The oldest city in northern Taiwan, Hisnchu (新竹; Xīnzhú) is booming, with palatial apartment blocks sprouting among Japanese-era heritage buildings and shabby 70s development. The town centre benefits from a handsome grid of canals bordered by shops and restaurants. Out on the coast, Hsinchu has a scenic ocean-side bike path, and a harbour with a lively restaurant and cafe scene.
Long a base for traditional industries such as glass- and noodle-making, Hsinchu leapt into the modern era in 1980 with the establishment of Hsinchu Science Park, a centre for semiconductors and tech modelled on California's Silicon Valley. Accounting for a hefty slice of Taiwan's GDP, it's also why foreign faces are relatively common in the city.