Chiayi, Taiwan is an excellent jumping off point for some fabulous day-trips. Here’s the how, where, and why for some cool excursions from this south, central Taiwanese city!
First off, the obvious!
1. Check out Tainan, an easy 45 minute train ride from Chiayi’s main train station.
Here you can see some gorgeous old temples and sample some of the best snacks in all of Taiwan (in my opinion.)
2. And after you’ve seen the historic city of Tainan, check out the more modern and larger city of Kaohsiung for some epic lookouts…
…a brief beach break…
…shopping, arts, and more.
3. There’s also Taichung.
To be honest, I know a lot of people love Taichung, and while it’s nice, filled with cool parks and nice restaurants, it’s not my favorite Taiwanese city. It’s got some fun parts, but it’s a little too big and spread out for my tastes.
However, if you have the time to check out the trails outside the city, boy, you’re in for a treat.
It’s possible to get to the Dakeng trails by bus, but you should have a taxi number on hand, just in case, so you don’t get stranded on the mountainside. Check out my post on the trails for more information.
4. And, of course, Alishan!
So now that we’ve gotten the obvious out of the way…
5. How about riding a historic railway, called Jiji railine, where a hop-on-hop-off ticked of 90 NTD will allow you to see monkeys…
…and an old, mountainous logging town called Checheng.
6. Old railways not your thing? How about two other historic towns? Changhua and Lugang? I’ll let the pictures do the talking here.
7. Guanziling has got you covered hot-springs wise.
I recommend renting a scooter for this day-trip, but if you can’t scooter out here, there are buses too. This cool blogger has got a good post explaining the bus schedule.
There’s a lot to see in Guanziling, including a weird fire-water formation and the sick hot springs, of course. I went to King’s Garden Villa, which the internet seems unanimously to have decided is the best hot springs hotel in the area. They allow day visitors access to the hot springs for a couple hundred TND.
There are also some really interesting temples…
…and they have the best chicken I have ever had in my life. I kid you not! Find a restaurant somewhere along the road, they serve the chicken cooked in massive clay pots, and my God, it’s good.
8. Along the same lines as Guanziling there’s a crazy destination only reachable by scooter or car.
There are quite a few waterfalls outside Chiayi, but the only one I had the pleasure of visiting was the Thousand Step Waterfall, or Fenghuang Waterfall, and it was incredible. There are quite a few posts around the internet about how to get here, and I think this one is particularly useful.
A word of caution about this destination, the road here was steep and winding with quite a few speeding cars on it, so only go if you’re an experienced biker/driver.
9. And for all your port town fun, there’s Budai.
Unfortunately, buses for this area are tricky. It’s best if you can rent a car or get a driver. It’s possible to do on scooter as well (I have a friend who did it, haha) but it’s pretty far to be on the back of a scooter.
However, even though it’s tricky, it’s got some good stuff, such as fish markets, bird sanctuaries, and pretty parks and boardwalks.
Oh yeah, and this weird thing, haha.
10. Plus there’s Douliu.
A cute little town with some old Japanese architecture and nice little cafes and restaurants.
It’s just a short train ride away. It’ll cost you less than 50 TND, I believe. Here’s a more in-depth post on it.
11. And there’s Doulan
For stinky tofu that changed my mind on the subject of stinky foods, get off the train a few stops before Douliu and chow down. It’s easy to find the restaurant by just following your nose.
12. And don’t forget Minxiong.
It hasn’t got a lot going on, but this town gets crazy during Ghost Month, so if you’re in the area during August, do yourself a favor and check it out.
They also have the Minxiong ghost house, only reachable via scooter, taxi, or long walk (the last isn’t really recommended).
They’ve got some good food here too, like goose, so bring some friends and chow down. It’ll cost you less than 15 TND to get here via train.
13. Chung Cheng University
If you want to see a really gorgeous university campus with some bizarre but great architecture, you can catch a few buses from Chiayi, rent a scooter, or catch a train to Minxiong and the taxi to the university should be cheap from there.
Chung Cheng has some fun activities like fairs and concerts throughout the year, so check around online for a schedule of what to do.
Check out the plum blossoms if you arrive at the right time, and if not, then just go for a casual stroll on the surprisingly walkable mountainside for some fresh air. Catch bus number 7304, 7315 and 7323 from Chiayi to Meishan.
15. Taiping Suspension Bridge
You can get to this pretty bridge and surrounding town via a bus from Meishan, so ride a bus to Meishan and catch another from the same bus station up into the mountains for some gorgeous views.
If you’ve got any other suggestions, let me know! I’m not living in Chiayi anymore, but I had a blast exploring and plan to go back someday. I’d love to start my new to-do list now.