Are you looking for the most colorful places to visit in Kaohsiung? This guide sets out the best Instagrammable spots in Kaohsiung, and includes handy tips to help you explore Kaohsiung’s best bits!
Kaohsiung (高雄) lies on Taiwan’s southwest coast and is the third largest city on the island, after Taipei and Taichung. It’s home to the biggest harbor in Taiwan, great beaches, loads of hipster cafes and a booming art scene. With plenty to do and see, Kaohsiung is the perfect add-on to your Taiwan itinerary. And, if you are like me, you’ll love all the colorful places in the city!
In this guide, I’ll cover the top Instagrammable places in Kaohsiung and answer a few of your most frequently asked questions about a Kaohsiung trip. You’ll also find tons of tips and tricks to help you fully enjoy a visit to Kaohsiung City.
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Things to know before you visit Kaohsiung
Before you visit Kaohsiung, there are a few basics things you need to know in order to plan the perfect Kaohsiung trip. Below I’ll cover some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Kaohsiung, such as:
- How to get to Kaohsiung from Taipei
- When to visit Kaohsiung
- How long to stay in Kaohsiung
- Best places to stay in Kaohsiung
- Whether or not you need a local SIM card to in Taiwan
- And lastly, how to get around in Kaohsiung
How to get to Kaohsiung
The easiest way to reach Kaohsiung is by HSR – Taiwan’s highly effective and affordable High-Speed Rail system, which runs along the western coast of Taiwan. If you are coming from Taipei, the train ride will get you to Zuoying Station (the very last stop on this west coastline) in roughly 2 hours. Naturally, you could also consider taking an overnight bus from Taipei, catch a TRA train or perhaps even drive down. If you do choose to self-drive, you should know that the Taiwan’s roads are highly congested and traveling times are often a lot longer than expected.
Best Time to Visit Kaohsiung
Generally, the south of Taiwan is much warmer and more humid than the rest of the country. So, if you are not used to the
How Many Days to Spend in Kaohsiung
With Taiwan’s excellent transportation network, it is possible to spend as little as 2 days in Kaohsiung. However, if you have a bit more time, 3-4 days here will allow you to get to know the city a bit better and explore more off-beat places.
With an extra day or two, you’ll have more than enough time to check out all the touristy hot spots, get a good dose of seafood and even relax by the beach! Or better yet, explore some of the amazing attractions nearby. Some of the best day trips from Kaohsiung are a hop, skip and a jump away. Travelers looking for beach vibes could head out to Xiaoliuqiu, Kenting or Cijin Island, whereas culture seekers shouldn’t miss exploring the top attractions in Tainan.
Where to stay in Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung has plenty of accommodation options no matter your budget or style – from 5-star luxury hotels like Hotel Indigo to cheap hipster hostels such as With Inn Hostel.
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. The staff can also speak English pretty well and you can even rent bikes/ electric scooters from reception. There’s a nice little coffee shop in the lobby, too. As for the rooms, they are of decent size and very clean.
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Do I Need a local SIM Card in Taiwan?
The short answer is, yes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t visit Kaohsiung or the rest of Taiwan without buying a local SIM card. At the end of the day, it really depends on your needs and of course your budget.
One thing you’ll quickly grow to love about Taiwan is the wifi hotspots. It’s extremely easy to find a free hot spot in most of the tourist areas, restaurants, hotels and even on some buses and trains.
However, if you prefer to have the internet on the go (like me), I highly recommend either purchasing a tourist SIM card or a portable WiFi device for your Kaohsiung trip and further afield. Having a local number will allow you to plan your stops, access maps and translations and generally make your time in Kaohsiung and the rest of Taiwan a lot easier.
How to get 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 harbor area.
Insider’s 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 about if your timing is right. There are also easy to use ticketing machines at each stop.
Instagrammable Places to Visit in Kaohsiung
Now that you know a bit more about how to get to Kaohsiung and how to navigate the city, let’s dive into the most Instagrammable places to visit in Kaohsiung.
There are loads of things to do in Kaohsiung. But it is also an extremely photogenic city filled with some really spectacular murals, street art and gorgeous temples. Here are some of the best photo spots in the city!
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 definitely should 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.
Furthermore, the Dome of Light is ridiculously easy to reach, because it is actually based in the MRT station. Simply take the MRT to Formosa Boulevard Station (the transfer station for the Red and Orange Lines). Then follow the clearly marked signs and voilà!
Pier 2 Art Centre
The Pier Art 2 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 on your hunt for the best places to visit in Kaohsiung!
Insider’s 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.
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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.
***Update: On my most recent trip to Kaohsiung, I revisited the Urban Spotlight. But, to be honest, the area looked a bit run down and not nearly as cool as I remembered it. If you still want to visit here, quickly pop by the Urban Spotlight, and then take a gentle stroll through the park. You’ll still get to see quirky art along the way and you’ll get to enjoy a slice of nature in the heart of the city.
Address: Corner of Wufu 3rd Rd. and Zhongshan 1st Rd., Qianjin Dist., Kaohsiung City.
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Other places to visit near 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. There are loads to do in Kenting, from relaxing at the beach to adventure activities such as snorkeling and diving. 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.
Kenting is located roughly 2.5hrs drive from Kaohsiung. Find out how to get to Kenting from Kaohsiung, here.
History buffs shouldn’t miss the opportunity to head on over to Tainan – Taiwan’s oldest city. Here you can explore centuries-old fortresses, dive into colorful temples, soak in a hot spring or snack your way through Anping Old Street. Of course, there are loads of other things to do there, so you might want to consider spending more than just a day here.
To reach Tainan, simply hop on any Northbound HSR train departing from Zouying station. The ride won’t take longer than 30 minutes.
Fo Guang Shan Monastery
Culture seekers 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.
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Cijin Island is just a short ferry ride from the Gushan Ferry Pier Terminal in Kaohsiung and definitely worth your time. You can rent bicycles right next to Cijin Ferry Terminal or even at the Pier 2 Art Centre if you want to get a bit more ‘bike time’. 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 and head to the fort for amazing views (and a killer sunset). Afterward, feast your way through the many vendors and eateries dishing up fresh seafood and local Taiwanese favorites. If you’re planning to spend a day in Cijin, this Cijin Island 1 day itinerary will also come in handy!
Have you visited Kaohsiung yet? Do you have any suggestions to add to this list on The Most Colorful Places to Visit in Kaohsiung? Let us know in the comments below.
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Anna Schaeffer says
omg such a great post! I especially love the dragon! And I love details that take you through details like when to go, and where to stay. So informative!
Thanks so much, Anna! Glad you found it useful! The tiger & dragon pagodas are beyond awesome – defo don’t miss it when you head to Kaohsiung one day!
Yes!!! I love colorful destinations and Kaohsiung looks absolutely awesome! Great photos!
Such a wonderful, colorful place! I especially liked the tiger and dragon pagodas above the lake. I would love to visit the small seaside town of Kenting, and as I am a bit of a history nerd (and love to snack my way around:)), Tainan sounds very tempting.
Kaohsiung looks like such a fun and interesting place to visit. I would love to visit Lotus Pond and witness firsthand the amazing, colorful temples. How interesting that each temple at Lotus Pond is set aside for worship of a different deity. I also could spend a lot of time at Pier 2 Art Center. The sculptures are so much fun. I would love to see them in person.
I never heard of Kaohsiung before but thanks to you for introducing such a colorful island to us. I will plan it with my Taiwan trip. Dome of Light is very wonderful with many beautiful colors.
Melissa Butler says
I have not heard of Kaohsiung before but it looks like such a wonderful colourful place – definitely adding it to my evergrowing bucketlist. I especially like the dome of light it just looks wow – those colours! I could just imagine being underneath it taking photos. The temples in Taiwan look amazing too.
Carmen Edelson says
You had me at the great wifi 😉 Love how accessible it is. Tawain is high on my list. Also, how amazing that the dome of light is in a train station?! Wow!
Those pictures are amazing! And now I regret not going to Kaohsiung when I was in Taiwan. I was supposed to go there but chose to stay in Taipei.
Thanks Christina – hopefully you can come back one day and check it out! Taipei is amazing though!
I have never been to Taiwan and I never knew just how colourful it was! What a great guide. My favourite has to be the Dome of Light! So brilliant. I would stare at that for a very long time. Some beautiful places here!
Thanks Juliette! The Dome of Light is amazing!
Henry Collins says
These places look very interesting to visit. I am a big fan of art so these things caught my attention.
That’s great to hear, Henry! Thanks! Kaohsiung is an art lover’s haven! If you do visit Taiwan, make a stop in Taichung too – loads of color and art there, as well. Plus, you’ll really love Rainbow Village!