Mar 18, 2019

The First-timer Family Travel Guide to Tainan, Taiwan

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Every time the school holidays come around, a lot of Singapore families head to Taiwan... or at least that is what my social media feed shows! And more often than not, the usual cities spring to mind - Taipei, Hualien, Taichung or even Kaohsiung.

How about Tainan? Maybe not so much.


Easily the less popular sibling in the Taiwan family, Tainan is perhaps one of the most underrated cities in the country. But did you know that Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan??? It is commonly referred to as the “Capital City” because of its 200-year history as Taiwan’s capital under Koxinga and Qing Dynasty rule.

Brimming with history and heritage, the Anping District is its heart and soul of the city, which is home to some of the city’s most popular attractions like Anping Tree House, Anping Old Street, and Fort Zeelandia.


But more on that later. Let me start from the very beginning to show why Tainan should occupy a spot in your itinerary if you are planning a trip to Taiwan with the kids.

CLIMATE

Tainan is located in Southern Taiwan so it does not get as cold as it does in Taipei. We went during the beginning of December so while it was technically Winter, temperatures hovered around 23°C to 25°C in the day time so it was pretty cool and we wore bermudas all the way! Come nightfall, it was a balmy 20°C.


Apparently, weather in Tainan is most ideal from mid-November to end-March where temperatures are cooler and there is not much rain. And for those who are afraid of the cold, it does not get terribly cold in Tainan so good news there! The May to October period brings more rain and is definitely much warmer then.

GETTING TO TAINAN

Scoot flies directly to Kaohsiung and from there, you can choose from the following options:

By HSR: Take the HSR from Zuoying Station to Tainan Station. (15 min)
By Bus: Take the buses bound for Tainan at the bus stations on the opposite side of Kaohsiung Railway Station. (1 hour)
By Train: Take trains by Taiwan Railways from Kaohsiung Railway Station to Tainan Railway Station. (40-50 min)

If you are heading down from Taipei, it is a 105-minute journey by HSR from Taipei Main Station to Tainan Station.

GETTING AROUND

Tainan does not have an underground train or metro system so the main modes of transport for getting around are by bus and taxi.

By Bus
There are tourist public buses which cover the major Tainan attractions. Tour bus 88 runs daily (NT$18, hourly from 9am to 6pm) to all major historic sites. Tour bus 99 runs to Sihcao Dazhong Temple, in Taijiang National Park, or Taiwan Salt Museum (NT$18 to NT$36, every 30 minutes from 9am to 5.15pm, more frequently on weekends).

By Taxi
Taxi fares are determined by the meter: NT$85 for the first 1.5 km and NT$5 for every 250 m afterward. Most taxies only accept cash payment but some taxi companies accept credit cards. Do note that there is a 20% surcharge for services during 11pm - 6am and a NT$10 for using the trunk to place luggages.

WHERE TO STAY

There are no short of accommodations in Tainan, with the more popular neighbourhoods being:

- West Central District: Home to the Chihkan Tower and also close to the Hayashi Department Store.
- Anping District: Historical heart of Tainan and walking distance to attractions like Anping Tree House, Anping Old Street, and Fort Zeelandia.
- North District: Main attraction here is the Tainan Flower Night Market.

We spent 3 nights in Tainan and stayed in a HomeAway Asia property located smack in the middle of Anping District. Part of the Expedia family, HomeAway Asia offers the world's largest selection of vacation rentals with more than 1.2 million listings.

And ever since we booked with HomeAway Asia for our Langkawi trip back in 2017, we have not looked back since. Because if you need only one reason to book a homestay rental instead of a hotel for your next holiday, this will be it.


An amazing entire play room for families with kids!




Our vacation rental home, or 民宿, in Tainan is a three-storey house conveniently located in the historical Anping district - with great food all around us... with a fried chicken outlet just beside us!


Equally important is the huge amount of space for our family of 5! I think the accommodation can easily for 8 to 10 pax as it has 4 bedrooms, including a Japanese-style room which the monkies loved.


And one of the perks when booking a vacation home? The owner even texted me a few days before we arrived to tell me to bring thicker jackets because the weather in the evenings had turned colder.


Awesome minsu in an awesome location, with good food within walking distance and fantastic hosts. With rental home like this, who needs hotels???

WHAT TO EAT

As expected, there are no short of eating options when in Tainan... or in Taiwan for that matter. It really is a foodie heaven! Plus, you can get rice or noodles almost anywhere so feeding the kids will not be a problem.

Here was what filled our tummies during our 4D3N visit:

甲保廠汽修主題餐廳 Car Factory-Themed Restaurant


Now this is one themed restaurant heaven for kids... especially for those who are crazy over cars, buses and all things mechanical!


There's an actual bus parked inside the restaurant which consists of an indoor playground, a hands-on area where kids can use tools, learn how the signal and brake of a car works, and change tyres. Oh, there's even a mini train ride on the second level!





And parents? We just chill and grill on the hot plate. Sounds cool to me.


Address:台南市安平區國平路206號
No.206, Guoping Rd., Anping Dist., Tainan City 708, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel:+886 6 298-0498

窄門咖啡 Narrow Door Cafe


Believe it or not, this is the entrance to a cafe! No doors, nothing to push or pull. Just squeeze between the exterior walls of two buildings, about 38 cm apart. OMG.


The Narrow Door Cafe should probably be renamed to No-Fat-People-Allowed Cafe. 😂 So did I manage to squeeze through the gap and enjoy my dinner? Abuden.


Worth a visit if you are on the lookout for quirky cafes in Tainan...and its interior is pretty homely and rustic too!




Address:台南市中西區南門路67號
No.67, Nanmen Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan City 700, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel:+886 6 211 0508

鴻品牛肉湯 Hong-Pin Beef Broth Restaurant


If you love beef soup, you MUST visit this place! The beef is super fresh and tender, as you can see from the photos and the broth is simply out of this world. Even the wifey, who doesn't really like beef, finished every single drop of her share. Darn.


Do try the braised meat served on top of a bowl of rice too. Simply succulent and flavourful.


Address:台南市中西區中華西路二段50號
No.50, Sec. 2, Zhonghua W. Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan City 700, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel:+886 6 293 0350

筑馨居 Zhu Xin Ju Traditional Taiwanese Cuisine Restaurant


For a taste of classic Tainanese home-cooked flavors, dine at Zhu Xin Ju. Only thing is, there is NO menu here. You eat what the chef serves on that particular day. How it works is the chef goes to the market to source for the freshest catch and produce during the day time. So what you can be sure of is the dishes will be of the highest quality!





Even diningt within the restaurant is an experience in itself. Housed in an old heritage house right smack in town, the cosy restaurant is adorned with red bricks, old-school Chinese Wine Bottles, wooden tables and traditional Chinese knick-knacks.


Address:台南市中西區信義街69號
No.69, Xinyi St., West Central Dist., Tainan City 700, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel:+886 6 221 8890

東香台菜海味料理 Dong Xiang Traditional Taiwanese Cuisine Restaurant


Dong Xiang specialises in traditional Southern Taiwan cusisine and while we are no conoussiers of this type of cuisine, we utterly love the food served, in particular the fried oyster meesua, clams in clear broth and purple yam fried chicken.



Yes, that last one took us all by surprise - it had a tinge of sweetness thanks to the yam but yet savoury.


Address:台南市安南區安中路六段217號
No.217, Sec. 6, 鴻品牛肉湯Anzhong Rd., Annan Dist., Tainan City 709, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel:+886 6 257 3888

魚仔店 Fish Soup Restaurant


No prizes for guessing what's the bestseller at this eatery! The fish slices were super fresh, and the broth? Extremely flavourful! Truly one of the best fish soups I have ever had in my life. A must-visit if you are in Tainan.


Address:台南市中西區府前路一段120號
No.120, Sec. 1, Fuqian Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan City 700, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel:+886 6 211 0851

Flower Garden Night Market 花园夜市


Being one of the largest night narkets in Southern Taiwan, Flower Garden Night Market is home to endless rows and rows of game stalls, shops and of course, food stalls! Expect to get your fix of smelly tofu, bubble tea and chicken cutlet here. Burp.


Address: Section 3, Hai An Road, Tainan City, Taiwan. 台南市海安路3段
Business Hours: 5 pm to 12 am. Open on Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays.

Ta-Tung Night Market 大東夜市


The second largest night market in Tainan, it is yet another food, merchandise, and entertainment hub that features numerous stalls offering a variety of products, ranging from food stalls that offer local street food to international cuisine.

Address: Linsen Road, Section 1, near Chongde Rd., East District
Business Hours: 5pm to 12am. Opens on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays

ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES

And so, we have come to the most important aspect of our Tainan holiday: ALL the fun stuff for families to enjoy together in the historical city!


BUT... there are just so many family-friendly activities we enjoyed that I will be dedicating a separate blog post on all of the activities. Don't worry, it will be the next post! 😜

UPDATE: Check out the 8 family-friendly activities to do in Tainan HERE!




This post was done in collaboration with Tainan City Government Tourism Bureau and HomeAway Asia.



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4 comments :

E*heng said...

Hi Kelvin. Love your post. Am planning for a trip to Tainan in mid Dec and looking for an accommodation. Able to share what is the name of your home rental?

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi E*heng, the property is no longer listed on HomeAway. But you can see it here: https://www.booking.com/hotel/tw/okaeri.html

Or you can search 'Okaeri Tainan'.

Hope it helps!

cccrocodilemummy said...

Hi Kelvin
This post is very interesting. I am planning a trip to TW this December for my kids (5 and 3 years old) and I was wondering whether you could share some possible itinerary or activities? I havent been to TW with the kids, and it will be my first trip there in >10 years!

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi cccrocodilemummy, it depends on which part of Taiwan you are visiting?

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