Attractions a. Southwest Coast National Scenic Area
Scope of the Southwest Coast NSA
The Southwest Coast National Scenic Area covers parts of Yunlin County, Chiayi County, and Tainan City.
The National Scenic Area lies in the Chianan Plain, covering the eight administrative areas of Sihu and Hukou in Yunlin, Dongshi and Budai in Chiayi, and Beimen, Jiangjun, Qigu, and Annan in Tainan.
Culture and Activities
Numerous activities are available to visitors touring the area. For example, tourists can rent a raft to appreciate the scenery of Waisanding Sandbar, enjoy the waves along the shore, search for clams hiding beneath the sand, or observe crabs scuttling back and forth. In Chiayi, in addition to the signature attraction—the Budai Wharf Tourist Fish Market--visitors can also enjoy festival activities at Jiaying Temple in Xinwen and Taisheng Temple in Haomeiliao. The most popular activity is the salt-harvesting experience at the Jingzaijiao Tile-Paved Salt Pans in Beimen, Tainan. Here, with guidance and explanations by the staff, tourists can experience first-hand the harvesting of sea salt from the salt pans while learning about the history of Beimen's local salt industry. This is a unique recreational activity you won't want to miss.
A popular attraction of the annual Salt of Peace Festival is cute little Salt of Peace sachets filled with pure Taiwan salt that has been blessed through a solemn ceremony. Visitors can fill their own sachets, which are believed to protect their bearers, and take them home as gifts for family and friends.
In contrast to the northern and eastern coastlines, which are characterized by steep cliffs and rugged mountains, the western coast of Taiwan is largely flat. The stretch of coast from Taipei in the north to Kaohsiung in the south is heavily industrialized, but there are a number of areas that serve as natural habitats for wildlife including migratory birds and other coastal dwellers. In order to protect these precious habitats and to create a recreational area for visitors at the same time, a new national scenic area was established in the end of 2003, which is administered by the ROC Tourism Bureau. The Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, which includes the coastal areas of Yunlin, Chiayi, and Tainan counties, is known for its sandbanks, marshes, river deltas, and wetlands, which are home to a large number of endemic bird species and serve as a resting place for many migratory birds during the winter. Besides its ecological value, this new scenic area also has a lot of other attractions, such as the traditional production of salt from seawater, the local fishing industry, old temples and other historic sites that make a trip worthwhile.
This temple, situated in Hanzailiao beside Provincial Highway 17 (the West Coast Expressway), has an appearance that is imposing indeed. It covers the mass graves of more than 3,000 people who were killed when typhoon-driven seawater inundated coastal settlements in Kouhu Township in 1845. Later on a lot of the local people migrated to the area of Singang, and Jinhu Wanshanye Temple was built there in 1957 as a "daughter temple" of the original. Wanshan Temple holds a "Leading the Water Banners" ceremony on the eighth day of the six lunar month each year; this is Taiwan's largest ritual related to water disaster, and as its date approaches tens of thousands of "water banners" crowd the ceremonial grounds and devotees in their thousands rub the banners as they pass by as a symbolic leading of the lost souls away from the bitter sea and into a new life. Another unique characteristic of the temple is its paintings. Unlike paintings in other temples, which are very similar in the subjects they portray, the walls of Wanshan Temple are covered with paintings of folk performance arrays in all of their wide diversity and rich fishing-village atmosphere. These paintings have become one of the temple's biggest attractions, depicting local history and serving as a medium for teaching young people about their native culture.