Tainan, the former capital of Taiwan

Set in South West Taiwan Tainan is regarded as one of the oldest cities in the country, and its former name, Tayoan,  has been claimed to be the source of the name Taiwan. During our trip around Taiwan we were eager to visit this city because of the excellent feedback we had received  from three different sources: taiwanese people, travelers just like us and different guidebooks. Was it well founded?

confucius temple tainan

Confucius Temple

Our visit started off pretty well by finding a great place to sleep in (Unfortunately I don’t have it’s name but it’s very easy to find: once you leave the Tainan train station cross the street that runs parallel to the rails and reach the opposite side of the large roundabout- you’ll see a large doorway that leads to a huge inner circular hall. Take a few steps back and to your right you’ll see a glass door  with the name of a hotel- that’s the one. The huge and clean rooms with free wi-fi and TV run for about 15 USD and are probably the best deal in the country) and were soon able to move around this medium sized metropolis wihout getting lost.

Because of its history it is full of temples worth visiting, mission we accomplished following the walking tour recommended by Lonely Planet guides, which can be done quicker if you’re riding a bicycle. By the way, cycling in Taiwan is very easy on your wallet, and a lot of fun too! . If you don’t have it find though no worries: find your way to Anping Tianhou Temple, the Five Concubines Temple, the City God Temple (make sure you check out the roof and beams), Confucius temple and Dongyue Temple (you will probably find people worshipping the God) by asking for a city map and directions at any hotel; chances are they won’t speak English, but that’s not a problem because you’re in the country with the friendliest people on Earth and help will arrive.  There are a couple of free tourist buses that take you to most distant sites (like the Anping Oyster Ash Kiln, a small museum worth visiting if you want to learn how powdered oyster shells were used in construction as mortar) although they’re walkable if you feel like it, and the Tainan Museum of Literature is well worth a visit. You can also book tickets for daytrips to be done from Tainan, including a salt mill where a 30 m high salt hill has become a tourist attraction.

tree in tainan

Old tree

Food stalls are available almost everywhere, offering local dishes whose names I cannot remember but are appealing to the eye nonetheless. I particularly liked a dish that includes meat dumplings covered in a somewhat sweet and sour sauce accompanied by different veggies- superb!

Busier than Taroko Gorge but tills quite for a city two days in Tainan should be enough on your Taiwan itinerary and we had to continue our way back to Taipei where we would meet the Pai family again for a day before flying to South Korea, our next destination. I’m pretty sure you won’t need more time to visit it either, but it is well worth a stop on you Taiwan trip. Enjoy!

Have you been in Tainan? What did you like best? If there’s anything I missed you think should be here please write about it in the comment section below, and share this post if you liked it!

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