When people travel to Taiwan, they often go to Taipei, Kaohsiung, or Taichung, and rarely visit these major cities.
Tainan is somewhat of a hidden gem in Taiwan, seeking to challenge the status quo.
With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture, there are plenty of things to do in Tainan making it a perfect fit for anyone’s travel plans.
From ancient temples to beautiful parks to delicious street food and bustling night markets, Tainan has plenty of attractions that will captivate you with their charm.
But if you’re not sure what to do in Tainan and why it’s worth a visit, check out our insider travel tips and knowledge on Tainan for those looking for the best places to see, eat, stay, drink, and explore. Keep reading.
Is Tainan worth visiting?
Tainan is worth a visit. It is the oldest city in Taiwan and also the former capital, so it is full of Taiwanese culture and history.
Although Tainan is a large city by Western standards, it does not feel like a metropolis.
It has the feel of an old heritage town, and because it is less explored by international tourists, it offers an authentic experience to anyone traveling there.
The fine arts are also greatly supported in Tainan. There are some fantastic modern art galleries and even an Art Street.
Things to do in Tainan
From historical sites to stunning natural sights, be sure to add the following attractions to your Tainan itinerary.
1. Explore the temples of Tainan
There are a lot of temples in Taiwan, but as the oldest city, Tainan has a particularly high number of them, many of which are very famous.
The Tainan Confucian Temple is one of the most famous in the city and dates back several centuries – although it has undergone renovation over the years and today looks as if it was built just yesterday.
It displays traditional Taiwanese folk culture and has some of the most beautiful designs and reliefs.
Another major temple worth seeing is the Tainan Grand Mazu Temple, or Grand Mazu Temple as it is sometimes known, which is the largest temple in Tainan.
The temple was the first Mazu temple built by the Taiwanese government and is dedicated to the Mother Heavenly Goddess, the most revered goddess in Taiwan.
Therefore it attracts hundreds of visitors from all over the world every day and is one of the best places to get a glimpse of the religious and cultural practices of the country.
If you have more time, Lady Linshui Temple and Baihe Lady Linshui Temple, which hold great historical and spiritual significance, are worth a visit.
2. Visit the National Literature Museum
The National Literature Museum is also an excellent place to learn about the culture and history of the country.
Established in October 2003, it has the distinction of being the first national museum dedicated to literature in Taiwan.
Housed in the former Tainan Prefecture Office, a building constructed in 1916, this museum exhibits the development of Taiwanese literature from ancient times to the modern era.
As you wander its halls, explore the extensive collection of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese literary works, allowing you to gain insight into the region’s rich literary heritage.
3. Try the local cuisine
Taiwanese people are fond of food, especially snacks, and Tainan is famous for many of the best cheeses in the country.
Most restaurants in Taiwan are small, serve only a few items, and have one specialty for which they are known.
Because Tainan is so old, many dishes date back to the city’s early days during the Qing dynasty.
Needless to say, wandering around the street food stands and restaurants here is a great experience.
Be sure to try Tainan’s most famous specialty by far, the oyster omelet. Also, don’t forget to try pearl milk tea, also known as bubble tea, which originates in Taiwan.
If you get a chance, try some Peking duck (about $8-9 USD for a whole duck), as well as coffin bread.
In Taiwan, small, dirty-looking restaurants with hundreds of years of history behind them are the most popular and highly recommended.
Shanghai Steamed Pork Buns | Shanghai Delicious Xiaolong Soup Buns
this restaurant is Famous throughout the country for its soup dumplings, but all the dumplings are fantastic!
There is no English menu, so if you don’t speak Chinese you’ll either have to get some help or rely on other people’s food to order.
Ten steamed dumplings here will run you about USD 1.50. That’s enough for most people, but I usually can’t resist ordering a second plate.
Vonnie’s Garden Vegetarian Restaurant | Vonny’s Garden Vegetarian Restaurant |
The fake meat (they even have fake sashimi) is incredible.
Vonnie’s is A homely restaurant in an old house with excellent vegetarian dishes, great service, and an English menu.
Food prices here range from about USD 2.20 for noodles or rice to about USD 8 for a mock steak.
Shangri-La Hotel | Shangri La
Shangri-La Hotel Considered to be one of the most expensive hotel chains in the country.
Most upscale hotels and shopping centers in Taiwan will also have a very luxurious buffet restaurant serving exotic foreign dishes, sushi, steak, seafood and the like.
They are usually all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink (including beer and wine). If you’re looking for exceptional dining, visit Tainan’s Shangri-La for the best buffet in the city.
4. Explore the night markets
Of course, night markets are always fun. One of the most popular is the Tainan Garden Night Market, which has approximately 400 vendors and serves as Taiwan’s largest night market.
Opened in 1999, it attracts locals and tourists alike, offering a variety of delicious street food and unique shopping opportunities.
Another notable night market is the Wusheng Night Market, Tainan’s oldest operating market since 1984, with about 250 market stands and food stalls. Here you can enjoy local cuisine, explore the bustling atmosphere, and soak in the vibrant energy of these night markets.
It is open on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday.
5. Wander around Anping
Anping is the oldest neighborhood in Tainan, making it one of the oldest in Taiwan. It is said that Anping is where Chiang Kai-shek first landed while fleeing China.
Here you’ll find some of Taiwan’s largest and oldest temples, Anping Old Fort, also known as Fort Zeelandia, (which was built by the Dutch to defend against invaders), and beautiful historic character shops lined with specialty food shops and artisan shops. Street.
Walk down Yanping Street, also known as Yanping Old Street, the oldest street in the city and known for its market stalls.
Another landmark worth seeing in Anping is the Anping Tree House, a former warehouse that has been reclaimed by nature. It gets its name from the roots of the banyan trees that cover the building.
6. Mingle with the locals in High NR
Locals and expats alike can often be found relaxing on tea shop patios with friends and people on Hai An An, Tainan’s ‘hip district’, which is also a great area for shopping.
High N Road. It is the location of a city-funded art project, and many of the buildings are decorated with murals.
The area around High Ann Road. It is also the old center of the city and the former red light district, so it has a character and charm of its own.
7. Shop till you drop!
As I mentioned above, High N Road. There is fabulous clothing and jewelery on the street especially in the nearby back alleys.
Another great shopping street is Beimen Road, the main road in the center of the city that runs past the railway station.
It is also a great place for shopping. If you are looking for cheap computer parts, two large computer malls have everything you can imagine.
It has very good clothes shops (although not as spectacular as Hai An Rd).
Hayashi Department Store is another popular place for shopping in Tainan.
8. Relax in Tainan Park
Just north of the railway station on Bei Men Road, you’ll find Tainan Park, the city’s largest park, topped by a lake and a pagoda.
Tainan Park is a picturesque oasis that offers a tranquil escape from the urban hustle and bustle.
Steeped in history, this park dates back to the Qing Dynasty and was once the private garden of a prominent official.
Today, visitors can stroll the winding paths, admire the vibrant flowers, and relax along the water’s edge.
9. Attend a Festival in Tainan
Every year, shortly after Chinese New Year, there is an incredibly dangerous fireworks festival called the Yenshui Fireworks Festival.
It takes place in the nearby city of Yenshui. During this festival, thousands of fireworks are fired directly into the crowd.
Every Chinese New Year Tainan also hosts a spectacular Lantern Festival. At almost any time of year you’re likely to see some kind of parade for a god’s birthday (Daoism has a lot of gods).
10. Visit Tainan County’s Monkey Mountain
I’m a big fan of Monkey Mountain in Tainan County, a 750-meter-high mountain known for its macaque population. It is near Nanhua City in Tainan County, about a 40-minute drive east of the city.
There are fantastic hiking trails and you are almost guaranteed to see hundreds of macaques, in addition to a giant Buddha statue and a beautiful temple.
It’s also free to enter, making it my top free thing to do in Tainan.
11. Visit the Hot Springs in Guanzling
If you want to get out of the city for a while, head to Guanzling, home to spectacular hot springs, mud baths, and hiking trails, as well as a pool of burning water (this is due to natural gas bubbling from cracks. Burns down into the earth).
Located in the tranquil countryside, Guanxiling is the place to recharge your batteries. Bathe in the hot springs, which have medicinal properties and are believed to alleviate various ailments and promote relaxation.
12. Wander through Blueprint Cultural and Creative Park
Located in the center of Tainan, Blueprint Cultural, and Creative Park is a multi-purpose park, formerly known as the “First Judicial New Village”, which was once a dormitory for Tainan Prison staff.
Today, it has been transformed into a vibrant hub of creativity, featuring art studios, shops, and cultural events.
You can explore quaint bookstores, enjoy delicious snacks, and discover pieces of local artwork and handmade craftsmanship.
13. Visit Taijiang National Park
Just outside Tainan on the south coast is the picturesque Taijiang National Park, established in 2009 and famous for its picturesque coastal landscapes and marine wonders.
From pristine beaches to lush wetlands, the park is a mix of diverse ecosystems and is one of the best places to see the Black-faced Spoonbill.
Walk scenic trails, grab your binoculars and watch migratory birds, or simply watch the sunset over the ocean, Taijiang National Park is the perfect natural escape from the bustling city.
14. See Chihakan Tower
Another landmark in Tainan is Chihkan Tower, originally built by the Dutch in 1653 as Fort Provincia.
Today, it is a museum that allows visitors to learn about Tainan’s past, marvel at its architecture, and wander through the tranquil gardens.
15. Visit Chimei Museum
Chimei Museum is a private museum that houses an impressive collection of Western art, musical instruments, weapons, and natural history.
Founded in 1992 by Shi Wen-Long of Chi Mei Corporation, the museum is renowned for its renowned collection of paintings and classical musical instruments from around the world.
Chimei Museum is also an example of architectural beauty and is worth a visit for its design alone.
16. Climb Kigu Salt Mountain
If you’re looking for more unique things to do in Tainan, be sure to check out the fascinating Qigu Salt Mountain.
Although it is named a mountain, it is a hill approximately 6 stories high, made entirely of salt. This was once the salt pan of the Qigu Salt Field, but when they closed their doors in 2002, the salt mountain was abandoned and the salt naturally clumped together, making it easier to climb.
Once at the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding landscape of the Jingjijiao Weapon Salt Fields, which stretch as far as the eye can see.
Getting to and around Tainan
There are plenty of budget airlines in Asia that fly to Taiwan. Some of the most common are Tiger Airways when traveling to or from Singapore, and Seibu Pacific when traveling to or from the Philippines.
You’ll find plenty of Air Asia flights when traveling to or from Malaysia, as well as Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific’s budget version when passing through Hong Kong.
Flying within Taiwan isn’t worth the money or hassle. You can easily get Taiwan High-Speed Rail from Taipei, which is more convenient.
Note that Tainan HSR station is located just outside the city center, and you’ll need to catch another train from Shalun Railway Station (a 5-minute walk and connected by walkways, so you won’t get lost) to Tainan Train Station. Will be required.
Although Taiwan has a good local train system, I much prefer traveling by bus between cities. The cost is similar, but the buses are incredibly luxurious.
I strongly recommend traveling by HoHsin (red bus). Each seat is shaped like a Lazy Boy, has massage settings, and has its own screen for watching moves and playing video games.
The price is comparable to a train ticket, and they have service between major cities at least once every 24 hours a day.
When it comes to getting around Tainan, the bus system is very difficult to navigate and rarely used.
However, taxis are quite cheap.
Renting a scooter is also a good option, as they are better than cars for navigating crowded roads.
Best time of year to visit Tainan
The best time of year to visit Tainan is November and December, these are the months when the weather is by far the most pleasant.
It’s like a North American summer. Not too hot, nice and dry, sunny most of the day.
Where to stay in Tainan
When visiting Tainan, Many areas offer good accommodations And are close to major tourist attractions and sites.
The West Central district is a popular choice, known for its bustling atmosphere and many attractions.
For those seeking a quiet stay, the Fort Provintia area offers a peaceful ambiance.
The Tainan Park neighborhood is also a great area, offering a mix of natural beauty and cultural sites.
is a good all-around accommodation Kindness Day Hotel Located in the heart of the city, it has spacious and homey rooms and is well priced.
Another popular option for those who want a little luxury is Silks Place TainanWhTainan, which hotel within walking distance of Tainan City’s historical attractions.
What to do in Tainan in the last paragraph
I love Tainan because the local people are so warm and friendly. It’s a city that is so vibrant, so charismatic and so unique that I want every traveler to see it.
I hope this guide helps you plan a trip to Tainan and gives you some inspiration for what to do there. You may also like these posts: 19 Amazing Things to Do in Taipei, Taiwan, And 20 Best Things to Do with Kids in Taiwan
Biography: Matt Gibson is a travel writer, photographer, and blogger with a passion for eco-friendly adventure travel. Matt lived in Taiwan for six years and founded an island-wide magazine expat matAnd speaks Mandarin Chinese like a stammering four-year-old. Matt’s Adventure Travel Blog, Twitter