As the oldest city in Taiwan, Tainan contains a plethora of historical landmarks, with over three hundred temples, located all over the city. Located about an hour south of Tainan is Kaohsiung, once a small village, now the industrial centre of Taiwan. While complete contrasts to each other, these two cities both have their own charm and plenty to explore and discover, and being relatively close to each other, you can visit both Tainan and Kaohsiung in a weekend.
Day 1: Tainan
With Dutch, Chinese and Japanese colonialism over the centuries, Tainan is home to several of the country’s most significant historical sites, especially temples and shrines. Start the morning with a visit to Xiaonan City God Temple, one of the most revered temples, with intricate carvings of soldiers and dragons covering the interior of the temple, followed by exploring the surrounding areas and temples by foot; make sure to visit Fort Provintia, a beautiful Dutch fort, and the Taiwan Confucian Temple. Tip: many of these landmarks display its true beauty by nightfall; consider taking a night tour of Tainan’s major cultural sites.
Stop by Cafe Flaneur for a mid-day snack, known to be a hot spot for travellers for its cozy atmosphere and delicious homemade cheesecake.
Speaking of hot spots… spend the afternoon at Guanziling Hot Spring, famed for its mud baths that leave your skin soft and glowing. Afterwards, take a walk around Wusanto Reservoir; with a refreshing breeze by the water and blossom trees surrounding the reservoir, you cannot help but be captivated by its natural beauty.
Spend the evening at Tainan Flower Night Market, the largest in the city, to try some of the area’s most delicious snacks and drinks, such as oyster omelette, grilled chicken steak and bubble tea.
Day 2: Kaohsiung
Try to catch the sunrise at Lotus Pond; a man-made lake situated in Kaohsiung, it has fast become a popular tourist attraction, with lovely lotus plants scattered over the lake, which is surrounded by temples and pagodas, such as the venerated Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. A walk around the lake sure is a blissful way to start the day in the fast-paced city of Kaohsiung!
Pay a visit to Fo Guang Shan, the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan, home to a colossal Buddha image that greets you as you ascend the stairs to the monastery.
You cannot stay in Kaohsiung without sampling its seafood: Ya Jiao Seafood Restaurant is a local joint well known for its freshly sliced sashimi and scrumptious prawns.
Continue your afternoon by visiting the Former British Consulate at Takao; located on the peak of Shaochuantou, it provides breathtaking views of the city and the sea.
Almost no night in a major Taiwanese city is complete without a visit to a night market, and Kaohsiung is no exception; Liuhe Night Market is a shopper’s paradise, full of traditional handicrafts and clothing, as well the perfect place to grab a bite, with shrimps, octopus and squid being the main specialties here.
How to get to Tainan & Kaohsiung from Taipei?
The 345 kilometre long Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) connects all the biggest cities on the west coast of Taiwan, making it possible to travel to Kaohsiung from Taipei (Get off in Zuoying) in just over 2 hours and travel to Tainan from Taipei in 2 hours.
Spend a weekend in Tainan and Kaohsiung now!