Tainan's Anping Old Street (aka Yanping Old Street 延平老街, or Taiwan's First Steet) is said to be the oldest street in Taiwan. Right next to Anping Fort and surrounded by many other historical sites, as well as the center of the culinary capital of Taiwan, it is a great place to enjoy Taiwan's interesting history and its delicious cuisine.
After the Dutch defeat in Penghu in 1624, they turned their sights instead to the island of Taiwan (Formosa) and began building on what were then sandbars in what is now Anping, Tainan (the inland sea that once existed here has long silted in). Anping Old Street was the first street they built in that settlement.
Fort Zeelandia was completed in 1634 after 10 years of construction, built on the high ground of one of the sand bars, along with other forts in the area, such as Fort Zeeburg. It included a one story outer fort armed with cannons. There was also a three story inner fort for administration, including a church and jail. The bricks for the building were shipped in from Java.
The Dutch ruled most of Taiwan until 1661 when they were defeated by Ming Loyalists lead by Koxinga. Koxinga sieged fort Zeelandia, for nine months, killing 1,600 of the Dutch people there before they surrendered due to lack of water. The victory at Zeelandia proved to be the end of 38 years of Dutch rule in Taiwan, the survivors fleeing to Batavia.
After Taiwan was taken over by the Qing Dynasty in the late 1600s, Tainan became the provincial capital of Taiwan. Fort Zeelandia fell into disrepair as the bay silted in. The bricks on the outer wall were harvested for the Eternal Golden Castle fort closer to the ocean.
During the Japanese occupation, the fort was repaired and renamed Anping Fort.
In 1975 the fort was further repaired and the tower improved to what currently stands. The Old Street also became more and more popular with tourists after the Fort's renovation.
Anping Old Street: Free
Anping Fort: 50 NT per person (or 150 NT to see four of five sites: Anping Fort, 1661 Historical Shipyard, Chikan Tower, Anping Tree House, and Eternal Golden Castle)
Anping Old Street: Every day 7 AM to 6:30 PM.
Anping Fort: Every day 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From central Tainan go west on Minsheng Road until it becomes Anping Road. After that keep going until you see the tower. There is free and paid parking nearby. There is a giant free parking lot near Anping Tree House.
By Bus: Take Tainan Bus 2 from Tainan Train Station to Anping Old Fort station. The ride takes about an hour.
Please see below:
I have been to Anping Old Street about a dozen times. I used to live in Tainan, but on the other side of town near NCKU. Anping Castle is perhaps the most popular tourist site in Tainan, and everyone that goes there must also pass through the old street. The old street covers a pretty large area going almost all the way from the Yanshui River (鹽水溪) to the Yunhe River (運河).
The old street is only open during the day, so don't expect to see any stalls after 6:30 PM. Once you have gotten your fill at the old street, Anping Fort is naturally the next place to explore, because it sits right next to it. Also be aware that the Fort stops selling tickets at around 4:30 PM.
Just so you know, instead of paying 50 NT at all the different historic sites in Tainan, you can pay 150 NT to see four of five sites: Anping Fort, 1661 Historical Shipyard, Chikan Tower, Anping Tree House, and Eternal Golden Castle.
For our full blog on Anping Fort, click here.
Anping Fort sits right next to Anping Kaitai Tianhou Temple (安平開臺天后宮, pictured in the background above) dedicated to Matzu. The front of the temple marks the beginning of Anping Old Street, which sells everything from hand crafted souvenirs to fried treats, fruits, Tainan's famed shrimp crackers, and almost any other Taiwanese food you can imagine.
The start of the old street is pretty much right in front of Anping Fort, and goes out from right to left. For our full blog of Anping Fort, click here.
"Fort" oyster omelette. Oyester omlette is pretty much the same all over Taiwan, so I don't know if I can call this a Tainan delicacy.
Shrimp Crackers (蝦餅)
The main delicacy of Anping, Shrimp crackers (蝦餅), are sold at multiple locations, made from shrimp meat and baked into a chip/pork rind like cracker. Another delicacy in Anping is the shrimp rolls (蝦卷) which are steamed and served in a wrap in soup or eaten steamed. Sadly I have no photos of shrimp rolls.
The shrimp crackers are pretty cheap (this one is selling 5 bags for 100 NT).
Most of the shops also give out free samples.
Beef Soup (牛肉湯)
Also near there old street are a few shops selling beef soup (牛肉湯), which is also a specialty in Tainan. Pretty good.
Also you can find some Taro and Sweet Potato ball sweet soup.
In addition there were a few stalls selling pork jerky.
All kinds of drinks for 40 NT a cup.
Spring onion pancake with egg.
DIY Pearls at Wazhenzhu (哇珍珠)
Another cool place to check out near the old street is Wazhenzhu Pearls. That's if you're into pearl jewelry. "Digging" for pearls has become a popular tourist activity all over Taiwan where you can harvest fresh clams. I'm not sure how they do it, but every clam here has a pearl.
They let you "dig for the pearl" yourself. But you still have to pay for it.
The pearl after it has been harvested from the clam.
You can dress it up with gold and silver or what not. For just the one pearl with a simple necklace it was 380 NT.
Moving on, there is all kinds of random stuff you can find on the old street, like these dried vegetable snacks.
Also, there are lots of other historical monuments and buildings around, like this one.
More stalls along the old street.
Coming to the back end of the fort.
There are tons of stalls in front of the fort every afternoon.
Typical toys and games you would find at a night market.
More snacks and stalls.
Uncle Fanwang Snacks 番王伯飲食
A cool place to check out along the old street is Uncle Fanwang Snack store, which that day was selling plum juice.
Historical artifacts inside the store.
Another view of fruit in the shape of Taiwan in front of the store.
Moving along, the old street truly is huge, almost as big as Daxi Old Street which is the biggest Old Street in Taiwan.
More snacks down an alley.
More shrimp cracker samples.
Trinkets and souvenirs.
More traditional candies and snacks.
All the dried foods and snacks you could ask for.
Old Linyong Xing snack store (林永春興蜜餞) selling very traditional Taiwanese desserts.
The busiest part of the old street, almost all of which is selling food.
A large poster is selling clothesline racks.
Another traditional shop.
Fried sweet potato balls.
Another traditional store selling tons of sweet potato chips, another delicacy here.
This store is called "Anping Delicacies" and claims to be the first real old shop in Anping, Tainan.
After circling the entire old street, we found ourselves back at the banks of the Yanshui River.
There is a nice bike path here so you don't have to worry about beating the crowds back to the parking lot.
Another view of the Yanshui River.
Park next to the Yanshui River.
View of the Anping Fort Tower from a alley.
The park here connects back with Anping Tree house. There is a giant free parking lot next to the Anping Tree house.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our blogs on Tainan!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.