Zinan Temple

Top choice in Nantou County

Dedicated to the Earth God, the carnivalesque Zinan Temple celebrates entrepreneurship and is perpetually busy, as is the marketplace that has grown around it. The temple teems with fortune-tellers and vendors of charms and votive offerings. There's a bizarre chicken statue with a hole that believers are supposed to pass through (front to end) for good fortune. There's another (bronze) chicken you can pet for luck – beak for wealth, breast for peace and prosperity, wings for a good spouse.

Devotees come to Zinan Temple not only to pray for prosperity, but to borrow money – the temple is a famed moneylender. Taiwanese with proper ID can take out a loan of up to NT$600 that is supposed to bring luck if invested in business. You don't need to pay back, but apparently many borrowers do, and locals will tell you stories of those who struck gold with the loan returning astronomical amounts as a show of gratitude.

The other highlight at the temple is the public toilet. It's shaped like silver bamboo shoots and features a skylight, fake flower arrangements, and stalls lined up like VIP dining rooms in Chinese restaurants.

If you're driving, exit Expressway No. 3 to the Zhushan Interchange (竹山交流道) near the Km243 mark, then turn left passing a hospital (竹山秀傳醫院). You'll soon see a sign for the temple. Turn right and after passing a 7-Eleven store, go on for 3km. You'll soon see Sheliao Police Station (社寮警察局) on your left. Turn left and drive for 200ft and you're there.

From 8.40am to 4.40pm daily, there's a free hourly shuttle bus that takes passengers to the temple from Zhushan Interchange (竹山交流道). Wait for the shuttle at the guard station inside Chelungpu Fault Preservation Education Park ( 車壟埔斷層教育園區內). The same bus takes you back from near the stage (戲臺旁) of the temple.

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