The small town of Baoan just to the south of Tainan doesn’t have a lot of tourist draws, but it does get a name for itself due to its cute little Japanese-era train station.
Taiwan’s railway line was started just before the Japanese occupation in 1895, however most of the early construction was completed by the Japanese. There are still historic stations around Taiwan that remain from the Japanese-era, but many are disappearing or being taken out of service. Some old stations like Tainan’s Railway Station were very modern and Western when they were built. Baoan Station, however, is a wooden structure that looks very Japanese. It is one of only a handful of old wooden stations left on the island.
Baoan Station is actually older than the current version of Tainan Station. It was built in 1914 to service a sugar refinery. It is a simple wooden structure with old tiled shingles and multi-paned windows. Inside, there is only a simple ticket booth, some wooden benches, and nothing else. It looks more like an old house and is about the same size. It sits just a few feet from the track and inside a quiet area with trees and ponds and old men sitting around doing old-man stuff. It really feels like a throw-back to a bygone era, and can really inspire feelings of nostalgia and old-time romance.
Many people visit the station, not to view its history or take in its romance, but to buy a lucky ticket. If you buy a ticket from Baoan to nearby Yongkang (or vice-versa), the ticket spells out yǒng bǎo ān kāng (永保安康), which roughly translates to “safety and health forever.” In recent years it was very trendy for students to go to Baoan Station just to buy this ticket as a good luck charm.
The easiest way to get there from Tainan Station is to take the train. It is just one stop south on one of the local trains. If you want to drive, you can head south on Datong Road and follow it as it becomes Highway 1. After you pass the airport, look to turn left on Wenxian Road. After you pass under Highway 86, look for a small lane to the left that should be well-marked. The station is at the end of the little lane.