Kaohsiung was one of those cities that we could have easily spent way more time in than we anticipated. It took us by surprise with all of its diversity from the city vibe, art scene, beaches, food and more! Unfortunately, we didn't have as long of a time in Taiwan as we wanted and were only in Kaohsiung for 3 days, but here is our experience and itinerary of this incredible city plus a bit more!
Getting to Kaohsiung
We flew into Kaohsiung International Airport direct from Cebu, Philippines. The airport was standard and easy to navigate. It is the second most popular airport in Taiwan apart from Taipei. Check out our tips on how to find cheap flights here.
Tip: don't forget to exchange your cash or take out cash from the ATM. It will save you time and possibly give you a better rate at the airport as well.
From Kaohsiung International Airport you can get to the city by taxi/uber or the underground shuttle. We were feeling lazy and were just ready to get to our hostel so we ordered an Uber for 200 NT ($7 USD). However, we highly recommend taking the Metro from the airport and it'll get you into the city in 15 minutes versus 30-60 minutes by car.
The Airport is on the red line (bottom right corner) as you can see above on the railway map. Once you are at the station use the machines to buy your ticket. Note: the machines are cash/coin only. If you have a MasterCard or UnionPay though you can skip the machine lines and go straight to the station by tapping your card. If you aren't looking to take the Metro you can either take a taxi or an Uber.
Fare Comparisons from Airport to Kaohsiung City Metro 35 NT or $1.15 USD Taxi 250-350 Taiwanese NT or $8-11 USD Uber 200 Taiwanese NT or $6.50 USD
Where to Stay
We always make up our minds on accommodation as we go. Sometimes we prefer hotels while sometimes we feel more social and want to go with a hostel, and sometimes it purely depends on our budget. When we arrived in Kaohsiung we wanted a central location that was budget friendly. We stayed at Backpackers Inn Hostel and loved it. They provide double beds in the dorm rooms so it was just spacious enough for us for the evening. For the double bed it was 525 NT or $17 USD split between us.
Wherever you choose to stay in Kaohsiung, we highly recommend it being within walking distance of a subway line for convenience. Backpackers Inn is located right next to the Central Park station which is only one stop away from the most central station in all of Kaohsiung: Formosa Boulevard Station.
Top Things to Do
The Lotus Pond is in the Zuoying District and is great spot for photos due to its temples and pagodas along the pond. We spent a couple of hours walking all around the pond jumping from spot to spot but you can also get a bike to go around. There's also a small waterpark on the right hand side to go wave boarding. The pond is fairly new being built in 1952 so you can expect to see a lot of color and.. tourists. If you have been to other parts of Asia though, it is nowhere near the size of other crowds. The pond is just as beautiful during the day as it is at night because the temples light up.
Travel Tip: You can easily get here by the MRT from the central station to Zuoying for 15NT ($0.51 USD).
Tiger Dragon Pagoda
The Tiger Dragon pagoda can be found at the Lotus Pond with two towers hanging over you at 7 stories high. The tower has yellow walls, red pillars and orange tiles with hand painted pictures in the inside depicting Buddhist and Taoist stories and characters. We came during the day and found small crowds but nothing that dampened our day. If you walk along the Lotus Pond you will find other statues and temples.
Tip: Enter through the dragon's mouth and exit out the tiger's mouth to get rid of your bad luck and increase your good luck.
Dome of Light
If you are like us and love a pretty light show, don't miss out of the Dome of Light. Located at the Formosa Boulevard MRT station and intersection of the orange and red line on level B1. The Italian artist, Narcissus Quagliata, is known for his unique talent in stained glass art. The Dome of Light is the world's largest art installation made of colored glass. It it commemorates the birth and growth of Taiwans democracy. Occasionally, there's a cute little piano player that plays right before the light show as well.
Liuhe Night Market
This is the largest night market in Kaohsiung and one of our favorites. While a lot of the other night markets feel like a tourist trap, you see a bunch of locals eating here and truly feel immersed in the culture. We had a handful of street food from dumplings to Taiwanese hotdogs (sticky rice bun with a chinese sausage) to soups and giant fried oysters. I'll be honest, we came to the street market and got a bunch of random things and 9 times out of 10, we were obsessed and went back for seconds. Some foods may look strange, but just give it a try because some of those are the best foods we've had.
To get here take any subway station to Formosa Boulevard. From there it is less than a 3 minute walk to the entrance of Liuhe Night Market. Open nightly after 6pm.
Pier 2 Art Center
We took the MRT from Formosa Boulevard to Yangchengpu Station (20 NT) and in 10 minutes we arrived. You will be welcomed by street murals and giant art sculptures. Originally, this area was just abandoned warehouses but was saved and turned into an art park for locals and tourists alike to experience fine art. On the weekends, there are flea markets with sellers displaying their handmade pieces of jewelry and other knick-knacks. If you have time, you can also go the cinema there as well and get a popcorn sundae!
Travel Tip: If you go early enough, you can do the next 3 things (Fisherman's Wharf, Cijin Beach and Rainbow Church) all in the same day!
Kaohshiung Fisherman's Wharf
Located near Pier-2 Art Center is the Fisherman's Wharf. This is a great stop before taking the ferry over to Cijin Beach and getting a bite to eat. There's a huge cafeteria with a bunch of different foods to try and of course, a bakery with the pineapple buns. (you must get this!) There's a white, pristine carousel on the outside along with a greenhouse and is perfect for taking a stroll.
The ferry to Cijin beach is located here and only costs 30 NT per person ($1 USD).
Make sure to get your ferry ticket for 30 NT at the Fisherman's Wharf (there are other ferry locations near by as well) and you will arrive at Cijin Beach in 5 minutes. You can opt in renting a scooter prior to coming to the beach and literally drive your scooter on to the ferry or rent a scooter, electric tricycle or bicycle there too. The price of an electric tricycle is 200 NT per hour but as always you can negotiate a deal if you want the bike for longer.
There will be a huge street market for food and trinkets that is there all day and after a short 10 minute walk at the end of the market, you will finally make it to the beach. The beach is not very crowded which is nice to lay out and throw a frisbee. There's also a huge surf scene here with boards for about 300 NT for half day and 1500 NT for an instructor for 3 hours. At sunrise and sunset, the sand almost looks black and is just stunning for pictures and droning.
Click here to see more of our day at Cijin Beach!
One of the most photo iconic spots by Cijin Beach. This is an 8 meter tall art installation that is in the shape of a giant rainbow. It is surrounded by a pool of water which adds a nice reflection to your photos as well. Next to this piece are two other art installations for you to get your Instagrammable photography on.
A line will quickly form as it gets closer to sunset so if you want the perfect picture make sure you arrive early.
85 Skytower is Kaohsiung's tallest building at 1,240 feet tall. There used to be an observation platform at the top of this building for panoramic views of the city. However, as of September this year they are no longer open. This is one of the most memorable buildings in all of Kaohsiung and you will most likely see it many times in your adventures.
Travel Tip: The sky deck no longer operational
Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
It is home to the biggest bronze buddha in the world and the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. The pathway to the buddha has 8 pagodas leading up to it each with its own presentation room, a reception center, an exhibition, a library, and a venue for the faithful to conduct lessons, copy sutras, and hold weddings. The memorial center Fo Guang Shan Temple is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and the Buddha Memorial Center is open 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and stays open to 8:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
The Purple Diaries
Being one of Taiwan's larger cities, the LGBT community has a small but lively scene here. Kaohsiung is generally more conservative comparably to eccentric Taipei. However, Taiwan is Asia's most accepting country when it comes to the LGBT community. It is unlikely you will have issues here with showing affection, or have any issues with discrimination.