Kaohsiung is the largest city in southern Taiwan, home to almost three million people. According to the informational pamphlet we picked up from the station near our hostel, Kaohsiung used to be a big industrial shipping city, but now the government is focused on making it more of an artsy, cultural town. Though our stay started a little rough (we had to wait nearly an hour and a half for someone to show up to check us in to our hostel….), we really enjoyed the time we spent here.
Thanks to a treacherous weather forecast of rain and lightning that turned out to be completely opposite from the mostly sunny days we’ve had, we ended up not going to Kenting. Instead we wandered around the city and explored whatever struck our fancy. Some of the attractions turned out to be duds, while yet others weren’t even on our radar until we stumbled upon them. Out of everything we experienced, these are what left us with the greatest impression:
5. Pier-2 Art Center
The Pier-2 Art Center used to be a collection of shipping warehouses. The warehouses now house various art exhibits, some paid and some completely free. We stumbled upon this completely by accident after wandering west of the Love River.
Kaohsiung MRT Orange Line to Yanchengpu Station (O2). Take Exit 1, turn right at Dayong Road and go straight to the end of the road.
4. Cijin District
The Cijin District is a small island to the west of Kaohsiung easily accessible by a quick ferry ride. We splurged on a great seafood lunch and wandered around the marketplace for an afternoon.
Kaohsiung MRT Orange line to Sizihwan Station (O1) and leave from Exit 1. Head straight for a block and make a left, then keep going for about 8 minutes. You should see the ferry terminal on your right when you get to the end of the street. The ferry costs NT$15 if you aren’t taking a bike or scooter over with you, and it’s about a 5 minute ride to the island.
3. Fo Guang Shan Monastery
This monastery is the largest Buddhist complex in Taiwan. The main attraction is the giant golden Buddha surrounded by 480 smaller Buddhas. We went here last and loved the breath of fresh air from the hectic pace of central Kaohsiung.
Kaohsiung MRT Red line to Kaohsiung Main Station (R11). Leave from the exit and make a left, then go to the Kaohsiung Bus terminal a block down. Bus 8010 will get you there in about an hour for NT$91.
2. Liouhe Night Market
Our hostel was right at the end of the Liouhe Night Market, and we went here for dinner almost every night. The food is delicious and cheap, and you can find pretty good deals on anything from shoes to souvenirs. The only drawback is the prevalence of stinky tofu stalls, which let off a reek that I mistook for a badly-kept pet store at first. Hold your breath when you pass them, though, and you should be fine.
There are plenty of other night markets which are just as impressive as this one, but since we were staying right beside it, convenience kept us from venturing to many of the others. The one exception was on our way back from the Dream Mall our first day, when we ventured to the Jin-Zuan Night Market, which was just as amazing.
The Liouhe Night Market runs daily from about 18:30 to 01:00. Take the Kaohsiung MRT Red or Orange line to Formosa Boulevard (R10/O5) and leave from Exit 11. Turn left and you’re there!
1. Lotus Pond
Lotus Pond is beautiful and full of temples: The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, and the Beiji Pavilion are the three most obvious. There are also tons of old residences spread throughout the buildings near the lake. Lotus Pond was hands down our favorite place in Kaohsiung.
Kaohsiung MRT Red line to Zuoying Station (R16) and take Exit 2. You can take bus R51A if you’re just interested in Lotus Pond, or you can take a special tour bus that takes you around the whole historical district for NT$50 for the whole day (you’ll see the ad for it at the bus stop). If it is just Lotus Pond you’re interested in, you can also easily walk from the station. The lake is southwest of the station and will take you about half an hour to reach.
Which of these Kaohsiung wonders do you think you would enjoy the most?