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[A Day in the Big City] Nostalgic Surprises

Taking in the Distinctive Charms of Chiayi
Text and Photos: Vision

Made prosperous because of its role as the starting point of the Alishan Forest Railway, Chiayi City is one of the oldest cities in Taiwan and, as such, has quite a few historic sites and time-honored shops that offer much of interest to tourists. Below, we take you down the lanes and alleys of Chiayi in search of its distinctive local culture and stores with an old-time feel, experiencing the historical and cultural charms of this city at the foot of the Alishan Mountain Range.

Chiayi Cultural and Creative Industries Park (嘉義文化創意產業園區)
This complex, at the site of a distillery established by the Japanese in 1916, is the oldest of five heritage distilleries that have been transformed into cultural-creative industry parks in Taiwan. The factory equipment has been preserved more completely here than at any of the other complexes. Notably, this was the first facility on the island to produce sorghum liquor. The park’s Traditional Arts Innovation Center was established in 2016; traditional-crafts experts, visual artists, and performing-arts exponents have set up shop in the center, developing an aesthetic space with distinctive local character.
Add: No. 616, Zhongshan Rd., West Dist., Chiayi City
Tel: +886-5-216-0500
Hours: 10am ~ 6pm

ChanYee Book Town (承億小鎮慢讀)
ChanYeeBookTown was originally a conventional bookstore that operated for 25 years; now, it has now been transformed into an integrated bookstore. The first floor has an indoor “house” in which customers can sit and quietly read the books of their choice; the second floor houses a cultural-creative product market with more than 30 Made in Taiwan brands on display and available for purchase. Long Light on the third floor is a bar where you can relax and enjoy a drink. The fourth floor is a lecture space where authors and performing artists periodically give lectures.
Add: No. 203, Zhongshan Rd., East Dist., Chiayi City
Hours: Weekdays 10:30am ~ 9:30pm, weekends 10am ~ 10pm

Dai Shi Turkey Rice (呆獅雞肉飯)
A must-eat local delicacy, turkey rice originated with US servicemen stationed in Chiayi after WWII, who introduced turkey breeding to the locals. Dai Shi Turkey Rice is an eatery that has been pulling in customers with tempting aromas for more than 50 years, and is the first choice for snack food among many locals. The tender, sweet turkey strips don’t stick together and, combined with a tasty sauce and white rice, form a dish that is delicious and not in the slightest bit greasy.
Add: No. 665, Minzu Rd., West Dist., Chiayi City
Tel: +886-5-227-3051
Hours: 10am ~ 8:30pm

Hinoki Village (檜意森活村)
The buildings in this complex were part of the Chiayi Forestry Station’s operations in the Japanese colonial era (1895-1945). Logs transported down from the mountains on the Alishan Forest Railway were distributed from this station. The fact that the buildings were constructed from pricey cypress shows how prosperous Chiayi was at the time. The 28 Japanese-era dormitory buildings were reopened as Hinoki Village in 2014, with many local products and cultural-creative items offered for sale, making great souvenirs.
Add: No. 1, Linsen E. Rd., East Dist., Chiayi City

Taiwan Majolica Tiles House (台灣花磚古厝)
At Taiwan Majolica Tiles House, proprietor Hsu Chia-bin has preserved thousands of old majolica tiles and various pieces of attractive majolica-tile furniture that he has rescued from old houses across Taiwan over the past 30 years. The old cypress building itself has historical value, dating to the Japanese colonial era. It is located right next to the Alishan Forest Railway tracks. The combination of old house, old tiles, and the whistle of passing trains creates an ambience of rich nostalgic charm.
Add: No. 282, Linsen W. Rd., West Dist., Chiayi City
Tel: +886-979-060-750
Hours: Advance reservation necessary

where B.
Proprietor A-Meng has turned an inconspicuous old house on a narrow lane branching off Zhongzheng Road into a wine-tasting room that merges East and West, old and new. Filled with the fragrance of wine, where B. brims with white and red wines sourced from all over the world; there is also a rich collection of artworks A-Meng has created himself, as well as old heritage objects of deep character that he has collected from points all over. Bursting with artistic and nostalgia-inducing surprises, where B. has become the favorite “secret” hangout of many locals.
Add: No. 658, Zhongzheng Rd., West Dist., Chiayi City
Tel: +886-5-229-0533
Hours: Reservation in advance necessary.

Hotel Day+Teascape Chiayi (桃城茶樣子)
This Alishan-tea-themed hotel has an exterior that resembles stacked tea chests. The lobby counter has a full tea cabinet wall inspired by old-time tea stores. When guests check in, hotel staff considerately serves them tea. Guestrooms are also equipped with tea sets to allow guests to enjoy tea in their room and tea infusion is also available for bathing, giving visitors a taste of Chiayi’s distinctive tea culture.
Add: No. 516, Zhongxiao Rd., East Dist., Chiayi City
Tel: +886-5-228-0555

Tour Taiwan App in Chiayi
Using the Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s Tour Taiwan app makes traveling easier. Wherever you travel, the app provides real-time transport updates and information on nearby accommodation, shopping, and dining options, visitor service center locations, and much more, helping you to tour Chiayi without a hitch.