Your Ultimate Guide to Exploring Tainan City, Taiwan – Where to Shop, Eat and Drink
Located in southern Taiwan, Tainan city is one of the oldest cities of the country – often called the “ancient capital of Taiwan”. It has a rich history, being the capital city for over 200 years under the Koxinga rule, and is full of charm and character.
Considered the culinary capital of Taiwan, Tainan attracts tourists from across the globe that come to try out the beloved “xiao chi” (which translates to small eats). While Taipei is a fast-paced, expansive metropolitan city, Tainan is more of its laid-back cousin that is easier to navigate and relax in.
Exploring Tainan will take you to gorgeous, ancient architecture and little cafes tucked away in corner-sides streets; their inviting and delicious aroma constantly wafting through the air.
If you’re ready to visit Tainan city, here are all the best places you need to experience.
How to Get to Tainan
The Taiwan Highspeed Rail is the best way to travel across the country, particularly when trying to get to Tainan. The journey takes approximately 2 hours with 3-4 trains leaving the gorgeous station for the city per hour. Pre-booking is highly recommended as the trains tend to fill up fast!
Upon arrival in Tainan, you will need to get a bus to the main city since the station is located on the outskirts. This should take you about 10-15 minutes and you’re ready to explore Tainan!
P.S. the train tickets are priced at €40 for standard class. If you’re traveling on a budget, you can even take an 8-hour bus ride from Taipei to Tainan, which will cost you €15.
Places to Visit
Built-in 1665 during the Koxinga dynasty, the Confucius Temple was the official institute of higher learning in Taiwan and the main source of “Confucianism Study”.
The simple, localized structures give this temple elegance and a distinctive attitude of ancient professionalism. It has fifteen structures inside, and between the pillars hangs 12 boards awarded by different leaders of various dynasties that have ruled the city.
Confucius ceremonies still take place there so if you’re lucky you might even get to experience one!
Located at a central location of the city, this stunning spot holds the ruins of the Fort Provintia which was built in 1653 by the Dutch.
For a side-adventure, do visit the little part that surrounds the tower. It has an adorable little koi pond and you can buy packs of fish food to feed them! Walk through the two pavilions and reach the top to get a gorgeous overview of the entire fort.
The best place to learn about the Dutch rule, Fort Zeelandia used to be called “Formosa” back then (which means beautiful island).
Don’t get intimidated by the huge number of stairs, not only is it great cardio for the meal you will have later on, but the view from the top will leave you stunned! The ancient walls hold deep secrets of the past as the fort was once used as a vital defense strategy by the Essequibo River.
This spot is for the adventurer in you. One of our favorite locations in Tainan, the Anping Treehouse lays amongst deep-rooted Banyan trees that have wrapped their roots and bark around the structure. it is a magnificent up-close look at the marvels of nature.
Additionally, Anping is a bustling little area where you will find plenty of markets and crafts stores to pick out souvenirs and memorabilia from. Be sure to indulge in street food too!
Blueprint Creative & Cultural Park
One of the most fun places in all of Taiwan is the Blueprint Creative & Cultural Park. This is the hipster region of the country where young individuals have set up stores and transformed the district with street art and chic cafes.
There is always a street performance happening around every corner and you can collect the most random things from the pop-up stores.
Put on your sneakers and enjoy a few hours walking through the park and discovering everything it has to offer.
Where to Shop
Hayashi Department Store
A visit to this shopping heaven should be at the top of your list. The Hayashi Department Store was initially opened in 1932 and was the tallest building in Tainan city, having five stories. However, due to war, the building was shut down and later opened as a heritage site in 1998.
In 2013, the department store was restored to its original glory; having a diverse selection of local good and international merchandise. Be prepared to be amazed by a huge range of Taiwanese teas, zesty spices, and vintage packaging.
If you love collecting contemporary jewelry and other accessories, this will be your favorite spot. Dou Maison is a concept store of the huge Taiwanese brand Duochanglee, and it holds everything from indie magazines and leather goods to chunky jewelry that will leave you mesmerized.
You will even find ready-made garments on the second floor, while the third is molded into an antique European furniture store.
Where to Eat and Drink – Shennong Street
After a long day of exploring Tainan city, it’s time to unwind and get some delicious food and drink in your belly.
Shennong Street is the best place to be at night, dotted with dainty cafes and inviting restaurants. Some of our best ones were:
Held sacred by both locals and tourists, the Klin Bakery has been around for over 60 years and has the best collection of sweet and savory buns that are so cheap!
For just €0.40 each you can get a huge assortment of delicious, filled buns and Taiwanese baked breads that taste divine!
This small restaurant combines the flavor of Taiwanese ingredients with Japanese cooking techniques to create a fusion that will enchant your taste buds.
The interior of the restaurant is made of polished wood with chrome fittings giving it a warm, cozy feel. The food is divine, with their specialty lying in high-quality seafood and gorgeous, unique presentations.
Our favorite was the harako meshi; a big bowl of vinegar-flavored rice with Norwegian fish that was cooked to perfection. The wasabi on the side added the perfect kick of spice to the dish.
Before You Depart
Now that you’re familiar with all the must-see spots in Tainan, be sure to pack wisely and travel safely. To learn more about the best ways to travel, visit our blog today!