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What to do in Tainan, Taiwan – A Quick Travel Guide

by Viola
what to do in tainan

Alas, the last stop on my Two Weeks Taiwan Itinerary is Tainan! Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and was the glorious capital during imperial times. It’s famous for its traditional temples, historical buildings, always fine weather, and yummy street snacks. We visited Tainan for 3 days so we had plenty of time to spread out our activities. However, I think one to two days is enough to do a lot. Here are some highlights from our trip to give you a taste of what to do in Tainan.

what to do in Tainan

*This post contains affiliate links, which means, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. 

 

How to get to Tainan

From Kaohsiung

Easy! Tainan is a major stop in Taiwan. Simply take the High Speed Rail (HSR) from Kaohsiung Main Station to Tainan Station. The ride is about 30 minutes and cost $106NTD.

 

From Taipei

A HSR trip from Taipei costs about $1450NTD one way. I know, much more expensive comparing to coming from Kaohsiung yikes! But 50USD for a high speed rail ticket is still not the worst price in the world. The ride is about 1 hour and 45 minutes.


 

What to do in Tainan

If you have been following along my Taiwan itinerary, you would no doubt be quite tired by this last leg of the race. I mean holiday. I definitely was. Try to keep up the energy! There is culture to be learned and food to be eaten!

 

Explore the Anping District

A must go for first-time visitors in Tainan. The Anping District is loaded with history. You can see some of the oldest Taiwanese streets here, with buildings that reflect the architectural styles from the Dutch occupation. As well, it’s a great place to pick up souvenirs and try a variety of local food.

What To Do In Tainan

Walk down the winding old streets and browse stalls selling things from candied fruits, to tea, to handycrafts; check out the Anping Old Fort; and definitely visit my favorite: the Anping Tree House.

 

 

See the Anping Tree House

Long story short, a huge banyan tree decided to show an abandoned warehouse who’s boss! For the last 70 years, this tree grew over, under, sideways, and all over the building, basically swallowing the whole structure! You can enter the tree house for 50 NTD. 

What To Do In TainanIt’s really fascinating to see how this tree just took over. It’s a bit cool, a bit creepy, and a bit WTF? Oh the power of nature! My boyfriend and I agreed that it looks like a scene out of a video game. *Stay on alert for zombies lurking in the shadows.

What to do in Tainan

 

Go temple hopping

You can’t wander two or three blocks in Tainan without seeing a temple. From big busy temples to little ones tugged away in street corners, there are so many of them here. Mazu is a widely worshipped sea goddess in Taoism, so she definitely deserves a visit at the famous Grand Mazu Temple. Or swing by the Confucious Temple and learn about Confucianism. It’s interesting to observe the Taiwanese temple culture. You can see people with incense praying for health, marriage, fertility, and many other things.

 

*Note: Always be respectful in the temples. Do not take pictures of the gods and be careful to not block people in prayers.

 

Stroll down Shennong Street

Shennong Street is known as the most well-preserved old street in Tainan. But unlike the typical old streets you’d imagine, Shennong has a uniquely hip and quirky character to it. Traditional Chinese red lanterns adorn cafes, fashion boutiques, and art galleries. The street is full of colors and perfect for photos! 

 

Go Cafe Hunting

Tainan has the chillest vibes ever. There are tons of cool cafes in the city. Hop in one of them and feel the time just slip away while you sip a latte and relax. I found some of my favorites cafes in Taiwan here. One of them was Cafe Moment, which featured incredible latte art and friendly feline friends. Read about this adorable cafe along with a couple others in my post 7 Cute Restaurants And Cafes In Taiwan You’d Want to Instagram.

 

 

Eat your heart out at markets

We were told by our Taiwanese friends that Tainan has the best food in Taiwan. So that was definitely what I was most excited about for our visit. In addition to restaurants, Tainan’s street food and market scene is poppin! There are several markets worthy of visiting. Our favorites included: Hua Yuan (Garden) Night Market, Da Dong Night Market, and Yongle Market. I think I gained two pounds by the time we left Tainan, but the food was so good I wasn’t even mad! Here you can see one of the shops we loved in Yongle Market. You better bet we devoured some braised pork bellies!

What To Do In Tainan

*Note: Please check the hours of the night markets as they are not open every night!

 

What to eat at the night markets

The choices at the night markets are overwhelming! To help you hunt down the good treats, here are some of my suggested eats!

 

Beef soup

This is the recommendations that I kept hearing from locals again and again. Tainan is famous for their beef soup. It can easily be found at any of the night markets. The broth is so flavorful. You’d definitely want seconds after you have one bowl!

what to do in Tainan

 

BBQ skewers

There are skewers stalls selling all sorts of grilled meat and vegetables in the markets. My absolute favorite was BBQ lamb! I’m not even a big lamb fan usually, but they cook it in such a fatty and juicy way in Tainan that I just couldn’t refuse. Oh my gawd I’m drooling just thinking about it again!


 

Duck noodles

Another comforting soupy dish to have is duck noodle soup. Duck is very commonly eaten in Taiwan, particularly Tainan. The bird is cooked together with herbs to create a fragrant and super healthy soup! Perfect for slurping with noodles!

what to do in Tainan

 

Danzai noodles

I know, noodles again! But this dish is a quintessential part of Tainan cuisine so you can’t miss it. Chewy buckwheat noodles in a meaty broth, topped with minced pork, shrimp, and egg! This dish is eaten all over Taiwan, but Tainan is where it originated from!

 

Stinky Tofu

If you have not done the stinky tofu challenge yet, Tainan is the place my friends. I liked these fried stinky tofu much better than the braised ones in Taipei. I think these “stinked less”. I actually quite liked them taste wise. Do you dare to give it a go?

what to do in Tainan

 

Hot Almond milk

The drink that stood out the most for us in the markets was hot almond milk! A bit of a surprise but we were totally hooked after buying for the first time. After that, every time we visited a night market in Tainan, we went to hunt this drink down. Maybe it had to do with the rainy weather when we were there, the hot milk was super comforting and delicious, especially after we had some greasy street snacks.

 

Where to stay in Tainan

This adorable Airbnb is where we stayed in Tainan. It’s good for up to 4 people. Although small, it’s super cosy and clean. The host Julie did a great job with the cute decorations. She also has an awesome Tainan travel guide book that you are free to use (Although it is only in Chinese). The location was very convenient as well. We enjoyed our time here and would totally book it again on our next visit!

what to do in Tainan*If it’s your first time using Airbnb, please use my referrer link and enjoy $45 off your first booking!

 

Going to Taiwan soon? Plan your trip in 4 easy steps

Book A Flight: Find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner, my go-to search engine. 
Find A Hotel: Score affordable accommodation on Booking.comReceive $16 off your first booking with my link here
Buy insurance: You never know what may happen on the road. Protect your trip & gear with World Nomad, the best travel insurance company ever. Get a quote here.

Read up on the best advice: Love a good old fashion guide book. Suggested reading: Lonely Planet: Taiwan Travel Guide

 

Bon voyage!

 

 

 

Travel for cheap or free resources

Read these Taiwan posts next!

7 Cute Cafes and Restaurants in Taiwan You’d Want to Instagram

Two Weeks Taiwan Itinerary

Taipei Taiwan Travel Guide

Exploring Jiufen: What to Do and Eat

Taichung: The Most Underrated City in Taiwan

Sun Moon Lake: A Serene Escape in Taiwan

Alishan: Best Sunrise and Hiking Spot in Taiwan

Kaohsiung Travel – Why You Can’t Miss This Vibrant City In Taiwan

 

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What to Do in Tainan: A Quice Travel Guide

What to Do in Tainan: A Quick Travel Guide

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26 comments

Agness of a Tuk Tuk January 31, 2018 - 10:53 pm

Wow! Tainan seems like a great place to explore, Viola! Exceptional pictures. How many days would be enough to see all the highlights in Taiwan?

Reply
Viola January 31, 2018 - 11:20 pm

Thank you Agness! I think two weeks is a good length to see the highlights of Taiwan. I have a two weeks Taiwan itinerary here! Hope it can be some help! <3 http://theblessingbucket.com/2018/01/20/two-weeks-taiwan-itinerary-2/

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Jac February 3, 2018 - 9:05 am

I really liked anping tree house and shennong was a great street. Tainan’s great just for a bit of a chillax time 🙂

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Viola February 3, 2018 - 10:51 am

Definitely! Tainan is so chill. Perfect place to laid back and relax! 🙂

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NieNie February 3, 2018 - 9:40 am

Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous and the food looks amazing! I can’t wait to visit Taiwan! Great tips!

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Viola February 3, 2018 - 10:50 am

Thank you NieNie! I hope you enjoy Taiwan when you do visit!

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Ana Ro February 3, 2018 - 12:31 pm

I started reading this article on an empty stomach and this was a big mistake! 😀 The food looks so delicious. Thank you for the tips and photos. I haven’t heard about Tainan, but was thinking about going to Taiwan for a while.

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Viola February 4, 2018 - 2:30 am

Haha glad you liked it Ana! Yes Tainan is a bit underrated comparing to Taipei, but it’s totally worth a visit! Very relaxed city with so much good food!

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Lisanne February 3, 2018 - 1:01 pm

Those markets look really good!! I’m so hungry right now haha

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Paulina February 3, 2018 - 1:06 pm

Wow all of this looks so tasty! I am huge fan of broths and the beef broth looks just so good. Would travel there only for the food 😉

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Joanna February 3, 2018 - 1:14 pm

I would be all over those food markets, day and night. The food looks so delicious and I would love to try everything you have recommended here! Tainan looks so charming and pretty, I love the architecture and if I visit I would definitely like to go temple hopping.

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Viola February 4, 2018 - 2:26 am

I visited as many markets as possible and tried to eat everything haha. Love that you are a foodie too Joanna. Yes hope you visit Tainan soon! It’s a lovely city! 😀

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Helene February 3, 2018 - 1:30 pm

I never thought to go here but now it’s definitely on my list!

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Viola February 4, 2018 - 2:23 am

Yes! You should definitely visit Helene! So many cool places in Asia. <3

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tanya selden February 3, 2018 - 2:44 pm

I love it when trying out food is a suggestion of the things you should do in a place! We used to live in Shanghai but sadly never made it to Taiwan. Next time though and we already have your itinerary to follow!

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Viola February 4, 2018 - 2:09 am

I’m a big foodie so I’m always hunting for the best local food haha. Ooh I love Shanghai! Yes you have to visit Taiwan next time Tanya ^_^ Thanks for reading.

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Alissa February 3, 2018 - 5:12 pm

Wow, Tainan looks so charming and vibrant! I would love to go. Also, that banyan house is really cool. I’m a big plant person so that would probably be first on my list hahaha. Thanks for sharing this guide!

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Viola February 4, 2018 - 2:07 am

The tree house is super cool! Definitely one of my favorites. Thanks for reading Alissa!

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Prameet February 3, 2018 - 5:39 pm

Very detailed and informative post, Viola! Keep up the great work 🙂

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Viola February 4, 2018 - 2:00 am

Thank you Prameet! Appreciate your kind words! 🙂

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MG February 4, 2018 - 3:30 am

Tainan looks like so much fun! I haven’t had a chance to visit Taiwan, but it’s been on my bucket list for so long. Saving this for when I get to visit!

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make your own silicone wristband February 4, 2018 - 3:18 pm

I reeally treasure your piece oof work, Geat post.

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Rosie Kerrigan February 5, 2018 - 5:15 pm

Ahh! My dad has been there a looong long time ago (when I was little), but I never thought it was so amazing!! And the food looks DELICIOUS, yum!

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Evelyn December 15, 2018 - 5:28 pm

May I know how many nights is recommended for Tainan?

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Viola December 15, 2018 - 5:35 pm

Hi Evelyn, I would say 2-3 is enough to do everything. 🙂

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Eqi Dianda August 12, 2019 - 2:57 pm

Wish i could go back there with my family…
My oldest son surely will love to have a bowl of Tainan beef soup.

Reply

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