Last Updated on March 5, 2021 by queenie mak
Tainan (臺南) is the oldest city and was the ancient capital of Taiwan. Located on the southwestern coast, Tainan has a warm climate year-round, making this city a great place to visit. Moreover, Tainan has a rich culture where it is home to many historical sites, famous temples, and has a deep-rooted food culture as well.
And if you’ve been an avid reader on my blog, you will know how much effort I put into researching for food! Tainan is known as the “city of snacks,” and it is all true! The city is full of delicious food!
Besides all the delicious food you can try in Tainan, there are many things to do in Tainan City as a solo traveller. Keep reading my Tainan travel blog for all my suggestions so you can create the ultimate Tainan itinerary!
Related Post – The Ultimate 3-week Itinerary for Taiwan
What you need to know before your trip to Tainan City Taiwan
Before you travel to Tainan, take a look at my post on learning all my best tips for travelling to Taiwan. I included a lot of information, including getting a Taiwan prepaid SIM card, transportation around the country and more.
Here are additional travel tips that you may find useful for travelling to Tainan City:
- Tainan is a safe city for solo female travellers
- You can see all the attractions in Tainan in 1 to 2 days
- Tainan is a compact city and you can walk to most attractions but you should take the Tainan city bus to Anping District so you can save your energy to wander through the neighbourhood instead. Use your Google Map to see exactly which bus route you should take instead. Basic adult fare is NT$18.
- If you haven’t already, purchase a rechargeable card called iPass. The card is good for taking public transportation in major cities in Taiwan. You can get an i-pass at any major train station.
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How to get to Tainan City, Taiwan
From Taipei to Tainan
Most international travellers will be coming from Taipei (台北) since the majority of international flights flying into Taipei Taoyuan International Airport.
Below is a sample route from Taipei which the journey includes Taiwan High-Speed Railway (HSR) and Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) local train.
- HSR: Taipei Train Station to Tainan HSR Station
- Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Cost: NT$1350
- Check Taipei to Tainan HSR train schedule and cost
- Walk 1 minute from Tainan HSR Station to Shalun Station
- TRA: Shalun Station to Tainan Train Station
- Time: 23 minutes
- Cost: NT$25
- Check Shalun Station to Tainan Station train schedule and cost
From Kaohsiung to Tainan
Travelling from Kaohsiung to Tainan is very easy. The best way to get from Kaohsiung to Tainan is by Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) local train as it takes you directly into Tainan.
- TRA: Kaohsiung Zuoying Station to Tainan Train Station
- Time: 50 minutes
- Cost: NT$58
- Check Kaohsiung Zuoying Station to Tainan Station train schedule and cost
From Tainan Airport to Tainan
Tainan Airport is mostly a military airport but it does have regular flights. However, most flights are domestic (UNI Air) and only three international flights including Hong Kong (China Airlines), Osaka (China Airlines) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietjet Air).
If you are coming from Tainan airport, here is how you can get into the city.
- Tainan Airport to Tainan Station
- Bus: No. 5
- Time: 90 minutes (frequency: every 45 minutes)
- Cost: NT$18
Related Post – Learn All the Best Taiwan Travel Tips Before Your Next Trip
Where to stay in Tainan
The best places to stay in Tainan are near the train station or in Anping District. It all depends if you would like a homey space like an Airbnb apartment, a hostel bed or a hotel room where you can book on Agoda.
- Light Hostel (承億輕旅) ($) – Located in the West Central District, Light Hostel has modern dorm beds with privacy curtains. And the hostel has a fantastic lounge where you can hang out.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- U.I.J. Hotel & Hostel (友愛街旅館) ($) – The retro yet modern hostel offers the best dorm beds with privacy curtain and the cleanest bathrooms. But you can also check into one of their private rooms if you wish. Or if you are travelling with others, there are bigger suites to accommodate you and your friends.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- The Gatsby Apartment ($$) – The Gatsby Apartment is located in the West District and close to Wusheng Night Market. The best part about the hotel is the design. I love the modern renovated guestroom interiors contrasting with the industrial feel of concrete and brick in the public area.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Somer Hotel (暖時逸旅) ($$$) – The centrally located newly built hotel has a minimalist modern interior that feels comfortable and warm.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
What to eat in Tainan
Known as the city of snacks, Tainan is known for all the delicious food! Typical meals are small in portion, which is great if you want to try a lot of different food. Unlike the north, there is a lot of seafood option in Tainan and food tends to be sweeter (Tainan was a hub for sugar production).
Other than the typical Taiwanese food which you will find anywhere in Taiwan, you will find food that is unique to Tainan only. All the online Tainan food guides will tell you these are the food you must try:
- Danzai mian – minced meat and shrimp with yellow noodle
- Gua bao – steamed bun with pork and pickled vegetable with peanut sauce
- Wa gui – savour rice pudding made with duck egg yolk, mushroom, pork and shrimp in a bowl
- Shimu yu – a clear soup with milkfish, ginger and in miso paste
- Ba wan – gelatinous dumpling with pork meatball and sauce
- Rouzao fan – minced pork over rice
- Guan chi ban –Taiwanese bread bowl aka coffin toast
- Mua gui – gelatinized rice cake with pickled vegetables and pork in middle drizzled with sweet and chill sauce
- Gong wan – pork ball soup with ginger shavings and coriander
- Shan yu yi mian – eel with noodles and sauce
- Dou hua – soft tofu pudding with syrup and sweet toppings
Where to eat in Tainan
Tainan is a foodie destination. You can find unique local dishes that you cannot find anywhere else in Taiwan. The food portion is small which means you can try more. As a solo traveller myself, sometimes I want to try too many things, but my stomach just cannot handle it! So a smaller portion means more you can order more!
Below are some night market and budget food suggestions in Tainan. You can find more information about each location in each pin in the attached google map (see above).
- Da Dong Night Market (大東夜市) – located in the East District of Tainan, Da Dong Night Market is the second-largest night market in Tainan. There are plenty of Taiwanese food options to choose from. I always pick the food vendors with the longest queues. I found an amazing scallion pancake there – super tasty and super oily! The night market is only open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:00 pm to 1:30 am.
- Tainan Flower Night Market (花園夜市) – as the largest night market in Tainan, you bet you will find exactly what you are craving for right here. Also known as the Garden Night Market, you will find vendors selling clothing, accessories as well. And not to mention, there are game stalls too. The night market is open on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 5:00 pm to 12:00 am.
- Wusheng Night Market (武聖夜市) – you can’t visit Tainan and not visit one of the oldest night markets. Like other night markets, you will find countless aisles of delicious Taiwanese and international food. The market is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 6:30 pm to 1:30 am.
- Du Xiao Yue (度小月擔仔麵) – the restaurant first originated in 1895 in Tainan and it is so popular that many restaurants popping up everywhere in Taiwan. While you are the original location, try their famous danzai mian and rouzao fan. The portion is quite small but super tasty! And the price is right – it doesn’t cost much to eat some of the best food in Tainan!
- Chih Kan Peddler’s Noodles (赤崁擔仔麵) – try their version of danzai mian here as well. In fact, I know you won’t get tired of the flavour – the noodle is that good!
- Jin de Spring Rolls (金得春捲) – try their wrap which has lettuce, meat, egg and sugar. It sounds weird to have sugar inside a savoury wrap but don’t mock it until you try it!
- A Song Steamed Sandwich Shop (阿松割包) – across the road from Jin de Spring Rolls, try their pork steamed bun. It comes with a delicious pork broth too!
What to do in Tainan City
Tainan City’s ancient streets and monuments reflect all the different eras of historical and cultural importance and each culture is preserved impeccably through its architecture. The Dutch settled in Tainan until 1661 when Chinese General Zheng Chenggong (known as Koxinga) took back Tainan. Then many Chinese immigrated and inhabited in Tainan since and the economy boomed and the city flourished. You can find all these different cultural influences throughout Tainan in scenic spots.
All the attractions in this post are pinned in the interactive map. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.
Tainan Confucius Temple (台南孔子廟)
As for the cultural and historical side of Tainan, the city has Taiwan’s oldest and most famous temples, the Tainan Confucius Temple.
Dating back to 1666, the temple went through several name changes due to the changes in political history and numerous reconstruction. Today, you will find the main temple, Dacheng Hall, centred in a symmetrical courtyard. As you walk further into the complex, you will find other temples and pagoda surrounded by giant banyan trees.
Chihkan Tower (Fort Provintia) (赤崁樓)
One of the oldest buildings in the West Central District is the Chihkan Tower. Originally built as Fort Provintia by the Dutch in 1652, it was used as an administrative centre in Tainan.
Walk through the entire premise to see the charming temples and lush green courtyard. And look for the nine sets of stone turtles. In Chinese culture, turtles are sacred animals and the animal symbolizes power and longevity.
Shennong Street (神農街)
Tucked away from the busy streets, Shennong Street is a quaint little street lined with small boutique shops where you will find handcrafted goods, cafes and restaurants.
And nearby, Mingzhu Road is full of all the local restaurants where you will find the best food in Tainan. Look for Jin de Spring Rolls and A Song Steamed Sandwich Shop. More on that in the food section.
Fort Anping (or Fort Zeelandia) (安平古堡)
Certain parts of Tainan had many influences from the Dutch when they occupied Tainan. Therefore, some attraction names have two names, such as Fort Anping which is also known as Fort Zeelandia.
Built in 1634, Fort Zeelandia was the original administrative center of the Dutch. When the Dutch were driven out of Taiwan in 1661 and Koxinga took the fort back, Fort Zeelandia became Fort Anping.
Today, you can see the inner fort in great condition as it was reconstructed. Also, the remaining crumbled red brick wall at the front, which is the last remnant of the Dutch period.
Anping Old Street (安平老街)
In the centre of Anping District, Anping Old Street is bustling with different vendors selling Taiwanese treats. Go with an empty stomach and you won’t regret it. Weekends can be quite busy as it is a popular spot for locals and tourists.
Anping Tree House (安平樹屋)
Anping Tree House is one of the best Tainan attractions that you should not miss. The premise has a giant banyan tree with branches and roots intertwined around the abandoned warehouse. Roots grow along the wall and branch off across the roof. It is hard to believe that houses are surrounded by only one tree!
Koxinga Shrine (延平郡王祠)
The Koxinga Shrine is dedicated to Koxinga, a general from the Ming Dynasty who got the Dutch out of Taiwan in 1662. The shrine is very symbolic and important to Taiwan’s history as Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and was once the capital city.
Tour around the shrine and courtyard and marvel at the colourful structures. You will find the design is quite similar to the Tainan Confucius Temple.
Eternal Golden Castle (二鯤鯓砲臺)
At the east end of Tainan, the Eternal Golden Castle is a western-style fort built for defending against Japanese invasions. The fort was originally designed by French engineers and it was the first fort to hold British cannons in Taiwan.
Today, you will see the reconstructed fort where you can walk through the arched castle gate and see greenery around the square-shaped fort.
Chimei Museum (奇美博物館)
Chimei Museum is a private museum near Tainan airport. It has permanent collections on 13th to 20th-century western art, musical instruments, defence and armoury and natural history. And it has the world’s largest collection of violins.
But what is most impressive is the building, surrounding garden, and the oversized fountain. The entire scene is a replica of the Palace of Versailles in France.
Day Trips from Tainan
Taijiang National Park (台江國家公園)
If you are interested in seeing protected wetlands, ecological museums and temples, visit Taijiang National Park. The national park consists of 4,905 hectares of land and 39,310 hectares of sea. Tours can be taken to see the mangroves which form a “green tunnel” over the waterway.
Qigu Salt Mountain (七股鹽山)
One of the most popular attractions in Tainan is the Qigu Salt Mountain. The area has a long history with the production of salt as Qigu Salt Field supplied the largest amount of salt throughout Taiwan.
There are two salt mountains with over 60,000 tons of salt leftover from Taiwan Salt Corporation. You can climb up to the top of the salt mountain. And why not try salty ice-cream and learn about the history of salt production at the Taiwan Salt Museum next door.