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Taiwan Tourist Information

Tainan Tourist Information

Ancient Capital

Tainan, the ancient capital of Taiwan, is situated on the southwestern coastal plains of the island and enjoys a warm climate year-round.  It is the island's oldest and now fourth largest city, with a population in excess of 700,000.  The gentle-natured people of the city are warmly hospitable, and the relatively tranquil life there seems far removed from the hustle and bustle of modern urban life.  With its long history, Tainan is rich in historic sites and cultural heritage.


Tainan's  year-round average temperature is 23 degrees C, the average is about 25 degrees C in the spring and fall season, 28 degrees C in the summer and 17 degrees in the winter.

Night Life

Nighttime in Tainan can be whatever you make it.  If you like tranquility, you can go to the Kuangfu campus of National Cheng Kung University to stroll quietly and enjoy the gentle breezes, the aroma of flower blossoms, and the chirping of myriad insects.  If you like noise and bustle, you can go to the night market near the Far Eastern Department Store on Chungcheng Road and buy some gifts for friends and relatives. If these suggestions fail to fit your fancy, then go for a quiet conversation over a cup of fine tea in one of Tainan's unique tea houses.

Snacking in the City

Because of the culinary culture that has developed along with this ancient city, a tour of Tainan not only brings brand-new mental experiences but offers priceless opportunities to satisfy the palate as well.  Among the many Tainan snacks that are know far and wide are Coffin Cakes, bread in the shape of a coffin which has been hollowed out and stuffed; nutritious Passing the Lean Months Noodles, which were developed by the fishermen of former times to help them get through the slack fishing periods; Pot-side Pancake Soup, made with rice dough spread on the side of a hot wok and scraped off in pieces; Rice Dumplings; Rice Pudding flavored with various sweet or savory ingredients; Eel Noodles; Sweet Potato Pork Dumplings; Crystal  Pork Dumplings; and Milkfish Congee.  These delicacies ca be savored wherever snack vendors congregate, such as the Hsaiopei Night Market and the Chinatown marketplace.

Natural Ecology Area

The coastal areas of suburban Tainan provide excellent bird-watching opportunities.  Traveling northward along the New West Coast Highway, in the neighborhood of Anping you can see such birds as seagulls, magpies, and egrets.  Along the route from Tainan to Lurhmen you can see more than 40 bird species, including pintail, herons, and egrets, roosting and feeding; among the most impressive sights in this area is the "egret forest," with its thousands of birds.  Among the salt fields of from September to the following May, the thousands of sharp-billed sandpipers and other migratory birds that come to winter here.  This is one of the most important stopping points for birds migrating between Asian and Australia.  From October to the following April the area around the mouth of the Tsengwen River is a haven for the famous and extremely rare-black-faced spoonbill as well as birds of the recurvirostridae and egret families.  There is also a large mangrove forest at the mouth of the old salt canal that contains three of Taiwan's four types of mangrove trees.

Chihkan Towers 
212 Mintzu Rd., Sec. 2

The present towers were built on the foundation of Fort Provintia, which was constructed by the Dutch in 1653 to serve as an administrative center.  The towers now house a small museum containing artifacts from the Dutch days, and in front of them stand stone tablets mounted on stone turtles.  Beside the towers stands a "broken-legged stone horse."  The story is told how during the night, in the old days, the horse was transformed into a demon that harassed the people of the surrounding countryside until they broke its legs as punishment.

Official God of War Temple 
229 Yungfu Rd., Sec. 2

This temple, along with the Confucius Temple, is known as one of the oldest and best-preserved temples in Taiwan.  Just when it was originally built is not known, but according to legend it was during the Ming dynasty's Yungli reign, in the mid-17th century.  During the Ching dynasty, this is where government officials offered sacrifices to the god.

The God of War (Kuan Ti or Kuan Kung) worshiped here holds a heavy sword and rides a swift horse.  His mortal origin ws as a general of the late Han dynasty (early 3rd century) who, because of his behavior, became a symbol of uprightness and loyalty to later generations and was finally deified.  He is said to have been good a managing finances and to have invented a method of accounting, and so is also worshipped (by businessmen, especially) as the God of Commerce.

The entrance to this temple has a particularly high threshold and for a reason.  In the old days, it is said, women were banned from the temple and the high threshold was designed to keep them out.

Great Queen of Heaven Temple
18 Yungfu Rd., Lane 227

The Ta Tien Hou (Great Queen of Heaven) Temple was built in 1684 for the worship of Taiwan's most popular deity; Matsu, Goddess of the Sea.  Matsu is the patron deity of fishermen, and her birthday on the 23rd day of the third lunar month (either April or May) is celebrated each year with frenetic explosions of colorful activity.  The goddess is usually flanked by two guardians, Eyes that See a Thousand Miles and Ears that Hear on the Wind; these are said to have once been malevolent spirits who were reformed by Matsu's example and now use their powers to help her do good works.

A secondary diet in this temple is the Old Man under the Moon, a sort of matchmaker god worshipped especially by unmarried men and women.  The believe that all the need do is pray to the god for a red "matrimonial thread" or apply their rouge before him and they will quickly find a mate.

Altar of Heaven
16 Chungyi Rd., Sec. 2

Commonly referred to as Lord of Heaven (Tien Kung) Temple, the Altar of Heaven (Tien Tan) is dedicated to the supreme Taoist deity, the Jade Emperor.  The Chinese people believe deeply in fatalism; so when they encounter troubles in their lives, they might go to the Altar of Heaven to ask the Jade Emperor for a change of destiny.  This is accomplished by transferring one's ill fortune to a straw doll and substituting good fortune for it.  The local people go to the temple on the first and 15th days of each lunar month to worship the god and pray for the well-being of their families, and solemn birthday celebrations are held for the Jade Emperor on the ninth day of the first lunar month.

Confucian Temple
2 Nanmen Rd.

Established in 1665 as the first site for Confucian studies on the island, this temple is known as the "First School in Taiwan."  This large and tranquil temple encompasses a total of 15 structures and was designed with the school situated to the left and the temple to the right.  Impressive ceremonies to commemorate the birthday of Confucius are held in the courtyard in the front of Tacheng Hall on Sept. 28 every year.

Great South Gate
Nanmen Rd., Lane 34

The Great South Gate is one of the few remaining of the original 14 gates of the Tainan city wall.  Built in 1736, it has an outer arched fate in the shape of a half moon; named (naturally) Moon Gate, it is set at an angle to the inner gate because of security considerations.

Located near the Great South Gate is the Forest of Tablets, a collection of ancient stone tablets that were gathered from various places at the time of an urban reconstruction project during the Japanese occupation..  These 61 different tablets, all of different sizes and ages, are of substantial historical value.

Lady Linshui Temple
1 Chienyeh St.

This temple is dedicated to a Lady Linshui, Chen Ching-ku.  Since there are so many people who need the help of the goddess, she is accompanied by 36 assistants who are positioned in a side chamber.  These are all the patron saints of women, who come in large numbers to pray for sons or good health.  For women and children alike, the goddess is a source of spiritual comfort.

Women also come to this temple for a "belly change" which is believed to change the sex of an unborn child.  A Taoist priest performs a ritual which, it is said, can give the child whatever sex the parents desire.

Koxinga Shrine
152 Kaishan Rd.

Cheng Cheng-kung, the pirate-warrior known to the West as Koxinga, made great contributions to the development of Taiwan and has been rewarded by a number of shrines built in his honor.  The building that houses this shrine was built in 1662, and it is the only Fuchou-style temple in Taiwan.  The temple containes the Tainan Cultural Museum, which desplays a number of ancient artifacts.

Kailung Temple
56 Chungshan Rd., Lane 79

This temple is dedicated to Chi Niang-ma, the Seven Maids, who are viewed as protectors of children; it is to this temple, therefore, that the young folk of Tainan come for their coming-of-age ceremony at the age of 16.  This ceremony is still practiced, but not nearly as religiously as it was in the old days when employers used 16 as the dividing age to determine whether employees were paid as children or as adults.

Old Fort Anping
28 Kuosheng Rd.

The history of Taiwan's development began at the Anping district of Tainan.  This is where the Dutch built their stronghold in the 1620's, naming it Fort Zeelandia.  Most of the old fort is gone now; the only bit left of the original is a piece of red-brick wall, elegant banyan roots growing down its sides.  Visitors here like to climb to the top of the observation tower (of recent vintage) to view the sunset and watch the fishing boats that dot the vast surface of the Taiwan Straits.  In the old days, this was known as one of the "Eight Great Scenes of Taiwan."

Eternal Fortress
16 Nanwen, Anping District

This fortress was built on the shore to help consolidate Tainan's sea defenses.  Constructed in the late 19th century near the end of the Ching dynasty, this square structure with high walls and a moat was the first Western-style fortress on the island.  The Armstrong cannon that provide the fortress's "firepower" today are replicas, manufactured in 1975, of the English originals.

Anping Local Culture Hall
3 Hsiaochung St., Lane 52

This narrow and winding street, the oldest one on Tainan - therefore in all Taiwan -- and commonly known as "Taiwan Street" is rebuilt now.  Nearby is a historic building named Haishan Hall, an interesting structure with an even more interesting collection of implements and charms designed to expel evil.  The  building today has been transformed into the Anping Local Culture Hall and is open to visitors free of charge.



Information provided by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office

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