Difference between revisions of "Tainan"
Revision as of 23:55, 30 December 2010
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 fourth largest city on the island with a population over 760,000. 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.
The closest international airport is in Kaohsiung. From there you can take a train, bus, taxi, or rental car for a 45 minute to one hour journey to Tainan.
There is a domestic airport in Tainan, and the flights from Taipei take about 45 minutes, although the route is now defunct.
Tainan has good inter-city bus connections with other cities in Taiwan.
Tainan is a major stop on the Taipei - Kaohsiung express line. High Speed Rail has its stop a bit outside town (NT$400 by taxi ~US$15). There are free shuttle buses running from the city to the bullet train terminal. Travel time from Taipei is 1 hour and 45 minutes and generally considered more convienent (city center to city center) and less strenuous to ride than domestic air travel. Standard rail takes ranging from 3.5 hours to 6 hours depends on the type of the train.
For example, a class 1 (4 hours) ticket from Taipei will cost NT$758.
For more detailed information, see "Getting Around" on the Taiwan page.
The best way to travel around the city is by car or motorcycle. There are taxis and buses (公車 gōngchē), but they are not so convenient for non-Chinese speakers.
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.
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 a roundabout way.
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 provide whatever the person you injured cannot, from any injuries. Try getting your insurance company to write a waiver for you to be insured before driving in Taiwan.
Shinkong Mitsukoshi department store Ximen branch provides first class shopping experience. The department store focuses on both high end products and mainstream fashion. Luxurious brands such as Chanel, Hermes, Ferragamo can be found in the department store. Men's fashion includes Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Polo Raulph Lauren, Nautica, Esprit and more. There's also a movie theatre inside. Two food courts offer various Asian, western cuisine and fast food chains.
Beimen road is considered to be the "downtown" of Tainan. It is here where you can find the main train station and also all the intercity bus terminals. It stretches from the National Tainan Second High School, by the Tainan Park (previously known as Dr. Sun Yat San Park). South of the main train station is where you can find various boutique stores that mainly focuses on Japanese fashion and sport equipment stores (a popular place to visit for local students). It is also on Beimen road where you can have maybe too much technology. Countless electronic stores offer the selection that is very hard to be competed. Sony, being the predominant electronic brand in Taiwan, is found in virtually every shop. Note that the laptops purchased in Taiwan comes with standard U.S. keyboard with Chinese alphabets. Most of electronics on the other hand has English as optional language for operation. Da-han art supply shop is a great little store for the artists. It is here where you can find most of the art supply you need for your next masterpiece or even just a relaxed Sunday afternoon drawing.
On the other side of railway and back entrance of the station is Tainan's landmark; Far-East department store and Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel. The department store focuses more on midrange consumers. Downstairs food-court offers good selection of restaurants and Hong Kong-based supermarket, Wellcome.
Also close to Beimen Road is the Shinkong Mitsukoshi department store Chung-San branch, and another Far-East department store where the Times Warner Movie Theatre is situated. Chung-San Road, Beimen Road, and the train station make up the core of Tainan.
Landmarks and Historical sites
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.
One of the night market hua yuan (花園夜市 huāyuán yèshì, literally translated as "Flower Garden") is open on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday.
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' 
Preserved Plums(酸梅 suānméi)
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:
Don't forget to try the shrimp rolls (zhou-shi) down along the canal.
There's a massive (and crowded) night market at the corner of Hai-an and He-wei Roads
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!
The Hang out is also a nice bar to relax, play pool and watch sports