Tainan is so historic that its former name, Tayoan, was assumed by the whole country upon independence. Tainan still flaunts large portions of the red-brick great wall that once protected its center. Whole streets of 19th-century wood-frame houses continue to stand in Tainan’s modern downtown, delighting visitors who stumble upon them.
Tainan’s many beautiful places of worship, such as Koxinga Shrine and Confucius Temple, are elaborately decorated with enameled dragons and stone “lion-dog” guardians. Koxinga has a following of students, who leave pleas for high grades on a prayer wall.
The gracious Tayih Landis Hotel (check rates now) in Tainan is used to hosting international guests. Many take advantage of the hotel's gym and spa-like locker room’s steam rooms and hot tubs.
At Tainan’s most famous restaurant Chou’s, everyone orders shrimp rolls, which are deep-fried but miraculously un-greasy.
Less than an hour south of Tainan lies Kaohsiung, renowned for its busy but scenic harbor and its year-round mild clime. The transport of choice is bikes and scooters, which can be cheaply rented, along with bicycles built for two. It’s a pleasure to pedal through the harbor district’s maze of narrow lanes, stopping to admire the sunset on Kaohsiung’s long beach.
Kaohsiung’s prime tourist attraction is a boat ride down the many-bridged river that bisects this thriving city. Be sure to pause for a kiss, because this waterway is called the Love River.