Tainan is a city that is located in the southwest of Taiwan. It was also the very first capital city in Taiwan during the Dutch rule period (1624-1662). Even today in Tainan there are still many historical buildings that contribute to the beauty of Tainan.

 

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tainan-map
 

How to get to Tainan ?

It is quite easy to travel to Tainan from other places in Taiwan. You can choose to travel by Taiwan High-Speed Rail (THSR) or Taiwan Railways to Tainan and if you have a limited travel budget, taking a coach is also an option.

RECOMMEND : Purchase THRS ticket + Car rental package

taiwan train
Photo by stellayuyuyu

Personally, I prefer to travel to Tainan with Taiwan Railways, because it is cheaper than the THRS and the Tainan Main Station is situated in a convenient location, which makes it is easier for visitors to get to and around Tainan.

  • THRS : Tainan Taiwan High Speed Rail Station
  • Taiwan Railways : Tainan Train Station
  • Coach : Tainan Main Coach Station (Close to Tainan train station)
 

How to travel around in Tainan?

Unlike transportations in Taipei or Kaohsiung, Tainan does not have any MRT system or Light-Rail transports. In fact, most cities or counties in Taiwan do not have public transport instead they have bikes or city buses. Since Tainan only has limited choices for public transport options to choose from, you may ask, how can you travel around?

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Some options are, renting a car or a scooter, renting a bicycle or taking a bus, you can also hire a private driver.

RECOMMEND : Rent your own vehicle, travel more easier

Before you consider renting a car or scooter, I need to tell you something. Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and the first developed city as well. Due to the city’s development history and different occuping countries’ policies over the years, the streets are quite narrow and many streets are one way streets. I personally do not recommend you to rent a car or scooter to travel within Tainan.

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However, traveling in Tainan with a bicycle or bus is not bad at all. Tainan is a slow-pace city and everyone is relatively relaxed compared with people in Taipei. The government of Tainan released a lot of city routes and buses in order to increase tourism in Tainan, so please do not be afraid of taking a bus to travel in Tainan.

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Traveling with a bicycle in Tainan is also a good idea, although you might need to be careful of traffic all the time since the streets are so narrow.

Tainan is a very old-fashioned city but it is not outdated, the young generation of artists love sharing their works there and combine their arts with old Tainan style and a lot of places are hidden in the alleys. You will find them only if you slow your pace down.

 

Why should you visit Tainan and what there is to see there?

Tainan is a city that is worth visiting because of its rich history and food.

Like I mentioned before, it was the first capital city of Taiwan and it developed over the years by the many countries that controlled it. Because of this long history, there are a lot of things to see and a lot of unique foods to try in Tainan.

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When you visit Tainan, I highly recommend trying the local food. Since Tainan was under the rules of many countries throughout history, the food is a mixture of all these cultures.

RECOMMEND : Traditional Market and Gourmet Experience in Tainan

The food in Tainan is sweeter than in northern Taiwan, but since I am from Kaohsiung (south Taiwan) I do not really feel that it is too sweet.

The most iconic food for Tainan is Ta-a noodles (Danzai noodles).

Read more : Travel Taiwan Guide | A Taiwanese girl telling you why

tainan-noddle
Photo by nnice on Flickr

This dish is about 130 years old. The dish can have different ingredients depending on the restaurant or street stall, however, usually, it comes in a small portion so people usually eat it as a snack.

Zeelandia/ Anping Old Fort

熱蘭遮城/安平古堡


The first stop is Anping Old Fort (the Dutch called it as Zeelandia). Anping Old Fort was a fortress and it was designed with an inner fort and an outer fort in order to protect from an attack.

tainan-city-chihkan-tower
Photo by Foxy Who \(^∀^)/ on Flickr

Anping Old Fort was built between 1624 to 1662 by the United Provinces of the Netherlands (Dutch East India Company=VOC) and during the 38 years of Dutch rule of Taiwan, Tainan was called Orange City.

tainan-city-chihkan-tower
Photo by 姜 明雄 on Flickr

During the Discovering period, 1622, VOC occupied Penghu County (a small island in the Taiwan Strait) and the year after they failed a trade war with Ming Military they decided to move to Formosa (Taiwan Island).

RECOMMEND : One Day Traditional Qipao Rental in Tainan

tainan-city-chihkan-tower
Photo by 姜 明雄 on Flickr

Formosa did not belong to any country, it was just an island. The only organized area was around the Taichung area, and was controlled by a few groups of Taiwanese aboriginals, a small kingdom called Koninkrijk Middag.

Nowadays, the Anping Old Fort we visit has changed over time by the many occupying countries.

tainan-city-chihkan-tower
Photo by 亨利 羅 on Flickr

The street in front of Anping Old Fort was the very first western-style street, now the street and the area around the Anping Old Fort became a famous street market, there are so many secret shops hidden in the alleys, waiting for you to discover them.

RECOMMEND : Tainan Classic Attractions Day Tour Deal

tainan-city-chihkan-tower
Photo by 紅色死神 on Flickr
 

Anping Old Fort

  • Address : No. 82, Guosheng Rd, Anping District, Tainan City, Taiwan 708
  • Opening Hours : Mon -Thur 8:30 – 17:30 | Fri – Sun 8:30 – 20:00
  • Admission Fee : Adult NT $50 | Student NT $25 | Under 6y Free
  • Transport :
    • Taking a City bus No. 2 or 19 to Anping Old Fort Stop from Tainan Train Station
    • Taking a 99 Anping to Taijiang Route to (No.12) Anping Old Fort Stop from Tainan Train Station

RECOMMEND : Anping Old Fort Admission Ticket Discount

Fort Provintia (Chihkan Tower)

赤崁樓


Chihkan Tower was an outpost building during Dutch rule between 1624 – 1662 and it has been transformed for many different purposes over time. Today Chihkan Tower is a tourist attraction.

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Long story short, the Dutch military built the Chihkan Tower in 1653 to prevent riots like the one that happened earlier that year.

What happened was that the United Provinces of the Netherlands recruited a lot of people from the Qing Dynasty (modern-day China) to help develop the city.

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However, those people could no longer stand the heavy Dutch taxation and extortion by Dutch officers.

They eventually decided to stand up for their right and fight against the United Provinces of the Netherlands. This incident was called the Guo Huaiyi rebellion.

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Today Chihkan Tower is the most popular attraction and educational place to visit in Tainan. Because Chikan Tower is located in the centre of Tainan, which is very easy to get to and the surrounding area has a lot of local restaurants and shops to visit as well.

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The last time I was there, my family took my Australian boyfriend and me to Tainan and he found it very interesting.

So, when you visit Chihkan Tower and Tainan please check out the shops in the area because they are unique.

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Chihkan Tower

  • Address : No. 212, Section 2, Minzu Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
  • Opening Hours : 8:30 – 21:30 Daily
  • Admission Fee : Adult NT $50 | Student NT $25 | Under 6y Free
  • Transport :
    • Taking a City bus No. 3 or 5 to Chihkan Tower Stop from Tainan Train Station
    • Taking a 88 Tainan Tour Route to (No.4) Chihkan Tower Stop from Tainan Train Station (head south)
    • Taking a 99 Anping to Taijiang Route to (No.6 ) Chihkan Tower Stop from Tainan Train Station

RECOMMEND : Chihkan Tower Admission Ticket Discount

Tainan Confucius Temple

台南孔子廟


Tainan Confucius Temple is also known as Quan Tai Shou Xue (全臺首學) which means the very first school for children in Taiwan.

tainan-city-tainan-taiwan-confucius-temple
Photo by xiquinhosilva on Flickr

Tainan Confucius Temple was built in 1665 during the Kingdom of Tungning. At that time, the chief of general staff Chen Yonghua believed that the country can become better only through study.

tainan-city-tainan-taiwan-confucius-temple
Photo by xiquinhosilva on Flickr

During the Japanese rule (1895 – 1945), the Japanese Government still maintained it as a school for children to study Japanese.

Tainan Confucius Temple has been rebuilt and fixed many times. The Tainan Confucius Temple that we see today looks different but still has the atmosphere of the historical building.

Photo by xiquinhosilva on Flickr
 

Tainan Confucius Temple

  • Address : No. 2, Nanmen Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
  • Opening Hours : 08:30 – 17:30 Daily
  • Admission Fee : Free entry
  • Transport :
    • Taking a City bus No. 2 to Tainan Confucius Temple Stop from Tainan Train Station
    • Taking a 88 Tainan Tour Route to (No.2) Tainan Confucius Temple Stop from Tainan Train Station (head south)
    • Taking a 99 Anping to Taijiang Route to (No.4) Jian-Sing Junior High School(Fu-Cian Rd) Stop from Tainan Train Station

Former Tait & Co. Merchant House

原英商德記洋行


Former Tait & Co. Merchant House was one of five Merchant houses in Taiwan. There is also another one in the Anping area called Julius Mannich & CO and the rest of them no longer exist.

tainan-city-taiwan-former-tait-co-merchant-house4
Photo by Paul Arps on Flickr

Today it is a historical building that houses a wax museum as well as displaying documents from when it was a Merchant House.

It is in the Anping district which is quite close to the Anping Old Fort that was mentioned before.

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Photo by pjacheng on Flickr

The Qing Dynasty did not want to trade with any other country, which angered a lot of Western European countries.

These countries, including Great Britain, decided to go to war against the Qing dynasty in order to be able to trade in Taiwan.

The Qing dynasty lost the war and was forced to sign the treaty of Tientsin, which allowed these European countries to trade in Taiwan.

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Photo by 中岑 范姜 on Flickr

After Taiwan became a Japanese colony in 1895 which lasted until 1945.

Great Britain was not able to make a profit because the Japanese government had a monopoly on sugar, camphor, and opium so in 1911 Great Britain decided to retreat from this Merchant House for good.

former-tait-co-merchant-house4
Photo by schen1119 on Flickr

Today Former Tait & Co. Merchant House is a tourist attraction, visitors will see documents and maps left from that time.

Next to Former Tait & Co. Merchant House is the Anping treehouse, it was a part of the salt storehouse, but since it has been abandoned for many years, it became a very cool and strange treehouse to explore.

 

Former Tait & Co. Merchant House

  • Address : No. 108, Gubao Street, Anping District, Tainan City, Taiwan 708
  • Opening Hours : 8:30 – 17:30
  • Admission Fee : Adult NT $50 | Student NT $25 | Under 6y Free
  • Transport :
    • Taking a City bus No. 2 or 19 to Former Tait & Co. Merchant House Stop from Tainan Train Station
    • Taking a 99 Anping to Taijiang Route to (No.13) Former Tait & Co. Merchant House Stop from Tainan Train Station

RECOMMEND : Anping Tree House Admission Ticket Discount

Erkunshen Battery/Eternal Golden Castle

二鯤鯓砲臺/億載金城


Eternal Golden Castle was built as a defensive castle in order to defend against the Japanese army. Earlier that same year, the Japanese army attacked Pingtung which is also located in southeast Taiwan.

eternal-golden-castle
Photo by TACO Huang on Flickr

Therefore the Qing Dynasty was afraid of a Japanese attack on the former capital Tainan. They decided to send an Imperial Commissioner, Shen Baozhen, who worked at the Foochow Arsenal in Fuzhou Shipyard to Taiwan deal with this matter.

tainan-city-eternal-golden-castle
Photo by 姜 明雄 on Flickr

Shen Baozhen hired someone who worked in Fuzhou Shipyard at the time, one of the French designers, M. Berthault to designed the castle. M. Berthault inspired by fort design in Paris, decided to build the Eternal Golden Castle in Tainan, in a similar way. The castle was built between 1874 to 1878.

tainan-city-eternal-golden -castle
Photo by pjacheng on Flickr

After Taiwan was under Japanese rule (1895 – 1945), the Japanese Government did not pay any attention to the Eternal Golden Castle until the very end of WWII.

Due to the massive financial loss from WWII, the Japnese Government decided to sell the cannons in the Eternal Golden Castle, in order to make some money.

eternal-golden-castle
Photo by 姜 明雄 on Flickr

Today the Eternal Golden Castle is a tourist attraction and a reminder of the history of Taiwan.

 

Eternal Golden Castle

  • Address : No. 3, Guangzhou Road, Anping District, Tainan City, Taiwan 708
  • Opening Hours : 8:30 -17:30 Daily
  • Admission Fee : Adult NT $50 | Student NT $25 | Under 6y Free
  • Transport :
    • Taking a City bus No. 14 to Eternal Golden Castle Stop from Tainan Train Station
    • Taking a 99 Anping to Taijiang Route (No.8) Eternal Golden Castle Stop from Tainan Train Station

RECOMMEND : Eternal Golden Castle Admission Ticket Discount

Shennong Street

神農街


Shennong Street is famous for having many cool bars, restaurants, coffee shops and craft shops. Many young people spend their spare time on this street with friends. When you visit Shennong Street you will notice the contrast, between the old buildings and the modern shops.

Read more : Where young generation people hang out in Taipei

shennong-street
Photo by pjacheng on Flickr

Shennong Street was the most important street during the Qing Dynasty (1683 – 1895). During the Qing Dynasty period, Shennong Street was a key entrance to the five channels river port which was used to import many different products from overseas.

At that time, all the merchants had to go through this street, the Shennong street was big enough for two Bullock carts side by side.

tainan-city-shennong-street
Photo by 挪威 企鵝 on Flickr

Since the river port was transformed into a city road, Shennong Street is no longer as important as it used to be. However, the old houses and buildings became very attractive to many young artists, who started to gather there and sell their products and create their works.

If you walk onto Shennong Street, you will see a place that is full of art, in a street that contrasts the old and new as they coexist to create a unique atmosphere.

shennong-street
Photo by (Mark Red) on Flickr
 

Shennong Street

  • Address : Shennong Street, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
  • Opening Hours : 24hours
  • Admission Fee : Free
  • Transport :
    • Taking a City bus No. 14 to Eternal Golden Castle Stop from Tainan Train Station
    • Taking a 88 Tainan Tour Route to (No.9) Shennong Street Stop from Tainan Train Station (head south)

Sicao Green Tunnel

四草 綠色隧道


If you look at the map of Tainan, you will see there is a big portion of Wetland next to the Taiwan Straits.

tainan-city-taiwan-sicao-green -tunnel2
Photo by dennis on Flickr

Sicao Green Tunnel is actually an artificial tunnel that was used for the transporting of products during the Qing Dynasty (1683 – 1895). Today, people take a boat trip there to see the wetlands and the relics. 

Sicao Green Tunnel is also called Sihcao Wildlife Refuge created to help protect the environment and living creatures. There are four types of Mangrove swamps there, salt marshes, rivers, canals, and drainage ditches.

sicao-green -tunnel
Photo by LiCheng Shih on Flickr

Taiwanese people call this place Taiwan’s version of the Amazon, but personally think it is more like the Mekong River in Vietnam. 

During the boat trip, you will see some historic relics.

This area was a battlefield between the Dutch and the Ming militaries and at the end of the boat trip, there is a sign of a customer where pays the tax in Qing Dynasty. It is just a sign so you might not see it if you do not pay special an attention.

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Photo by 光影和藍天 on Flickr

During the boat trip, you will see some historic relics of events and thing that happened in the past, such as a battlefield between the Dutch and the Ming militaries and the old customs house.

sicao-green -tunnel
Photo by pang yu liu on Flickr

The customs house was used for the importation of products during the Qing Dynasty. In addition, the sides of the tunnel are full of Mangrove trees growing out of the swamps.

You must pay special attention during the boat trip, otherwise, it is easy to miss important bit of information, you might see some animals too.

Read more : Where Are The Top 5 Popular Nature Destinations In Taiwan

 

Sicao Green Tunnel

  • Address : No. 360, Dazhong Road, Annan District, Tainan City, Taiwan 709
  • Opening Hours : 8:00 – 16:00
  • Admission Fee :
  • Transport :
    • Taking a 99 Anping to Taijiang Route (No.17) Sihcao Ecological & Cultural Area (Dajhong Temple) Stop from Tainan Train Station

Garden Night Market

花園夜市


Night Markets are an important part of Taiwanese culture, people like to hang out with family and friends after or even for dinner.

garden-night-market
Photo by Elsie Lin on Flickr

Each city always has at least one big night market, for example, Kenting Night Market, Yilan Luodong Night Market. The Garden Night Market is considered the largest and most famous night market in Tainan.

Compared with city, the Garden Night Market is much younger, it was established in 1999 and was the 12th most checked-in place in the world on Facebook in 2013.

garden-night-market
Photo by cotaro70s on Flickr

Although Garden Night Market is only open three days per week, it is really worth a visit. The food in Garden Night Market is incredibly delicious, since you are located in the most delicious snake city.

 

Garden Night Market

  • Address : No. 533, Section 3, Hai’an Road, North District, Tainan City, Taiwan 704
  • Opening Hours : Thur & Sat & Sun 17:00 – 00:00
  • Admission Fee : Free entry
  • Transport : Taking a City bus No. 0 Left to Linan Haian Rd. Intersection Stop from Tainan Train Station and turn left to Hai’an Road (walk about 10 mins)

Blueprint Culture & Creative Park

藍晒圖文創園區


If you wonder where the young people hang out the most, check out the Blueprint Culture & Creative Park. It was established at the end of 2015 in an abandoned area of the city.

Read more : Where young people hang out in Kaohsiung

blueprint- culture
Photo by Ivy Chung on Flickr

Blueprint Culture & Creative Park was an old Judiciary accommodation area that was built during the Japanese colonization (1895 – 1945).

Since it is no longer used for that purpose, the local government turned it into a creative park for people to share their creative works. Because the accommodations were built under Japanese rules, the houses and buildings are in a Japanese style.

blueprint- culture
Photo by uemura on Flickr

In Blueprint Culture & Creative Park there are various workshops, events, restaurants and classes to take where you can make your own crafts. It is a nice place where you can spend about half a day staying there and relaxing.

blueprint- culture
Photo by miyaiijima on Flickr

If you are a fan of crafting your own things such as, glasses, rings, pottery you definitely need to visit and create a souvenir for yourself or your family.

blueprint- culture
Photo by jessicasky on Flickr
 

Blueprint Culture & Creative Park

  • Address : No. 12, Lane 689, Section 1, Ximen Road, South District, Tainan City, Taiwan 702
  • Opening Hours : 10:00 – 21:00
  • Admission Fee : Free entry
  • Transport :
    • Taking a City bus No. 1, 2, 5, 11, 18 to Shinkong Mitsukoshi Department Store Stop from Tainan Train Station, Blueprint Culture & Creative Park will be opposite
    • Taking a Red bus No. 2 | Green Bus No.17 | Blue Bus No.24 to Shinkong Mitsukoshi Department Store Stop from Tainan Train Station, Blueprint Culture & Creative Park will be opposite
    • Taking a City bus No. 10, 19 to Xiaoximen Stop from Tainan Train Station, and walk about 100m will get to Blueprint Culture & Creative Park
 

Conclusion :

Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and it has a lot of history behind it. Every time when I travel overseas, visiting the oldest cities around the world, those are always the highlight of my trip.

You must understand the history of the country in order to understand the local culture. If you travel to Taiwan, Tainan is a city that you do not want to skip.

RECOMMEND : Tainan Historic Sites Pass (Tainan Station Pick Up)


Travel tools

  • Need A TAIWAN travel brochure, check out Lonely Planet
  • Plan your Taiwan trip via KKday | Klook*

*Both offer cheaper entry tickets to many attractions, such as museums and theme parks. You can even get discounts on sim cards, transportations and much much more.

When I look for flight tickets I usually go to:

Skyscanner is the biggest flight ticket search website

When I look for accommodation I usually go to:

  • Agoda (Tip: if you book a non-refundable room, you usually get a very good deal).
  • Booking.com (my favorite one, easy to manage bookings).
  • Hotels.com (If you book more than 10 nights, you will get one night for free).

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