Tainan, Another Southern Surprise | Taiwan


Having celebrated its 400th anniversary this year, Tainan continues to hold dear the ancient culture of Taiwan. It is the country's oldest city and once served as the capital of Formosa, the previous name of Taiwan, for 260 years spanning the rule of the Dutch, the Kingdom of Tungning, and finally, the Qing Dynasty.

Marla Espina
The mountains of Guanziling in Tainan is known for their many mud hot springs

Chosen by CNN as one of the 24 best travel destinations in 2024, there's no shortage of scenic sites around. From picturesque natural landscapes, salt and flower farms, old temples, museums, and a rich culinary scene, Tainan provides travelers with another pleasant southern surprise in Taiwan. Following our Kaohsiung exploration, we raced to Tainan for an additional cultural trip. Our first stop: Chimei Museum.

Koryn Iledan
A mind-blowing collection is housed inside this museum

Being a museum enthusiast, I have high expectations for whatever museum I visit. And because of the magnificent collections housed in our National Museum Manila — all three galleries the Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of Anthropology — I anticipate that others in different cities and nations will be nearly as good as ours.

Emily Rosales
The Arms and Armors Gallery is my favorite inside Chimei Museum

Fortunately, I was thoroughly impressed by Tainan City's Chimei Museum. It would take more than a day to see everything at the Chimei Museum, just like at our own National Museum complex in Manila.

Sophie Gianan
The Fine Arts Gallery displays art works from artists around the world

The museum's five galleries cover a wide range of topics: the Fine Arts, Musical Instruments (including the largest collection of violins in the world), Natural History and Fossils, and my favorite, Arms and Armor, which displays a variety of weaponry and armor from different time periods and cultures.

Marky Ramone Go
Architect Tsai Yi-cheng designed the Chimei Museum to spark a cultural revival by incorporating western elements.

Art breathes freely in the city of Tainan, as dotting the region are a number of museums such as the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, the Thousand Fields Seed Museum, the Ciji Temple Museum, the National Museum of Taiwan History, and countless temples and creative spaces. 

Tainan Taiwan Travel guide
One of the art installations at the Blueprint Culture and Creative Park

There is also the Blueprint Culture and Creative Park, which is a fascinating spot bubbling with creativity. Formerly a block full of rundown dwellings before it underwent gentrification and opened to the public in 2015. Most of the houses, which are now souvenir shops and charming cafes, were meticulously restored to its original beauty using the technical drawing style of blueprint design as inspiration.

Ariadne Jolejole
The extensive violin collection of Chimei Museum

The Old Judiciary Dormitory in Tainan's neighborhood has undergone a transformation, with kaleidoscopic lines, animated patterns, and interactive artworks now adorning its walls. The dorms were once home to employees of Tainan Prison. The two or three blocks of tiny, vibrantly colored shops are located in the middle of a busy business center and are surrounded by similarly vibrant wall paintings. Be on the hunt behind every plant box, roof, and wall because although most of the artworks are plainly visible, others are hidden.

Desa Tayting
The therapeutic scene of colorful flowers at Arwin Therapy Garden

From culture tripping, we set out on a nature trail in Tainan, passing by the blooming fields of Arwin Therapy Garden and into the mountainside. There, we savored a steaming mug of coffee and resisted the temptation to plunge into the waters of Guanziling Hot Spring, home to Tainan's mud hot springs.

Where to go in Tainan
Anping Old Fort

Our Tainan journey came to a close at Anping Old Fort, where we wandered through its olden streets’ maze of narrow lanes and explored the neighboring Mazu Temple, which previously served as the palace of Ning Jin, the last ruler of the Ming dynasty.

There's also a museum inside the Anping Old Fort

Formerly held by the Dutch, Anping Old Fort was taken over in 1661 by Koxinga, also known as Zheng Chenggong, the Prince of Yanping, a Southern Ming general who opposed the Qing invasion of China in the 17th century. 

Taiwan Travel Guide
Part of the 70-meter wall that remains from the original

Despite extensive renovations, the Anping Fort grounds are still a fascinating historic site. There are artifacts from the original 70-meter-long fort walls and a museum that tells the narrative of Tainan, its culture, and the Dutch occupation.

Tainan Travel Guide
Scenes inside Mazu Temple

Our trip to Tainan and Kaohsiung opened my eyes to the fact that Taiwan is home to much more than only Taipei's culinary delights, Jiufen Old Street's endearing atmosphere, Sun Moon Lake's romantic allure, Yangmingshan National Park's jaw-dropping beauty, and so on. Taiwan truly offers a limitless array of experiences for inquiring travelers like me, and this southern journey is but one more unforgettable taste of what the country has to offer.

Marky Ramone Go
All over Tainan city

So, as this three-part #2024Taiwan trip blog posts suggests (see the other two here: Taiwan Lantern Festival and Kaohsiung's Many Charms), pack your bags and visit Asia soon, and please, don't forget to pass by Taiwan.