With AirAsia offering the Kuala Lumpur-Kaohsiung route 3x weekly with direct flights, the world, especially Malaysia, now seems closer to the southern-western Taiwan region that is home to Kaohsiung, Chiayi and Tainan. In the previous post, we have shared a quick guide on how to do Kaohsiung in a limited time. But this time around, we slowed down our pace and expanded our reach to discover more interesting places in two latter municipalities.
Long Yun Leisure Farm
Travellers get to experience refreshing sceneries and activities facilitated by Long Yun’s pristine natural surroundings. Mornings start with a walk in the woods to familiarise with the herbs that grow in the wild. It would then be followed by a bamboo craft-making class. Travellers who are big fans of mochi (pounded sticky rice) should try their hands on making this delicious chewy snack themselves. Travellers can also help themselves to another traditional Taiwanese tasty treat, Awkeotsang Jelly, made from Aiyu seeds served with honey or fruity syrup in various flavours. Evenings at the leisure farm are relaxing and sociable, with farm workers and guests chatting with each other after a long day. The days in Long Yun Leisure Farm feel luxuriously extended and unhurried. There is also a Muslim-friendly restaurant available.
Recommended for: Those who seek space, serenity and solitude.
It costs NT$6,500 per night if traveller intend to spend the night here
Fenchihu Train Station
Hop onto the train to enjoy scenic train ride using the Alishan Forest Railway, built by the Japanese at the end of the 19th century to transport logs down the mountain from the dense cypress forests, and now one of only three remaining mountain railways in the world. There is also a locomotive museum here housing early steam locomotive and old memorabilia to transport visitors back to the past through a time tunnel.
Cypress Forestry Life Village (Hinoki Village)
Travellers are advised to walk here from Peimen Station, which is the last stop for Alishan Forest Railway. Hinoki Village used to be a dormitory for labourers of the Alishan Forest Railway. Today, this village – which spans over three hectares – is home to the nation’s largest remaining cluster of cypress-wood buildings that house quirky souvenir shops, mini galleria and art workshops – a charming sight for those who value Japanese traditional architecture. Since it exudes a hip atmosphere that swoon young hearts, Hinoki Village is a local and international tourist magnet. Children come here after school for a quick popsicle treat under the scorching hot sun and couples take a stroll during windy days along pretty roads. Despite the huge flocks of tourists, Hinoki Village somehow manages to keep its personal character intact. Interestingly, this village used to be a filming location for an award-winning Taiwanese film, Kano, a story about a multiracial baseball team during Japanese occupation. Fans and non-fans alike can now watch the movie and learn about it in a special galleria, built to commemorate the film.
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Old Tait & Co Merchant House
This white-washed house is known today for its grand colonial style architecture that remain in Taiwan. It has a main stairway in the centre and an arcade adorned with green glazed ceramic decorations, a Chinese element that is cleverly infused with western style. In 1981, the government transformed the house into ‘Taiwan Reclamation of History Wax Museum’.
Operating Hours: Opens every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Entrance Fee: NT$ 50 per adult
The ticket to the Old Tait & Co Merchant House also grants entrance to the Anping Tree house located just behind the merchant house, a place where visitors can awe the sight of a huge house become overwhelmed by the trunks and vines of a majestic banyan tree due to lengthy abandonment.
Anping Old Fort (originally called Fort Zeelandia)
The fort was built in 1624 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) during Dutch colonisation of Taiwan. It acted as the main trading hub in East Asia at that time due to its strategic location. Ships departed from here would head north to Japan, west to Fujian, or south to Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Iran or Europe. However, in 1661, Koxinga of Ming Dynasty laid siege to the fortress with 400 warships and 25,000 men. It was a dead end for the Dutch. Fresh water ran short and the Dutch started to lose people. Thus, on 1 February 1662, the Koxinga-Dutch Treaty was made between Koxinga and Frederick Coyett (the then Dutch governor) that allowed the Dutch to withdraw without harm as long as they surrendered the fort and left all VOC’s goods behind. Fort Zeelandia was then reconstructed and given a new name, Anping Fort.
Operating Hours: Open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Entrance fee: NT$50 per adult
Ten Drum Culture Village
Located at Tainan’s outskirts is perhaps the most fascinating attraction in the municipality. It is the first drum-themed international art village in Asia managed by the Grammy-nominated Ten Drum Art Percussion Group. The place serves as a platform to showcase Ten Drum’s creations while preserving the history of the venue, which was the former Rende Sugar Refinery. Today, all 16 warehouses are transformed into fully functioning spaces including an introduction hall, a drum museum, a drumming experience room, a Ten Drum Restaurant, a mini-theatre, outdoor theatres and a cafe. Travellers who are keen to learn some basic drumming skills can do so here. We had fun watching the world-class performance by the members of Ten Drum Art Percussion Group. There are lighting and dry-ice effects across the stage when the members perform the energetic routines. It is said that Ten Drum performers must be capable of striking 150 to 180 beats per minute for several minutes at a time – that’s insane!
Operating Hours: Opens daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Entrance Fee: NT$ 300 per adult
Where we stay
Besides offering comfortable rooms, these hotels also serve halal-certified menu for the convenience of Muslim travellers:
- Maison de Chine, Chiayi
- Nice Prince Hotel, Chiayi
- Wei-Yat Grand Hotel, Tainan
- Tayih Landis Hotel, Tainan
Gaya Travel Magazine extends our heartfelt gratitude to Taiwan Tourism Bureau and AirAsia for making the writer’s trip to Kaohsiung, Chiayi and Tainan possible.