Tainan Taiwan – Tainan, a city that emits seaside charm, historical beauty, and modern hipster vibes is as stunning as it is full of surprises. From chic cafes to ancient heritage sites, this is the place to go when you just want to explore – explore – explore.
Whilst education is usually not high on the priority when travelling, you’ll be pleasantly astounded by the information you gain simply by walking around and taking in the sights in Tainan. Whilst the nightlife and city hustle bustle here leaves a lot to be desired (so if you’re a night crawler, this may not be for you), this city stuns in every other way. If you’ve got a few days to spare, hit up Tainan!
How To Get There
Tainan sits along the west coast close to Kaohsiung City, making it very easy to travel to. However, for those wanting to visit from Taipei City, there are options for you as well.
Take the High Speed Rail from Zuoying Station to Tainan Station (15-minutes). Otherwise, you can catch a regular train from Kaohsiung Railway Station to Tainan Station (40-50 minutes).
Take the High Speed Rail from Taipei Main Station to Tainan Station (105 minutes). Otherwise you can catch a regular train from Taipei Main Station to Tainan Railway Station (4-6 hours).
Tainan Taiwan Guesthouse – Chung Fu Inn
Low cost, convenient location, clean, comfortable, cosy. Chung Fu Inn is exactly what you’d expect from a guesthouse, and yet it’ll seem as though they give a lot more. Located within walking distance to many popular tourist’s sites, you can be sure that you’ll get all the assistance you need to explore the area properly via the tour desk operating within the guesthouse. For a no frills stay, you can rest in the quaint main lobby, however, there are suites that provide you with all the space you need to eat, sleep and rest in your own private quarters. At the very least, all rooms come with a flat-screen TV and private bathroom.
Why Guests Love It: “My girlfriend and I both thought the property was very clean and comfortable. It was nicely located about a 10-minute drive from most attractions. Most importantly, the staff were incredibly nice and helpful.”, “The room was stylish and comfortable. Staff was prompt in meeting our requests (even though our room was separately located from the rest of the rooms) and helpful in providing directions. There is also a 7-11 nearby”.
Book It Now: Chung Fu Inn
Tainan Taiwan Hotel – Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan
Luxury and comfort have made a love child and it comes in the form of this impeccable Shangri-La hotel. Located in the downtown district, only two-minutes away from Tainan Railway Station, it’s an accommodation fit for a king. With all the amenities that you could ever ask for (including a massive outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, four different onsite cuisines, and even a pillow menu), you’d be hard-pressed to even want to leave this palace to explore the wider city. All rooms have been furnished exquisitely and everything is in mint condition.
Why Guests Love It: “Stunning pool – really awesome and it’s open very late! Super good selection at breakfast. Comfortable beds.”, “The meals in the café had extraordinary variety and quality with a breakfast buffet that defied belief. But more than that, what we appreciated was the great attitude of the staff. The ground floor bar was also an excellent place for a drink and snacks with cordial service. While everything was great…the staff were even better than that!”.
Book It Now: Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel
What to Eat in Tainan
Oysters – they’re a staple to the Taiwanese diet, but Tainan City thrives off the seafood that comes from its coast so you can bet that any shell you lay your lips on will be incredibly fresh. To this point, you should probably make the most of it and eat anything and everything oyster here: fresh, grilled, pancakes, even soup.
Tainan Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls – this is quite the delicacy here! Seen at many restaurants and night food markets, the shrimp rolls have made their mark in the culinary scene of Tainan. Fresh shrimps mixed with sticky rice, rolled in pastry and deep-fried. As you can imagine, they’re simply amazing.
Shrimp Crackers – If you visit Anping Old Street (and we mention this later), there are street vendors flinging out shrimp crackers like no tomorrow. These are a must try in Tainan!
Milk Fish Belly Soup – this delicacy can be found almost everything in Tainan, but if you’re after a simple, no-frills version, head to the night markets and find vendors slinging these out like clay dishes. It’s made of milkfish and does contain bones, however, the smell and fresh is not too ‘fresh ocean’. It’s usually got fried green onion and garlic.
Things To Do in Tainan Taiwan #1 – Anping Old Street
If you love aimlessly perusing busy streets that offer anything from tiny electronic fans which you hang around your neck to freshly grilled quail egg takoyaki balls, then Anping Old Street should be your first stop. Stretches of roads that wind through the city, offering stalls and stalls of food and entertainment and souvenirs – you’ll have a grand time. Set aside maybe 1-2 hours and an empty belly to walk around and sample the wares of the area, because there is a lot to try.
We recommend stopping by the prawn crackers shop at the intersection where you’ll find employees popping off fresh crackers like they were born to do it. Grab a bag and munch on them as you continue along the route. If you’re lucky, you might spot the crowd of youngers trying to learn how to skateboard from the famous local men, or see magic monkey do a performance. There are games that children can place such as pop the ball in the clown’s mouth, and, as always, fresh juice if you’re feeling a little parched. This is just a great street to explore.
Access: From Tainan Station, take either Bus 2, 88 or 99 and alight at Anping Old Fort.
Things To Do in Tainan Taiwan #2 – Anping Tree House
Search up pictures of Anping and you’ll most certainly come across pictures of the Tree House that almost defines the intricacies of the history of this city. What started off as a warehouse then became a base for salt company, after which it was abandoned sometime in the 1940s. From then on, a large banyan tree grounded its roots and eventually took over the entire property, stretching its branches all over the walls, roof, and floor. It’s quite a sight to behold. Nowadays, you can visit this once-thought-to-be-haunted house for free. It makes for a great place to take alluring pictures, and its unique disposition is something you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Access: You will be able to catch public transport here, but we highly recommend taking a taxi because it’s relatively inexpensive and much quicker. From Tainan Station, just let them know you’d like to visit Anping Tree House. It should be a 9-minute car ride.
Hours: 8:30am – 5:30pm
Things To Do in Tainan Taiwan #3 – Hayashi Department Store
Fondly referred to by locals as the “Five-Stories-House”, this department store in Tainan hails from all the way in 1932, and is the absolute oldest department store in all of Taiwan. If it’s some chic shopping experience you’re after, or if you’re looking for some unique souvenirs, or even if you just want to escape the heat in summer and are looking for a nice cool place to amble around that’s both relaxing and exciting, then head here for a few hours. From stylish local designer brands to local delicacies, delicate trinkets to traditional desserts, this place is surprisingly well-stocked and more fun than you can imagine. Retaining most of the old-school Japanese Colonial Era décor and charm, you’ll be fascinated the moment you lay eyes inside the store.
Access: From Tainan Railway Station, take the Red line towards Anping Industrial Park, and alight at Hayashi Department Store.
Hours: 11:00am – 9:00pm
Things To Do in Tainan Taiwan #4 – Fairy Lake Leisure Farm
Taiwan and infinity pools – a highly unlikely match made in heaven, but not completely unrealistic. If you want to experience something truly spectacular and unique, head over to the Fairy Lake Leisure Farm for an overnight stay, and completely relax in the countryside whilst participating in leisurely activities such as farm tours, coffee appreciation tours, and ‘ang ku kueh’ (red tortoise cake) making classes. Whilst you do the farm tours, keep an eye out for lychees, coffee beans, and even longans (depending on what season you’re visiting). Whilst this is all fun, the true star of the show is the infinity pool that overlooks the surrounded mountains ranges and farms. Being this high up, the mist and fog that almost always accompany the mountains makes for a surreal sight, especially if you’re soaking in the cool water with nothing but silence (or maybe birds chirping away) as your companion. If you’re game enough, wake up early and head here to watch the sunrise – truly spectacular.
Access: From Tainan City, it is a 60-minute drive.
Book here: Fairy Lake Leisure Farm
Things To Do in Tainan Taiwan #5 – Jingzaijiao Tile-paved Salt Fields
This may seem like an incredibly random activity to do, but if you’re the type to appreciate all elements of culture, then pay this place a visit. Whilst these days, it may be filled with more tourists visiting than actual salt farmers, it’s still quite a sight to behold. Located within the Beimen District, this sight shows how salt is mined from evaporation ponds. Once you get there, you can snap a few pictures, but the real fun starts when you actually hop on over to one of the fields (you’re allowed to, just make sure you’re wearing proper shoes) and can practice mining with the brooms and equipment left there. There’s even an area where you can dig some salt and take it home with you as a souvenir. This place caters for tourists, so you’ll find food stalls and toilets around. Stick around for the sunset because it’s one of the best in the area.
Access: If you’re taking public transport, you will need to take the Blue bus line from Tainan Train Station to Jiali. At Jiali, wait for the Blue 2 line to Nan Kun Shen. If you’re driving, it is only 45-60 minutes from the city.
Hours: 9:00am – 5:30pm
Things To Do in Tainan Taiwan #6 – Dadong Night Market
Dadong Night Market definitely deserves a shout out. As one of the biggest night markets in all of Tainan, it’s everything you dream a Taiwanese night market is. It’s basically a foodie’s galore (as are most food markets in Taiwan) but you can never really compare one oyster pancake from southern Taiwan to another in Northern Taiwan because they’re not all one and the same – the simplicities and complexities of each traditional Taiwanese street dish are taken on by each vendor and spun into their own tale – thus, theoretically you may be just having an oyster omelette, but it’s Dadong Night Market’s oyster omelette. Some special mentions include the deep fried sweet potato balls, jianbing, fried cuttlefish, and papaya milk. We can rave on about the food here all day long, but you get the gist. After some souvenirs or random gadgets? If you have time to explore the entire market, you’ll see that they not only serve delicious food, but it’s also an electronics, accessories and clothing galore.
Access: From Tainan Station, it is either a 25-minute walk, or you can catch a taxi which will take 8-minutes.
Hours: Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays from 6:00pm – 12:00am
Things To Do in Tainan Taiwan #7 – Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
This 100-hectare Buddhist site is, well, quite a sight to behold. The first thing you notice when you get here are the asymmetric pagodas that line the main grounds. They play a role in almost all visitors’ pictures because they’re so absolutely stunning. Visit during sunset and it’ll actually take your breath away. It was established in 2011, and its aim was to provide prosperity of all visitors. If you’re a culture buff and enjoy places where you can really immerse yourself and learn as you explore, this is a great place to be. There are restaurants and cafes if you want to take a rest, and believe it or not, there’s even a Starbucks onsite if you’re craving that caffeine hit.
Access: From Tainan, the easiest way to get there would be by rental car or taxi. The ride itself will take approximately 1 hour.
Hours: Monday – Friday (closed Tuesdays): 9:00am – 7:00pm, Saturday – Sunday: 9:00am – 8:00pm
Cost: Free for the public grounds.
Things To Do in Tainan Taiwan #8 – Chihkan Towers (Fort Provintia)
History buffs, this one’s for you; but also, if you’re after a short but sweet activity where you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in a time a little, this is one’s also for you. Actually, to be honest, this fort is one that everyone will feel fascinated to see. Originally built in the 17th century by Dutch colonists, this tower’s foundation is the only thing left that’s original. Over the years, the wear and tear has been replaced multiple times, however, its stark ancient structural beauty is still its most captivating feature. Almost all visitors here have been pleasantly surprised – it’s a great place to quietly spend 1-2 hours roaming around, and there is even entertainment here on the weekends.
Access: From Tainan Train Station, take Bus 17 towards Chihkan Tower.
Hours: 8:30am – 9:30pm
Cost: $50 NT (1.5USD)
From the outside, Tainan may look like any other city in Taiwan with its food markets and numerous shopfronts and abundance of cafes and restaurants, but if you have the time and truly invest in exploring this underrated coastal city, you’ll understand why the locals have been keeping it a secret for so long. Nowadays, more and more foreigners are making their way through this humble region, so you should get in quick before it becomes a major tourist hub (and no doubt it will!).
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