SOUTH
高雄
 KAOHSIUNG

Kaohsiung is the industrial port city that anchors the south of Taiwan. While it has been surpassed by Taichung in population, Kaohsiung continues to be a major city and a rapidly modernizing one at that. Once a modest trading village, Kaohsiung continues to be a major exporting, manufacturing and agricultural center for Taiwan.

Compared to Taipei, it’s a little slower-paced. Things are a bit more spread out, since there is more of a culture of driving and motor scootering around the city as opposed to the walking and public transportation in Taipei. The MRT and bus system is convenient for visitors, but notably less crowded (and marginally less efficient) than Taipei.

Located in the southwest corner of the island, Kaohsiung is defined by its beautiful coast and the Love River that snakes through the city. A lot of the top attractions are centered around the water, and the western coast makes for beautiful sunset backdrops. While Taipei has Taipei 101, Kaohsiung has had their 85 Sky Tower since the 90s, which was the tallest building in Taiwan until Taipei 101 popped up 7 years later.

Like a lot of southern Taiwan, it’s a little more “local” here rather than cosmopolitan, a little more old school practical than new guard glitzy. You’ll hear a lot more Taiwanese (Hokkien) mixed in with Mandarin (with a more Taiwanese accent at that). Kaohsiung residents are as warm as the weather here, and very welcoming to visitors. In recent years, there has been modernization and city beautification efforts to draw in tourists and encourage more activity to sustain the local economy. These new cultural attractions have transformed the urban landscape not only to give it some clout within Taiwan but also put Kaohsiung on the map internationally.

In terms of food, you’ll find a whole gamut of Taiwanese delicacies, but they are particularly known for tempura (fish cakes) and duck rice. The sweet black tea often found in breakfast spots are enjoyed all day, a refreshing treat for the ruthless sun.

Kaohsiung is on the up and up and growing in popularity as a local destination. Easily accessible from Taipei, it is a great home base for exploring southern Taiwan.

getting here

Kaohsiung is well connected to the rest of Taiwan. The fastest way to get to Kaohsiung is by the high speed rail. The station is located in Zuoying, in the northern part of the city, but from there you can transfer to the MRT to get into the city center. By the express HSR, it’s only 1.5 hours to zip over from Taipei. It is also easily accessible by train and bus from any city which will get you straight to the city center in the newly renovated train station.

Kaohsiung also has an international airport, the second largest in Taiwan, but only has domestic flights and regional flights within Asia.

Airport Website

HSR Website

local transportation

While most Kaohsiung locals have cars or motor scooters to commute, the public transportation is still really convenient to get to the most popular parts of the city. The MRT is newer to the city and currently only has two main lines, with another that is under construction. The local buses definitely have more coverage around the city. All of the public transportation can be accessed with the same Easycard system as Taipei. There is also a bike share program, the C-bike, that operates similarly to Taipei’s YouBike.

To get to some of the attractions beyond the city, there are local trains, tour buses and of course, taxis that can take you straight to the points of attraction.

Kaohsiung MRT

Local Buses

Bike Share

where to stay

For visitors planning on using public transportation, it’s best to stay at a hotel near an MRT station. Most of the hotels are clustered around the train station, along the Love River, and by the harbor to capitalize on the ocean views. There are many moderately priced local chains like City Suites and Kindness Hotel that are great for families and often include breakfast and snacks. There are also dozens of 5-star hotels, modern design “motels” (which don’t have the same connotation as they do in the U.S.) and many family-run bed and breakfasts for more of a local experience. While Taipei has the Yuanshan Grand Hotel, the Kaohsiung Grand Hotel offers the same traditional Chinese opulence and beautiful views of Chengqing Lake.

Kaohsiung Tourism Website

THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS

Love River is a scenic river that goes from the harbor deep into the city. There are tour boats that take you through the city, and popular private yachts for parties. Along the river banks are restaurants and shops and parks, making it a popular and scenic way to wander through the city. There are peaceful stretches and there are more commercial parts, and there tend to pop up more vendors and activities in the evenings.
Pier2 is a newer attraction, but extremely popular both for locals and visitors. Located right along the waterfront, the reclaimed warehouses are now home to art galleries, venues and shops. On any given weekend evening, the port is filled with pedestrians and street vendors. In addition to all the art exhibitions and event programming that draws people in, there are trendy cafés, restaurants, bars and shops featuring local artisans. From the outdoor promenade, you get great views of the city on one side and the sunset over the sea on the other.
Liuhe Night Market is one of the most popular night markets in the city that has had an established presence in the city for decades. Though it has shrunk over the years, it’s still a lively scene every night with plenty of street food to choose from and nostalgic night market games to partake in. The central location makes it easily accessible by public transportation and a popular stop for tourists.
Weiwuying is a metropolitan park and the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in the heart of Kaohsiung, and as of 2020, is the biggest “under one roof” art venue in the world. The architecture is sleek and modern, but complementary to the land it occupies, reflecting the organic composition of the banyan trees that are local to the area. While it is a renowned venue for a variety of performing arts, it is also a beautiful public space and built in a way to be a part of everyday life for Kaohsiung residents as much as it is a destination for the arts.
Located a short distance away from the HSR station in Zuoying, the Tiger and Dragon Pagoda are probably the most Instagrammed landmarks in the whimsical Lotus Pond. The colorful pagodas are connected to the land by a zigzag pathway that leads into the mouth of a dragon for one pagoda and a tiger for the other (you enter from the dragon and exist from the tiger). Along the perimeter of the pond are other popular statues and temples, making it a photogenic attraction and a fun, interactive one for families.
Perched up on a hill overlooking Sizihwan, the British Consulate at Takow is a historic building that offers panoramic view of the city and Cijin and is particularly popular around sunset. As the name alludes, the brick building was once a British consulate in the late 1800s. Today, it’s a heritage museum with historic exhibitions, a cafe with afternoon tea and a rose garden. On either side there are scenic stairways that connect the consulate to the sea level.

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