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Kaohsiung Travel Guide: Best Things To Do in Kaohsiung Taiwan

Last Updated on March 20, 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, you wouldn’t want to miss this humble and yet exciting city while travelling through Taiwan. Let me take you through my Kaohsiung travel guide!

RELATED POST – The Ultimate 3-week Itinerary for Taiwan

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!

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How to get to Kaohsiung Taiwan

One of the many temples at Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
One of the many temples at Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

From Kaohsiung International Airport to Kaohsiung

Travelling to Kaohsiung, Taiwan is super easy. There are many domestic and international flights fly directly into Kaohsiung International Airport. You can easily way to get into the city is by the efficient 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.

  • Kaohsiung International Airport to Formosa Boulevard Station 
    • Time: 16 minutes
    • Cost: NT$30

From Taipei to Kaohsiung

If you are coming from the capital city, 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.

  • Taipei Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Train Station
    • Time: 45 minutes
    • Cost: NT$160

From Taitung to Kaohsiung

And if you are travelling from the east coast, you can be coming from Taitung or other cities. Only regular trains are available from any cities east of Kaohsiung as the high-speed train only runs between Taipei to Kaohsiung.

How to get around Kaohsiung

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.

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 as mentioned already, the subway system connects Kaohsiung International Airport to the centre of the city.

The best way to use the MRT and LRT is by purchasing an iPass, which is a rechargeable card that can be used for most public transportation in Taiwan. You can use the same i-pass for metro and bus systems in Kaohsiung, Taipei, Tainan, Taichung, etc.

Between MRT stations, it is best to walk around different neighbourhoods so you can explore every street and every corner. There is so much to see in Kaohsiung so 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.

There are plenty of great hostels if you have a tight budget. If you pay about NT$800 for a night, you can get a very nice private room in a hotel on your own.

  • 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: Best Things to do in Kaohsiung Taiwan

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 the attractions in this post are pinned in the interactive map of Kaohsiung, Taiwan. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.


 

Lotus Pond (蓮池潭)

After visiting the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda, walk or bike around the pond and see other temples including the whimsical Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋御閣), Kaohsiung Confucius Temple (高雄左營孔子廟) and other temples around the artificial lake.

The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas (龍虎塔)

Your trip to Kaoshiung wouldn’t be the same if you miss The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas The seven-story pagoda was built in 1976 with a dragon and tiger motif on the outside. While on the inside, the walls are covered with decorative paintings of Buddhist and Taoist characters. You can even climb all the way to the top to see an aerial view of the Lotus Pond (蓮池潭).

In terms of cultural symbolism, 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?

The Dome of the Light at Formosa Boulevard Station (美麗島站)

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.

Don’t miss one of the prettiest subway stations while you are in Kaohsiung.

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 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.

I probably spent way too much time here, but it is my favourite part of Kaohsiung because I love the modernity in artwork with old renovated buildings as a backdrop.

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. So make sure you add Cijin Island to your Kaoshiung itinerary.

You can get to the island by a comfortable 15-minute ferry ride near Sizihwan Station (西子灣站).

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).

Love River (愛河)

Also known as Ai River, the Love River runs from the northwest of the city all the way to 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.

Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (高雄市立美術館)

The museum is set in a beautiful contemporary four-storey building on a 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 premise to see all the greenery around the museum. Also, follow the path which takes you to several public sculptures.

Ciaotou Sugar Refinery (橋頭糖廠)

Ciaotou (Qiaotou) Sugar Refinery has been around since 1901. But these days, the sugar refinery is an area with heritage sites, sugar museums and lots of public art. Spending a few hours riding your bike on the bicycle paths and enjoying public art is quite fun.

Day trip to 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.

Excursion to 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. Kaohsiung is an excellent jumping-off point for venturing into Kenting (墾丁) where you can explore the unique landscape of southern Taiwan.

From Kaohsiung Zuoying Station, there is an express bus that takes you directly into Kenting. It takes about two hours on the express bus.

It is possible to see Kenting in the afternoon, but it will be very rushed. Ideally, take at least two days to see everything in Kenting and to explore southern Taiwan.

Eat traditional Taiwanese food at a Kaohsiung Night Market

Find the best Taiwanese street food at Xingzhong Night Market
Find the best Taiwanese street food at Xingzhong Night Market

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.

The best food is mostly found in local restaurants and night markets in Kaohsiung. When you are in Kaohsiung, try one (or all) of these famous Kaohsiung night markets:

  • Liuhe Tourist Night Market (六合觀光夜市) – the centrally located night market is a bustling street full of good treats! Try an oyster omelette, papaya milk drink, or deep-fried chicken steak.
  • Ruifeng Night Market (瑞豐夜市) – one of the busiest night market in Kaohsiung. But don’t be intimidated by the crowd, there is a lot of food to choose from. Definitely try a scallion pancake while you are there!
  • Xingzhong Night Market (興中夜市) – probably my favourite market because I found the best louru fan (braised pork with rice) at the market!

Try other Taiwanese specialties at local restaurants in Kaoshiung

  • 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.
  • 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 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!
  • 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!
  • 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!

Want to learn more about Taiwanese Food? Read about All the Must Eat Food in Taiwan

If you want to see Kaohsiung with a tour, check out some of these tour ideas:

Are you ready to visit Kaohsiung, Taiwan?

Hope the post can inspire your travels to Taiwan. And make sure to add the fabulous city to your Taiwan itinerary!

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

5 Comments

  • 30andtrying
    June 21, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Hi! From Taoyuan International Airport, you can take the shuttle bus to the Taoyuan HSR Station. That way, you don’t need to go to Taipei in order to ride the HSR train.

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      June 24, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment! I’m going back to Taipei at the end of the year so will have to check it out! Thanks again! 🙂

      Reply
      • 30andtrying
        July 5, 2019 at 1:30 pm

        No problem! I read online that the Toayuan Metro has extended to the Taoyuan HSR Station as well.

        Your blog also helped my plan my Kaohsiung trip. 🙂

        Reply
  • Thea Claire Castillo
    October 18, 2019 at 7:30 am

    Hi. I’m
    Planning a trip to Kaoshiung but the main goal is to go to Alishan. Our flight how ever arrives at around 2 pm. What would you suggest we do? Stay at Chaiyi and go to Alishan in the morning? Or just book Klook toura for Alishan? Or stay at Kaoshiung and take a day trip to Alishan?

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      October 18, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Thea,
      I was just in Alishan! lol! There are many local buses from Chiayi to Alishan. It depends on your timing – if you want to do it on your own, then stay overnight in Chiayi and grab the first bus in the morning to Alishan. The bus costs NT$240. Take the 7:10, 8:40, 9:10 or 9:40 Bus 7322 in front of Chiayi train station. If you have ipass, it is half price. You can get more detail at the info counter inside the Chiayi train station.
      If you don’t have a lot of time, seeing Alishan with a tour is a good option too!
      Hope this helps!

      Reply

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