Kaohsiung (高雄) lies on the southwest coast of Taiwan and is the second largest city on the island, after Taipei. Not only is Kaohsiung home to an amazing harbour, great beaches and mouth-watering seafood, there’s also plenty to do and see. And if you are like me, you’ll love all the colorful places that can be found right here in Taiwan’s “Harbor City”. Added to that, Kaohsiung is super easy to reach. And just as easy to navigate. With its impressive transportation system, you’ll have no trouble exploring the city in as little as two days. Depending on your needs, of course. That said, if you really want to get a feel for the city and explore all it has to offer, I highly recommend spending at least three days here. With the added day, you’ll have more than enough time to check out all the touristy hot spots, get a good dose of seafood and even relax at the beach!
Looking to add some colorful sights to your Insta account? Then don’t miss any of these FREE amazing hot spots in Kaohsiung! We highlight the four most colorful places in the city which you’ll simply love exploring, below. Plus extra tips and advice for a kick-ass trip!
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Getting to Kaohsiung
The easiest way to reach Kaohsiung is by HSR – Taiwan’s highly effective and affordable High Speed Rail system. If you are coming from Taipei, the train ride will get you to Zuoying Station (the very last stop on this west coast line) in roughly 2 hours. Naturally, you could also consider driving. But even though Taiwan is really small, its roads are highly congested and traveling times are often a lot longer than expected.
When to go
Generally, the south of Taiwan is much warmer and more humid than the rest of the country. So, if you are not used to heat or humidity, I strongly suggest coming in autumn (end September – end December) or spring (end March – end June). I’ve lived in Taiwan for more than seven years and still find the summer heat relentless and the winters freezing!
Where to stay
Kaohsiung has plenty of accommodation options no matter your budget or style – from 5 star luxurious hotels like Hotel Indigo to cheap hipster hostels such as With Inn Hostel. But my personal favorite is the FX Inn. The hotel is budget-friendly and only a 5-minute walk to the nearest MRT station. Not to mention, it’s near to some of the best attractions in the city and a pretty cool interior design. In addition, the staff can speak English and you can even rent bikes/ electric scooters from reception. There’s also a nice little coffee shop in the lobby. As for the rooms, they are of decent size and very clean.
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One of the things you’ll quickly grow to love about Taiwan is the WiFi. It’s extremely easy to find a free hot spot in most of the tourist spots, restaurants, hotels and even on some buses and trains. But, if you are like me and prefer to have internet on the go, I highly recommend either purchasing a tourist SIM card or a portable WiFi device.
Getting around Kaohsiung
Luckily, it’s super easy to navigate your way around Kaohsiung. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around is by MRT (subway). Although Kaohsiung’s MRT system isn’t quite as extensive as Taipei’s, it is still very convenient and you can easily reach most places in a jiffy. (Even if there is a bit of extra walking involved).
Apart from taking a bus, a taxi or even renting a scooter (if you have a valid license), Kaohsiung recently added an amazing new transportation system to its network; Light Rail. The rail is the country’s first green rail which operates on a fully catenary-free route. Although the line only has a couple of stops thus far (construction is still underway), it is a lovely way to explore the scenic harbour area.
Travel tip: If you want to catch the Light Rail, head to Sizihwan Station (Orange Line) and follow the clearly marked signs to the station. A single-journey ticket costs NT$30, which might be a bit higher than the normal prices you are used to in Taipei, but the ticket is valid for 1 hour. So, you could technically get off and have a quick walk around if your timing is right. There are also easy to use ticketing machines at each stop.
The most insta-worthy spots in Kaohsiung
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Lotus Pond is a huge park with an artificial lake. It’s a great place to take a stroll and snap up gorgeous pics of some of the best temples the city has to offer. Here you will find more than 20 different temples, all worshipping different deities.
Some of the most interesting and insta-worthy temples you should most definitely not miss are Pei Chi Pavilion, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas and the Spring-Autumn Pavilion. You will even find Taiwan’s largest Confucius Temple here, too!
To reach Lotus Pond, you can either take a bus or the MRT. If you choose the latter, you will still need to grab another bus or walk the remaining distance. On my last visit, I simply opted to grab a taxi due to time constraints. A ride shouldn’t set you back more than NT$250-300 if you stay close to the Formosa Boulevard Station.
Travel Tip: If you want to see the lotus flowers in bloom, the best time to visit is in summer.
Address: No.9, Liantan Rd., Zuoying Dist., Kaohsiung City 813, Taiwan.
Dome of Light
If you haven’t heard of the Dome of Light yet, you’re in for a real treat! The Dome of Light is the world’s largest public art installation made from pieces of colored glass. It was created by renowned artist, Narcissus Quagliata and a must-see for any color enthusiast. The dome tells the story of human life and represents it in four themes; water, earth, light and fire.
The Dome of Light is ridiculously easy to reach, because it is actually based in a MRT station. Simply take the MRT to Formosa Boulevard Station (the transfer station for the Red and Orange Line). Then follow the clearly marked signs and voilà!
Pier 2 Art Centre
The Pier 2 Art Centre is the best place to catch leading indoor and outdoor art exhibitions in Taiwan. These formerly abandoned harbor warehouses are today home to cool sculptures, interactive exhibitions, museums, galleries and some pretty neat art installations. Be sure not to miss it!
Travel tip: The closest MRT station to the Pier 2 Art Centre is the Yanchengpu Station (Orange Line). Alternatively, you could also go to the very last stop on the Orange Line, Sizihwan Station. From there, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Hamasen Railway Culture Park before reaching the warehouses.
Address: No. 1, Dayong Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City, 803.
You can find Urban Spotlight in one of Kaohsiung’s best parks, Central Park. Every night, the park lights up in beautiful neon colors – which really sets it apart from your average park. This is also why, it is better known as Kaohsiung’s “Gallery of Lights”. When it gets dark, literally everything from the bus stops, trash cans, telephone booths and chairs light up in bright neon colors. Added to that, the park also has tons of cool sculptures and colorful murals. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me when I visited! But, I promise you won’t regret making a pit stop here!
Address: Corner of Wufu 3rd Rd. and Zhongshan 1st Rd., Qianjin Dist., Kaohsiung City.
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Other places you’ll love close to Kaohsiung
If you want to experience Taiwan’s own little slice of paradise, the sandy white beaches and turquoise waters of Kenting are a must. The small seaside town is the perfect escape from Taiwan’s bustling cities. Here you can relax at the beach, get your adrenaline fix from an array of adventure sports and feast on amazing local treats. If you do visit Kenting, don’t forget to catch one of the best sunsets in Taiwan at Maobitou Park! Look here for other things to do in Kenting.
History buffs should head to Tainan – Taiwan’s oldest city and home to centuries-old fortresses and temples. Tainan is a short HSR ride from Kaohsiung, making it perfect for a day trip. There are tons of amazing things to do…from snacking your way through Anping Old Street, touring all the historic sites and even soaking in a hot spring. Look here for other great things to do in Tainan
Fo Guang Shan Monastery
Culture enthusiasts should not miss the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan; Fo Guang Shan. It is a bit of a mission to reach the monastery on your own. So, if you are pressed for time, I strongly suggest booking a day trip instead.
Cijin Island is a just short ferry ride from Kaohsiung and definitely worth the trip. You can rent bicycles right next to Gushang Harbor of even at the Pier 2 Art Centre if you want to get a bit more ‘bike time’. From there, simply take the Cijin Ferry. The ferry ride only costs NT$40 and takes less than 10 minutes to reach the island. (Btw, you can take your bike with you on the ferry, too). Once you get to Cijin Island, relax at the beach, head to the fort for amazing views (and a killer sunset). Afterwards feast your way through the many small snack stalls and eateries dishing up fresh seafood and local Taiwanese favourites.
Have we missed any of your favorite insta-worthy spots in Kaohsiung? Let us know in the comments below. If you haven’t subscribed to Hoponworld yet, don’t forget to join our newsletter! That way you can get all our latest posts delivered straight to your inbox! To see what we are up to regularly, connect with us via Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, too.
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