6 Interesting Places in Tainan
May 17 2016
When it comes to cities in Taiwan, Taipei might get all the attention, but there are actually some other pretty cool places around the country. Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan – and arguably the most beautiful – though the competition might not be that strong, as many cities in western Taiwan are pretty ugly to start with.
However, with its charming and walkable old town, vicinity to the sea, and some fascinating historical monuments, Tainan is definitely worth making time for on any trip to Taiwan. Here are some of the most interesting places to visit in this city.
This 13th century temple complex (pictured above) sits right in the middle of the city, and serves as a wonderful oasis of tranquility from the busy streets. To wander around the grounds of the temple and people-watch is free, but entry to the temple itself costs NT$25. It’s a popular place among locals to hang out with friends, have lunch in the sun, and play games. There are tourists about, too, but it doesn’t get too busy, especially earlier in the day.
Hayashi Department Store
You might wonder, what exactly is so interesting about a department store? Well, this one, originally built in the 1930s and retaining its Art Deco style, offers a more personalized and unique shopping experience than the average department store. Most of the stuff on sale is handmade, limited edition, and locally produced, making it a great place to buy some unique gifts and souvenirs from your trip to Tainan.
Anping Tree House
To the west of downtown Tainan, Anping is an old suburb of the city near the coast, which is home to the Dutch-built Fort Zeelandia. You can visit the fort, but it’s pretty touristy, so instead head to the Anping Tree House, an abandoned salt factory that has been engulfed by enormous banyan trees. Walking through the remains of the factory, reading about its history, and climbing over the giant roots is a somewhat eerie experience. There is also a viewing platform that looks out over the nature reserve nearby, from which several kinds of birds and other wildlife can be spotted.
Part bookshop, part library, part café, part co-working space, this cool place on the first floor of a building in the West Central District is a great find. You pay for the time you spend there, and bottomless tea and coffee are included, though there are also some other snacks and light meals available for extra. The selection of books is really varied, with a large part of them also in English. The staff is very friendly and chilled out, making it an ideal place to come to relax and enjoy the atmosphere or get some work done.
Fat Cat Deli
A tiny café with a bit of alternative twist from the regular, cutesy aesthetic of many Taiwanese coffee shops, this place is a bit of an unofficial cat café. There is also an interesting selection of books, records, and CDs for sale, and the decoration is totally hipster, but still pretty unusual. The staff speak perfect English and have a great sense of humour, so come prepared for a laugh!
Dove Tail Café
This very cute, little vegan café and restaurant in the West Central District of Tainan is a great place to kick back and relax over a light noodle soup for lunch, or just a drink. It also doubles as a carpenter’s studio, which occasionally puts on workshops and displays some of the owner’s creations around the café. This isn’t a place to come if you’re in a hurry to eat, as service can be a little slow, so come with time and enjoy relaxing in the very pleasant surroundings.
If you’re planning a visit to Taiwan, be sure to include Tainan in your itinerary to see something totally different from the big west coast cities and the wild mountain interior. This small city has a lot to offer and these six things are just the start!
Have you ever been to Tainan? If so, what’d you think? If not, would you like to go? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!