Last Updated on June 14, 2021 by queenie mak
Known as the largest port city in Taiwan, Kaohsiung (高雄) has transformed from a primarily industrial city into a modern metropolis. And as the third-largest city in Taiwan, Kaohsiung has a lot of cultural influences injected into the city. Moreover, the city has one of the coolest metro stations, numerous large outdoor art installations and many vibrant night markets scattered around Kaohsiung.
Travelling solo in Taiwan is super easy and fun! And Kaohsiung is no exception. Even though Kaohsiung may seem like a lesser-known travel destination in Taiwan, there are many fun things to do in Kaohsiung for a solo traveller. Keep reading and I’ll show you what you can do in Kaohsiung City and plan the perfect itinerary.
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Before you visit Kaohsiung Taiwan
Before you visit Kaohsiung, take a look at my post on all the best tips for travelling to Taiwan. I included a lot of information, including getting a Taiwan prepaid SIM card, transportation around the country and much more.
Here are a few quick tips for travelling to Kaohsiung:
- Kaohsiung is a safe city for solo female travellers.
- As one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in Taiwan, rent a bicycle and explore many bike routes in Kaohsiung. The city built many bike paths as part of its infrastructure and has a bike share program where it is inexpensive to rent a bicycle. In fact, cycling in Taiwan is a big thing! If you are adventurous, you can cycle almost anywhere in the country!
How to get to Kaohsiung Taiwan
From Kaohsiung International Airport to Kaohsiung
There are many domestic and international flights that fly directly into Kaohsiung International Airport. You can easily way to get into the city is by the efficient MRT (metro system). Depends on which part of the city you are going to, your subway fare will vary.
Below is a sample fare for a subway ride from the airport to the centre of the city.
- MRT: from Kaohsiung International Airport to Formosa Boulevard Station
- Time: 16 minutes
- Cost: NT$30
From Taipei to Kaohsiung
If you are coming from Taipei, hop on the Taiwan High-Speed Railway (HSR) which is the fastest way to get to Kaohsiung. Alternatively, you can take a regular train, Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), for a lower price to Kaohsiung.
But first, you’ll have to take the MRT from the airport to the train station:
- MRT: from Taipei Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Train Station
- Time: 45 minutes
- Cost: NT$160
- HSR: from Taipei Main Train Station to Kaohsiung Zuoying Station
- Time: 1 hour 43 minutes
- Cost: NT$1,490
- Check Taipei to Kaoshiung high-speed train schedule and cost
- TRA: from Taipei Main Train Station to Kaohsiung Zuoying Station
- Time: 3 hours 36 minutes +
- Cost: NT$843 +
- Check Taipei to Kaohsiung train schedule and cost
From Taitung to Kaohsiung
And if you are travelling from the east coast, you can be coming from Taitung, Hualien or other cities. Only regular trains are available from any city east of Kaohsiung as the high-speed train only runs between Taipei to Kaohsiung.
Below is a sample route from Taitung to Kaohsiung:
- TRA: from Taitung Station to Kaohsiung Zuoying Station
- Time: 2 hours 49 minutes +
- Cost: NT$279 +
- Check Taitung to Kaohsiung train schedule and cost
How to get around Kaohsiung City
Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp. or KRTC is an easy-to-use and straightforward metro (MRT) system. There are two major subway lines; one running north to south, and the other running east to west intersecting at Formosa Boulevard Station. And as mentioned already, the subway system connects Kaohsiung International Airport to the centre of the city.
There is also a Light-Rail Transit (LRT) line running on the ground that will take you to attractions like Pier-2 Art Centre.
And when you are not taking the MRT and LRT, Kaohsiung City is quite a walkable city. So make sure to bring your most comfortable pair of walking shoes.
Where to stay in Kaohsiung Taiwan
There are many excellent and affordable accommodations in Kaohsiung. I chose to stay in Xinxing District and Yancheng District because they are the best locations to stay in Kaohsiung due to their proximity to the subway and attractions. And both areas have a lot of great food options as well.
Here are some of my Kaohsiung accommodation suggestions:
- Single Inn – Kaohsiung Station (飯店旅館) ($) – Get a single economy room for a reasonable price. You get your own private space, a twin bed and shared washroom facilities. Not a bad price for having a bit of privacy. Located near Formosa Boulevard Station in Xinxing District.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Greet Inn (喜迎旅店) ($$) – I really like Greet Inn for its modern design and location. The entire room feels luxurious and comfortable. And the bathroom has a deep bathtub and a separate shower. And most of all, it is not super expensive to stay here. You get all the luxury of a high-end hotel for a very reasonable price. The hotel is close to one of my favourite breakfast places, Xing Long Ju, and Liuhe Night Market. It is one of the best hotels in Kaohsiung!
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Hotel Dùa ($$$) – The 4-star hotel has modern and contemporary guestrooms where every detail is well designed. Each spacious guestroom feels luxurious and comfortable. There is even a fitness room if you want to work off all the food you tried in Kaohsiung. Located near Formosa Boulevard Station.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
Kaohsiung Travel Guide: 23 things to do in Kaohsiung as a solo traveller
Whether you plan 3 weeks in Taiwan or only have a week in Taiwan, you must include Kaohsiung in your itinerary, especially if you like to see important cultural monuments and contemporary artistic expression in the form of artwork and installations.
All Kaohsiung attractions mentioned in this post are pinned on the interactive map above. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin and see the description below.
1. Lotus Pond (蓮池潭)
The Lotus Pond on the east side of the Zuoying District of Kaohsiung might have the most interesting attractions in the city. Several quirky Buddhist temples and monuments are surrounding the artificial lake.
You can easily walk around the lake. Or for a fun way to see all the attractions around Lotus Pond, you can rent a bicycle.
2. The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas (龍虎塔)
When you walk around Lotus Lake in an anti-clockwise fashion, the first big attraction you will see is The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas.
The seven-story pagodas were built in 1976. You can walk through the interior and see the walls are covered with decorative paintings of Buddhist and Taoist characters. And make sure to climb all the way to the top to see an aerial view of the Lotus Pond.
But the most interesting part of the pagodas is the dragon and tiger motif on the outside. The dragon represents strength and power, and the tiger represents righteousness and harmony.
Legend has it that you can reverse your fortune or have more luck by running straight into the dragon’s mouth and out of the tiger’s mouth. It’s worth a try, right?
3. Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋御閣)
Right next to The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas is another whimsical temple, The Spring and Autumn Pavilions.
Buit in 1953, the Taoist temple has two Chinese palace-style pavilions. They are both four storeys high and in the shape of an octagon.
Similar to The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, the Spring and Autumn Pavilions have a colourful statue in front of the pavilions. Guanyin, who is the Goddess of Mercy, and two other religious characters, riding the dragon.
Beyond the pavilions and statues, there is a bridge that connects to another pagoda which sits peacefully in the Lotus Lake.
4. Zuoying Yuandi Temple (玄天上帝神像)
Next to the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, is another whimsical and colourful temple. This one has a giant Buddhist statue at the end of the long walkway. This temple is called Zuoying Yuandi Temple.
5. Kaohsiung Confucius Temple (高雄左營孔子廟)
The old Confucius Temple was erected in 1684 but only a small part of the original structure remained. Then the new Confucius Temple was rebuilt in 1977 and was relocated to the northeast corner of the Lotus Pond. And became the largest Confucian Temple in Taiwan.
All of the Confucian Temples in Taiwan have a similar architectural style. They follow the pattern of the Song Dynasty architectural layout. And of course, they are dedicated to the memory of Confucius.
6. Ruifeng Night Market (瑞豐夜市)
Gastronomy! My favourite thing about Kaohsiung is trying out all the different types of Taiwanese food. And eating in Kaohsiung is very affordable! You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have the most delicious treats.
And the best food is mostly found in local restaurants and night markets in Kaohsiung. And the biggest and most famous one is Ruifeng Night Market (or Rueifong Night Market).
The large outdoor night market has been around for over 20 years and is popular with students (a high school nearby), office workers and tourists. The night market has over 300 food stalls where vendors sell all types of Taiwanese snacks like scallion pancake, stinky tofu, bubble tea, etc. Most food stalls sell takeaway food while other vendors make noodle soup and hotpot and they have their own dining area.
Besides food, other vendors selling clothing and other items. Plus, there is a games area, sort of like a carnival where you can play games and win a stuffed animal.
7. Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (高雄市立美術館)
The Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts is set in a beautiful contemporary four-storey building on 34-hectare land. There are 18 galleries with over 2,700 permanent pieces showcasing Taiwanese fine arts including Chinese calligraphy and sculptures.
While you are touring through each room in the museum, pay attention to the building itself; it is quite impressive.
After you see the exhibits, walk around the premises to see all the greenery around the museum. Also, follow the path which takes you to several public sculptures.
8. Love River (愛河)
Also known as Ai River, the Love River runs from the northwest of the city all the way to the Port of Kaohsiung. Along the 15-kilometre river, you will find pedestrian walkways, numerous cafes and riverside parks.
The Love River is considered to be the spine of Kaohsiung. Enjoy the river either by strolling through the riverside or take a ride on one of the sightseeing boats.
9. The Dome of the Light at Formosa Boulevard Station (美麗島站)
Don’t miss one of the prettiest subway stations while you are in Kaohsiung. When you take the subway to Formosa Boulevard Station, take notice of the large light installation at the centre of the station in the B1 underground level.
With a diameter of 30 meters and over 4,500 glass panels, it is the world’s largest glass art installation. Built by an Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, the Dome of the Light has a theme of love and tolerance, and it represents the birth of democracy in Taiwan.
Walk around the light installation and take photos. But also stick around to watch the light show.
10. Liuhe Tourist Night Market (六合觀光夜市)
Liuhe Tourist Night Market is one of the best night markets in Kaohsiung as it is centrally located, accessible by public transportation and pedestrian-friendly. Plus, there are many excellent accommodations in the area which makes visiting the night market even easier.
The market dates back to 1940s which makes the Liuhe night market one of the oldest night markets in Kaohsiung. The night market is also known as Liuhe Tourist Night Market, is very popular with tourists. Even though the prices tend to be higher (but still really cheap), the open-air market is worth visiting.
11. Ziquang Night Market (自強夜市)
Ziquang Night Market is a popular night market with the locals. The food at the night market is excellent and is cheaper than other night markets.
The night market comes alive when the sun goes down. Food vendors set up their food carts along Linya 2nd Rd, in front of the existing shops, while scooters continue to zoom through the street. Yes, pedestrian and motorcycles share the same road, so be careful where you walk.
If you want to eat what locals eat, then you must visit this underrated night market. And in my opinion, this is the best night market in Kaohsiung.
12. Glory Pier (光榮碼頭)
Originally known as Pier 13, the pier was once an important point for homeland security and transportation logistics. Today, the pier is called the Glory Pier.
Located at the east end of the Love River, Glory Pier is unlike other areas in Kaohsiung. There are futuristic buildings and modern landscapes around the 500-meter scenic pedestrian walkway. And if you stick around in the evening, you can watch a laser light show.
13. Pier-2 Art Centre (駁二藝術特區)
The strip of the abandoned warehouse along the pier is transformed into a modern art space, galleries, restaurants and retail stores. The area is wholly rejuvenated due to the efforts of local Taiwanese artists who wanted a creative space for people to enjoy. Today, Pier-2 Art Centre is the artistic centre in southern Taiwan.
The warehouses in the area are covered in massive murals, and art installations are dotted all around the harbour. Since the weather in Kaohsiung is quite mild, people can enjoy all the outdoor spaces in this area.
14, 15, 16, 17, 18 & 19. Cijin Island (旗津區)
Cijin Island, or Qijin, is the perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon consisting of relaxing strolls along the beach, bike riding on the island and savouring delicious Taiwanese food.
First, take the MRT to Sizihwan Station then walk over to Gushan Ferry Pier Station, where you can catch the 15-minute ferry ride to Cijin Island.
Once you disembark the ferry, walk around Cihou Fort (旗後砲台) and hike up to the Kaohsiung Lighthouse (高雄燈塔) to see the view of Kaohsiung.
Afterwards, walk along the Cijin Beach (旗津海水浴場) until you see the Rainbow Church (旗津彩虹教堂) at the end of Cijin Beach. It is not an actual church but a colourful (and very Instagrammable) art installation.
Alternatively, rent a bike and spend the afternoon biking around the island. The island is quite big so if you want to cover more grounds, being on two wheels might be a good idea.
And when you are hungry, try some of the local Taiwanese food at one of the restaurants or food vendors along Cijin Old Street (旗津老街).
20. Eat your way around Kaoshiung
Besides all the good food at Kaohsiung night markets, there are other local restaurants that are worthy of a mention. Here are some of my favourite places to eat in Kaohsiung:
- Japanese Curry Restaurant (新咖哩) – find the small Japanese food cart just off the side of the building, and you will find this restaurant. I tried the pork cutlet with curry and cheese over rice. Simply delicious! Go early to avoid lineups.
- Gang Yuan Beef Noodle Restaurant (港園牛肉麵) – order your beef noodle at the counter and wait at a table for the deliciousness. Even though this place is always busy, it is worth a try! Very popular with locals!
- Cindy’s Pancake (喵姨蛋餅) – one of my favourite Taiwanese breakfast dishes is the egg crepe. I tried the egg wrap with grilled meat and pickled vegetable.
- Xing Long Ju (興隆居) – I went twice and had the sesame bun with egg and dough fritter sandwich, steamed meat bun and iced red tea with soy milk. Don’t be intimidated by the long line; it moves quickly!
- Ya Rou Zhen / Duck Zhen (鴨肉珍) – there is always a long queue for this duck rice restaurant. I can understand why – the duck is so tasty! Ya Rou Zhen in Kaoshiung is a must-try!
- daOnegong (大碗公冰品) – Taiwanese ice dessert is the best thing you can have on a hot day! I tried the giant mango ice dessert. Highly recommended!
- Sunny Hill Kaohsiung Store (微熱山丘 高雄駁二特區門市) – they serve honey cake and tea for free (if you are a tourist)
- Shuang Fei Milk Tea (双妃奶茶) – I love the red tea at this place! Tapioca is free with purchase.
- Taiwanese Milk Tea (樺達奶茶) – you will never run out of tea in Taiwan! A must-try!
Things to do outside of Kaohsiung City
While there are plenty of things to do in Kaohsiung City, there are quite a few destinations outside of the city that are worth making a day trip.
1. Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山佛陀紀念館)
Fo Guang Shan is a Chinese Buddhist practice based in Taiwan. The monastery has Buddhist pagodas flanking both sides of the long corridor path that leads to the big Buddha statue.
There is also a museum which has one of the tooth relics of Sakyamuni Buddha. And if you are keen to stay overnight, it is possible to stay in one of the dorm rooms in the monastery.
To get there, take bus E02 from Kaohsiung Zuoying Station and get off at Buddha Memorial Hall Station. It takes about two hours to get there. Then walk a few minutes to the museum.
2. Tainan (臺南)
Tainan is the oldest city and was the ancient capital of Taiwan. Visitors go to Tainan to visit unique historical sites, famous temples and sample local specialties. After all, Tainan is known as the city of snacks!
First, visit all the historical sites in the Anping District, including Fort Anping, and Anping Tree House. Then visit Tainan’s Confucius Temple and Koxinga Shrine in the center of the city.
And when you are hungry, head over to Shennong Street and Mingzhu Road for some local favourites. Try danzai mian (minced meat and shrimp noodle) and gua bao (steamed bun with pork and vegetable).
From Kaohsiung Zuoying Station, the regular train to Tainan Train Station only takes between 35 minutes to an hour.
3. Kenting National Park (墾丁國家公園)
Kenting National Park (墾丁國家公園) is one of the highlights in Taiwan, and it is not to be missed. And Kaohsiung is an excellent jumping-off point for venturing into Kenting (墾丁) where you can explore the unique landscape of southern Taiwan.
While it is possible to see parts of Kenting on a day trip, I highly recommend staying for two days to see all the best attractions, including Kenting Long Keng Ecological Reserve, Kenting National Forest Recreation Area, all the beaches around the southern tip, Gangkou Suspended Bridge and Qikong Falls.
The Kenting Express Line 9189 Bus goes directly from Kaohsiung Zuoying Station to Hengchun and Kenting. It takes about 2 hours.
If you want to see Kaohsiung with a tour, check out some of these tour ideas:
Are you ready to visit Kaohsiung, Taiwan?
There are plenty of things to do in Kaoshiung that you might need a few days. But the good thing is that it is easy to get around Kaohsiung City and a safe place for solo female travellers.
I hope this post will inspire your trip to Kaohsiung Taiwan. Let me know in the comments which Kaohsiung attraction you like the most!