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Top 10 things the do in Tainan, Taiwan

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.

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 8.30am to 5.30pm

Beiji Temple

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 10am to 6pm
Phone: +886 (0)6 226 8875

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 8.30am to 5.30pm
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 8.30am to 5.30pm
Phone: +886 (0)6 221 4647

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 10am to 5pm
Phone: +886 (0)6 228 4532

Great East Gate

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

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

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 8.30am to 9pm
Phone: +886 (0)6 225 0128

Guan Gong Temple

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 6am to 9pm
Phone: +886 (0)6 220 2390

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 10am to 5.30pm
Phone: +886 (0)6 213 0515


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