Tucked in the Southwest Coast of Taiwan, Tainan is the oldest city in the country. While it has been overtaken by the other cities - New Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Taipei - in terms of size, the history and culture embedded in the city give it a striking distinction from the rest. You’ll find that the former capital of Taiwan during the Qing Dynasty still packs a punch when it comes to showing its guests a good time, especially in the older districts such as Anping, where you’ll find the forts and a place called Anping Tree House where a collection of banyan tree roots are growing out of a wooden warehouse. Small details like this provide a surreal touch to Tainan. What adds to the urgency to visit Tainan is also the fact that a good number of its land area is being reclaimed by the sea, including some of its historical spots. Vanishing cities like these need to be visited soon. Should you happen to be in the area, you might want to stay in a place as whimsical as Tainan itself. Here are a couple of accommodations with superb review scores from Booking.com for you to choose from in this historic city:
Catch Phoenix is located just 500 meters (1,640 feet) from Chikhan Tower, the most historic symbol of Tainan. Chikhan is also called the Tower of Savages or the Tower of Red-Haired Barbarians. Lest you think of something haunted, the tower actually looks like a romantic ancestral house with a blossoming garden and beautiful brick interior. It is also best seen at night. So you don’t hurry during your tour, you’ll want to stay in accommodation closest to the area. Catch Phoenix is a stunning combination of light wood and high ceilings. It seems to be patterned from a country lodge, with a loft and wide living room. The rooms are equipped with their own bath and shower, adding to the relaxed feel of the place. Catch Phoenix also just happens to be 500 meters (1,640 feet) away from Grand Matsu Temple as well. You can easily reach both historic areas via bike, which you can rent from the bed and breakfast.
Catch Phoenix B&B
Address: No. 11, Lane 296, Hai-An Road, 721 Tainan, Taiwan
Access: 500 meters (1,640 feet) from Chikhan Tower
Like Catch Phoenix, My Way is also just 700 meters (2,300 feet) from Chihkan Tower and 800 meters (half a mile) away from Tainan Confucius Temple, a nice, intimate temple with a pocket garden in front. Unlike Catch Phoenix though, My Way House has a completely different feel in terms of accommodation. My Way looks like a converted 70s house in brick and iron, with hand painted geometric patterns on its walls and a hopscotch board painted on the floor. It has a very relaxed, grandmotherly feel to it, juxtaposed with modern elements. Every room also has its own bathroom and shower.
My Way House
Address: No. 73, Zhengxing Street, 700 Tainan, Taiwan
Access: 700 meters (2,300 feet) from Chikhan Tower
Every bed and breakfast or homestay has a signature element. For enjoy homestay, it just so happens to be its particleboard that provides this contemporary feel to the whole room, along with its flatscreen TV and refrigerator. Enjoy Homestay is one of the accommodations nearest to Haianlu Art Street or Haian Road Art Street. Like what its name connotes, there’s street art all over this street, which was transformed by artists to be an outdoor gallery of sorts. There is photography plastered on the walls, graffiti, paintings and the like. Enjoy Homestay is an 8-minute walk from Art Street. It’s also a great midpoint to other areas in Taiwan, being just 400 meters (1,310 feet) away from Xingnan Keyun Tainan High-speed Railway. The shuttle bus station is also just 100 meters (330 feet) away.
Address: No. 32, Lane 144, Section 1, Yonghua Road, 70056 Tainan, Taiwan
Access: 700 meters (2,230 feet) from Haianlu Art Street
It’s been categorized as a hotel but with its intimate, friendly appeal, Key We Go still functions like a warm mom and pop stay, where the owners usually host their guests in the truest sense of the word. They still greet, guide, and talk to guests, especially during the guests’ first day. You’ll also love the charming exterior of this multi-story building, as it’s covered in pink bougainvillea vines framing the front. The interior of Key We Go is quite low-key and meant for guests who want something clean, pristine, and all white. Only the headboard provides it the necessary whimsy, with colorful illustrations or bright decals.
Key We Go Hotel
Address: No. 16, Lane 341, Section 4, Ximen Rd, North District, 704 Tainan, Taiwan
Access: 2.1 km (1.30 miles) from Chikhan Tower
Hii Hubs lives up to every modern expectation of its guests - exposed concrete walls, black and white tiles, distressed concrete, and clean lines. The lounge has a minimalist setup with open tables and Japanese style seating, while on the other end is a set of co-sharing tables for a possible all-night work session. There’s a wooden deck on every floor, where guests can have an impromptu picnic or a quick smoke. The mixed dorm follows the same theme, its color combination of muted grays with glass accents and metal pipings. They also have individual rooms with second-floor lofts. If you get tired from staying in, you need merely rent a bike and head to Confucius Temple just 900 meters (0.55 miles) away from the B&B.
Hii Hubs B&B
Address: No. 420, Section 2, Shulin Street, South District, 70228 Tainan, Taiwan
Access: 900 meters (0.55 miles) from Tainan Confucius Temple
Apart from those already mentioned in the list, other historical sites also include the National Museum of Taiwanese Literature, which is a restored Japanese building where you can get good coffee and the Luerman Matsu Temple in Annan. The latter is a bit far off from the destinations listed here, however, the colorful facade and the legend behind it makes it quite worth the visit, even if it’s a little out of the way. Tainan has become a beautiful, quaint city, with a historical significance that assures it can never be forgotten by the rest of Taiwan. Many locals still flock here for a quick break or a history lesson. It has a quieter feel than most of its siblings, such as New Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung. Buildings here are no higher than two to three stories, which adds to its small-town feel, despite it functioning like a full city. What it lacks in big infrastructure though, it more than makes up for in authenticity.