Tainan is the cultural heart of Taiwan, home to centuries-old monuments and temples, exciting festivals, a thriving art scene and cuisine that makes the rest of the island envious. Although it might look like any other large Taiwanese city, if you take the time to explore, you will find it is full of traditional, small-town charm and rich history.
Founded as a Dutch colony in 1624, this part of Taiwan was then occupied by the Chinese until the late 19th century. Explore Tainan’s Confucius Temple, the first Confucian temple in Taiwan and, at one time, the highest educational institution on the island. The temple grounds are a popular public gathering place, where you will see locals leisurely strolling, doing tai chi or flying kites.
Wander the streets of Anping, the city’s oldest neighborhood or go for a soak in the famous hot springs at Guanziling. Browse the trendy shops and street murals on Haian Road and then slow down amid the pretty stone pathways and lily ponds in Tainan Park.
Head to one of Tainan’s famous night markets. Hua Yuan Night Market in the north district is the largest outdoor market in Taiwan. Browse the food stalls and find out why Tainan’s cuisine is famous throughout Taiwan. Try a savory oyster omelet or coffin bread, thick fried bread filled with hearty seafood and vegetable chowder.
If you dare, check out the heart-pounding Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival in February. Ranked among the world’s most dangerous festivals, the event involves the launch of thousands of fireworks and bottle rockets straight into crowds of onlookers.
Tainan is less than four hour’s from Taipei by car or train. You can easily explore the city’s attractions on foot or you can hire a rental scooter, which makes it easy to quickly navigate the busy streets. November and December, as well as March and April, are the best times of year to visit. During these months, the weather is warm and the city receives little rainfall.