Head off the beaten track in Taiwan with a visit to Chiayi City, where you’ll find Qing and Ming Dynasty history, unique stone monkey carvings and exciting local markets. It’s also a gateway to the country’s dramatic mountain towns, hot springs and railway journeys.
Things to do in Chiayi City
Chiayi City’s development began early and has left behind a number of interesting architectural sights, such as the revered City of God Temple, which has a spider web-like ceiling and colourful ceramic figures. There are also many modern constructions around town, including the 62-metre-tall Sun-Shooting Tower, where you can look out over the city and Chiayi Park from an observation deck and rooftop garden.
Speaking of Chiayi Park, this inner-city green escape is a living museum of ancient trees, Qing Dynasty stelaes, a war memorial and a Japanese shrine. Looking for local culture? Time your visit for Chiayi City’s annual Stone Monkey Carving Festival or visit the Wenhua Road Night Market for delicious street food and quirky souvenir stores. Be sure to try the rice cakes and beancurd pudding.
Chiayi City is the birthplace of Koji Pottery, one of Taiwan’s traditional art forms. You can see it on display in many of the city’s temples, such as Fengtian, or learn about the glazed ceramic at the Koji Pottery Museum. Take the 25-minute walk out to Lantan Lake to escape the crowds and soak up scenic views from a quiet pavilion.
The Alishan Forest Railway is an unforgettable experience, transporting you deep into Taiwan’s mountains through 50 tunnels and across more than 77 wooden bridges. Catch the Zhushan Line from Alishan for beautiful sunrise views over Jade Mountain.
Getting around Chiayi City
You can walk to most of Chiayi’s popular tourist sights and night markets, as they are within about 30 minutes of each other. Walking is ideal for those who prefer the scenic route, but if you’re in a hurry, you can hire scooters from shops near the train station.