Rainbow Village, Taichung, Taiwan. As soon as I saw pictures of it I knew I wanted to go there – it was adorable. Teeny tiny houses daubed with childlike drawings and colour exploding from every cute little alley. I had visions of arriving on a rickety old bus, after a short journey along country lanes.
Little old ladies coming home with shopping from the market would wave at the bus as it went past, maybe some children or puppies would run alongside (safely) and as we pulled into the village car park, chickens scratching the grass nearby, the colour would explode in front of my eyes.
Yeah, my imagination has a lot to live up to as the reality of Taiwan’s Rainbow Village is nothing like that – but it’s still super cute!
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How Did Rainbow Village Start
It’s all thanks to one man. Huang Yung Fu
Rainbow Village was originally built as military housing but over time most of the thousand-plus houses on the site were demolished leaving just a tiny enclave of 11 houses, also being eyed up for the wrecking ball. And then one day, in 2010, the solo resident left living there, Huang Yung Fu – now known as Rainbow Grandpa – started painting his house.
He began with a bird on his bedroom wall…and just kept going.
He painted his home and then started on the empty houses of his neighbours in the same bright, childlike style which is inspired by his childhood pets and memories.
Thanks to a campaign by students at the local university who saw what he was doing, word spread of the uber-cute, photogenic houses.
According to this report by the BBC, which explains it all in more detail than I can (scan to the end for an ‘awww’ moment involving the arrival of Rainbow Grandma!), soon 80,000 people emailed the local council appealing that the village be saved.
And then the tourists came.
Ten years later, Rainbow Grandpa is now 96. The Rainbow Family Village. as it’s also known. is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Taiwan – let alone, Taichung, with over a million visitors a year. And right now at least, it’s not going anywhere near the developers. Yay.
I had to visit.
Visiting Rainbow Village from Taipei
Rainbow Village is located just outside the city of Taichung – this makes it a very easy day, or even, morning trip from Taipei, and, because even the high-speed trains in Taipei are very cheap, it’s an affordable one too.
We arrived via the High-Speed Rail train from Taipei’s Main Station. The one-hour journey was fantastic on a clean, incredibly punctual train. We had reserved seats so we knew exactly where we were sitting and the whole experience, even down to the silent people in the carriage with us, reminded me of catching the bullet train in Japan.
Arriving at Taichung High-Speed station you have two choices – take one of the four buses that go from the station to the vicinity of Rainbow Village, taking about 15 minutes. Or, grab a taxi which takes nine minutes.
Arriving at the huge station, we took one look at the sheer number of exits, couldn’t see one marked Bus – did see one marked Taxi and the decision was made. Nine minutes later, after showing a picture of the village on the phone to the taxi driver who just grinned as if to say, ‘of course that’s where you’re going’ we were pulling up outside Rainbow Village.
It was about a minute before this that I realised that my image of Rainbow Village being this bucolic paradise in the middle of nowhere was very, very wrong!
You see, as soon as I hear the word village, my brain goes back being brought up in the UK where it means greenery, maybe a thatched roof or two. This combined with the fact that, on, the map, the roads to Rainbow Village look a bit wiggly had me imagining it on top of a grassy hillside – not slapped bang next to a main road with a constant stream of taxis and tour buses dropping off outside.
There were no puppies, chickens or market ladies…I did get some cute kids though.
At this point, I was VERY glad we hadn’t wasted any more time trying to save money getting there. We got there about 10.30 am on a Thursday morning and it was getting busy. T
he village is very small, much smaller than I was expecting, and the alleys connecting the houses are thin and windy.
This makes it atmospheric and quaint when it’s empty and quickly overrun with people when a tour group arrives.
The good thing is because tour bus groups tend to travel in packs, we could outrun them.
The pic below gives you an idea of why. That horizontal road was packed, but quickly head in the other direction and you could get away from the crowds for a moment.
Admittedly, trying to avoid the crowds did spoil things a little bit as we couldn’t spend too long admiring all the tiny details as we’d soon get swamped.
I’m aware that a tourist at a popular attraction complaining about tourists at a popular attraction is all kinds of wrong, but when it’s just the odd couple and family wandering about it’s not a problem.
It’s when you get swamped by 30 people at once that it all just gets that bit too crowded so if you want to take your time and enjoy everything Rainbow Village has to offer, try and arrive as early in the morning as you possibly can to try and beat the tour buses.
According to Google Rainbow Village’s ‘opening hours’ are from 8 am to 6 pm (although there’s no entrance fee and no gates so it technically doesn’t close) so, get there as soon as you can.
If you’re, staying in Taichung and the evenings are light, it might also be worth going towards closing when the buses are dropping their hoards back from whence they came!
If you do arrive super early watch out for wet paint Rainbow Grandpa is still adding to his creation and apparently gets up at 4 am every morning to paint for three hours before the crowds arrive.
He also regularly appears in the village to meet and greet with visitors. We weren’t lucky enough to meet him on our trip but he often poses for photos with those who are.
It took us about half an hour to wander around the village taking photos. Our top tip was to wander around the back of the buildings which people don’t tend to bother with but are still adorned with cuteness!.
You can also buy snacks and drinks at the village and there’s also a souvenir shop if you want to take home some of Rainbow Grandpa’s art for your very own.
So, in a nutshell. The village is adorable, the story behind it is even cuter and it’s definitely worth visiting Rainbow Village if you’re staying in Taichung, or via a day trip from Taipei or Kaohsiung.
How to Get to Rainbow Village from Taipei
As I said, it’s super easy – just jump on the high-speed train. Taipei Main station is incredibly organised and we found the ticket buying process and finding the train very organised and easy.
To check the timetable and fares for the High Speed Train to Taichung from Taipei, click here.
Rainbow Village is also easy to visit from Kaohsiung (if you’re staying there check out our guide to fun things to do in Kaohsiung here) and it takes about 55 minutes from Zuoying high-speed station. The link above will also help you find trains and times – just remember to check from Zuoying – not Kaohsiung.
If you want to buy tickets in advance you can get a discount. Have a look at the offers here.
A Quick Word of Warning
The one thing we did find was that getting back from Rainbow Village wasn’t as easy as getting there. We were heading into Taichung city and had planned to jump in a taxi, but there were none picking up at the village – people seemed to have their cab wait for them so there wasn’t the drop-off/pick up turn round we had been expecting.
There are bus stops directly outside the village but we stood there for a fair amount of time and no buses appeared (imagine me with the same expression as that cow at this point).
We ended up walking around the corner and just taking the first bus going roughly toward where we wanted to end up in Taichung city itself.
My advice, therefore, is to plan your exit strategy well especially if you are going back to the station and have a train to catch.
It would also be very helpful to have a local SIM so you can check the bus times on the fly. We’d probably still be stood there if we hadn’t! Click here to order one to pick up at the airport so you’re set from touchdown.
Another bit of advice: If you’re wanting to explore Taichung city as well as Rainbow Village on your day trip from Taipei (and, if you like Rainbow Village, trust me, you’re going to want to do this as it’s packed with adorable cute sights), you might want to consider just buying a single high-speed ticket from Taipei and getting the slower train back to Taipei.
These depart from Taichung main station in the centre of town and while they take about an hour longer to reach Taipei, we discovered that getting from central Taichung to the high-speed station was frankly torturous and took far longer than the extra time of getting on a direct train. There’s probably a quicker way to do it if you understand the buses, but we wasted a LOT of time waiting for the connecting train. If I did it again, I’d get the fast train there and the slow train back
To check the times for the slow trains, you’ll find those here. They don’t run that often so you will have to time things well but it will save you time if you do get it right. The red Puyo line is the fastest.
Once you do get back to Taipei, check out our fun Taipei guide for other fun things to do there.
Taking a Tour to Rainbow Village
If you don’t want to organise your own transport to Rainbow Village – or, you want to see some other sights in Taichung County while you’re here, you might also want to check out some of the following tours and car services.
Rainbow Village, Gaomei Wetlands and more. This day tour picks up at hotels in Taichung or the High-Speed Railway Station and will take you to the Lavender Forest, Gaomei wetlands and Rainbow Village. See more here. The view below is the wetlands at sunset – many tours try and arrive at this time.
If you’d prefer a half-day tour visiting the Village and Wetlands, then this one might be better for you.
Rainbow Village and Sun Moon Lake: Sun Moon Lake (below) is one of Central Taiwan’s other main sights and a short drive from Taichung.
This private car tour will pick you up at Taichung Station (or your Taichung hotel) and take you to sights including Quinjing Farm, Sun Moon Lake and Rainbow Village. They also have other itineraries available – or you can book the car for the day and pick your own sights to see. See more here.
So there you have it, our guide on visiting Rainbow Village in Taichung from Taipei. I hope you loved it as much as I did (even with the crowds). It’s a really special place.
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