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Tainan is an interesting city in Taiwan as it’s the oldest city on the island and was during the imperial times the capital. The Dutch East India Company founded Tainan and because I’m Dutch I simply had to add a Tainan day trip on my 2-week Taiwan itinerary. I was staying overnight in Taichung from where I made the day trip to Tainan on my way to Kaohsiung. Looking back at the trip I recommend staying in Tainan and not Taichung. Tainan is more charming. Most places of interest in Tainan are in the Anping area. I’ll list the must-see places in this Tainan itinerary.
Tainan day trip: Eternal Golden Castle
I recommend starting a Tainan day trip at the Eternal Golden Castle. Although it’s also located in the Anping district it’s a bit far to walk to it from all the other places of interest. The fort dates from the imperial time 2 centuries after the Dutch East Indies Company founded Tainan. This fortress was completed in 1876 and served as a defense against Japanese invaders. In the early 20th century the fort was abandoned, and the Japanese sold most of its cannons.
TAIWAN – Ultimate 14 days Taiwan road trip itinerary around the island
Over a century later the fort one of Tainan’s major tourist attractions. The government did a great job restoring it. Once you enter through the main gate you’ll find yourself on the main courtyard where solders were drilled. The courtyard is surrounded by bastions, defensive structures, a wall, and a moat. There are several cannons on display including several Armstrong Cannons. They are all replicas though. A visit takes approximate an hour.
Tainan itinerary continued: Lin Mo Niang Park & Tianhou Temple
After visiting the Eternal Golden Castle, I recommend making a quick stop at the Lin Mo Niang Park nearby. It won’t eat up much of your Tainan day trip time. It’s a relatively new park dedicated to Matsu, the Chinese sea goddess. The main sight is the 16-meter-tall statue of Lin Mo Niang. After a short visit continue to Tianhou Temple near Anping Fort and park your car there.
Tianhou Temple is also dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Matsu but is much older. It was constructed just after the Dutch surrendered to Koxinga, a general from Mainland China. Koxinga brought several Buddhist statues with him from Fujian, China. It’s the oldest Matsu temple in Taiwan and a must include on a Tainan day trip. The temple is active, so you’ll see also lots of locals making offerings. A visit doesn’t take long, and the next stop of this Tainan itinerary is just around the corner: Anping Fort.
Tainan day trip: Fort Zeelandia / Anping Fort
Fort Zeelandia (now Anping Fort) is the next stop of this Tainan itinerary and just a stone throw away from the Tianhou Temple. The Dutch East Indies built the fort in the early 17th century on a large sandbank to protect the inner waters. You won’t see these sandbanks anymore as a lot of land has been reclaimed around it. Most building material and reinforcement had to come from Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia). Batavia was the capital of the Dutch East Indies which is a must include on any Indonesian itinerary.
Taiwan was called Formosa at that time and Anping was a strategic place for trade between other nations in the area. Fort Zeelandia was a typical European style fort with an inner and outer fort. The inner fort having room for storage, administration center and the outer fort contained residential buildings. Not even half a century later the Dutch surrendered to Koxinga, a Ming dynasty general, when no reinforcements arrived from Batavia. The fort was later destroyed and rebuilt by the Japanese.
TAIWAN – Ultimate 14 days Taiwan road trip itinerary around the island
Today, just some brick foundations and a partial wall remain of the original Fort Zeelandia. The museum shows its history and has sketches and photos for the original fort on display. What you see today is the Japanese reconstruction. The tower in the center gives a great view over the old Anping district. A visit takes approximate 60-90 minutes.
Tainan itinerary continued: Anping old town
The area around the Anping Fort is the old town. Although it has many new buildings it does have a few gems from colonial time too. Walk around and make your way to the salt museum. Although I haven’t visited it (closed), I was told it’s worth going too. From there make your way to the Former Tait & Co. Merchant House and the Tree House.
The Former Tait & Co. Merchant House was constructed in the mid-19th century. It’s first owner was the trading company Tait & Co. but later during Japanese and Chinese rule of Taiwan a salt company owned it. Now it’s a museum showing the history Taiwan. In the back is the famous Tree House of Tainan. It’s the old warehouse but huge Banyan trees have taken over the structures just like jungle temples in Cambodia.
Now continue walking to the Cultural Museum of An-Ping Oyster Shell Cement Kiln. It’s a small museum and the last remaining oyster kiln is next to it. Oyster kilns have been used in Taiwanese industry for a long time. Then walk through one of the Tainan shopping streets back to your car as the last stop is about 3 kilometers away.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP: There are various other museums and temples in Tainan worth visiting. This depends completely on your interest too. You can stay overnight and make this Tainan itinerary a two-day Tainan trip.
Tainan day trip: Fort Provintia
Fort Provintia was a second fort built by the Dutch about 3 kilometers from Fort Zeelandia. They built it just 9 years before they surrendered in 1662. It’s believed that a tunnel was built between the two forts too, but this is never fully confirmed. After the Chinese took control the fort developed when Tainan became the capital of Formosa (today Taiwan). It was fully destroyed in the 19th century so only a few foundations of the original fort can be seen. It was rebuilt as the Chikhan Tower which can be visited today. It’s famous for its library.
I recommend visiting this fort last on your way out of Tainan as it’s about 3 kilometers out of the old city. If you’re staying overnight, then the order you visit the places on this Tainan itinerary is less of a concern. If you do a Tainan day trip you might run out of time otherwise. A visit takes about an hour and is a must-do in Tainan.
Tainan was one of the highlights on my 2-week Taiwan road trip itinerary. It’s a beautiful old town and has three forts, several temples, and other places of interest. A Tainan day trip is a must do but if you have time I recommend staying overnight. A two-day Tainan itinerary will be more relaxing. I came from Taichung and continued to Kaohsiung where I stayed at the Indigo Kaohsiung. Check my 2-week Taiwan itinerary to see what I did more in Taiwan.Stay tuned for more stories and subscribe to the newsletter or follow CTB on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram including Instagram stories; on all social media you can find CTB @christravelblog) to get updated information.
Did you visit Tainan too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!