Tainan as the ancient capital of Taiwan has a long history to look back at and therefore offers plenty of historic spots to explore and experience. The upcoming “Exploring Tainan”-series will share our personal travel routes discovering this beautiful city and presenting you our must-sees for an unforgettable and lovely time in Tainan.
Speaking of “we”, that is Linh (Vietnam) and Daniel (Germany), currently doing and internship at Jia Jia in Tainan. As it is also our first time in Taiwan, for us it is as much of an adventure as it will perhaps be for you. So, don’t worry! Lean back, grab yourself some tea and enjoy reading our (travel) tips in and around Tainan!
Staying at the beautiful Jia-Jia-at West Market Hotel, you have the perfect starting position to discover the city center of Tainan. Thus, day 1 of our series will focus on that part of the city, allowing to explore all initial spots by foot.
The first stop on our list is the Grand Matsu Temple (Dà Tiānhòu Gōng 大天后宮) of Tainan. To get there, simply follow the Ximen Rd. located on the right-hand side of the hotel. Before reaching the traffic circle, turn right and you will find the temple in one of the side streets. The Grand Matsu Temple of Tainan was the first officially dedicated Matsu temple in Taiwan, originally built in 1664 as a palace. As one of the largest temples in Tainan, there are a plethora of astonishing rooms to be discovered in the temple, dedicated to different deities. The entry is completely free and English guides are also provided for international visitors.
Located next to the Grand Matsu temple is the Fort Provintia / Chihkan Tower (Chìkǎn Lóu 赤崁樓).Built in 1653 during the Dutch’s occupation, Fort Provintia originally was meant to function as a hub of administrative and commercial activities. As it was destroyed by an earthquake in the 19th century, it was rebuilt as Chihkan Tower thereupon. This new structure served at the capital of the island and later – luckily – opened to the public. Enjoy the site’s marvelous architecture by day or by night – it will be a highlight either way. Entry fee is 50NT$ (25NT$ discounted), guided tours regularly take place on Sundays.
Don’t want to go sightseeing all day long? Then take a break and go shopping (or just enjoy the beautiful location) at the Hayashi Department Store (Línbǎihuò 林百貨). After leaving the Fort Provintia, walk down the Minzu Rd. and follow the Zhongyi Rd. to the right. Opened in 1932 during Japanese occupation, Hayashi was Tainan’s first department store – featuring a state-of-the-art elevator, also the first one in southern Taiwan. After being damaged in WWII, the Hayashi Department Store was restored and re-opened in 2013. The six-storey building is eye-catching from the outside, offering Taiwanese designer clothing, household items and traditional desserts and teas as well as several restaurants inside. But also do not miss to take the famous elevator to the rooftop and enjoy the beautiful view over Tainan’s streets! Or just take a look at the traditional Shinto shrine right on the top floor. Although you do not want to buy anything, Hayashi is definitely worth a visit – also in the evening!
If you’re hungry after the extensive shopping tour at Hayashi, we can recommend the Du Hsiao Yueh Restaurant (度小月擔仔麵 原始店本舖) along the street in any case! In a relaxed atmosphere, you can try different traditional Taiwanese dishes and rest for a while before continuing your Tainan experience.
We continue our tour at one of the oldest and most historically important buildings in Taiwan: Tainan’s Confucian Temple (臺南孔子廟), not far from the Hayashi Department Store. Completed in 1666, the temple served as Taiwan’s first official school, named after the most famous Chinese philosopher. Take your time and experience this historic place and its surroundings. The main part of the temple will cost 25 NT$ of admission fee, used to upkeep preservation of the building.
By now, you have already seen some of Tainan’s most beautiful places and have walked quite some distance. Congratulations! Feel free to return to Jia Jia and enjoy some refreshing beverages.
Another interesting spot that was actually not part of our very own tour that day but I still don't want to forget to mention is the Shennong Street (神農街). Close to the Hai'an Rd., this street is often considered the best preserved street in Tainan and offers plenty of cute souvenir shops to walk by. Especially in the evening, the Shennong Street unleashes its utter charm, getting softly enlightened by various handmade lanterns. Thus, I would suggest you to let your exciting day fade away at this lovely place! Relax and recharge some energy, your next trip awaits!