Are you one of those who think Kaohsiung is nothing more than an ugly, polluted industrial centre? I use to believe so... Until I spent 2 weeks traveling in and around the city in the fall of 2010. I realised that - contrarily to the usual assumption - this harbour city is extremely pleasant, and that it is packed with inspirational sites.
A quick (super important!!) note about accommodation in the city...
These days everybody seems to know that Kaohsiung has become one of the most pleasant cities in Taiwan, and because of that, more and more tourists (mostly Taiwanese) visit the area on weekends. If you plan on spending a night here on Friday or Saturday, you absolutely must make a hotel reservation in advance as most hotels are fully booked on those two nights.
The Old British Consulate
Looking for a place to watch the sunset? Jump on bus 99 and hike up the hill that overlooks the harbor. At the top, you'll find the elegant red-brick building that used to be the colonial mansion for the British Consul. There are small exhibitions inside, but you'll probably be more interested in enjoying a drink or a meal on the nice, open terrace - the top spot in town to get great sea views. 20, LianHai Rd.; free; 9am-midnight
Catch a Ferry to Cijin Island
I used to think that Keelung's Maokou night market had the best seafood in Taiwan... I was wrong! Cijin is unbeatable for the variety and quality of its sea products. They even have a road named Seafood Street. Cijin Island is also a great place to walk, bike or swim. Make sure you don't miss Matsu Temple -Kaohsiung's oldest shrine and the lighthouse, from where you get great views. Take Bus 248 to Gushan Ferry Pier.
The Unconditional Love River
I should have put it on top of this list... The Love River is such a cool place to take a quiet evening walk. The riverbanks are lined up with open-air cafes and peaceful little parks where you can rest or have a drink. If you're looking for a place to spend a romantic evening, look no further. Take bus 248.
Meditate in the Mountains
Yuanheng Temple is a peerless place to get away from all the noise and the commotion of the city. This Buddhist Monastery is perched on a ridge, at the southern edge of Shoushan hill. The interior is vast and quiet. You can sit in front of the three giant Buddhas for hours without being disturbed - even on weekends. Great perspective over the city. Bus 18-19-245.
The Martyr's Shrine is a perfect example of classical Chinese architecture. Taiwan's religious centers are often built in scenic locations and this one is no exception. The shrine sits high above the city on the southern slope of Shoushan. The area gives you access to lots of hiking trails.
The Busy Kaohsiung Harbor
If you ever feel bored or lonely while in Kaohsiung, head for the harbor. It's such a lively place! You can see people walking, cycling, sipping a drink by the water, ships loading and unloading containers... Gushan Ferry Pier is particularly vibrant on weekends.
Fine Arts Museum
This is another great place where you can find tranquility from the hectic pace of the city. Set in the middle of a vast and quiet park, the museum displays both local and foreign artwork. It's probably the best venue to spend an afternoon on a rainy day. 20 Meishuguan Rd.; Tue-Sun, 9am-5pm; free; bus 205
Museum of History
Unless you really love history, you can safely skip this one. Why? Because unfortunately, the interior doesn't do justice to the building's striking facade. The exhibitions aren't presented very well and there simply isn't much to see. But, if you are a history buff like me, you'll appreciate the section that explains the 2-28 incident and the sepia pictures on the second floor. 272 ZhongZheng 4th Rd; Tue-Fri, 9am-5pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-9pm; free.
If you're passionate about temples, pagodas and old buildings, you will be delighted in this area. Plan an entire day to visit the main sites and have the time to explore the hidden back alleys. More about Lotus Pond in Kaohsiung City...
This temple is the most impressive I've seen on the island. From the outside, it looks like Beijing's Forbidden City with its palatial architecture and endless curved roofs. The complex is a half hour drive outside Kaohsiung.
Best Pizza in Kaohsiung
If you're hungry and you're craving something else than Chinese food today, why not go for a good slice of thin-crust Italian pizza! Pizza Rock Kaohsiung is located by the Kaohsiung Arena in Zuoying district. Take a look at Pizza Rock on Facebook, Trip Advisor, or our official website.
About Pizza Rock Kaohsiung
Address: 327 Fumin Road, Zuoying District, Kaohsiung
Business Hours: 11:30 - 21:30
Find hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. Check availability and prices for hotels in Kaohsiung City, in Southern Taiwan. Book room now and avoid being stuck without a bed at night.
I took the following video from my hotel room behind the train station at 7am during the morning rush hour. It gives you an idea about the scooter madness in Kaohsiung...
Travel to Kaohsiung City
Travel to Taiwan's second largest city by bus, normal train, or fast train. Understand how to use public transport to get here.
Liouhe Night Market
One of the top attractions is Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, is undoubtedly Liouhe Night Market. It's packed with Chinese tourists and the food is terrible. Skip it!
Kenting Express Bus
Visit some of the most beautiful beaches on the island in Kenting National Park. The most convenient way to get there is the Kenting Express Bus, which you can take from the HSR station.