This city is often referred to as the gateway to Alishan National Scenic Area, but that doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer. As a matter of fact, it’s an ideal place for anyone who loves an off the beaten track adventure. With its warm atmosphere and well-preserved culture, you will definitely feel the Southern charm all throughout. Here are some of the best things to do in the city of Chiayi.
1. Chiayi Park
Located in the city’s East District, Chiayi Park is where you can spend an afternoon of relaxation. Go for a stroll and be amazed by the lush surroundings, fish ponds, and historic monuments such as the Mt. Ali Forest Railway No. 21 Steam Locomotive and the 12 Ancient Cannons. Another highlight of the park is Chiayi Tower, which we’ll talk about in the next entry. You will also see the friendly locals enjoying their leisure time here. Apart from the sights, the tranquil atmosphere will make you want to stay longer.
Address: Minquan Rd, East District, Chiayi City, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Contact: +886 52254321
2. Chiayi Tower
Chiayi Tower remains to be one of the city’s landmarks thanks to its unique architecture. It has a brown aluminium pattern resembling a sacred tree in Alishan. Inside, you will see the awe-inspiring Sun Shooting bronze sculpture, which is based on a famous aboriginal tale. Legend has it that the Earth had two suns, and the first one was shot down by members of an old tribe.
The first floor of the tower contains plaques of courageous soldiers who lost their lives in the war. On the tenth floor, there’s a glass skywalk offering a bird’s-eye view of the ground. You can enjoy a cup of tea at the eleventh floor café or proceed to the top of the building for a panoramic view of the city.
Address: 46, Gongyuan St., East Dist., Chiayi City 600, Taiwan
Price: from 2 USD
Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. Closed on Mondays.
Contact: +886 52751357
3. Lantan Lake
Another peaceful moment is waiting for you at Lantan Lake, which is located in Xiaoya Road. Take a leisurely stroll and admire the crystal clear water and serene vibes. You can also visit the pavilion to relax and just enjoy the view. Ambient lights and installation art fill up the place at night, giving it a magical feel. If you want to avoid the large crowds, then Lantan Lake is where you should go.
Address: Xiaoya Rd., East Dist., Chiayi City
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Contact: +886 52294593
4. NCYU Insect Museum
NCYU Insect Museum on Xuefu Road is the biggest insect museum in Taiwan, and it’s famous for its hemispherical greenhouse garden. The garden is home to over a thousand colorful butterflies, and you will see them fly freely through the flowers. As you explore the other areas, you will also have a chance to touch beetle larvae and Madagascar cockroaches. You don’t have to worry about caressing those insects; they’re all known to be friendly. Other highlights include the Specimens Area, the Living Aquatic Insects Area, the World’s Rarest Insect Area, and the Insect Resources Industry Area. If you visit during the Chinese New Year, there are free guided tours and film showings.
NCYU Insect Museum
Address: 300, Xuefu Rd, East District, Chiayi City, Taiwan
Price: from 7 USD
Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Contact: +886 52779225
5. Chiayi Botanical Garden
Spreading across 8.6 hectares (~21 acres), Chiayi Botanical Garden in Shanziding serves as the experimental ground for the city’s Forestry Research Institute. It’s where you will see huge tropical trees such as Chinese firs, Brazilian rubber, Alstonia, Hook Pines, and West Indian Mahogany. With over 140 species of trees present, it definitely looks more like a forest. Go for a walk here and enjoy not only the sights, but also the fresh breeze.
Chiayi Botanical Garden
Address: 270, Shanziding, East District, Chiayi City
Opening Hours: 7:00 am to 6:00 pm
Contact: 886 52717343
6. Hinoki Village
Art is very much alive in Hinoki Village. Located in Linsean East Road, the village has lily ponds and over 28 Japanese-style dormitories, which originally belonged to the Chiayi Forest Bureau. Admire the well-preserved houses and visit some of the shops to buy some local artwork and snacks. There’s also a museum dedicated to the famous Taiwanese movie Kano.
Address: 1, Linsen E. Rd., East Dist., Chiayi City 600, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Contact: +886 52761601
Website: Hinoki Village
7. Wenhua Road Night Market
Eat, shop, and enjoy the vibes at Wenhua Road Night Market. It’s located in the West District, and it’s famous for its wide selection of local delicacies. Satisfy your appetite with turkey rice, fresh fried eel, rice cakes, fish head soup, and many more. There are also shops that sell clothes and shoes at affordable prices. Make sure you come early to avoid the huge crowds. Most of the stalls start opening at 5:00 pm.
Wenhua Road Night Market
Address: Wenhua Rd, East District, Chiayi City, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 5:00 pm to 1:00 am
Contact: +886 52294593
8. Xingang Bantou Village
Xingang Bantou Village is the perfect place to appreciate Koji pottery, which is seen in the colorful temples and sculptures of Taiwan’s temples. As you walk around the area, get ready to be enthralled by the collection of mosaics made by the local craftsmen. You will see mosaics of walls, chairs, televisions, and people. There are also wall paintings depicting the village’s rich agricultural life. For the kids, they can visit the studio to color a pottery item of their choice.
Xingang Bantou Village
Address: Bantoucuo, Xingang Township, Chiayi County 616, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Contact: +886 57810832
9. Chiayi Prison Museum
This wooden prison no longer houses inmates, but there are free tours that will still give you a glimpse of life behind bars. Chiayi Prison Museum is located on Weixin Road, and just like Alcatraz in San Francisco, it also has an eventful history. On the outside, the image of a dummy dressed as an inmate and trying to escape will surely grab your attention. Inside, you will see the well-preserved cells, visitation rooms, and central monitoring station. The toilets may be unsettling, but it will provide a clearer picture of prison life. You’re also going to hear stories about rumored mistreatment of prisoners and supernatural occurrences. Tours are conducted in Mandarin, so if you want an English-speaking guide, you should inquire by phone.
Chiayi Prison Museum
Address: 140, Weixin Rd., East Dist., Chiayi City 600, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (closed on Mondays)
Contact: +886 52789242
10. Xingang Fengtian Temple
Xingang Fengtian Temple on Xinmin Road was built in honor of Mazu and the Tiger General, two beloved deities in Taiwan. Mazu is a goddess who keeps the sea travelers safe while the Tiger General is the protector of children. After admiring the intricately-carved lion sculptures on the entrance, come inside to see the colorful deity images up-close. The third floor contains Koji artworks based on local folklores. You may encounter a large crowd of worshippers during your visit, but it’s a good way to experience the local culture.
Xingang Fengtian Temple
Address: 53, Xinmin Rd., Xingang Township, Chiayi County 616, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Contact: +886 53742034
11. Chug through a century-old forest railway - Alishan Forest Railway
All aboard the red and cream trains of the Alishan Forest Railway and take the scenic route through the lush tropical forests of Taiwan’s Alishan mountain range. Built during the Japanese occupation of Formosa, the railway was once used to transport logs out of Alishan. When logging was banned the 71.4 kilometer (44.4 miles) railway system was converted into the only mass commuter transport service in and out of the mountains but now offers cruise-style tours to Chiayi’s visitors. Book a train ride and travel back in time to an age when train travel was romantic and exciting – the railroad ties are still made of wood and the train engineer still needs to stop the train and get off to change directions manually. The ride runs from Chiayi to Chusan, with stops in between at the Beimen and Jhuchi stations, rebuilt to match their original timber structures.
Alishan Forest Railway
Address: Chiayi County, Taiwan
12. Song of the Forest
You may be thinking of a musical concert set amidst the woods, but the Song of the Forest is a dome-shaped landmark to celebrate Taiwan’s prosperous timber capital, Chiayi. The structure is built from timber provided by the local Forestry Bureau according to the vision of local artist Wang Wen-Chih. The dome represents a divine tree, the foundation of the city’s economy, and the Alishan railway. To get inside the dome you pass through rattan-covered archways. Once inside, you will be cradled in an atmosphere of calm, much like being in the middle of a forest that has miraculously sprouted up from nowhere. The Song of the Forest, ironically, sits in the middle of a wide open field and is surrounded by a timber boardwalk. The structure’s shape, materials and location make for great photo opportunities as you explore Chiayi on your Taiwan holiday.
Song of the Forest
Address: Chiayi, Taiwan
Appreciate the beauty of Chiayi
It may not be as popular as the other cities, but keep in mind that treasures are always hidden. Take a break from the usual destinations and explore something different. The beauty of Chiayi will definitely surprise you.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.