Quiet, laidback city on the west coast

Tainan (台南) is the oldest city in Taiwan and its ancient capital. It remained the heart of the island’s political and economic power for much of the late 19th century and was held by many conquerors, from the Dutch to the Japanese. It’s left the city with a host of famous historical attractions, and is worth considering for a day or two.

Things to do

Central Tainan

Nearby to central Tainan

Getting around Tainan

Tainan has a bicycle rental system similar to YouBike called T-bike. The network has stations all across the city, including outside Tainan Station, and the ground is relatively flat nearby. Just like the YouBike system, IC cards can be used, while rental rates are from NT$10 per 30 minutes. Get yourself set up on the official website or at the tourist information center at Tainan Station.

All the sights in this guide can be reached via public buses, but they might be a little tricky to understand if you can’t read Chinese. One option, if you just plan to see the main sights, is to get a day pass for the dedicated sightseeing bus on KKday.

How to get there

By Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR)

There are usually two or three THSR trains an hour to THSR Tainan Station from locations such as Taipei (1 hour and 45 minutes, NT$1350), Taichung (41 minutes, NT$650) and Zuoying in Kaohsiung (12 minutes, NT$140). Not all the high-speed trains stop at Tainan, so be sure to check the station and platform displays before heading onto a train. To get to the city center, you’ll then need to take the Taiwan Railway train from the next door Shalun Station to Tainan Station (23 minutes, NT$25).

By Taiwan Railway (TRA)

Limited Express trains along the west coast stop off at Tainan Station in the city center. Tickets are about half the price of Taiwan High Speed Rail, with regular services from stations like Taipei (about 4 hours, NT$738) and Taichung (2 hours, NT$363). Normal Express trains are cheaper still, but slower. If coming from Kaohsiung, you could just take a local train, as it’s not too far (45 minutes, NT$68).

By highway bus

Frequent bus services are provided from other major cities, with prices sometimes as low as NT$200 from Taipei (2-3 hours).

By air

Tainan Airport is a rather small one, with only several departures and arrivals per day. Most are for the smaller islands around Taiwan, but there are a few international departures, such as to Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh. Prices will be higher as it’s a small airport, so always consider going to Taoyuan Airport and taking the Taiwan High Speed Rail to Tainan instead, or using nearby Kaohsiung Airport.

Official tourism website: twtainan.net

Destinations map

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