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The southern city of Kaohsiung (高雄; Gāoxióng) is Taiwan's largest port, its second-largest city and centre of the country's heavy and petrochemical industries.
You’ll almost certainly receive looks of jealousy from any Taiwanese person if you mention you’re going to Tainan (台南), and it’s not hard to see why. Traditional culture continues to thrive in Tainan, the oldest city in the country.
Oddly, Taiwan's poorest county has some of the country's best beaches, most fertile farmland, richest fish stocks and balmiest weather.
Kenting National Park (Kěndīng Guójiā Gōngyuán) attracted massive attention first as one of the settings for Taiwanese director Wei Te-sheng’s hit movie Cape No. 7 in 2008, and later for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi in 2012.
In 1736 the intrepid Lin brothers led the first Hakka immigrants to settle the plains of Meinong (Měinóng). While the Hakka make up about 14% of the population of Taiwan, in Meinong the percentage today is around 95%.
A massive temple complex, Foguangshan is about a 50-minute drive from Kaohsiung. The complex consists of a monastery, a meditation centre and a new museum. It's considered the centre of Buddhism in southern Taiwan.
The drawcard of the mountainous recreation area is the Purple Butterfly Valley, one of 15 overwintering sites that stretch across southern Taiwan from Maolin to Dawu in Taitung.
This small aboriginal community (Sāndìmén), 30km east of Pingtung, is a stronghold of the Rukai and Paiwan aboriginal tribes. The region was lashed by Typhoon Morakot in 2009 and, today, traces of rockslides remain obvious.
This pretty coral island (Hsiao Liuchiu Island, Xiǎo Liúqiú) offers sea vistas, convoluted caves, sandy beaches, odd rock formations and temples to keep you happy for a long, long day. Best of all, it's simple to get to and to get around.
Only three places in the world can lay claim to having mud hot springs, and Guanziling (Kuanziling; 關子嶺), in hilly northern Tainan, is one of them.
The Guanziling area is essentially one long dip off County Rd 172 on leafy Township Rd 96.
Houbi (Hòubì), 50km north of Tainan, has been regarded as the 'granary of Taiwan' because of the excellent quality of grains it produces. To visitors, the miles of farmland mean there are easy cycling opportunities and it makes a good day-trip option from Tainan or Chiayi.
During the Qing dynasty, Donggang (Tungkang) was one of three main commercial ports in Taiwan, the landing site for the ancestors of millions of modern Taiwanese (in particular the Hakka), and a rather prosperous little town.
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