Are you planning a quick side trip from Kaohsiung to dreamy Cijin Island? In this guide, I’ll cover all the top things to do on Cijin Island, how to get to Cijin, and highlight all of Cijin’s best bits. I’ll also share handy tips and tricks to help you plan a great Cijin day trip in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
If you’re planning a day trip to Cijin Island (旗津島), you’re probably wondering what to do and how to get there. Cijin (also often spelled Qijin and Chijin) is a beautiful little island that deserves a spot on any Kaohsiung itinerary and even a Taiwan trip!
Situated a short 5-minute ferry ride from Kaohsiung’s harbor, Cijin is the second smallest district in Kaohsiung (高雄). The long narrow island acts as a natural buffer to the city’s port and extends 15km down the city coastline.
Cijin island packs the perfect mix of temples, quirky art, a lively old street, and sweeping views over the harbor, island, and Kaohsiung City in the distance. If you’re looking for a fun day out exploring a less touristy spot, Cijin is just the place for you!
Spend a fun day exploring the stunning landscape, visiting Cijin’s top attractions, or playing at one of the best beaches in Taiwan. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to rent a bike to make the most of your time here.
In a rush? Pin this Qijin Island day trip itinerary for later.
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Cijin Island Pre-Travel Tips
Since Qijin Island is quite small, you don’t need more than half a day or so to explore it. Before you visit Cijin though, here are a few pre-travel tips to help you enjoy your Cijin Island day trip in Kaohsiung:
- Grab an Easy Card – Taiwan’s local top-up-card. With an Easy Card, you will get a discount on the ferry ticket, and you won’t need to bother with coins to pay for the ferry.
- If you’re exploring Taiwan, getting a local SIM card is highly encouraged. Although Taiwan has amazing wifi hotspots, having full access to the internet will help you plan your stops, access maps, and generally make your trip a whole lot easier!
- If you don’t speak Chinese, learn a few basic Chinese phrases to make your trip more enjoyable. Also, make sure you have Google Translate on your phone. Download Traditional Chinese to help you order food, scan Chinese characters, or ask directions.
- As already mentioned, Cijin Island is pretty small, and chances that you’ll get lost are slim. However, it’s always a good idea to have Google Maps already downloaded on your phone.
- Southern Taiwan is generally much warmer than the rest of Taiwan, even during winter. Along with the tips in my Taiwan packing list, bring plenty of sunblock and remember to stay hydrated. Oh and don’t forget your sunglasses and camera!
How to get to Cijin island
If you’re already in Kaohsiung, getting to Cijin Island is super easy. (If not, check out my guide on how to get to Kaohsiung from Taipei). Cijin Island is located just off the shore of Kaohsiung, and there are several ways to access the island. The Cross Harbor Tunnel connects the mainland and the island, and ferries also run frequently between the two ports. If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to get to Cijin is to hop on the tourist ferry at Gushan Ferry Pier Station (鼓山輪渡站).
To get to Gushan Ferry Terminal in Kaohsiung, hop on the KMRT Orange Line to Sizhiwan Station. Head to Exit 1 and follow Lixiong Road until you reach Binhai 1st Road. From here, turn right and simply keep straight. The ferry terminal is right at the end of the street – you can’t miss it!
Insider Tip: Depending on which time of day you visit, Binhai 1st Road is an exciting place for a quick walkabout. On weekends and close to dinner time, the street is often packed with locals and travelers sampling their way through the rustic traditional local eateries and abundant snack shops. If time permits, enjoy a gentle stroll here before you hop on the ferry.
The ferry ride to Qijin only takes 5 minutes and costs NT$30 per person. However, the price will be slightly cheaper if you pay with an Easy Card. Ferries leave every 10 minutes from 5 am to 2 am between Gushan Ferry Pier Station and Cijin Ferry Terminal.
If you’ve rented a scooter or bike, queue up in front of the terminal. Don’t worry, there are clear signs, and it’s tough to miss the long lines of motorcycles already waiting. Make sure you have the exact change (NT$30) ready to throw in the payment box. Or better yet, have your Easy Card handy.
Passengers visiting Cijin Island on foot need to enter the terminal, queue up and pay there. Simply drop your coins into the box by the barrier or tap your Easy Card.
How to get around Cijin Island
Seeing that Cijin island is a relatively small island, it is easily explored by foot, bike, or rickshaw. However, the best way to get around Cijin’s main points of interest is undoubtedly by bike. I’ve visited Cijin Island several times, and I can attest exploring the island by bike is so much better. Not to mention loads of fun!
Of course, if you prefer exploring the island on foot, that is also an option for you. But know that you’ll probably miss out on quite a few of the awesome things to do in Cijin.
Renting a bike to explore Cijin Island
I always have lots of fun exploring Cijin by bike, and I highly recommend you give it a try too. You can rent a bike right in front of the 7-11 when disembarking at the Cijin Ferry Terminal. Bikes go for NT$100 a day and remember to bring an identification card along.
However, to make the most of your time in Cijin, picking up a bike before you board the ferry is highly encouraged. You can do so near Sizhiwan Station and board the boat with it.
If you’ve already registered with the Kaohsiung Biking system, you can find several bike stations just outside Sizhiwan Station (adjacent to the Hamasen Park). Remember to bring your Easy Card along and have your local phone number handy (grab a Taiwan SIM card here).
If that is not an option for you, walk on a bit further to Penglai Road. You can’t miss the green bike shop, Mccoy Bikes. The owner is super friendly and speaks excellent English. Bike rentals cost NT$100 a day, and you’ll need to leave your ID/ ARC card with him to guarantee you’ll return the bike.
Cijin Island Day Trip Itinerary in Kaohsiung: What to do in Cijin
There are tons of fun things to do on your Cijin Island itinerary. It will be a busy day, but you will be rewarded with some of the best views Cijin has to offer. Although I’ve included all the best bits not to miss on a Qijin day trip from Kaohsiung, it can easily be adjusted to suit your own needs and preferences.
Plan to spend at least a few hours in Cijin, and whatever you do, don’t miss the mesmerizing sunset! Here are the top sights not to miss on your Cijin Island day trip in Kaohsiung.
Cihou Tianhou Temple (旗津天后宮)
Similarly to elsewhere in Taiwan, there are several amazing places of worship scattered all over the island. But, one temple you shouldn’t miss is the mesmerizing Cihou Tianhou Temple (also known as Chi Jin Mazu Temple). It’s not only a beautiful temple, but it’s a significant place on the island.
In 1673 a group of fishermen built Cihou Tianhou Temple in the heart of town. Interestingly, it was the first temple in the area to be dedicated to Mazu – the famous sea goddess. Today, Cihou Temple is the oldest temple in Cijin and one of the island’s top sights to see.
Rainbow Church (彩虹教堂)
Despite its name, Rainbow Church has nothing to do with religion. Instead, its a brightly colored outdoor art installation insanely popular with color chasers and Instagrammers.
I had to wait about 15 minutes before I could snap a picture of this iconic sight, so expect a queue when you visit here!
A bit further afield, you’ll find one of Cijin Island’s most popular attractions, the Sea Shell Museum. It’s a neat little museum housing thousands (yes, you read right!) of shells and other rare specimens from the sea. While you could easily spend hours here browsing the collection, remember to save some time to see some of the quirky art scattered around the museum. Whatever you do, don’t forget to snap a picture in front of the giant conch shell!
The museum is open every day (except Mondays) from 9 am to 5 pm.
Windmill Park (旗津風車公園)
Further afield, make a pit stop at the Cijin Windmill Park.
Here you can get a closer look at the cute turbines, snap some photos of the quirky mosaic art on display, or simply just take in the coastal views.
It’s not a very big area, so you probably won’t need more than 20 minutes or so here. Whatever you choose to do, the windmill Park is an excellent place to chill out for a bit.
There’s not much to see further down the coastal path, so I recommenced turning around and heading back north so that you can explore the rest of Cijin’s highlights.
Sunset Bar (旗津沙灘吧)
After you’ve explored the southern part of Cijin Island, and some of the most Instagrammable places in Cijin, recharge at the Sunset Bar.
The Sunset Bar is a super laid back place and the perfect spot to relax for a while. Besides the mouthwatering food and boozy cocktails on offer here, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this bar is its unique location. Set right on the beachfront, it offers spectacular views over the ocean and Cihou mountain nearby. The vibe is super chilled, and you could easily spend hours here sipping cocktails, watching the sunset and admiring the waves come and go.
The bar is always packed on weekends. So if you want to guarantee a spot, best to come a few hours before sunset. Otherwise, the beach is also a great spot to watch the sun dwindle under the waves with your toes in the sand! If you’re up to it, bring a volleyball or frisbee for a bit of added fun!
Qijin Star Tunnel (旗津星空隧道)
After you’ve filled your tummy, head out further north to Cihou Starlight Tunnel. A flat cycling path runs along the beach, and with a bit of luck, the gentle breeze will hopefully offer much-needed relief on a hot day.
Cihou tunnel isn’t very long, and it literally only takes a few seconds to cycle through it. Once you’ve made your way through the tunnel, which runs through Cihou Mountian, you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled views as the road opens up to huge boulders and crashing waves. It’s quite a sight to see!
Oh, and if you’re curious how the tunnel got its unique name, remember to look up when you pass through it!
Kaohsiung Lighthouse (旗後燈塔)
Follow the cycling path around the coast past stunning vistas and through thick jungle before you reach the trailhead to the picturesque lighthouse.
You’ll need to lock your bike up near the entry gate at the foot of the hill and walk up the steep slope. But despite the effort this will take, the views from above are more than enough reward. Promise!
The Kaohsiung Lighthouse sits right on top of Cihou Mountain and has a long history dating back more than 100 years. It’s a peaceful place to watch the boats come and go and, of course, the best place to get a bird’s eye view of the harbor, city and Cijin Island.
On my visit, the lighthouse was unfortunately closed for renovations, so I wasn’t able to browse the inside. But hopefully, you’ll have more luck on your Cijin day trip in Kaohsiung.
Cihou Fort (旗後砲台)
After you’ve taken in the panoramic views over the harbor, continue to the Cihou Fort – a popular spot for sunset chasers visiting Cijin.
There’s a small pathway taking you through dense jungle, but before you know it, the path opens up to the sprawling hilltop fort.
Despite its popularity among Instagrammers, Cihou Fort has a fascinating history dating back to the 18th century and was initially built during the Qing Dynasty to safeguard the city’s shores.
Today you can wander around the grounds, marvel at some of the ruins, and just take in the stellar views. Be sure to follow the staircases to the top of the fort for the best views over the entire complex and island.
Old Street (旗津廟前路)
Cijin Island is famous for its delicious seafood, and no visit here would be complete without sampling some. Head to the Old Street also often called Seafood Street, where you’ll find a wide variety of stalls and restaurants, dishing up treats from the ocean. Prices vary from restaurant to restaurant but are generally very reasonable. Most plates start at NT$100 a dish, so be sure to bring your wallet and come hungry!
If you’re traveling on a shoestring, stick to the street food vendors where you can still get full without breaking the bank.
Where to stay in Kaohsiung
There are a few options to stay in Cijin, but since you’re probably only visiting Cijin on a day trip from Kaohsiung, it’s best to base yourself there. Here are a few of my favorite places to stay in Kaohsiung:
- FX Inn is a fun and modern hotel that offers excellent value for those still on a budget but wanting something more than a hostel. Located a short stroll from the City Council KMRT station (orange line), its at a central location, allowing easy access to some of the city’s top attractions.
- Just Sleep also offers excellent value for mid-range travelers, still on a budget. Expect chic interior, clean rooms, and friendly staff. The Kaohsiung train station, as well as Luihe night market, are both within a short stroll.
- Papo’a Hotel is an amazing hotel mere steps from the Kaohsiung Main Station. The hotel features some really cool decor, and the rooms are clean and spacious. Don’t miss the freshly brewed coffee and yummy breakfast!
- If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale at a relatively reasonable price, Silks Club is for you. This posh 5-star hotel offers excellent facilities and easy access to the city’s charms.
Need more help planning your Taiwan trip?
If you’re mapping out the rest of your Taiwan travels, there’s plenty more to see and do. Here are a few extra posts to help you along the way:
As you can see, there’s plenty to keep you busy on a Cijin Island day trip in Kaohsiung! Have you ever visited Qijin? If so, what tips and tricks do you have for fellow travelers planning a day trip here? Drop your comments below.
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Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions says
I loved Cijin and found it to be the most interesting part of Kaohsiung! It seriously felt like being a world away from the city with the vibe of a surfer’s paradise. I missed the Rainbow Church but it totally fits in with all the other quirky and cool art in the metro area. This post definitely made me nostalgic!
Glad to hear this brought back great memories for you! Cijin is really a little gem in Kaohsiung.