest one. The blue house is a great example of the Minnan style. We are talking about three houses separated by two courtyards, and a small back garden. Another interesting site is the Banbian Well or Half-Sided Well. The local Wang Family decided to share their well with those who did not have access to water, so they built half the well inside and half outside their estate. If you still didn’t have enough of temples, visit the Wenkai Academy complex, including the Wu Temple and Wen Shrine.
What to Do in Lukang, Taiwan
Since we are talking about a rather small town, you are probably wondering what to do in Lukang. Actually, visiting the above-mentioned sites will take a day or two. Naturally, you should spend most of your time getting lost around Old Street and visiting historic houses and temples. Try to find narrow Molu Lane, the old Lukang Ai Gate, and the historic Kinmen Hall. Later on, spend some time at the Lukang Artist Village, a former fish farmer neighborhood, and visit the Fuxing Barn, a Japanese style barn. If you are into glass art, hire a taxi to take you to the Taiwan Glass Gallery. Better still, rent a bike at one of the two tourist offices and enjoy the ride there!
Where to Stay in Lukang
We didn’t have much time when we visited, so we stayed in Taichung, Taiwan’s second-largest city. We stayed in the Kiwi Express Hotel. Since it is near the Old Train Station, it is a great base to go to Lukang. There are a couple of interesting hotels in Lukang too. The Back Inn is a great option if you are looking for a centrally located place to stay. They offer nice rooms with balconies. If luxury is your things, stay in the UNION HOUSE Lukang, the best hotel in town. It’s a chic hotel in a privileged location, across Longshan Temple. For nice views, stay at the Joy Inn.
Where to Eat or Have Coffee
Once you’ve done exploring, have coffee and a cake in the wonderful Hitea Café (孩堤咖啡館). We went there for coffee and ended up full of new stories. Kate Lee and her sister are in charge of this wonderful old house and gave us great tips about Lugang. Thank you! For the best Bao in town, go directly to A Zhen Meat Baozi. Since they serve delicious baos, the place tends to get crowded, so be patient and enjoy the vibe. Another place you shouldn’t miss on your visit to Lukang is the Yu Jen Jai Bakery. They’ve been selling delicious Chinese pastry, including the famous Phoenix Eye Cake, for more than 140 years.
How to Get to Lukang From Changhua
Lukang is in Changhua County, some 30 kilometers southwest of Taichung. The easiest way to get to Lukang is stopping before in Changhua city. The city is connected to the entire island by train. Please take note that there are two train stations in Changhua city. The one outside of town serves fast trains coming from Taipei and Kaohsiung. Don’t go there; it is in the middle of nowhere. On the other hand, slow trains arrive at the Downtown Changhua Train station. All buses leaving from Changhua to Lukang depart from the bus stop in front of the Downtown Changhua Train Station. The journey lasts one hour.
How to Get to Lukang From Taichung
Another option is to travel from Taichung to Lukang. You can take a direct express bus 9018 Downtown Taichung Train Station or Gangcheng Station in central Taichung. The journey takes one hour. However, fast trains from Taipei and Kaoshing arrive at Taichung Fast Train Station, on the outskirts of Taichung. From there you can take shuttle buses 6936 or 6936a to Lukang. Bear in mind that these are not frequent. Hence, perhaps is better to take a local bus to Changhua and from there another one to Lukang.
From Taipei you can also take one of several daily buses and be in Lukang in 3 to 4 hours.