Tainan Railway Station
Tainan Railway Station
The Tainan Railway Station is one of my favorite old buildings in the city. It has a Western look to it, seemingly colonial and well-aged by the tropical sun, but definitely modern in its day. The architectural style is eclectic, but the art deco influences dominate. It has a history of more than a 100 years, dating back to the beginning of the north-south rail system in Taiwan. The current form is the second generation, built during the Japanese period and completed in 1936. Its modern style was part fo the progressive building that the Japanese were doing in Tainan at the time. There used to be a restaurant and hotel in the building, as well as a bar and recreation area on the second floor, but these amenities are all history now.
The railway divides the city into east and west. This makes cross-town commuting difficult if you have to cross the railroad divide. There are two access points for the station. The rear entrance is to the east and accesses National Cheng Kung University, the Far Eastern Department Store and Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Hotel. The front entrance is pictured above and accesses downtown Tainan. It is located right on the Chenggong traffic circle which makes it a little difficult to enter or leave the station on foot. A series of underground tunnels help link the various exits of the station.
Surrounding the train station are several bus stations, each offering service to different areas. You can find out which one will service your needs at the tourist information center in the train station. The information center is helpful for any questions regarding the city. They have English-speaking staff and free maps of Tainan as well. Other services include a baggage storage room on the north side of the main building. There is long-term scooter parking available on Zhongshan (Jhongshan) Road, just around the corner from the station. This is not actually affiliated with the station, but it’s a good place to keep your bike safe if you’re going away for the weekend. Parking will cost you about NT$40 per day.
When heading out-of-town, tickets may be purchased at either entrance to the station. The schedule board above the ticket windows can be a bit daunting at first. There are only northbound and southbound trains, but you will need to know how far you’re going. While some of the destinations are clear, there are others you may need to look up on a map. The color coding on the board tells you the train type. The dark blue trains are ‘local trains’ which mean they are painfully slow and stop at every little station that exists. You will need to take one of these trains if you are visiting any of the small towns in the area. The orange and red trains are express trains that stop only at major stops. The red trains are a little more modern, a little faster, and a little more expensive than the orange trains.
Faster yet is the high speed rail (HSR), but don’t be confused. The HSR trains DO NOT stop at this station. Unlike Taipei, Tainan’s High Speed Railway Station is completely separate and exists well away from the city center. Free shuttles do connect the two stations, but it takes about 40 minutes to commute.
Location: On the Chenggong traffic circle and Beiman Road; No.4, Sec. 2, Beimen Rd., East District, Tainan City 701, Taiwan