Tainan is often though of as Taiwan’s most beloved city. There’s good reason for that. Compared to the capital of Taipei, Tainan has a more traditional feel to it. It seems like almost anywhere you go, you’ll find something important to history, or at least something that looks like it should be!
I recently spent a day and a half there mostly on the outskirts without a real plan on what to see and do, and the following is what I ended up with. Note that this is not nearly as complete a view of the city as I’d like to give you, and the last time I visited Tainan wasn’t either. Hopefully one of these days I’ll be able to visit Tainan properly. But regardless, I’ve still really enjoyed this interesting place.
Moon World 月世界
My first day there, I visited two of the more touristy attractions on the outskirts of Tainan. The first is known as Moon World 月世界 and, as the name suggests, is a very strange geological feature that resembles the moon. Unfortunately, even though I’m definitely a fan of the geology of Taiwan, I didn’t find Moon World to be all that interesting. The park there has set up a paved track to walk around that will take about an hour to complete.
Jingzijiao Salt Field 井仔腳瓦盤鹽田
These famous salt fields can be found just to the north of Tainan, in Biemen Township. While I was again a little underwhelmed by what I saw when I arrived, the salt field do have an interesting charm to them. They are a living example of the traditional way to harvest salt. Basically, let the salt water come into the fields, let the sun evaporate the water, and rake up all the salt. Have a look at another excellent blog Wandering Taiwan for a more complete explanation.
Shennong Street 神農街
Shennong Street 神農街 is a small, traditionally decorated street in the heart of Tainan. I only spent a few minutes there but I felt that the street was (again) a little underwhelming, this time because it just doesn’t live up to its potential. At only about 200 meters long, the street has restored many of its old facades, but doesn’t offer visitors much else. There was a cafe or two, and I believe there are a few work shops that you can visit, but the street was fairly quite the day I was there. At one end is the Yaowang Temple, which starts a walking tour called the Old Five Channels Cultural Zone and visits a few temples in the area.
I did experience one other very interesting part of Taiwan’s religious culture while in Tainan on this trip. It was a practice called “Jitong 乩童” and it involves a shaman’s soul getting replaced by a God’s spirit. Soon after, the blood-letting and self-flagellation begins…
I’ll try to have that post up in a few days. Check back soon.