The historic monuments of Taiwan’s oldest city, Tainan, make a great alternative to the skyscrapers of Taipei. Settled by the Chinese in 1590, Tainan was used by the Dutch as a trading center in the mid-17th century before being taken by the Chinese again, who long used it as the island’s capital.
Traces of all these phases are evident throughout the city. Must-see sites include Anping Fort and Chikan Towers, both originally Dutch fortresses, and the Eternal Golden Castle, built by the Chinese for the same purpose.
Tainan is also renowned for its elegant temples, including the extensive Zhuxi complex with its serene pagodas and sentry elephants, and the calm oasis of the Confucius Temple.
Tainan is in the south of Taiwan’s west coast. High speed trains connect the city with Taipei in under two hours, with shuttle buses from the station to the city center.