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.
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How to get to Tainan
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.
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.
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.
It’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.
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!
*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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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?
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!
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