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Tainan

You’ll almost certainly receive looks of jealousy from any Taiwanese person if you mention you’re going to Tainan (台南), and it’s not hard to see why. Traditional culture continues to thrive here, in the oldest city in Taiwan. The name 'Taiwan' was once used to refer to Dayuan (大員), the former name of Anping where the Dutch fort is located. Inside temples, bwah bwey (moon blocks, 搏杯) are cast to determine the best course of action, as it was done hundreds of years ago. Outside, young Tainanese show off their art and make coffee in former canalside houses. Tainanese are fastidious about their food, and a number of dishes are exclusive to the region (but renowned all over the island).

Tainan is best visited in winter: it’s warm (in the high-20°Cs) and dry, but there are few tourists. Traditional festival days are, of course, a great time to come, as are the local birthdays of temple gods.

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Tainan.

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