Tainan’s Chinatown 臺南中國城

Chinatown, Tainan
This is Chinatown, a half-abandoned shopping and entertainment complex in Tainan.

Tainan’s Chinatown 臺南中國城 is a half-abandoned and soon to be demolished shopping mall and entertainment complex in Tainan City 台南市. Built in 1983, it was designed by C.Y. Lee, a famous architect who later directed the construction of 85 Sky Tower and Taipei 101. I happened to breeze by one sunny afternoon in January 2014 to shoot a few photos with some friends so I figure I may as well share them here.

Chinatown, a mall in Tainan long past its glory days
A few vendors still ply their trade in the entrance of the old mall.
One of the few remaining shops open at street level in Chinatown
The only businesses that remain seem rather unsavory.

Apparently the place was really happening during the boom times of the Taiwan Miracle but nowadays it is in the final stages of decay, much like the Golden Empire 黃金帝國 building in Yuánlín 員林. Apparently the karaoke bars and down-market clothing shops that remain are holding out for greater compensation from the local government. Were it not for that the place would no doubt be completely abandoned.

Inside a crusty old mall in Tainan
All the shops inside the mall are shuttered.

Oddly enough we also noticed a few people living in some of the old shops. Cheap rent, I guess?

The sign for what I would assume was an old karaoke bar or clothing shop of some kind.
This is Chinatown
The other side of Chinatown, a derelict mall in Tainan.

We took a stroll downstairs, shot a few photographs, and were soon chased out by an irate karaoke hostess. This wouldn’t be unusual anywhere else—but in Taiwan? Highly suspicious and out of character. There wasn’t even really anyone down there apart from a few old men, half-asleep and murmuring into microphones.

Downstairs at Chinatown in Tainan
Downstairs at Chinatown in karaoke heaven.
Karaoke is alive and well at Chinatown
Karaoke is alive and well at Chinatown.
In the bowels of Chinatown
Deep inside the bowels of Chinatown, a derelict mall in Tainan.

More info and photos are available in Chinese here, here, here, and maybe here. If you’re interested in visiting Chinatown you had better do it soon—blink and it’ll be gone!

Update 1: plans for the new development have circulated in the media recently. Looks like Chinatown’s time has nearly come.
Update 2: apparently the destruction has commenced but I have yet to see any photographic evidence.
Update 3: it’s gone.