If you’re spending some time in Taiwan, you definitely need to make a point of visiting Kaohsiung. Located in the southern corners of the island, Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s largest port city and third largest metropolitan hub.
Kaoshiung is a beautiful city sporting everything from hipster cafes, river- and harbor-side parks, cultural sites, beautiful beaches, and colorful street art. As a result, the city is jam-packed with awesome things to do! Here are 15 of the best things to do in Kaohsiung.
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Kaohsiung Travel Essentials
Before we dive into this epic list of what to do in Kaohsiung, here are a few essentials that will make your trip all the easier.
- Kaohsiung is a popular tourist spot in Taiwan, so make sure to book a hotel well in advance. You can find some great hotel deals here.
- Traveling between Taipei and Kaohsiung is super easy, just make sure to book your HSR ticket to Zuoying Station* to guarantee a seat. *Note: Discounted HSR tickets on Klook are only available to tourists. You’ll need to show your passport/visa to redeem the ticket at the HSR Station.
- Alternatively, consider this 5 Day Joint Rail Pass if you’re going to use both the HSR or TRA during your Taiwan trip.
- With buses, taxis, an extensive subway, and a light rail at your disposal, Kaoshiung is a very easy city to explore. But if you prefer to visit all of Kaohsiung’s top attractions without planning a thing, this Kaohsiung City day tour is a great option. Alternatively, hire a private driver if you value your freedom or don’t want to bother with any logistics.
- Like elsewhere in Taiwan, Kaohsiung is a super safe city to visit. However, it never hurts to be over-prepared. Don’t forget to get travel insurance with World Nomads before your trip!
Best Things to do in Kaohsiung: Top Kaohsiung Attractions
See the cool art displays at Pier 2 Art Center
If there is one place that deserves a spot on your list of things to do in Kaohsiung, it is Pier 2 Art Center (駁二藝術特區).
Formerly used as old storing warehouses, Pier 2 Art Center is better known today as a hippy artists hub in Kaohsiung. Most of the old warehouses have been revamped into funky art spaces housing some of the coolest art exhibitions in all of Taiwan.
Within the sprawling harbor front park you’ll find everything from colorful murals to quirky art installations to exhibitions. If your Kaohsiung itinerary is flexible, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon browsing art galleries, checking out exhibitions, hunting for street art, or chilling at a hipster cafe. Don’t miss the outdoor market on weekends! It has a great selection of delicious food, crafts, and other goodies!
Since Pier 2 is huge, the best way to see all of it’s best bits is by bike! There are several bike rental stations scattered near the harbor front, but you could also rent a bike from Mccoy Bikes on Penglai Road.
- Location: No. 1, Dayong Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City, 803
- Getting there: Take the Orange MRT Line to Sizihwan Station so that you can also see the Hamasen Railway Culture Park before reaching the warehouses.
Hop on a ferry to Cijin Island
Cijin Island (旗津島) is a dreamy little island with loads to do and see. Best known for its historic fort, ornate temples, stunning black sand beaches, and Old Street full of seafood restaurants, Cijin Island is a great place to explore, eat and swim.
You can explore the island on foot, but it’s best to rent a bicycle to really get acquainted with Cijin’s best attractions. Some of the most popular tourist spots include Rainbow Church, Cihou Starlight Tunnel, Kaohsiung Lighthouse, and Cihou Fort.
Since Cijin is only a 5-minute ferry ride from Gushan Ferry Pier Station, it’s a great add-on to your Kaoshiung to do list! The best time to visit is in the afternoon. That way, you’ll miss most of the heat while still having enough daylight hours to cycle, swim, and stuff your face with delicious seafood! If you can, stick around until the sun sets for killer views atop the Cihou Fort! For those who prefer to watch the sunset with an ice-cold beer in hand, Sunset Bar is the place to be!
- Location: Qijin District, Kaohsiung City, 805.
- Getting there: Take a 5-minute ferry ride from Gushan Harbor to Cijin Island. The ferry costs NT$30, and you can bring your bike or scooter along. Ferries run from 5 am to 2 am every day.
Get a bird’s-eye view over the city at Kaohsiung 85 Observatory
Towering 378m above the city, 85 Sky Tower is the tallest building in Kaohsiung and the second tallest in Taiwan after Taipei 101.
85 Sky Tower is huge and you can spot it just about anywhere in the city. The building houses a high-end hotel, various restaurants, office space, and other facilities, but it is the observation deck that is the REAL shining star here! The deck, which is located on the 75th floor of this 85-floor structure, offers the best views over the cityscape and harbor. What’s more, the fast-moving lift traveling at 600 meters per minute allows you to reach the observation deck in just 43 seconds!
While the 85 Sky Tower is a fun Kaohsiung attraction any time of day, come at sunset to watch the sun melt away over the horizon. Entry to the observation deck is a bit pricey at NT$250 per person but for such epic views it’ll be worth every penny!
- Location: No. 1, Ziqiang 3rd Rd, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City, 802.
- How to get there: Take the Red MRT line to Sanduo Shopping District Station and walk 600m.
Have sundowners at Belon
If you want to catch the most stunning sunset imaginable with a cocktail in hand, then you have to slip into Belon Restaurant and Bar (貝隆餐廳).
Located in the Singuang Riverside Park, right behind the Kaohsiung Exhibition Hall, Belon Restaurant is an incredible seafood restaurant dishing up everything from raw seafood dishes to western classics. Don’t miss the fresh oysters and black truffle parmesan fries! They are delish! In addition to the great food, they also have a varied cocktail menu, with everything from sangria to kamikaze to long island ice tea – you name it!
While the delicious food and boozy cocktails are surely a reason to visit, it is the mind-blowing setting that makes this restaurant such a must-visit place in Kaohsiung. Sitting right at the harbor’s edge, Belon oozes with charm and overlooks dozens of glitzy yachts docked in the bay. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, but for a truly special experience, grab a spot on one of the comfy sofas at the large open-air dining area. That way, you can feel the sea breeze on your skin and enjoy the incredible views!
Come at sunset or the blue hour for the most romantic and atmospheric setting! Reservations are recommended.
- Location: No. 39-1, Chenggong 2nd Road, Qianzhen District, Kaohsiung City, 806.
- Getting there: Take the Red MRT Line to Sanduo Shopping District Station. From there it’s a 15-minute walk to the restaurant.
Eat your way through Liuhe Night Market
There is no shortage of great night markets in Taiwan, and Liuhe Night Market (六合觀光夜市) is one of the best!
Located in Xinxing District and within walking distance from Formosa Boulevard Station, Luihe is a bustling night market you don’t want to miss. The market is filled with dozens of food vendors and stalls selling everything from electronic gadgets to local knick-knacks. It’s also one of the best places to go in Kaohsiung for delectable seafood.
If you happen to drop by here, don’t miss the thick seafood congee near the entrance. Another must-try and one of Taiwan’s most popular drinks is the freshly made papaya milk at 鄭老牌木瓜牛奶. Stalls usually open up around 6 pm. Remember to come hungry!
- Location: Liuhe 2nd Road, Xinxing District, Kaohsiung City, 800
- Getting there: Take the Red MRT Line from Kaohsiung Station and hop off at Formosa Boulevard Station. It’s a 4-minute walk to the market.
See the Dome of Light
One of the best things to do in Kaohsiung is to pop by the Dome of Light (光之穹頂) – a beautiful art installation found right in one of Kaohsiung’s metro stations!
Created by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, the Dome of Light consists of more than 4500 glass-colored panels covering 660 square meters. It portrays the story of life and took more than four years to complete! The Dome of Light is an absolutely incredible sight, and it’s not hard to see why this is one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world.
With that said, though, the Dome of Light is much more than just another pretty tourist attraction in Kaohsiung. Not only is it the world’s largest colored-glass public art installation, but it also commemorates a massive pro-democracy movement that occurred in the late 70s.
- Location: No. 115, Zhongshan 1st Road, Xinxing District, Kaoshiung City, 800.
- Getting there: Take the Orange or Red Line to Formosa Boulevard Station and follow the signs.
Stroll under dozens of lanterns at Sanfeng Temple
Sanfeng Temple (三鳳宮) is a beautiful Taoist temple, dedicated to the deity Nezha, right in the heart of Kaohsiung City. Although Sanfeng Temple has a rich history dating back more than 300 years, it’s actually only been at its current location for several decades.
Sanfeng Temple might not be the most important temple in Taiwan, but it is certainly one of the most photogenic! Here, large decorated wooden doors open up to a huge courtyard strewn with dozens of dangling red lanterns. Despite being extremely Instagrammable, Sanfeng Temple is still very much a Kaohsiung hidden gem. Luckily, that means you can easily have the whole place all to yourself – apart from a few local worshippers, of course. For the best views over the temple and lanterns, take the staircase near the entrance to the upper balconies.
- Location: No. 134, Hebei 2nd Road, Sanmin District, Kaohsiung City, 807
- Getting there: Hop in a taxi/ Uber at Kaohsiung Station. If you prefer to walk, the temple is about 1.6k from the station.
Visit Hou Yi Shopping District (aka Umbrella Street)
Much like to Wufenpu in Taipei, Hou Yi Shopping District (後驛商圈) is a sprawling shopping area right in the heart of Kaohsiung City.
Hou Yi Shopping District is only a short stroll from Kaohsiung Main Station. It runs along Anning Street and a few side streets that jolt off from it. Since it is super accessible, it’s perfect for anyone who wants to squeeze in a bit of extra shopping on their trip.
The shopping district houses a fantastic collection of stores selling everything from bags to clothes to shoes. And while not all stores sell to the public, it’s still a really cool place to visit. What really makes this area such a must-visit Kaohsiung attraction is that it’s super Instagrammable with dozens of umbrellas and lanterns dangling from the sky!
Come before 10 am in the mornings if you want to have the street all to yourself! And, if you can, come back at night when the lanterns are lit up! Most stores close around 8 pm, but the lights stay on until around 9 pm.
- Location: Anning St, Sanmin District, Kaohsiung City, 807
- Getting there: Take the subway to Kaohsiung Main Station and then take exit 2. Once you’re at Zhangxi Road, keep an eye out for Cu Hotel, which sits right on the corner of Anning Street.
Wander the sprawling grounds of Fo Guang Shan
You can’t visit Kaohsiung without dropping by the incredible Fo Guang Shan Monastery located just on the city’s outskirts.
The complex is home to beautiful temples, towering pagodas, and several exhibition halls where you can learn more about Buddhism. However, it’s the enormous Buddha that has made Fo Guang Shan such a go-to spot. The statue is also the largest bronze-seated Buddha in the world!
Within the Fo Guang Shan Museum’s Main Exhibition Hall, you’ll find an array of ancient artifacts and sacred artworks that make for some interesting browsing. Afterward, be sure to head to the roof, where you can get a close-up look at the 108-m tall Buddha.
Fo Guang Shan is right up there with the most beautiful places in Taiwan, so don’t miss it! If you don’t want to bother with public transport, this Fo Guang Shan half-day tour is a great alternative.
- Location: No. 1, Tongling Road, Dashu District, Kaohsiung City, 84049.
- Getting there: Take direct bus 8501 or bus 8501 Extend from Zouying HSR Station and alight at Buddha Memorial Hall. The ride costs NT$66 and takes about an hour.
Go temple hopping at Lotus Pond
Located on the northern side of the city, Lotus Pond (蓮池潭) has been a popular pitstop since the Qing Dynasty.
Today, this sprawling area is one of the coolest places to visit in Kaohsiung and is best known for its gorgeous temples and beautiful lotus flowers that bloom during summer. There are 20 or so temples dotted along the lake’s banks and nearby nooks and crannies – each unique in its own right. The best part? All of them are accessible via relaxing walkways and bike paths!
Although there are several points of interest here, the highlight is undeniably the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, built in the 60s. The towers sit right on the edge of the lake and offer stunning views from above. No wonder it’s the most famous photo spot in the city! It’s free to enter the pagodas, but make sure to enter the dragon’s mouth and exit via the tiger’s mouth for good luck!
Other must-visit spots include Confucius Temple, the Temple of Enlightenment, the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, and the gigantic Xuantian Shang-di statue.
Lotus Pond is a great place to wander around, duck into age-old temples and take photos. Come at sunset to see the pond illuminated for a truly spectacular experience.
- Location: Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 813
- How to get there: Take the train from Central Station to Zuoying Station and walk a short distance to Lotus Pond.
Visit the Old City of Fengshan County
Not too far from Lotus Pond, you’ll find the remaining walls and city gates of the Old Fengshan City at the foothills of Turtle Mountain.
The Old City of Zuoying (鳳山縣舊城) is an important historic landmark in Kaohsiung and best known for being the first fortified city built in Taiwan. It dates back to the Qing Dynasty, boasting a rich history of more than 300 years. Today the wall is the most intact ancient city wall in Taiwan, even though only 500m remains standing.
Four gates (North, East, South, and West) served as entry points to the Old City, with the eastern gate the most well preserved. If time permits, you can stroll along the walls for a close-up look at this ancient gem. If you want to duck inside, don’t expect to find much more than neatly kept gardens and paths to stroll along. Still, it’s a nice place to wander around or have a picnic under the trees if you’re looking for a change of scenery.
- Location: Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City, 813
- Getting there: Take bus 301 from Zuoying HSR Station to the Shengli Road stop and walk 1 minute. Buses come every 30 minutes, and the ride costs NT$12.
Cruise along the Love River
The Love River (愛河) is a 12-km waterway that flows through the city before reaching Kaohsiung Harbor. A lovely riverside park, the Love River Park, runs along the riverbank and is dotted with bars, restaurants, and swanky riverside cafes.
A stroll along the riverbanks is obligatory when visiting Kaohsiung, but for something really special, visit at night when you can see the harbor, rainbow-colored bridges, and surrounding buildings illuminated. While it’s easy to explore the riverside on foot, taking a romantic cruise along the river is a huge must. Along the way, you’ll spot some of Kaohsiung’s best attractions. Among these notable sights are Kaohsiung Music Hall, Love Pier, Zodiac Wharf, and Glory Pier.
- Getting there: Take the Red MRT Line to Formosa Boulevard Station and transfer to the Orange Line. Alight at either City Council. From there, it’s about a 5-minute walk to the waterfront.
Hike Monkey Mountain
If you’re looking for something outdoorsy to do in Kaohsiung, then be sure to head to Shoushan (壽山).
More commonly known as Monkey Mountain, Shoushan is a beautiful scenic area just north of the Kaohsiung Harbor. It’s a cool place to immerse yourself in nature, spot Formosan Macaques, and hike among varied plant and animal life. The main trail, Chaishan Trail, is an easy to moderate 5 km trek, that takes about 2-3 hours to complete.
Besides the epic views over the lower-lying city, diverse fauna, and flora, Monkey Mountian is also home to some of the oldest archaeological ruins in Kaohsiung, dating back 5,000 years.
Just a heads up: While the macaques might seem cute, they’re still wild animals. It’s best to keep a safe distance at all times and refrain from feeding them.
- Location: Gushan District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 804
- Getting there: Take a TRA train to the Museum of Fine Arts and walk west. The trailhead starts near Qianguang Temple (千光宮).
Get your kicks at E-Da Theme Park
If you’re visiting Kaohsiung with kids or looking for something a bit more fun to do, E-Da Theme Park (義大遊樂世界) is just the answer.
E-Da is one of Taiwan’s most popular theme parks and houses the largest entertainment theatre and biggest indoor recreation center in Taiwan. What’s more, this massive Greek-themed amusement park is located just 30 minutes drive from Kaohsiung City!
The park is divided into three themed zones, Acropolis, Santorini Mountain City, and Trojan Castle, each unique and full of fun things to do. You’ll find everything from a Ferris wheel to a 55-meter U-shaped roller coaster to haunted houses and even a 5D ghost ship here! Make sure to grab your park entry ticket in advance to skip the lines.
Besides the cool rides, E-Da also has a wide selection of shops, restaurants, shows, and an uber-luxe hotel if you want to spend the night.
- Location: No. 10, Section 1, Xuecheng Road, Dashu District, Kaohsiung City, 840
- Getting there: Catch bus 8501 or bus 8501 Extend from Zuoying Station. The ride takes 36 minutes and costs NT$37 one way. Buses come every 15-30 minutes.
Explore the city’s outskirts
Although there is no shortage of awesome things to do in Kaohsiung, there are also stacks of cool places near the city. Here are three of the best.
- Xiaoliuqiu or Lambai Island (琉球嶼) is a beautiful coral island just 40 minutes by speed boat from Donggang Harbour near Kaohsiung City. Boasting pristine beaches and incredible treasures underwater, Liuqiu is a popular spot among day trippers, snorkelers, free divers and scuba divers. Read my detailed Liuqiu Island Guide covering absolutely everything you need to know about visiting this stunning island.
- Tainan (台南市) is Taiwan’s oldest city and a great place for anyone interested in history, culture, and art. The city is home to some of Taiwan’s most important historical sites and houses more than 1000 temples. Read my detailed Tainan travel guide to discover the city’s best bits.
- Tianliao Moon World (田寮月世界) might just be one of the weirdest attractions in Kaohsiung! While it is the most developed badland in Taiwan, Tianliao looks more like something straight out of a sci-fi movie! Large barren slopes resembling the moon’s surface poke out of the ground, creating a unique yet freaky scene. It’s not the easiest place to reach, so make sure to hire a private driver.
Where to stay in Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung has a plethora of excellent accommodation options to match any budget and traveling style. Here are some of the best places to stay in the city.
- Mid Range: FX Hotel is a posh 4-star hotel featuring clean, modern rooms with comfy beds and lovely city views. The hotel is well-placed near loads of shops, restaurants, Luihe night market, and sightseeing areas in Kaohsiung. Since the City Council MRT is practically on your doorstep, it’s the perfect base to see Kaohsiung’s best attractions.
- Luxe: If you’re looking for a ridiculously luxurious hotel, then be sure to check in at the Kaohsiung Marriot Hotel. Featuring everything from beautifully decorated rooms, an indoor pool, an onsite spa and even a yoga room, Kaohsiung Marriot Hotel is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a 5-star stay.
- Budget: Light Hostel Kaohsiung is located right next to the Formosa Boulevard Station and is an excellent option for travelers on a tight budget who don’t want to sacrifice style or comfort. The hostel has clean, modern dorm rooms as well as private rooms if you value your privacy. The hostel also has a lovely public area where you can chill out and mingle with new friends.
What to do in Kaohsiung in Conclusion
As you can see, there are loads of places to go and cool things to do in Kaohsiung. While this post only covers a handful of Kaohsiung’s top attractions, I hope it offers a glimpse into what this fascinating city has to offer!
Well, that wraps up this guide on what to do in Kaohsiung. If you feel I’ve missed any must-visit attractions in Kaohsiung, let me know in the comments below!
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