Chiayi is a mostly rural county in south-central Taiwan. Despite its relatively small population compared to other counties in Taiwan, it has some of the most beautiful scenery, delicious local food, and interesting history. Come for Alishan, and stay for everything else you find along the way.
Below I will list out some of the best places in Chiayi that I have visited. I will be sure to update this blog as I visit more places later.
How to get around in Chiayi?
As always, we recommend renting a scooter as the best way to see Taiwan. However, you can also a great deal of Chiayi by taking the TRA train, Alishan Forest Railway, inter city bus, or local bus. Getting around in a car is also a convenient option as there is plenty of parking pretty much everywhere in this less crowded county.
Need a Tour Guide?
You can purchase many of the tickets to the following places through a tour agency such as My Taiwan Tour or a similar website.
You can see a map of all the places that we will visit in this blog below:
So what is there to do and see in Chiayi?
Here is our top 10 list:
Jialefu Night Market 嘉樂福夜市
Hinoki Village 檜意森活村
Lantan Lake and Renyitan Reserviour 蘭潭及仁義潭水庫
Minxiong Haunted House 民雄鬼屋
Chukou Village 觸口村
Alishan Forest Railway 阿里山森林鐵路
Fenqihu Old Street 奮起湖老街
Let's ge't started!
1. Go to Jialefu Night Market 嘉樂福夜市
Jialefu Night Market is the largest night market in Chiayi, located right next to the local Carrefour shopping center. Jialefu Night Market is a play on words, sounding like the Chinese for the popular department store Carrefour (家樂福 Jiālèfú) and adding in the first character in Chiayi (Jiāyì 嘉義). The Carrefour next door doesn’t seem to mind. Here you can find every kind of traditional Taiwan night market food you could ask for. The main delicacy here is Mongolian grill and barbecue...(read more).
About 6 PM to 12:30 PM
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From the front of Chiayi Train Station turn south and take a right on provincial highway 159. After that take a left on Bo'ai West Road until you reach Carrefour. There is free scooter and car parking at Carrefour. The night market is right to the left of Carrefour.
By Train/Bus: From Chiayi Station, take bus 7320, 7325, or 7326 to Fulong Temple Station (伏龍宮 Fúlónggōng) after which you need to walk south about 10 minutes on Bo'ai West Road until you reach Carrefour.
2. Eat Turkey Rice 吃火鷄肉飯
Turkey Rice is perhaps the most famous dish in Chiayi. It's sweet, sour and savory, and probably some of the best Turkey you've ever had. With bowls of turkey rice starting as low as 30 NT, you definitely need to try a bowl while you are here.
3. Eat Boba Pizza 吃珍珠披薩
You've heard of the Taiwan invented Boba tea, right? Well Chiayi invented Boba Pizza, too. Even though Pizza Hut and Dominos have taken over these flavors, the original Boboa Pizza was created at Boss Pizza in Chiayi (大老闆手作披薩).
2PM - 9PM
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/Tw.bosspizza/
Bonus Food: Rouyuan 肉圓
Another famous food in Chiayi is Rouyuan, which is pork inside a gluttonous rice bun. It's a taste and texture that you won't forget.
There are tons of other delicious foods in Chiayi. Get out there and discover more for yourself!
4. Check out Hinoki Village 檜意森活村
Hinoki Village (aka Cypress Forest Life Village 檜意森活村 Guìyì sēnhuó cūn) is the largest group of Japaneses era buildings in Taiwan, with over 30 restored era wooden structures. Located in Chiayi City, it is a remnant of the logging industry that existed in Chiayi during the Japanese era. As one of the best preserved historical sites in Taiwan, it is definitely worth a stop on your trip to Chiayi...(read more).
10 AM to 6 PM
How to get there:
By Train/Bus: The village is a short walk across the street from Chiayi Beimen (North Gate) Station.
By Car/Scooter: From Chiayi Station, turn north on County road 159 until you reach Beimen Station. The village is across the street from Beimen Station. There is free and paid parking on the street nearby.
5. Relax at Lantan Lake and Renyitan Reserviour 蘭潭及仁義潭水庫
Lantan Lake, also known as orchid lake, and Renyitan Reservior are two reservoirs right next to each other near Chiayi City, drawing water from the Bazhang River (八掌溪). The reservoirs are interconnected, and together they serve as main source of Chiayi City's water, and date back to the Dutch rule of Taiwan. Both are also great places to relax and enjoy the scenery near Chiayi...(read more).
How to get there:
By Car/scooter: From Chiayi Station, go east on Chiuyang Road, then once you get near the resevior, take a right on Xiaoya Road. The Road will take you to the Lantan Lake scenic area, then it is a short ride east to Renyitan.
By Bus: From Chiayi Station, go east on Chiayi County Bus No. 1 until you reach Lantan Scenic Area (Yueyingtanxin Stop).
6. Scare yourself at Minxiong Haunted House 民雄鬼屋
The Minxiong Haunted House (aka Minxiong Ghost House or formally as Liu Family Historical Residence 劉氏古厝) is a popular abandoned mansion in Minxiong Township of Chiayi County, dating back to the Japanese era of Taiwan. Urban legends about the house along with its prominence in the area have made it an attractive place for curious visitors. It has been listed as the number one most popular abandoned house in Taiwan...(read more)
Free. But when I went there was an artist asking for donations.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Chiayi take provincial highway 1 north toward Minxiong. Turn west into the rice fields and then right on county road 82. The road leads to the house which sits at the end of a tree covered lot. There is paid parking at the coffee shop next door (or free parking anywhere near the rice fields).
By bus: Take Chiayi Bus 7316A from central Chiayi north until you reach Yiqiao Station (takes about 1 hour). The haunted house is about a 5 minute walk south.
7. Enjoy the Scenery at Chukou Village 觸口村
Chukou Village in Fanlu Township (番路鄉) of Chiayi is a pleasant stop along the Alishan Highway, It features multiple suspension bridges, mountain temples, rivers and waterfalls, and lots of hikes. If you have time you should definitely stop here and enjoy the scenery...(read more)
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Chiayi, take provincial highway 18 east until you reach the first switchbacks up the mountain. Chukou Village is at the base of the mountain; it's hard to miss.
By Bus: From Chiayi Bus Station, take bus 7216A to Chukou Station (about 1.5 hours).
8. Take the Alishan Forest Railway 阿里山森林鐵路
Alishan Forest Railway is one of the most iconic and best preserved historical mountain railways in the world. Starting at the center of Chiayi City, it passes through tropical forests, subtropical hills, and rising into the temperate forests in the mountains, originally ending up at Alishan. It is definitely something you should experience while you are in Taiwan...(read more)
Chiayi to Shizilu:
First train leaves Chiayi at 8:30 AM
Last train leaves Chiayi at 9:00 AM
Trains return to Chiayi at around 3:00 PM - 4PM
A one way trip takes about two and a half hours.
Zhushan: 30 minutes (sunrise train)
Shenmu: 7 minutes
Zhaoping Line: 6 minutes
384 NT one way from Chiayi to Fenqihu, 459 NT one way from Chiayi to Shizilu
Zhushan Line: 150 NT per ride
Shenmu Line: 100 NT per ride
Zhaoping Line: 100 NT per ride
How to Buy Tickets:
In person: Go to Chiayi Station in person for the Chiayi-Shizilu portion, or Alishan Station for the Zhushan, Shenmu, and Zhaoping lines. The counter to buy tickets is on the right of the main entrance. This is the best way to buy tickets.
Online: You can use the online system to buy tickets here.
However the online system does not show all tickets and routes available, so if possible it is better to buy in person instead.
You can purchase a tickets through a tour agency such as My Taiwan Tour or a similar website.
Where to sit:
The best views going up are on the right of the train, and coming down on the left of the train.
When to go:
Any season. Spring is special because of Cherry blossoms. In the summer (May-October), rock falls due to heavy rains or Typhoons can stop the train for a few days. Make sure to check the train is still running before you go in the summer.
How to get there:
Most passengers board from Chiayi TRA Station or the nearby Beimen TRA Station.
Got to Alishan Station for the Zhushan, Shenmu, and Zhaoping lines.
9. Check out Fenqihu Old Street 奮起湖老街
Fenqihu (aka Fenchihu) is a charming mountain village in Chiayi, and is the largest along the Alishan Forest Railway, therefore it deserves a spot of its own. It has two old streets that feature great food, such as the famous Fenqihu lunch box and jelly fig seed drink. You can also see many Japanese historical sights such as a shinto shrine, train station, and residences. Also nearby are many beautiful sights such as bamboo forests and hikes in nearby mountains. Fenqihu Old Street is also known as the Jiufen of Southern Taiwan. This place is is definitley worth a stop along the Alishan Forest Railway...(read more)
About 9 AM to 6 PM
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Chiayi, taken provincial highway 18 east up the mountain to Shizhuo （石桌), after which you need to turn left up the mountain to Fenqihu. The town is hard to miss.
By Bus: Take the direct bus from Chiayi Station (leaves in the morning).
By Train: Take the Alishan Forest Train from Chiayi Station (leaves at 8:30 AM and 9 AM).
10. Enjoy Epic Scenery at Alishan Forest Recreation Area 阿里山森林遊樂區
Alishan National Scenic Area is one of the most famous mountain areas in Taiwan (aka Mount Ali, or Ali Mountain). Formerly a timber harvesting area during the Japanese Era, it still has a working rail system for park visitors to ride around the mountain. The mountain villages, ancient forests, waterfalls, hiking destinations, and tea plantations have made it a popular destination for tourists. It is also a popular destination to see the sunrise over a sea of clouds. Overall, it is one of the most iconic and well known mountain destinations in Taiwan...(read more)
How to get There:
The best way to get to Alishan is from Chiayi. There are a number of transportation options.
By Train: You have to book the tickets the day before and they have been known to sell out. For more information on how to book train tickets up the mountain check out this blog by Travel Taiwan.
By Bus: King Bus goes directly to Alishan from Taipei Main Station but this bus leaves early and is expensive. You can also take a bus from Chiayi Main Bus station.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial Highway 18 east out of Chiayi City, then make your way up the mountain for about over an hour until you reach Alishan Scenic Area.
If your GPS tells you to go up the one lane roads to Alishan, do not. For safety, stay on the two lane Highway 18.
The road to Alishan is known to often have thick fog. You do not want to be stuck on a super steep one lane road with thick fog, so stay on the main two-lane highway.
You can rent a scooter for cheap in front of the Chiayi Train Station. I would suggest getting at least a large 125 cc scooter that can make it up the mountain. Some rental shops do not even require to see a license. Also be aware there is a gas stations in the first town up the mountain road, so make sure you fill up there if you are getting low. Getting to Alishan could take most of your gas tank.
Hours: Open 24-hours a day all year round (so you can go to see the sunrise at 3 AM).
Recreation Area Price: 300 NT for foreigners, 200 NT for Taiwan nationals. Parking is 100 NT for cars and 20 NT for scooters.
Places we missed in Chiayi:
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our adventures in Taiwan!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.