Family-friendly guide to Tainan, Taiwan
Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and the former capital back in the Qing Dynasty. As a relatively large city with nearly 1.9 million inhabitants, it is very often overlooked by tourists visiting the island, but all those who have been absolutely love it. Tainan has a distinct heritage city feel and a much more laidback pace compared to Taipei, our current capital. Whether it’s delicious street food, interesting culture or intriguing history, Tainan has it all.
If ever you get to travel to Taiwan, you will realize this at some point: Taiwanese people are extremely friendly, and the further south you go, the friendlier they are. Tainan locals, for instance, are one of the warmest people you’ll meet during your trip, so caring and welcoming and even doubly so when it comes to kids. In Tainan, there are literally too many family-friendly activities to choose from; there are even hotels and homestays designed specifically for young families!
Sightseeing: cultural and historical places to see
Just about 15 minutes away from the city center, Qimei Museum has an impressive collection of fine arts, armors, music instruments and much more, the most interesting being its taxidermy collection. You heard it right, two out of four floors in the museum are dedicated to stuffed animals from around the world! From polar bears to elephants to zebras, all are displayed in natural scenes. No wonder Forbes magazine once called it “one of the world’s most surprising art collections”. Bring along your kids and check it out, it will be one of their most unforgettable museum trips.
Jingzajiao Tile-paved Salt Fields
Located in Beimen, Tainan, these salt fields are the oldest in Taiwan, with a history of more than three hundred years! Nowadays, tourists are able to see and even participate in the process of salt-making: seawater is trapped and evaporated by the sun in the fields, and the remaining crystallized grains of salt are collected by farmers. Kids are allowed to enter the fields and help pile the salt with a rake, a fun and unique way to learn about Taiwanese culture! Tip: stay until the sunset, you get a breathtaking view from here.
Sihcao Green Tunnel:
This is actually the very first canal built in Taiwan and was used to transport salt back and forth from the fields. Today, it is known for its abundantly growing mangroves on the two sides of the canal, forming a “green tunnel” through which a bamboo raft will take you on a 30 minutes ride. Kids get to spot cute little animals such as Fiddler crabs and mudskippers, while parents can enjoy the calm and Amazonian atmosphere. Tip: bring mosquito spray and hats, it can get very hot and humid!
Shennong Old Street:
The street’s name comes from the temple around the corner which worships the Great Deity of Medicine, Shennong. Once part of an area that was a bustling working-class zone during the Qing dynasty, it was Taiwan’s link to the outside world and led directly downtown. The street and its buildings have this vintage feel that brings you back in time, drawing many artists to open shops here: hipster cafes, personal workshops, small teahouses…. There is so much to discover and appreciate, it will surely be one of the highlights of your family trip.
Having fun: where to go to make the kids happy
Wanpi World Safari Zoo
Operated in a semi-open manner, this zoo was specifically built for kids and has all kinds of cute and mild animals that can be fed and patted at a close distance. The prices are slightly higher than usual (about 9-16USD/person and free for kids under 3), but since it’s a privately-owned zoo, your entrance fees go a long way to help care for the animals, definitely worth a visit!
Ten Drums Culture Village
During the Japanese-era, this building was a sugar factory by the name of Rende Sugar Refinery. It was taken over by the Ten Drum Percussion Group back in 2005 and redesigned into the biggest art village in Tainan. It has a museum dedicated to the old sugar factory, a 4D theater to promote traditional drumming art, a wonderful café and even a children’s playground with a 10m long tube slide. Neither parents nor kids will get bored.
Mashagou 3D Art Fisher Village
Who needs street numbers when you’ve got a surreal King Kong and Marty from Madagascar the movie? In this small fisher village near Mashagou Beach, the houses feature wall-painted 3D street arts.. The drawings are all interactive, perfect for fun family pictures!
Tainan, being home to Taiwan’s milkfish industry, it is no big surprise that there is a museum fully devoted to them; whether its history, pictures or even dish recipes, it has everything you need to know about milkfish. The entry is free and there is a big shop on the ground floor selling all milkfish-related products. One interesting thing you can do with your kids is to participate in a DIY workshop for milkfish balls and milkfish collagen! Tip: when in Tainan, definitely try the local breakfast specialty—milkfish and belly rice soup!
Spending the night: where to stay for a good night’s sleep
If your family is looking for a luxurious stay in the bustling West Central District of Tainan, the FX Hotel Tainan should be your first choice. It is conveniently located within 15 minutes-walk to major historic landmarks such as the Confucius Temple and Chihkan Tower, and is just a few steps away from the popular Guo Hua food street. Not only does the hotel offer a variety of family rooms and free bikes to explore the city, it recently added a children’s playground for young families!