I love port cities with their proximity to the beach, relaxed atmosphere and charming neighborhoods. And Kaohsiung is once again the perfect example. So, if you’re in the city and wondering what to do, here are my top 10!

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Kaohsiung in a few words

With its large port and hectic lifestyle, this modern city retains the refreshing calm of a coastal town. Famous for its industrial hub, Kaohsiung is actually much more than that: mountains, pavilions, museums and beaches await you, so what are you waiting for? Let’s get together and discover its must-see sites!

Must-Sees of Kaohsiung

1. Kaohsiung Piers

The port of Kaohsiung is unlike any other: it’s not smelly, full of hideous containers and a place you’d rather avoid on your itinerary. On the contrary, it’s a place where abandoned warehouses have been transformed into works of art. Restaurants, craft stores and murals now occupy this ideal place to relax.

Kaohsiung view of the pier

It’s also one of the best places to enjoy harbor views, so check out the colorful Pier-2 art center, eat a scallion pancake and wander among its many attractions.

2. Love River

Kaohsiung in Taiwan

Why Love River? Because it used to be a romantic spot for couples before it was seriously polluted in the 70s. But don’t worry, the river has regained its beauty and is once again a popular spot with tourists and locals alike.

Cycle along its banks, picnic in one of its parks and don’t forget to visit at night, when the play of lights makes the place even more charming.

3. San Feng Tang

San Feng Temple
Photo by Dave Weatherall on Unsplash

Located close to a delightful night market, this three-story temple is the ideal place to admire beautiful architecture and enjoy a little peace and quiet in the middle of the city.

If you have the chance, visit at night, when thousands of lights illuminate the temple, making for a magical experience!

4. Cijin Island

Lovely bench in Cijin Island

If you have more than two days in Kaohsiung, I highly recommend a trip to the beautiful Cijin Island (see my article about it here).

It’s the perfect place for a day trip without having to spend hours in a bus or car.
Five minutes after taking the ferry, you can finally explore the island. You can rent a bike, scooter or simply take a stroll.

Whichever you choose, breathe in the fresh sea air and take your time discovering the many sights!

5. Lotus Pond

Lotus Pond in Kaohsiung

A famous Kaohsiung landmark, the Lotus Pond is my idea of a busy afternoon, where nature and mythology blend perfectly in a serene atmosphere.

Visit the many pavilions, try your luck at the Dragon and Tiger pagodas and satisfy your cravings at the nearby market.

6. Night Markets

Liuhe Night Market

Kaohsiung may be known for its vibrant art scene, but you should also check out its night markets. Particularly Liuhe and Ruifeng, which are the city’s biggest and most popular.

Seafood, traditional dishes and snacks, my best advice is to explore the various stalls until something catches your eye, or simply sample as much food as you can!
My favorite dish: the simple and unbeatable scallion pancake!

7. Shoushan Love Lookout & Martyrs’ Shrine

Want a great view of the city for nothing (except sweat and fatigue)? This is the place to be! After a short hike, relax and enjoy the panorama that opens up before your eyes.

But that’s not all, because right next door you’ll find the Martyrs’ Shrine: a magnificent memorial set in quiet, picturesque surroundings.

Here, history meets nature, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the culture and architecture of the place.

8. Day trip to Tainan

Tainan street

Since it’s so easy to get around Taiwan, a day trip to Tainan (read my article on the subject here) from Kaohsiung is quick and easy.

By bus, it will take you around 45 minutes for $3 to explore the pretty alleyways of this charming southwestern city.

What’s more, sightseeing in Tainan is fairly straightforward, as the main attractions are all located in the same area.

Here are some of the places I recommend most: Confucius Temple, Snail Alley, Chihkan Tower, Shennong Street, Anping Tree House, Tainan Park and the National Taiwan History Museum.

9. Dome of Light

Dome of Light

Well, let’s be honest, have you ever seen a subway station this pretty? Certainly not, and so I spent at least 25 minutes analyzing every little detail of this masterpiece!

Created by artist Narcissus Quagliata, the Formosa Boulevard station dome is actually made of colored glass and tells the story of human life. Brightly colored, “hidden” underground and unique, this place is well worth a visit!

Now you know where to go if you want to see an amazing art exhibition for free!

10. Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Getting there: go to Kaohsiung Railway Station, take bus n°8010 (NT$15) and stop at Fo Guang Shan Memorial Hall OR go to Zuoying Station Bus Terminal and take the bus E02 (NT$70).

Things to know before going:

  • the museum is open from 9am to 6pm every day but is closed on Tuesdays
  • grab a map at the entrance to help you navigate the place
  • there is no dress code, but it’s advisable to dress modestly as this is a place of worship.

One of Kaohsiung’s most popular attractions, and for good reason: this free museum is the ideal place to learn more about the country’s culture and Buddha in general. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and temples, it’s the ideal place to recharge your batteries in a peaceful atmosphere.

The museum is so vast that I recommend you allow at least half a day to enjoy the site at a leisurely pace.

And why not round off your experience with a good vegetarian lunch?

How to get to Kaohsiung?

From abroad:

If you’re not already in the country, you can fly into Kaohsiung, as the city has its own airport (although people generally tend to land in Taipei). It all depends on your country of departure, but you should still check prices as they are sometimes quite similar.

From Taipei:

  • By THSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail): take the train from Taipei Main Station to Zuoying Station in Kaohsiung. The journey takes around 1.5 to 2 hours and costs NT$1,500 (~$43).
  • By TRA (Taiwan Railways Administration): take the train from Taipei Main Station to Kaohsiung Station. This time the ride takes much longer, between 3.5-6 hours, and costs NT$843 ($25).
  • By bus: take the bus from Taipei Bus Station to Kaohsiung for a ride between 4-6 hours and a total of NT$470-730 ($13-$21)

Please note that tickets must be purchased directly at the stations, and don’t worry if there are no seats, as this is quite rare in Taiwan (except during vacations, when it’s best to book your ticket in advance).

How to get around

Getting around Kaohsiung isn’t difficult, as there are several modes of transport, all affordable and easily accessible. Whether you choose to explore the city on foot, by bike or with the MRT (subway), you’ll be able to see all the main attractions in town, as well as some outside.

Don’t forget to buy your EasyCard in advance at one of the MRT stations to get around Taiwan with ease. You can recharge it at any station and use it to rent bicycles (YouBike).

Visa

You probably won’t need a visa, as many countries have a visa waiver program. Taiwan allows visitors to stay for up to 90 days. Check here to see if your country is on the list!

But don’t forget that you’ll still need a passport valid for 6 months to enter Taiwan, and usually a return plane/ferry ticket.

Best time to go

Kaohsiung at sunset

If you want to avoid the rainy season or the hot, humid weather, you’d better choose the months from November to April. You’ll be able to enjoy the tropical climate, as well as the end-of-year festivities!

Final Thoughts

I personally think Kaohsiung is a must-see if you’re planning to visit Taiwan. I know that many people praise Taipei, its culture and lively neighborhoods, but for me, the capital is actually incomparable to the coastal city of Kaohsiung. Maybe it’s because my heart is always drawn to the southernmost part of a country, or maybe it’s because the charm of the port city seduced me, who knows? Whatever the case, Taiwan’s second-largest city has captured my heart, and it’s highly likely that it will do the same for you!

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13 Comments

  1. I’d love to visit Kaohsiung and enjoy exploring these must-see spots! From the vibrant Kaohsiung Piers and enchanting Love River to the serene Lotus Pond and bustling night markets.

  2. Taiwan is an interesting country to visit. Will be adding it to my must see countries list after reading this post. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Wow! Kaohsiung looks amazing! I love all the architecture and Cijin Island looks beautiful as well. I hadn’t heard of Kaohsiung before, so I really appreciated learning about it!

    1. I’m always happy to share amazing places especially since Kaohsiung is well worth a visit and one of my favorite locations in Taiwan! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  4. I love Asia but i never been to Taiwan. These 10 things are worth seeing definitely. My brother is going to Asia soon and I`ll show this article to him.

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