Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and was the capital during imperial times. It is famous for its temples, historic buildings and snack food. The city is currently the fifth largest city on the island after New Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung and Taipei with a population of over 1.8 million. For a city of its size by population, Tainan's size by land area is exceptional. Very few buildings are more than 5 to 6 stories in height and most are between two and three stories. Like other Taiwanese cities, most people in Tainan, including taxi drivers, cannot speak English well (except for high school and college students), though some of the older generation can converse in Japanese. However, to help visitors get around, there are free tri-lingual (Chinese, English and Japanese) map-guides available at the railway station.
One of the most popular destinations in the Tainan area is the Anping District (安平區； Ānpíng qū). The Anping District is the historical heart of Tainan, the original capital of Taiwan. Anping is home to the Anping Old Fort (安平古堡； Ānpíng gu bǎo), the Anping Tree House (安平樹屋 Ānpíng shù wū） (a warehouse with massive banyan trees growing out of it), and numerous restaurants and food stalls.
It is the place where the Dutch colonialist East India Company (VOC) located its Taiwan base. Fort Zeelandia (at today's Anping) and Fort Provintia (at today's Chickan Tower) had been built to secure the entrance to a natural harbour, otherwise blocked by sandbars. The area has become silted over the centuries and today the coastline is way outside the range of both forts location. Also, a lot of land area is being claimed from the sea these days as you can easily see when venturing outside Anping.
The Dutch have been overcome by Chinese general Zheng Chenggong (known in the West as Koxinga), who proceeded to set up organized government on the island.
He is thus regarded as the founding personality of Taiwan and the city has great historic significance for the country as a whole.
You can also take the TRA ('slow train') into Tainan city from the HSR station (NT$25 each way).
There is also a free shuttle bus service which takes you from the HSR station into the city (and vice versa) - there are 2 routes to choose from. One bus goes via Koxinga Shrine towards Tainan City Hall, the other goes via Funong St intersection towards Chi Mei Medical Center.
Travel time from Taipei by High Speed Rail is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
For more detailed information, see "Getting Around" on the Taiwan page.
The best way to travel around the city is by car, bicycle or motorcycle. There are taxis and buses (公車 gōngchē), but they are not so convenient for non-Chinese speakers. There is a scooter rental shop next to the Tainan City TRA (slow train) station. Rentals cost around NT$600 per 24 hours. Whether a rental shop will check for a license varies from shop to shop, but more often than not you will need an international driver's license.
All inner city bus routes pass through Tainan Station (train). There is a tourist information booth at the Station with friendly staff (English speaking) who can show you how to use the bus system. On Sundays there are two free sightseeing bus routes (88 and 99) which can take you to and back from all the major historical sites.
To get to the famous Flower Night Market (huāyuán yèshì), take the 0 bus at the 2nd furthest bus stop directly across from the rail station or ask the information booth close to it.
If you do take a taxi just make sure you have a map you can point at or the business card of the location you're headed. The taxi drivers are very helpful, but be aware that sometimes even Chinese speakers take roundabout ways.
One should take note that there are thousands of scooters and motorbikes packing the streets and if you injure someone while you are driving in Taiwan, the local laws require you to pay for whatever the person you injured cannot. Try getting your insurance company to write a waiver for you to be insured before driving in Taiwan.
Beimen Road is considered to make up much of the downtown of Tainan, and houses the main train station and all intercity bus terminals.
Beimen Road north of the train station goes to National Tainan Second Senior High School and past the expansive and historic Tainan Park (previously known as Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park).
Beimen Road south of the train station has various boutique stores that mainly focus on Japanese fashion and various sporting goods, making the area a popular destination for local students.
On the right side is a Caves Book store, which has some English books.
Beimen Road is also home to an abundance of consumer electronics stores (e.g. corner of Beimen Rd and Minzu Rd), with most shops selling a large selection of products from Sony, Asus, Acer, and other well-known brands from Taiwan and abroad. (Note that laptops purchased in Taiwan come with a standard U.S. keyboard; the only difference is that a Chinese phonetic symbol is printed alongside the standard English letters. Additionally, most of the electronics available have English as an optional language for operation. Just ask the store staff for specific information.)
The more artistically inclined, on the other hand, can visit Da-han Art Supply Shop, a specialty store catering to professional and amateur artists of all disciplines.
A short walk from Beimen Road, located on Chung-san Road (also written Zhongshan'*' Road) just southwest of the train station, is the Shinkong Mitsukoshi department store (Chung-San branch). Next to it is the Focus department store (mainly carrying young current Asian brands) and located just west of Chung-san (Zhongshan) Road on Minzu Road, another Far Eastern Department Store ('FE21') which houses a Times Warner Movie Theatre. The areas around Chung-San (Zhongshan) Road, Beimen Road, and the train station thus make up the core of shopping in downtown Tainan.
Qianfeng Road, east side of the railway accessible from the back entrance of the train station or through Minzu Road underpass to the south, is Tainan's landmark Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel and Far Eastern Department Store ('FE21'). This department store focuses more on mid-range consumers, while the downstairs food court offers a good selection of restaurants, as well as the Hong Kong-based supermarket Wellcome (seems a bit on the decline, being isolated by the railway and having a duplicate on the other side...).
Shin-Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store (Tainan Ximen Store), New Life Square (Xīn Guāng Sān Yuè 新光三越 / Ximen Road Section 1) Upmarket department store with restaurants and cinemas
Eternal Golden Castle/Fortress/Fort (億載金城; Yì Zài Jīnchéng), 16 Nanwen, Anping District - a 19th century coastal fortress consisting of a saltwater moat and an earthen mound with some replica canons. Hours: 9AM-5PM. NT$50.
The ruins of Anping Fort (安平古堡; Ānpíng Gǔbǎo) In the early 17th century, European seafarers came to Asia to trade and develop colonial outposts. In 1624, the Dutch occupied today's Anping and took ten years to build a fort named "Fort Zeelandia." After 1662, because Koxinga and his son lived here, it was named "King Castle," "Anping Castle" as well as "Taiwan Castle." The Japanese rebuilt it and named it "Anping Old Fort." Today, the only Dutch remains are the ruins of a semicircular bulwark and a section of the outer fort's brick wall; the root of an old banyan tree on the wall remains a witness to the fort's long history. The observation tower give a good view of the surroundings. Hours: 8:30AM-5:30PM. NT$50. Texts given in English, too.
Anping old town to the east of the fort give some glimpses into older times, if you look carefully into the smaler side alleys. Rather touristy with lots of souvenir shops and school groups going through, but nice for a snack.
Anping Tree House (安平樹屋; Ānpíng shù wū) Anping Tree House was originally the warehouse of Tait & Co. During the Japanese Occupation it was the office and warehouse of the Japan Salt Company. After World War II, the salt industry in Anping declined, and this area was abandoned. The aerial roots and branches of banyan trees wrapped around the building, combined with the soil, red brick and partial concrete wall creates an unusual sight. (Taken from the ticket) Location: 108 Fort St., Anping District (entrance through the back door of Old Tait & Co. Merchant House). NT$50.
TOGO, No.56-1, Tugou, Houbi Dist., Tainan City 731, Taiwan (TOGO Rural Village Art Museum). Rural Village is Museum. Museum is Rural Village. TOGO Rural Village Art Museum represents village seasons and life.edit
In 2012, people created the first “Village” art in Taiwan - TOGO Rural Village Art Museum. The museum takes art as the media while people display the feeling and ethnic spirits of the land; it removes the traditional formats of artwork and museum; and regards houses, farms, products, and farmers as the exhibitions, canvas, crafts, and artists.
Chihkan Towers (赤崁樓 Chìkàn Lóu) Chihkan Tower is the landmark of Tainan and its most famous historic site. In 1653 the Dutch built "Fort Provedentia" in the area, and the Chinese named it "Tower of Savages" or "Tower of Red-haired Barbarians." Chihkan Tower is its official name today. Even though Chihkan Tower has survived different historical periods, it retains its rich and graceful architectural aspects. Crammed with various kinds of steles, stone horses, weight lifting rocks, stone weights, and nine stone tortoises carrying royal stele carved in both Chinese and Manchurian, the courtyard looks like an outdoor museum. Chihkan Tower is particularly attractive at night. (Taken from the ticket) Location: 212 Sec. 2, Min-Tsu Rd., Central District. Hours: 8:30AM-9PM. NT$50.
National Museum of Taiwanese Literature Located in a restored colonial-era Japanese building, even with the limited English on display this museum is fascinating. The coffee shop is good too.
Confucius Temple A serene destination surrounded by a small park. Explore the temple, then go to the incredibly popular shaved-ice store right on the opposite side.
Guanziling — one of Taiwan's best-known hot springs .
Luermen Matsu Temple (Lùěrmén Tiānhòu Gōng 鹿耳門天后宮) in Hsientsao Street, Annan District, Tainan is huge and colourful. Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) is supposed to have made his landing here. Getting there is quickest by taxi (700-800 NT$ per round trip from the city, arrange for the driver to wait since there are no cruising taxis to flag down). Note the view of the areas under development along he way. Stop in Anping on the return trip and make your way back from there.
There are over two dozen night markets of various sizes in and around the city. Regardless of size, night markets all possess an abundance of stalls selling clothing, shoes, jewelry, toys, food and drink. Some even have live entertainment.
Most night markets are only held on certain days of the week. Check before going.
The biggest and most famous night market, the Garden Night Market (花園夜市 huāyuán yèshì) is open on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. There are tons of food stalls and game booths, but be warned that this market can get very busy (i.e. mosh pit busy) on some days.
Uni-President 7-11 Lions
Tainan is home to one of 4 of Taiwan's professional baseball teams, The Lions. Their home is at Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium (台南市立棒球場) which is located at No. 257, Section 1, JianKang Rd (健康路一段, 257號) . An absolute must do for baseball fans, a game of baseball in Taiwan is a raucus party compared to western games, with a constant organized cheer being beaten out by a drum line and led by a guy with a megaphone, and scantily clad cheerleaders dancing on the dugouts in between innings. Tickets are relatively cheap at $150-450NT (US$5-15), and can be bought day of the game at the park. Drinks and chinese food for sale in the park, but don't hesitate to bring in your own. Beer is ridiculously overpriced by taiwan standards, but amazingly cheap by U.S. standards, at $45NT ($1.50), but again, just bring in your own, you'll likely be the only one drinking it anyway. To get there, you can take the No.5 bus from in front of the central train station at the North Bus stop, there is a designated stop in front of the stadium, so ring the bell when you see the stadium. Schedule of games available at www.cpbl.com.tw
Mangrove reserves. Tainan is located near a significant mangrove reserve, which serves as a migrating ground for the rare black-faced spoonbill. Trips to these reserves can be arranged through a local expat group called 'Barking Deer Adventures' 
Tainan Park (台南公園), GongYuan North Rd. Beautiful park in a central part of the city. Great for a relaxing walk or a stay of a few hours. It has many beautiful trees and flowers as well as a pond.edit
Tainan is often known as "the City of Snacks" (小吃城). In addition to the wide variety of food available at night markets, the city also has an abundance of street vendors specializing in tasty and cheap dishes.
Tainan specialities are:
Coffin toast (棺財板 guāncaibǎn) - fried bread stuffed with various ingredients, such as chicken, beans, seafood, vegetables and milk-based sauces
Oyster omelette (蚵仔煎 kèzǎijiān / o-a chen)
Oysters and thin noodles (蚵仔麵線 kèzǎi miànxiàn / o-a mi soa~)
Rice cake (碗稞 wǎnkē)
Dan Zai Noodle(擔仔麵 dānzǎi miàn)
Elite Cake (狀元糕 zhuàngyuan gāo)
Don't forget to try the shrimp rolls (zhou-shi) down along the canal.
Andi's Party Corner sells traditional Austrian food and beers, an oddity in Tainan.
There's a massive (and crowded) night market at the corner of Hai-an and He-wei Roads.
A good place to sample many varieties of food is Guohua Street (Guóhuā Jiē 國華街) between Minshen Road and Minzu Road. It is lined with stalls and small restaurants that give you everything you might want to try. It opens early and is busy with people getting breakfast before heading to work.
Imma Bakery, Shulin St.. Coffee house with breads, cakes, cookies, etc. An Israeli chef and Western style.edit
Pearl milk tea (珍珠奶茶, zhēnzhū nǎichá) is a must drink in Tainan. Look out for shops, where it is made directly to order!
Dirty Roger, Dongmen Rd. (close to the Railway station).Excellent small bar. Used to be very hip, still very good. Every Music imaginable.
The Armory, Gongyuan Rd. Good for beers and sport
Willies Second Base, for beers, sport, food and pool upstairs
Red Wolf Tavern, No. 229 Gongyuan Road (台南市公園路229號), North District, Tainan City, 9pm - late, smoking allowed, beer from NT$100, food: burgers, fries, etc. cover charge on weekends and special occasions, ladies night Wednesday, all-you-can-drink Fridays, pool table
Drifters, 台南市公園路128-32號(No.128-32 Gongyuan Rd. Tainan), ☎ 886 6 226-4861. 1800~0200. in Gongyuan Road is a nice bar to relax, play pool and watch sports. They also have good dishes and WiFi.100. edit
Eroos, 台南市神農街115號, ☎ +866 6 221-0321, . 9PM-4AM. Bar/lounge, very nice place to relax and have a drink.100NT. edit
Tin Pan Alley, Beimen Road (Across from Tainan Park on Beimen Road.), . Great Partly outdoor Pub and Bar near Tainan. Wonderful friendly owners and delicious food ranging from Pizza to Felafel. edit
Cama Coffee, Corner of Ximen Road and Yonghua Road, across from Shinkong Mitsukoshi mall at New Life Square (Xīn Guāng Sān Yuè 新光三越), fresh roasted-on-site coffee with outside seating
Cheng Kuang Hotel, 294 Beimen Rd Sec. 1, ☎ +886 6 222-1188. Near the train station. The hotel is a little old, but the rooms are OK for the price.
Darwin's Hostel, No. 39, Alley 165, Lane 372, Yuping 9th Street, Anping District ☎ +886 916 672-625. Dorm rooms from NT$340, privates fromNT$680. Open 24/7, checkout at 2PM. A green hostel with free bikes, free internet, a kitchen, laundry service, and located in a cool part of the old Anping District. Guests get a free drink at Tin Pan Alley. http://www.darwinshostel.com
Dream Corner, Lane15, Dongning Road, Dong District, Tainan City, Taiwan 701 , ☎ +886 980 980 524. 15 minutes walking from Tainan Railway Station. NT$500, a little bit old but nice view and clean, details at http://caniceman11.wix.com/dream-corner.
FuQi Hostel, No.76-2, Zhongzheng Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan City 700 (See website for directions. Attention: The hostel is on the 2nd and 3rd floor. The entrance is not very obvious, it's just a metal door with the name of the hostel on it.), ☎ +886-6-7034543, . checkin: 3-9PM; checkout: 9-11AM. WiFi, free internet, kitchen, living room and laundry plus very helpful and friendly staff. Dorm Rooms for NT$500. edit
Guang Hwa Hotel, 155 Beimen Rd Sec 1 (北門路一段, 155號), (near the train station), ☎ +886 6 226-3171. Free internet and breakfast. This place is old, and the airconditioning is really loud and centrally controlled (and Taiwanese think that 25°C is cold), but the rooms are clean, adequate, and really close to the train. Small singles starting from NT$920.
Tainan City Labour Recreation Centre, 261 Nanmen Rd. ☎ +886 6 215-0174, . Large single room including private bathroom NT$550/Double room. Open 6AM-midnight, checkout at 11AM, hot water only from 6PM-midnight. They no longer offer dorm rooms.
Tavern L, No.38, Chenggong Rd., North Dist., Tainan City 704 (北區成功路38號, Tainan 70443), Taiwan Close to Tainan Station about a 3-5 min walk, The sign isn't very obvious but its across the street from the Dynasty hotel. Free wifi, Staff speaks good English. Also is a bar that specializes in craft beers mostly from America, but has Taiwan Beer on tap. Rooms are around $850. 
There are many hotels close to the rail station; one such is Tie Dao Hotel which is NT$1000 for 2 beds.
Sendale Yong Fu - Tainan City 新大福軒館, 115 Yong Fu Rd, Section 1, (behind Landis Hotel, 3 minutes by walking to New Life Square-Mitsukoshi Department Shopping Mall) ☎ +886 6 214-2988. Fax:+886 6 214-2799, 
Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, 89 Section West, University Rd, ☎ +886 6 702-8888 (fax: +886 6 702-7777), . Five-star property near the train station (regular, not HSR). Free internet (wired).edit
Tayih Landis Hotel, 660, Shi-Men Rd, Sec.1, ☎ +886 6 213-5555 (fax: +886 6 213-5555), . 5 star property adjacent to an enormous Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store. Nearby Confucius temple and the Chihkan towers.edit
Evergreen Plaza Hotel, No. 1, Lane 336, Chunghua E. Rd., Sec. 3, Tainan City, ☎ +886 6 289-9988 (fax: +886 6 289-6699), . 4-5 star property about 10 min south of the train station (regular, not HSR). Free internet.edit