The second last stop on my Two Weeks Taiwan Itinerary was Kaohsiung. Known as `Habour City’ in Taiwan, Kaohsiung has the biggest port on the island. With year-round fine weather, cheap costs, convenient public transport, and gorgeous beaches, it’s no wonder this city is well loved by many people. In this post, I will share some of my favorite experiences from my Kaohsiung travel!
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How to get in Kaohsiung
We traveled to Kaohsiung from Alishan National Park. There is no direct transfers. You must get to the high speed rail (HSR) station in Chiayi county, from where you can take the 2 hours HSR to Kaohsiung. The ticket cost $245 NTD per person. To get to Chiayi station from Alishan, you can either take a bus from the transport center outside the Alishan National Park entrance, or hire a driver like we did. I would highly recommend hiring a driver. It’s not that much more expensive and it will save you so much time. The ride is less than two hours by car, but more than four whooping hours by bus.
If you are going to Kaohsiung from Tainan, the trip is easy by HSR. The ride is only about 30 minutes and cost $106NTD.
What to do in Kaohsiung
Dragon & Tiger Pagodas
There are so many things to check out in Kaohsiung. One of the must visits is the unique Dragon & Tiger Pagodas located at the Lotus Pond in Zuoying District. In Chinese culture, dragon represents power and strength, while tiger represents righteousness and harmony. It’s believed that if you enter the pagodas from the mouth of the dragon and come out the mouth of the tiger, you can get rid of your bad luck and get more good luck! You can also climb up the pagodas for an awesome view of the surrounding lake and cityscape. Look at the gorgeous details on the roof! Summer is perhaps the best time because that’s when the lotus flowers are in bloom. We visited during winter so we didn’t see the flowers, but it was really cool anyways. Nearby are also many other attractions such as the Spring Autumn Pavilions and Confucious Temple.
Oh! Did I mention? Entering the pagodas is free, making it a very friendly place for budget travelers. *insert heart-shaped eyes. However, you can find a donation box near the door if you are feeling generous.
As the name suggest, the Love River is a romantic place for a stroll with a lovey dovey. Of course, it’s just as nice to walk along with friends, family, or solo. The best time is perhaps at night when all the city lights are lit, forming a gorgeous colorful reflection on the water. You can also board a cruise on the river, or chill in the riverside outdoor bar, watch a live singing performance while you sip beer.
Pier 2 Art District
Whether you are an artsy pants or not, Pier 2 is worth checking out. This area has an interesting history as it was originally just some abandoned warehouses in the 70s. But local artists saw a chance to create something cool and voila! Today, Pier 2 is an attractive area with galleries, boutiques, trendy cafes and entertainment venues. Shop for some local lifestyle products, browse inside the stationery and book stores. You can enter the contemporary art gallery for $149 NTD. But if you are a cheapo like me, taking some photos outside with the free art displays is plenty satisfying. 😛
Kaohsiung-ners, oh how I envy you for living so close to a delightful island! Cijin Island is only a 5 minutes ferry ride away from Kaohsiung Harbour. I was totally caught off guard upon arriving because to be honest, I didn’t expect it to be that nice. Well I was wrong. Cijin Island’s beach is beautiful and clean. The sand is so soft. The water was warm even when we visited in January!
Enjoy swimming, sun bathing, biking, and/sunset watching. You can easily spend a whole day here. There are several points of interest on the island, including the Cijin Fort, Cijin Lighthouse, Windpower Park, Cijin Market and Tianhou Temple. My favourite? Check it out:
How cute is this? This art piece is called Rainbow Church, and it’s right on the beach! You’d definitely wanna get a photo for the ‘gram! Psst there are actually two of these Rainbow masterpieces. Check out the other pyramid rainbow on my Instagram.
Cijin Island is also reputed to have the freshest seafood in Kaohsiung, which I’m not surprised. We didn’t get a chance to eat here but let me know if you ever get to try!
Liu He Night Market
How can we read a Viola post without hearing something about food? We liked the Liu He Market so much that we visited two times in a three day span. The food here is de.li.cious…*ooh I sound like a Fergie song. Head to the food section below to check out what to eat in Liu He.
Formosa Dome of Light
Right by the Liu He Night Market is Kaohsiung’s Formosa Station. At first, it may seem like any old station in the world, but there is a secret beautiful gem waiting to be discovered. The station concourse is home to the “Dome of Light”, an impressive glass work display that is the largest in the world! Designed by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, the colorful glasses tell the story of four elements: Water, Earth, Light, and Fire. Join the rest of the selfie tribe here!
Kaohsiung Central park
This cute park was right across the street from where we lived. It’s a wonderful place to get a dose of nature in the middle of the city. You can see tons of people exercising here. Do not attempt to come here at night though. My boyfriend and I went for a stroll after dark and became dinner for mosquitoes.
If you don’t want to leave to the island, you can still enjoy beautiful sunset view from Sizihwan Bay. Surrounded by mountains, the bay is wonderful with its glistering blue water and natural coral reefs. Who wants to go for a dip? *Raise hand
Things we missed
Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple
This epic temple is about an hour away from the city. Fo Guang Shan is said to be one of Taiwan’s largest buddhist organizations, where many people go to find peace and learn about Buddhism. Unfortunately, we did not get to visit during our Kaohsiung travel last time. Will save it for another trip!
Ruifeng Night Market
We attempted two times to visit to this Night Market but unfortunately it was closed both times. Just our luck! Ruifeng is not open Mondays AND Wednesdays and that’s when we chose to go. Remember kids, do your research!
What to Eat in Kaohsiung
Liu He Night Market
As already mentioned, Liu He is where it’s at if you are hunting for food. It’s a feast for the eyes before the food even gets to the mouths. There are so many choices. Some of our favorites at the market included: huge grilled prawns, fried calamari, oyster omelettes, salt and pepper potato stuffed bread, and these Danzai noodles that I couldn’t even handle. Sooo good!
Speaking of noodles, near Pier 2 Art district is a delicious noodle shop that I must also recommend. We were taken here by a good friend who is local to Kaohsiung. We visited for breakfast after a previous night of drinking. Our friend suggested this place as a perfect “hangover food” spot. The restaurant is quite old. The front is the kitchen where you can see the staff chopping all kinds of meat and vegetables. Inside the restaurant, people slurps noodles enthusiastically. This was my first sign that the food must be good. We tried a couple of noodles on the menu and got some appetizers. As expected, the noodles were amazing. But what was unexpected was the secret ingredient. Guess what it is…pig fat! I know. It sounded disgusting to me too. But actually, it made the noodles so buttery and yummy!
*Note: Click on the restaurant name for a link to its address as you will not be able to search for it in English. That’s how you know a place is local and authentic!
This restaurant beside the Love River was suggested to us by our taxi driver. We went for dinner and really enjoyed their tasty and affordable dishes. We went a little overboard ordering way too much food. Our favorite dishes were the fried tofu, fish hot pot, and peppered steak. Our waiter was a friendly young guy who chatted with us quite a bit. We left the restaurant full and happy.
*Note: To my shocking surprise, I went online trying to leave a good review for the restaurant, and found a slew of negative comments by customers….hmm so different from our experience. Guess you never know until you try it yourself.
Where to Stay in Kaohsiung
Well for the first time, I actually cannot recommend a place from experience. Comparing to our other accomodations in Taiwan, the Airbnb we lived in in Kaohsiung was hmm…BAD. Although very conveniently located right outside Central Park station, the shared apartment had terrible air circulation. It was clear that our host tried desperately to clean before we arrived as the stench of bleach was overpowering. Anyways, that’s enough of our story…
I wish instead we had stayed in one of these cool hotels that I’ve researched:
This hostel looks super comfortable and quirky. They have basic, economy, business and family deluxe rooms with private bathrooms. I’m definitely booking here next time!
This hostel’s minimalist lobby and room decors are Instagram worthy. Apparently they have bikes for rent and is located beside my beloved Liu He Night Market. I’m sold!
Love the name of this hotel and this room? Whoa fancy! Reading the hotel description: en suite bathroom, fitness facilities, delicious breakfast, starts at 50 USD per night…That’s it.
Have you been to Harbour City before? Let me know what your favorite memories were from your Kaohsiung travel!
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