Tainan has become a very popular historic tourist destination, in spite of its small size. The oldest city on the island, it’s best known for its traditional lifestyle, forts, and more than 500 Taoist and Buddhist temples. There are also plenty of parks, beaches and activity spots to keep you and your family engaged.

    Tainan has earned the nickname “the City of the Phoenix” from the fact that it constantly bounces back from disaster. This means that some of the ‘ancient’ sites – especially the beautiful temples – have been flattened and rebuilt. In the case of the really old places, like the Kaiji Matsu Temple, this has happened several times, but every rebirth brings back the same historical look and charm.

    What are the best things to do in Tainan?


    Anping Fort

    Anping Fort is Taiwan’s oldest fort, built by the Dutch between 1624 and 1634, when it was called Fort Zeelandia. The fort played an important part in policing and protecting international trade in the region. Nowadays, the fort is a very popular museum. At the weekends, the streets surrounding it turn into lively markets and you can sense a carnival atmosphere in the air.

    The fort has seen its fair share of historic events. Its defences were put to the test in 1661 and held for nearly a year, even though the defenders were outnumbered more than 10 to 1 and had no hope of reinforcement or relief. Soon after the fort surrendered to the Chinese besiegers, 38 years of Dutch rule in Taiwan came to an end.

    Location: No. 82, Guosheng Rd, Anping District, Tainan City, Taiwan 708

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +886 (0)6 226 7348


    Beiji Temple

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    Popularly referred to as the Arctic Palace or the North Pole Palace, Beiji Temple is home to the Emperor of the Mysterious Heaven. The temple is known for its decorative woodwork, festive bells, and paintings by local folk artists. These are all considered important historical treasures of the city.

    Location: No. 89, Section 2, Minquan Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +886 (0)6 226 8875


    photo by 阿文 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Chihkan Tower

    Also known as Fort Provintia, the Chihkan Tower was built by the Dutch in 1653. Its convenient location and the presence of some fine restaurants have made Chihkan Tower among the most visited tourist spots in town. Go to the top of the Fujianese-style pavilions to get a panoramic view of the city.

    Location: No. 212, Section 2, Minzu Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +886 (0)6 220 5647


    Confucius Temple

    Tainan’s Confucius Temple is among the oldest shrines in Taiwan, having first been built in 1665. The Dacheng Hall (main hall) is at the centre of the temple and is encircled by numerous small halls connecting the temple grounds with the Dacheng Gate.

    The Hall of Edification is close to the Dacheng Hall. Here you will find Confucian texts in attractive calligraphy, which is part of what earns this place the title of “the Scholarly Temple”. The main courtyard in front of the Dacheng Gate is an open space full of large banyan trees and is a good spot to sit and rest. There are also fairly frequent Confucian ceremonies held here.

    Location: No. 2, Nanmen Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +886 (0)6 221 4647


    photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Dehua Hall

    The first thing that strikes you about Dehua Hall is its simplicity and its low-lying architecture. On entering the hall of this temple, you will feel an unusual calmness. The artistic door gods and the green ceramic roof tiles make this place stand out from the other Tainan temples and you should also carefully inspect the intricate patterns and the murals inside the temple hall.

    Dehua Hall is not very far from the Koxinga Shrine and the Confucius Temple.

    Location: No. 178, Section 1, Fuqian Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +886 (0)6 228 4532


    photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Great East Gate

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    The Great East Gate was first constructed in 1725 and has become one of Tainan’s most iconic landmarks. It’s illuminated in the evenings, making it look like the city’s own version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

    The gate has had a colourful history, with the gatehouse added in 1736. It was further expanded in 1788, when the wooden walls were fortified with cement and bricks. Sadly, most of the gates and walls were destroyed during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The gatehouse and the gate were again restored in 1975.

    Location: No. 243, Section 1, Dongmen Road, East District, Tainan City, Taiwan 701

    Phone: +886 (0)6 221 3597

    photo by Pbdragonwang (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Great South Gate

    The Great South Gate is part of the remains of the city’s old defenses. The construction of this gate was started in 1736, with major updates in 1835. It’s one of the more photogenic spots in town – just minutes away from the ancient Confucius Temple. Surrounded by parkland, the gatehouse looks a little like an old fort. The park itself contains a number of stone tablets or steles which once dotted the city, acting as public notices.

    One of the more interesting features of the South Gate is the 2-layered defence it provides. Inspired by the Great Wall of China, an outer gate leads to a courtyard in front of the main gate. Attackers trying to breach the gate would be forced to make themselves easy targets for the defenders by entering this courtyard.

    Location: Lane 34, Nanmen Rd., West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700

    photo by Koika (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Koxinga Ancestral Shrine

    The Koxinga Ancestral Shrine is dedicated to a general of the Ming Dynasty – Koxinga. The brave general was responsible for kicking the Dutch out of Taiwan in 1661 and then ruling the island and a small empire until 1683. The shrine itself was built in 1663.

    A statue of Koxinga stands in the centre of the shrine’s main hall, along with spirit tablets for each generation of his ancestors. There’s a smaller statue outside, depicting the general as a child, standing with his mother.

    Location: No. 36, Section 2, Zhongyi Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +886 (0)6 225 0128


    photo by Pbdragonwang (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Guan Gong Temple

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    Guan Gong Temple is more popularly known as the God of War Temple because of the deity it’s dedicated to. This Tainan temple is one of the most well-preserved and ancient temples in Taiwan. Some of the old traditions still endure to this day, with artists and poets still gathering around the plum tree planted in the 17th century.

    Built during the Ming Dynasty, possibly around 1665, the temple has diversified over the years. Today, devotees can visit for blessings in their pursuit of love and good exam grades, as well as victory in conflicts. You should also visit the small factory of artistic religious sculptures to the left of the temple.

    Location: No. 229, Section 2, Yongfu Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +886 (0)6 220 2390


    photo by Winertai (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Lady Linshui Temple

    The Lady Linshui Temple is dedicated to the goddess of fertility and birth. Just next to the Koxinga Museum, the temple is one of the oldest and most significant in Tainan. It was built in 1736 in the form of a straw hut and was restructured and renovated as a more concrete structure in 1886. No other temple in the city has as many depictions of women. Exquisite paintings of female door gods are its main attraction.

    Location: No. 16, Jianye Street, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 70049

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +886 (0)6 213 0515


    photo by mmmmngai@rogers.com (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Golden Beach

    Golden Beach is the biggest in Tainan City. Sometimes called Gold Coast, it's about 50 metres wide and 4 km long. This beach is known as the ‘kingdom of sand’ and is ideal for activities like beach football and beach volleyball. The Taiwan kitesurfing centre is located here, too.


    photo by Chi-Hung Lin (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Taijiang National Park

    The Taijiang National Park is a beautiful area of greenery around the Qigu River, just to the northwest of Tainan City. Boat rides around the wetlands of Sicao Wildlife Preserve and the so-called Green Tunnel formed by the mangrove swamps are memorable experiences. The area also features several walking paths, a museum and the Dazhong Temple.


    photo by Koika (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Tainan City Sports Park

    If you’re looking for active things to do, Tainan City Sports Park has no shortage of choice. Spanning about 52 hectares near Tainan Airport, it contains numerous indoor and outdoor tennis courts open to the general public, as well as a skateboard park, a shooting range, a badminton club, and a basketball court. There are also a couple of preserved old vehicles around the park, including a World War II-era steam train. The park is excellent for biking, walking or just rolling about on your skateboard.

    Location: No. 10, Tiyu Road, South District, Tainan City, Taiwan 702

    Phone: +886 (0)6 215 7691


    Tainan Park

    Located near the railway station, Tainan Park is a much-loved place for its beautiful Chinese gardens. It has a music hall, a library, and an amphitheatre, too. Older folks come to play chess, practice ballroom dancing or do tai chi while younger visitors come for badminton and the iconic marble bridge over the main pond. Even younger visitors can jump around in the park’s playgrounds or check out the Children’s Science Museum.

    Location: No. 89, Gongyuan South Road, North District, Tainan City, Taiwan 704

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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