We recently decided go travel to Tainan and Taitung instead of just visiting Taipei and decided to travel by train. Was it a scenic route and can we play by ear since we don’t know what to expect.
This is a breakthrough visit for me mentally. Although I did quite a lot of research via Internet and TripAdvisor, and booked the first night accommodation in Tainan.
Tainan is south of Taipei which we travelled by HSR. As service was once every 30 min there’s no need to check for timing. Unfortunately the HSR ONLY serves eastern part of Taiwan.
Tainan was the original capital of Taiwan before it was moved to Taipei by the KMT government. Anping Fort predates that of the Qing empire when the Dutch created a Fort out of Anping and named it Zealandia.
We’re not into historical buildings. But Tainan is very small town. We stayed near the train station at the Far Eastern Hotel. Service is good and upon arrival the hotel staff briefed us on where to go and what to eat. However if your hotel doesn’t offer such service, go to the Taiwan Tourism Office and pick up a map. We got one before we arrive and at the Taipei airport there’re such booths with excellent maps on what UNESCO sites to visit.
What to do in Tainan
We were in Tainan in June, although a lull period and weather was unbearable for us.
Go out in morning around 7am. Return to hotel at 12pm or go to the Mitsukoshi shopping complex (newer one) and go out again at 5pm.
Morning: Anping historical sites and street food.
Afternoon : Shopping malls or just rest in hotel. We went to the new Mitsukoshi shopping mall. (This is a better Mitsukoshi one than the older store.) We kept coming back because of the 24hr fruit store just across the street for the succulent lichee for our train ride. The fruits were reasonably priced compared to Taitung.
My favourite mantou from the basement of Mitsukoshi new life. Sadly there’s no outlet in Taipei.
Evening: Night market
I stayed near the train station to allow easy access. Plus the Far Eastern hotel was the tallest hotel in the vicinity and overlooked a school. Environment was serene and filled with greenery. Bakery at the ground floor serves excellent cheap(er than Taipei and Singapore) good Japanese/French style bread.
For my next trip to Tainan, I’ll stay near West Market. Popular in Tainan is to stay in refurbished houses converted into B&B. http://www.tainan.wacowtravel.com.tw/
Don’t visit Tainan on a Tues/Wed as I discovered. While it’s OK for the historical sites which are opened everyday till 5pm, many of the hip joints opened for a young crowd is closed when we were there on Wednesday. Such as West Market. So we could only peer from outside. Should have left Weekends for Tainan and Taitung and be in Taipei for Monday/Tuesday. Tainan caters to local tourists from Taipei spending the weekend. There is insufficient local customers on a weekday to sustain business.