Beigang - what to see, how to get there

To all my well traveled Forumosans, I hereby present two questions:

  1. I got a friend who wants to go to Beigang. Aside from the Matsu temple, is there anything else there to see/do? We are planning a day trip…

2…which brings me to the second inquiry. I guess we should get on the HSR to Chiayi and then catch some kind of bus from there. Then back. Hope it can be done in a day. Doable? Any other recommended way? No driver’s license, sorry.

Much appreciative for any tips.

EDIT:
Considering the Chiayi route, there is normal rail, so added transportation time… :s

hours later still no reply. Looks like there isnt a whole lot there? Iv been in Taiwan a long time and I dont recall ever having been in beigang. Have heard of it though as part of something funny - how
Beigang (north port) is in South Taiwan and Nankang (south port) is in North Taiwan.

I used to live near there. Unless they’ve finally finished the renovations, even the temple isn’t worth the trip. The place is horrid, and has a dirty, almost malevolent vibe. That is obviously my VERY biased opinion. The only other thing worth checking out is the pedestrian bridge. The bridge with the lanterns can be pretty at night, too. You’ll need a couple of hours at most, if you walk REALLY slowly. HSR to Jiayi (Taibao) is probably the easiest way to get there. If you’re taking a cab back, go to any bus station and the taxi drivers will swarm you like vermin. Then, if you’re religious, pray. If your friend is new to Taiwan, s/he should look up some Mandarin for HSR; the taxi drivers aren’t likely to know it.

Don’t go.

Sorry, a bit flippant. If your friend really wants to go take the HSR as nemesis said. Taxi from the HSR station takes around 10-15 minutes. There’s another building adjacent to the Mazu temple which has a museum of sorts and a big statue of Mazu on the top. Walk down the main street down from the temple to the bridge nemesis mentioned. Lots of snack vendors. The side streets are kind of nice to walk around. Across the river there are fewer tourists and a couple more temples if you turn left.

The local government have been pushing tourism so there is a ‘local cuisine’ walk you can go on. One of the the locals will probably give you a brochure about this when you are walking around (assuming you’re western looking). Peanuts, wedding cake, sesame oil, and duck rice are the specialities if I remember correctly. Duck rice is a lot better than Jiayi turkey rice, but that’s not difficult.

There are no pubs or decent restaurants. A lot of the locals have developed a ‘sell to the punters’ mentality which probably explains the use of the word ‘malevolent’. I didn’t think it was that bad, but I only have to stay there for a few days once a year! I cannot imagine having to live there, it must have been hell.

Well, my friend is Taiwanese and she’s one of those people we call in Spanish rata de Iglesia. Basically, she goes from temple to temple…

I am basically getting pics of the temple itself. Thanks for the encouragement.

Yep, got the link to HSR, then links to nowhere to the bus company’s schedules. Had to call to make sure.

Gosh, website designers here suck big time… HSR to TRA to tourist board to … well everyone involved.

To make matters worse, I am running a bit low on cash flow (India, incredible India shopping… sigh) but my friend says “oh, it is the country side, it is cheap…”

The bus from HSR to Beigan is 350nts. Sigh

I have a certain feeling about this but I am already set to go. Wish me luck.

Beigang is so much nicer in pictures than in reality.

Beigang is considered by art experts one of the top five temples in Taiwan for stone and wood carving. Obviously you know it’s considered one of the first Mazu Temples in the country.

Not terribly far from Beigang (about as far as Beigang is from the HSR) is the new Bao Gong temple in Santiaoluan, Yunlin County (right on the coast). They spent the last 13 years and billions of NT to rebuild. It is quite a site and sight as I have posted elsewhere: almost every corner is covered in relief, there are more than a dozen elaborately carved columns, and the inner altar is 8 stories high; it’s the tallest wood framed structure in Taiwan. The original annex in the back also features some gorgeous carved pillars and ceiling relief.

It’s just opening its doors on Saturday at 10am so there should be lots of activities. Certainly it will be flooded with pilgrims and worshippers.

Maybe take a taxi there, though there should also be buses from Beigang. You can catch a direct bus back to Taipei from outside the temple (or just down the road in the village) from what the locals told me.

BTW, if you don’t know, always call the 24-hour tourism hotline for bus info. They go on the computers and do all the work for you. In English.

0800 011 765

That surely is the price from Taipei to Beigang by direct bus. There are a few every from Taipei’s new bus station, UBus being the company if I remember rightly.

If you do go, spend time at the Yimin Temple. For my money it’s much nicer than the Mazu temple:

chinapost.com.tw/travel/taiw … temple.htm

The food is pretty poor in Beigang, it has to be said.

Poor food, indeed.

Great bit of history and trivia in that article, Steve. Like how it is connected to the Lin Shuang-wen rebellion. Fascinating part of Taiwan’s history.

[quote=“Mucha Man”]Beigang is considered by art experts one of the top five temples in Taiwan for stone and wood carving. Obviously you know it’s considered one of the first Mazu Temples in the country.

Not terribly far from Beigang (about as far as Beigang is from the HSR) is the new Bao Gong temple in Santiaoluan, Yunlin County (right on the coast). They spent the last 13 years and billions of NT to rebuild. It is quite a site and sight as I have posted elsewhere: almost every corner is covered in relief, there are more than a dozen elaborately carved columns, and the inner altar is 8 stories high; it’s the tallest wood framed structure in Taiwan. The original annex in the back also features some gorgeous carved pillars and ceiling relief.

It’s just opening its doors on Saturday at 10am so there should be lots of activities. Certainly it will be flooded with pilgrims and worshippers.

Maybe take a taxi there, though there should also be buses from Beigang. You can catch a direct bus back to Taipei from outside the temple (or just down the road in the village) from what the locals told me.

BTW, if you don’t know, always call the 24-hour tourism hotline for bus info. They go on the computers and do all the work for you. In English.

0800 011 765[/quote]

Thanks for the number, MM. As a long time resident, I tend to assume things do not exist in English. :blush:

And the temple info, sounds cool. :notworthy:

That surely is the price from Taipei to Beigang by direct bus. There are a few every from Taipei’s new bus station, UBus being the company if I remember rightly.

If you do go, spend time at the Yimin Temple. For my money it’s much nicer than the Mazu temple:

chinapost.com.tw/travel/taiw … temple.htm

The food is pretty poor in Beigang, it has to be said.[/quote]

I really hope I’m wrong. Plan is taking the HSR to Chiayi, -like at 6am :s - then the bus from there. One every hour, at the quater, like 1:15, 2:15, etc…

Should be OK. I’ll fix a couple of sandwiches in case push comes to shove, but in their tourist website I saw a big advertisement for rou yuen. I love those things. :lick:

As long as there are 7-11s, I won’t starve.

So Icon, did you go? I just got back from touring temples on the SE Coast, concluding with a visit to Beigang’s Chao Tian Gong (Mazu temple) and it’s rival Mazu in nearby Xigang.

Found Beigang much improved from years ago. Fairly ordering and cleanish: not much trash around but the road to the temple was stained nastily. The row of shops leading to the temple have been cleaned up and most of them are surprising quite nice looking (Japanese era?) though they of course have covered them with signs. Oh and they’ve even built a nice bike path on the dikes along the river. But still overall a bit nasty and grim though the tipping point to a liveable pleasant place wouldn’t be that hard to reach.

Temple has been renovated but not all the work is very tasteful. It’s not that glaringly obvious (and given most westerners think Wenwu temple at Sun Moon lake is great, I doubt most would notice at all) but I was looking carefully. Still an impressive amount of beautiful carvings on the brackets, painting on the beams, and stone work. Cheap work or coloring on the roof tiles (the very back wall and swallowtail eave roof was not restored and looks best imo) and not good quality work on replacing the ceramic pieces on the rooftop figurines.

The temple is impressive though architecturally. So open and spacious for a temple. More like a house or palace. But that also means the noise from outside gets in and it doesn’t feel like a santuary from the outside world the way many others do.

I enjoyed the Xigang Mazu temple maybe a bit more. Kinder feel to it, and they nicely had English explanations of the temple history, structure and the various gods you see indoors.

I went to the Yimin temple and am not sure how Steve could have found it better than the Mazu. Smaller, architecturally not that interesting except maybe the roof and front gate, and very little good carving or painting.

All this said, I really wouldn’t make a special trip to Beigang unless I had a deep interest in Mazu, or I was going during Mazu’s birthday.

Also visited the Ciji temple in Tainan County today. The temple has a lot of koji ceramic figurines and tableaux from Master Ye Wang, the originator of the koji tradtion inTaiwan. Now that was a great little temple. Very fine expressive ceramic figurines, lots of local worshippers and a group of chanting lay nuns.

Yep, we did go. The HSR-shuttle thing was a breeze. There is one every hour so no problem coming and going.

The bus was 350 nt from Taipei, as previously stated. :blush: Shuttle was 35nts or something like that.

There is a free shuttle to Alishan from Chiayi HSR station, by the way. Must try that one soon.

We had a great time sampling the food. Some was really good -a white soupy thinghy, some to hua with feng yuan- some was not -the famous ro yuan.

I bought dried bananas -just like the ones back home- and caramelized sweet potato as souvenirs.

They are really gearing up for tourists. The maps and guides and signs were quite good for such a small place. So many stores, but not a lot of people. There is no lack of facilities. I really wish:

  1. they could take better care of the historical buildings. It was quite a letdown that the historical theater is now turned into a laundromat. :astonished:

  2. there were more enphasis on visits to local oil factories. We went to this centenial one, and it was for me the highlight of the afternoon. If they mixed that with a specialities restaurant, they’ll be making a bundle.

I did noticed the renovation fails, but overall, the temple, especially the top Mazu statue -the one on the rooftop-, was much to my liking.

In Tainan County Xigang or Chiayi County Xingang?

Confirmation of this would interest me very much, as I was told just a few days ago that there’s no direct bus of any kind between Jiayi HSR Station and Alishan, that you have to first take a bus to downtown Jiayi and then a regular Jiayi-Alishan bus.

When I was there, the bus was there. there was a stop and proper schedule on that fancy bus station they have there at the HSR. I don’t know though, if it was just for after the typhoon, though it looked pretty permanent to me.

Still, no guarantees, as everything in life. :smiley: