in the southwest of Taiwan is its oldest city and erstwhile capital. Bursting with history, Tainan's architecture, food and people tell a fascinating story and visitors are enthralled by its charm. Known affectionately as the Phoenix City, Tainan has been through a number of iterations and comebacks. Originally built as a Dutch colony, much of which is still in evidence through towers and fortresses, it was taken back by the Taiwanese in 1661. And while Taipei assumed the title of capital in 1887, Tainan is still regarded as a cultural capital, famous for its unique snack foods, preservation of Taoist and Confucian buildings and ancient folklore. Visitors will enjoy exploring Tainan's rich heritage from Buddhist to colonial architecture, quiet, peaceful temples, Japanese houses and crumbling Dutch defence towers. Meanwhile, modern Tainan is alive and well with bustling department stores, night markets and sporting events, filled with young, vibrant people. Surrounded by nature, the city boasts a beautiful park within, as well as mangroves, hot springs and national parks in close proximity.
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A visit to the ruins of this 17th century fortress built by the Dutch is well worth it. Having changed hands to house Taiwanese royalty and later rebuilt by the Japanese, it’s an architectural reminder of the city’s history and its views of the ocean are stunning.
An unlikely place to find so American a sport, Tainan is the proud home of The Lions baseball team and a Taiwanese professional baseball game is an unmissable experience. Rowdy and raucous, the fans keep up a constant hubbub throughout the game, supporting their team.
Throughout the city at every turn are opportunities to find out why Tainan is known as the city of snacks. Street-side and night markets stalls are heaving with local delicacies including shrimp rolls, fried and stuffed bread, cakes and treats.
One of the most popular hot springs in the country, Guanziling’s bubbles are created by methane gas under the ground, which has been burning for centuries. Visitors flock to take a relaxing and healing dip in the waters.
Visitors flock to downtown Tainan for a bit of retail therapy. Beimen Road is popular for its sporting goods, Japanese fashion outlets and electrical stores. Nearby, on Chung-san Road, the Shinkong Mitsukoshi department store is packed with locals and tourists alike, searching for bargains.
In the center of the city lies a beautiful and peaceful green space. Local flowers and trees line the pathways and overhang the pond, and couples stroll arm-in-arm, enjoying a relaxing afternoon.
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