Is Tainan in Taiwan worth visiting?

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I think Tainan is Taiwan’s one of the best-kept secrets from the touristy world.

It always seems convenient to choose popular and well-known destinations while deciding on a place to travel. So, why should you choose Tainan? Is it worth visiting?

Tainan is definitely worth a visit if you are traveling to Taiwan. It is famous for its historical significance and temples. Tainan was the capital of Taiwan from 1683 to 1887 and remained the center of economical, political and cultural activities till the capital was shifted to Taipei in 1885.

Home to the best historical sites in Taiwan, revered for its ancient temples and fortresses, Tainan is definitely worth a visit if you are traveling to Taiwan. Steeped in history, the city has a lot of rich cultural influences, historical monuments and has a deep-rooted food culture! Although not as well known as Taipei or Kaohsiung on the tourist circuit, this blog will tell you why Tainan should definitely be a part of your Taiwan trip. Find out how to reach, what to do, what to eat & More.
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I often resort to choosing a safe destination while traveling alone but this time, accompanied by husband and mother in law, we chose a place that was closer to the culture and history of Taiwan but not the top tourist destination.

You get to discover more about a place and people if you venture off the beaten path.

Though Tainan is not an unexplored place, it is not the most popular one among the tourists either.

We traveled to Tainan by TRA (normal train) which has become my favorite mode of intercity transport in Taiwan.

They are very convenient, clean, time-efficient and economical. The cost was NT$432 per ticket and it was around 4 hours journey from Hsinchu to Tainan.

How to reach Tainan?

You can take normal train just like we did as its network is the best throughout Taiwan. You can also choose HSR depending upon the place you start from as it does not cover every city.

HSR ticket would cost more than the train but less than the bus.

The bus can be an option if you are ready to spend a longer time in the journey and it costs less than HSR and train.

For traveling within the city, you can walk, hire a taxi, use public transport or Tbike (public rental bikes).

Uber and Metro are currently not available in Tainan.

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Is Tainan safe?

I personally have found all the places in Taiwan quite safe to travel.

Although you can be easily recognized as a foreigner, you won’t be hassled, stared at or followed. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had to visit the Police station in Taiwan twice at two different places.

The local Police seemed very helpful and honest.

The only issue I face here is communication because we don’t understand mandarin (except for a few basic words and phrases) which is the most widely used language here.

Still, I’d reiterate, however safe a place looks, I practice basic common sense always like never venturing outside alone to an unfamiliar place late at night, keeping important/emergency contacts with me and if any person or situation seems fishy, I move away as soon as I can.

I have experienced that though people in Taiwan are not overly friendly, they are usually kind.

They won’t initiate a conversation or smile at strangers but they have always been very helpful and polite to me.

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2 Day Itinerary for Tainan in Taiwan

We stayed for 2 days in Tainan.

As my mother-in-law was accompanying us, we kept it easy and relaxed.

On the first day, we began with visiting Confucius Temple and then headed to Chikan Tower. During the evening we went to Shennong Steet.

We kept the whole of the second day for ChiMei Museum and for exploring Indian restaurants in the city.

2 to 3 days are sufficient for visiting Tainan depending upon your interests and pace.

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Reasons Why A Trip To Taiwan Isn’t Complete Without Tainan

Confucius temple

Confucius temple was built in 1666 and is a very famous historical landmark of Tainan.

It is located in the west-central district of Tainan.

I wanted to visit this place because while I was in India and my husband was working here in Taiwan, he had sent me a picture postcard that had the image of this temple on it. I had decided that time that I would definitely visit this place.

It is a peaceful temple with a big courtyard.

We went to this place late afternoon and there was a group of people playing some musical instruments.

A set up was made for the audience to sit down and enjoy the music.

There is a small souvenir shop inside the temple premises that sells the usual stuff like toys, postcards, showpieces, etc.

I was happy to see Anthurium flowers right outside the shop as this was the first time I had seen them for real. Inside the temple, I saw a board that was full of small paper sheets.

All of those notes had something scribbled on them.

I couldn’t read mandarin.

A guy who appeared to be a foreigner was writing something on those colorful sheets.

I asked him about it and came to know that it is a local belief that whatever wish you write on that paper and hang up there, comes true.

Posting my wish in Confucius Temple

So, three more wishes were made in the temple.

Opening hours: Everyday (except New Year’s Eve) 8.30 am to 5.30 pm

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Chi Kan Tower

Located in the West Central district of Tainan, this is another famous historical site of the city.

The building, ‘Fort Provincia’ as it was called, was constructed by the Dutch in 1652 as a place for market and business purpose.

During its history of more than 300 hundred years, it served various purposes under various rulers.

It was a western castle under the Dutch rule, in the Qing dynasty it was a Chinese style pagoda, Japanese colonists used it as an army hospital and currently it is a museum.

The place looked good and I am sure there is a lot of things to learn here but sadly, the lack of knowledge of the local language often becomes a barrier. There are pictures, books, and models related to its history displayed inside.

  • Opening hours 8.30 am to 5.30 pm (till 9.30 pm on Saturdays)
  • Tickets NT$50
  • Discounted tickets NT$25 for students, senior citizens

When we started exploring, we gradually came to know that there are many more places in Tainan worth visiting but could not do due to lack of time like Anping Old fort and Anping Old Street. I’d have to plan another visit for those.

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Shennong Old Street

Walking in the streets of Tainan was indeed something I’d love to do again and alone.

A shop in Shennong street
Shopping in Shennong Street

Shennong Street is a famous art and cultural hub.

The shops in the street offer various handmade products of the local artists.

We reached there in the evening which seemed like the best time as the place had come alive with colorful light radiating from the paper lamps hanging in the street.

There were many small shops around selling a variety of stuff like bags, clothes, jewelry, toys, trinkets, etc.

The place transported me into some old world.

There was some unique charm in this place.

The shops, cafes, and stalls in the street looked so inviting. I bought a few clothes for myself from a small stall.

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Chi Mei Museum in Tainan

Even when my husband told me that this place was a must-visit, I didn’t expect it to be what it actually was.

I was taken aback by this place and how! It is really huge, surrounded by beautiful lawns, fountains, sculptures, and a water body.

The museum is the materialization of the dream of Mr. Wen-Long Shi, founder of Chi Mei group.

The museum has a huge collection of western art, sculptures, armory, musical instruments and an exhibition about the evolution of life.

Along with the permanent exhibitions, temporary exhibitions are also held here. Permanent exhibitions include Natural history and fossils, Arms and Armor, Rodin Gallery, Fine arts (western arts from 13th to 20th century) and Musical instruments.

Masterpieces by famous artists Picasso, Chagall, and Rodin are popular attractions.

My favorite was a Fine arts exhibition with a large collection of beautiful paintings of various artists like Anthony van Dyck, Marc Chagall, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Paul Gustave Dore, Joseph Desire Court and many more.

There was so much to see and explore here that I felt totally drained by the end of this visit.

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For people interested in western art, Chi Mei Museum is a must-visit place in Tainan.

  • Opening hours: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
  • Closed on: Wednesdays 
    Chinese Lunar New Year’s Eve and Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day
    Other days announced by the Museum  
  • Tickets: NT$200
  • Discounted tickets for students and senior citizens: NT$150

There is provision for free admission tickets for Tainan residents, students with Tainan city student ID, children aged 6 and under, a person with a valid handicap certificate and one person assisting the visit, Tour guides with identification passes issued by Tourism Bureau, M.O.T.C. Republic of China, Taiwan

Photography, videography, eating, drinking (any beverage) is strictly prohibited inside the museum.

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What do you eat in Tainan?

For most of the tourists, the night markets of Taiwan remain a popular place to eat as they provide a lot of varieties at good prices.

Anping street and Da Dong Night Market are the places to head to if you are interested in drool-worthy local food without spending too much.

Oyster Omelette, Coffin toast, Prawns, Stinky Tofu, Sweet Potato Balls are popular choices.

Moreover, there are many cafes and restaurants in Tainan that offer a good meal in a great ambiance.

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Indian Restaurants in Tainan

I am yet to explore my kind of food in Taiwanese cuisine. Being a vegetarian, my options get limited and the local vegetarian food that I tried a few times seemed too bland to my taste buds that are habitual of spicy Indian food.

We decided to explore the restaurants serving Indian vegetarian food in Tainan.

Swarakshit- This is a family run a small restaurant that serves Indian vegetarian food. It was such a relief when we found it. We had curry, rice, and chapati.

Food was okay and reasonably priced.

Flavor of India- This was another restaurant in Tainan that served Indian vegetarian food. The food was very good, the staff was polite and the ambiance was great too.

Paneer Tikka was very delicious.

The plus point was that they served only vegetarian food.

I am yet to explore my kind of food in Taiwanese cuisine. Being a vegetarian, my options get limited and the local vegetarian food that I tried a few times seemed too bland to my taste buds that are habitual of spicy Indian food. Find out how to reach, what to do, what to eat, where to find Indian food in Taiwan & More.
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Maharaja Indian Restaurant- This one is another Indian restaurant located at Dongfong Road. The place was almost full with local people mostly. The place was dimly lit but looked nice. Food and staff were good but as soon as more people started arriving, it seemed congested.

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What is there to do in Tainan at night?

Explore night markets of Huayuan and DaDong that come alive in the evening till late night. You can eat, shop, play games or just have a casual look around.

Walking or riding a bike in the famous streets of Tainan is a very interesting thing to do.

You get to observe the local people and culture more closely. Often there are shops with houses close by in the streets.

Haian Road, Shennong Street, and Zhengxing Street have many small shops, cafes, and restaurants that you can explore and spend some time in.

If you want to enjoy some drinks and music, there are many Pubs and Bars in Tainan that you can visit, for example, Red Wolf Tavern, Kinks, Lola and Taikoo.

Visiting Taiwan? Don’t miss to visit the non-touristy, vibrant, coastal city of Kaohsiung. Read how to reach, the best time to visit, what to see, nightlife & MORE: Kaohsiung – Taiwan’s best-kept secret.

Places to stay in Tainan

Fushin Hotel

If you are looking for a contemporary place to stay that offers good breakfast and wifi, Fushin Hotel is the right place for you. It is located at a 5 minutes walk from Chikan tower. Guests like it for spacious rooms and good location.

For latest prices, room availability and reviews Click here (Booking.com affiliate link).

Trunk

The trunk is a homestay in Tainan that would definitely enrich your experience of this city. The property is very simple but clean and beautiful. Natural elements like plants, wood, and stones have been used to make it cozy and inviting. With a superb rating of 9.2, the accommodation offers free wifi, a common area, and a garden.

For latest prices, room availability and reviews Click here (Booking.com affiliate link).

Lento Hostel

Located in West Central District, this property is very popular among youngsters and solo travelers. It has exceptional 9.5 rating on booking.com due to great location, cleanliness and good staff.

For latest prices, room availability and reviews Click here (Booking.com affiliate link).

Tainan is different from Taipei and other major cities but that is what makes it unique and worth visiting.

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A 2 Day itinerary for an epic trip to Tainan in Taiwan. Home to the best historical sites in Taiwan, revered for its ancient temples and fortresses, Tainan is definitely worth a visit if you are traveling to Taiwan. Steeped in history, the city has a lot of rich cultural influences, historical monuments and has a deep-rooted food culture! Although not as well known as Taipei or Kaohsiung on the tourist circuit, this blog will tell you why Tainan should definitely be a part of your Taiwan trip.

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