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Overview

Taiwanese history begins in the south, and the successive waves of Chinese, Dutch, Qing Dynasty, and Japanese rule have left the region with an impressive legacy of historical sites. Tainan's temples are richly adorned with hand carved pillars, paintings, and wall relief, and still buzz with the offerings, prayers and prostrations of local worshipers. During festivals in honor of temple gods, locals can be seen to go into trance, walk on firecrackers, and speak in tongues. The Yenshui Fireworks Festival is a world-class cultural event: just note that you don't go here to watch fireworks but to have them blasted at you! Also world class is ...

Taiwanese history begins in the south, and the successive waves of Chinese, Dutch, Qing Dynasty, and Japanese rule have left the region with an impressive legacy of historical sites. Tainan's temples are richly adorned with hand carved pillars, paintings, and wall relief, and still buzz with the offerings, prayers and prostrations of local worshipers. During festivals in honor of temple gods, locals can be seen to go into trance, walk on firecrackers, and speak in tongues. The Yenshui Fireworks Festival is a world-class cultural event: just note that you don't go here to watch fireworks but to have them blasted at you! Also world class is the ecological importance of the purple butterfly valley in Maolin. This mass butterfly wintering valley has recently been declared the equal of Mexico's Monarch Butterfly Valley. Southern Taiwan is largely rural and there are endless backcountry roads to explore on a bicycle or motorcycle. Mountain bikers should head for the forestry roads or the South Cross-Island Highway, a classic high mountain route. Hikers will also find the highway is the start of numerous multi-day high mountain trails. Southern Taiwan abounds in high quality hot springs, both natural and developed. Some of the best are found on the South Cross Island Highway, but fans should make the trip to Guanziling as well to soak in the rare mud springs.

Robert Kelly
About the Expert

Robert Kelly is the two-time author of the Lonely Planet Taiwan guide, and coauthor of Tibet and China. He has lived in Taiwan for the past 12 years.

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Robert Kelly for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Fall, winter, spring for hiking/biking; fall-winter for butterfly migration; Lantern Festival; Dragon Boat Festival