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From one Instagram enthusiast to another, here are my top finds for instaworthy photos in Tainan.
Where history and tradition meet youthful energy and innovation, old and new ideas collide. The result? A city that abounds with intriguing places to discover and amazing photo ops along the way. The city of Tainan truly stuns in photos and in real life. Read on for 8 places that will have you snapping away instaworthy photos in Tainan.
Table of Contents
Qianqi Seed Museum 千畦種子博物館
When it comes to getting instaworthy photos in Tainan, this quirky museum instantly comes to mind.
You’ve obviously heard of and may even be guilty of dishing out the proverbial wisdom about seeds and growth. Behind all progress, though, is a beginning. The museum started out with the owner’s hobby of collecting seeds throughout southern Taiwan. However, over the decades the place was overrun by seeds. It was then that the owner decided to open the doors and share his collection with the public.
Although the guided tour is in Mandarin, it is interactive and an enchanting opportunity to hear the owner chat animatedly about his life’s work. I highly recommend that you stick around and try your hands at the various seeds (minus the ones he tells you to stay away from, obviously).
At his prompt, I picked up a couple of wrinkly, bright red seeds from a half-cracked open shell. I rubbed the seeds between my fingers, leaving a faint red streak. Nature’s best rouge.
Shuànsên Cafe 双生
Given the sheer number of local eats there are in Tainan, you think you’d never get through them all. To make matters worse (obvious sarcasm here), hipster cafes, bars, and bistros have sprouted all over the city and transformed it with a creative force. With plenty of photo ops and good food, it’s the best of both worlds.
The owners are two school mates from Taichung who have found a new life in Tainan. Instead of starting fresh, I appreciate that the cafe preserves the characteristics of traditional homes in this ancient city. At the same time, it cleverly blends local aesthetics with twists of Japanese and western flavours. While having a brunch of pancakes and karaage, sunlight streamed in. It cast shadows that mirrored the iron grating of the vintage windows. It’s little things like that that make Tainan’s newer establishments so unique in the ways they pay homage to our collective memory of the good old days.
Occupying the third and top floor, Room A is bright and airy. It is as though an oasis of quietude and tranquility in the city. As long as you keep your voice down, feel free to wander through the cafe. Then, find a corner that suits your needs, whether it’s reading, daydreaming, or taking instaworthy photos. Here I found my favourite magazine, Another Escape, which filled with inspirations for future travels. Until then, a getaway to this cozy spot would do.
Jingzijiao Wapan Salt Fields 井仔腳瓦盤鹽田
Jingzijiao is the oldest salt fields in Taiwan, with over 180 years of history. Moreover, the picturesque setting has become a favourite for sunset seekers and photography aficionados. It is also easily one of the best spots for instaworthy photos in Tainan.
We arrived at the salt fields nearing sunset after a terribly long and achy scooter ride. But soon, the views proved to be well worth the distance. The breeze nearly blew away my hat as we entered the fields, crystallized grains of salt beneath our feet. The name wapan comes from the unique salt-making technique used here. The fields were built on top of the sea and laid with shards of broken tiles called wapan. After baking under the sun all day, the mounds of salt became hardened. Piled high in the fields, they glistened like white pyramids.
Gently, the sun set in the distant horizon, casting a rich sheen over the mirror-like surfaces of the salt fields. The crowd didn’t dissipate. Not yet, anyway. This was the golden hour. Everyone waited in synchronized silence in anticipation of that perfect shot of golden lustre.
Beimen Crystal Church 水晶教堂
Just a few minutes away from the salt fields is the perfect destination for couples to capture a romantic moment. It used to be just that– a photo hotspot with no public entrance and no religious functions. That seems to have all changed recently, with prewedding photoshoot bookings, art installations, and even the addition of a family-fun train ride!
Out in the open and away from towering buildings in the city, sunset at the Crystal Church is an incredible time for photos. The sky is an ink drop of lilac that fades into ochre while the sleek curves and blue-tinted windows, inspired by Gaum’s St. Laguna Chapel, sparkle against the marvellous setting sun.
Sputnik Lab 衛屋茶事
Built during the Japanese Occupation period in Tainan, Sputnik Lab is far removed from that chapter in history. These days, it is a teahouse and sweets shop specializing in all things matcha. It has also quickly become Tainan’s best-kept secret for photos that will have your friends wondering where you actually went.
Sputnik Lab is an unlikely name for a place that is synonymous with Kyoto. Given that Tainan has a knack for instilling new life into historic sites and old buildings, it’s no surprise that this former Japanese dormitory from the 1920s is thriving with no signs of slowing down.
Upon entering, remove your shoes and walk down the long, narrow corridor that opens up to tatami rooms separated by shoji sliding panels. As you walk, you instinctively become conscious of your volume and pace, as though not to disturb the calmness that pervades in the space. After taking in the immaculately preserved rooms, enjoy your sweets with a view of the pebbled courtyard.
Shennong Street 神農街
A popular choice for day trips in the city, Shennong Street is one of the most iconic and photographed streets in Tainan, and for good reason.
In many of the places I’ve visited in this ancient city, there is a reoccurring theme of revival.
Shennong Street was once one of the busiest streets in Tainan’s West Central District. The business hub was teemed with ships coming in from the five river channels that ran through the city. It earned its name from the Shennong Temple at the end of the street. It is also known as Beishi Street for its northern orientation to a nearby port, Nanshi Port.
Following the paving of city roads, businesses in the area dwindled. Plagued with complicated issues regarding the title deeds, the street started to look the worse for wear. Until now, that is.
Making use of the beautiful vintage vibes, shops boasting uniquely handcrafted souvenirs and traditional art pieces started moving in. Shennong Street now takes on a new identity as an art and cultural hub. The street is a short walk, measuring mere 100-something metres. But the soft, pastel-coloured storefronts and swaying lanterns compel visitors to stop in their tracks and feast with their eyes and cameras.
Shanhua Hu Jia Painted Village 善化胡家里彩繪村
In a far corner of Tainan, a sleepy village found itself with cartoon characters as its new neighbours. There’s Totoro, Little Mermaid, and even the Malayan tapir popularized by Taiwanese artist Cherng.
The murals started with three sisters’ efforts to bring some colours and fun to their grandmother. Bit by bit, the walls of the traditional one-story Taiwanese homes are transformed. The village now attracts both tourists pouring in for the photos, and artists and schoolchildren unleashing their own creativity.
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