An undiscovered destination for many, Tainan’s charm will delight the whole family.
Requiring a decade to construct, the fortress was renamed ‘Fort of the King’ when Cheng Cheng-kung defeated the Dutch army and occupied the land.
For an alternative to the bustle of vibrant Taipei, Taiwan’s oldest city enjoys a more leisurely pace of life, where even the tallest buildings rarely surpass three storeys. Situated on the Southern coastal plains of the island, Tainan is home to an abundance of historical sites, with 50 of them listed as national treasures. The ancient capital is also famed for its thriving street food culture and the birthplace of several native Taiwanese cuisines.
Revered as one of the country’s most famous scenic views, Chihkan Tower is considered a must-see. Constructed in 1653 by the Dutch, it was known as Fort Provintia before being renamed ‘The Tower of Savages’ by the Han Chinese. Today open-air concerts take place there on weekends and the surrounding area is filled with shops and vendors selling traditional nibbles.
Another structure with an intriguing history is the Anping Old Fort established by the Dutch in 1624, and originally named Fort Zeelandia. Requiring a decade to construct, the fortress was renamed ‘Fort of the King’ when Cheng Cheng-kung defeated the Dutch army and occupied the land. The site of numerous battles, the watchtower and mottled relics are a reminder of its colonial past.
Delve further into Tainan’s history at the National Museum of Taiwan History which provides insight into its rich culture. The permanent exhibition, Our Land, Our People: The Story of Taiwan, showcases the history of the land and its people through movies and models categorised by era, ranging from its early residents to Chinese migrants, and its transformation towards a democratic society. A dedicated Children’s Hall approaches aspects of travel, nature, farming and village life in a fun, educational way to keep the kids entertained.
For a spot of entertainment, look no further than the Ten Drum Culture Village. Young and old alike will be spellbound by the mesmorising performance by the Ten Drum Art Percussion Group who performed at the Summer Olympics in 2000 and the 2002 World Cup in South Korea. In 2009, their album Island of Drums was nominated for a Grammy Award in the traditional world music category. Situated in a former sugar refinery, the show combines lighting, dry ice, kung fu poses, dance moves and of course drumming at mindboggling speeds with amazing dexterity.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves
Another of Tainan’s many facets is its lush greenery, best showcased in the Sihcao Ecological Area. Known as the city’s secret garden, it’s a great way for the family to rediscover nature with a bamboo raft ride through fishpond and mangrove forests, lapping up the sun and fresh air while keeping an eye out for birds and wetland creatures.
Once the sun sets it’s time to head to the Xiaobei Tourist Night Market to experience a sumptuous array of local delicacies, such as eel noodles, marlin soup and rice cakes. The most popular night market of its kind, be prepared to fight your way through the crowds, but the mouth-watering treats are well worth the battle, particularly the bubble tea and barbecued corn.
For a more sophisticated culinary experience, Shanghai Pavilion presents authentic Huaiyang cuisine with a harmony of colour, aroma, taste and delicate craftsmanship. Regional offerings tend to be on the sweeter side with Chinkiang vinegar used frequently as seasoning. Most dishes focus on a single ingredient, characterised by light flavours and meticulous presentation.
An ideal getaway for families, Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan is located in the heart of the town. Boasting the largest rooms in the city, it’s the ultimate place to relax and rejuvenate. The city’s rich past and sumptuous eats provides cultural interest for grown-ups while the little ones are sure to be enthralled with the entertainment and abundant wildlife.
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