I first heard of Kaohsiung when Starcruises started offering cruises via Superstar Virgo from the Philippines to Kaohsiung, Taiwan last summer. I haven’t traveled to Taiwan yet that time, so I got curious. So when I received an invite for a trip to Taiwan that included Kaohsiung in the itinerary, I immediately researched for the top Kaohsiung attractions and things to do. To my surprise, I had a hard time searching for the detailed information that I needed. So to help you plan your Kaohsiung trip itinerary, here’s my handpicked list of top places to see in Kaohsiung and how to get there .
In case you haven’t heard of Kaohsiung yet, this lively city is located in southwestern Taiwan and has the largest port in the country Interestingly, it is a planned city with wide roads, modern public transport and bicycle lanes. What I like about Kaohsiung is it is easy to explore, just like Taipei since most of the attractions are concentrated near the MRT stations.
So without further ado, here’s my list of top places to see in Kaohsiung with commuting information.
TOP KAOHSIUNG ATTRACTIONS AND HOW TO GET THERE
THE DOME OF LIGHT
The Dome of Light was the first attraction I visited in Kaohsiung because my hotel – Tree House Hotel is just a stone’s throw away from Formosa Boulevard Station where this glass art installation is located. This gigantic rainbow-hued masterpiece, akin to a cathedral, is the biggest of its kind in the world, composed of about 4,500 glass panels. The Dome of Light is a brainchild of Narcissus Quagliata, an Italian artist who had the pieces of colored glass panels shipped from Germany. Tourists can walk around the 30-meter diameter installation that displays 4 different themes: water, earth, light and fire representing birth, growth, glory, destruction and rebirth. And because of this, Kaohsiung MRT often makes it to the top list of most beautiful train stations in the world.
The Dome of Light
Address: No.115, Jhongshan 1st Road Sinsing District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Open Hours: 05:55 AM – 12:25 AM
Entrance Fee: FREE
How to get to The Dome of Light
Head to Kaohsiung MRT Station and alight at Formosa Station. Walk to B1 level where the Dome of Light is located.
Lotus Pond is one of the top attractions in Kaohsiung and I recommend you visit this temple complex as many temples are concentrated here. Don’t expect it to be as grand as the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum though. What I like about the Lotus Pond is it is peppered with uniquely-designed structures, some are standing by the man-made lake where pretty lotus flowers thrive. The first structure that welcomed me was the soaring twin temples known as the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. If you are wondering why it’s named such that is because the entrance to the temple is the dragon’s mouth and the exit is the lion’s mouth. Walk through this route for good luck. Inside the temples there are pretty intricate religious paintings on the wall.
In front of the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, you’ll see the Ciji Palace or Bao Sheng Da Di Temple, it is dedicated to Bao Sheng Da Di, the Life-Protecting Emperor or The God of Medicine.
A stone’s throw away is another beautiful attraction – the Spring and Autumn Pavilion, a Taoist Temple that also features a mouth of a dragon as entrance. A statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy in Mahayana Buddhism can be seen riding the dragon. The four-tiered pagoda proudly standing on the man-made lake is octagonal in shape.
Fronting the Spring and Autumn Pavilion is the Chi Ming Palace or Temple of Temple of Enlightenment, the largest temple in the area. It’s guarded by two gigantic temple lions hugging the massive stone balls.
Walk further and you’ll see another temple – Pei Chi Pavilion where the 22 meter high statue of Beiji Xuantian Shangdi, the Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven, a Taoist deity sits.
Address: No. 9, Liantan Road, Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Open Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Entrance fee: Free
How to get to Lotus Pond in Kaohsiung:
To get to Lotus Pond, take MRT to Zuoying Station. If coming from Formosa Boulevard, regular fare is NTD 25/PHP 42(USD 0.83/EURO 0.70/SGD 1/MYR 4), discounted fare if you use Easycard or rechargeable card is NTD 22/PHP 37(USD 0.73/EURO 0.62/SGD 0.99/MYR 3). Transit time is about 13 minutes. Take exit 2 and look for the bus stop on the right side. Wait for bus 301. I took bus 301, fare is about NTD 15/PHP 15(USD 0.50/EURO 0.42/SGD 0.68/MYR 2) and travel time is about 15 minutes. Alight at Shoushan National Nature Park sign.
The Lover River is one the top attractions in Kaohsiung that flows through the north and south of the city. In the olden days, the residents used the river (formerly known as Dagou River during the Qing Dynasty) for irrigation. It has blissfully undergone a major facelift, a great example of a local government’s success in cleaning and developing rivers. Today, Love River is fringed by night market, restaurants, outdoor cafes and bars with live bands. It’s a great place for hanging out at night and romantic dating place for lovers, hence the name Love River. Tourists can also join a boat cruise along the river at night. At daytime, it’s perfect for a leisurely walk and biking.
The highlight of the Love River is where the WuFu 4th Road merges with the river. This road is one of the more popular areas for shopping, dining and drinking in Kaohsiung city. While you are at it, make time to visit the nearby KH Film Archives, the Pier 2 Art Centre and the Nanhou Tourist Market. If you love shopping, Nanhou Tourist Market is the place to be, it is dubbed as the “Women’s Street” where you can find the latest fashion trends.
Love River Kaohsiung
Address: Hedong Road, Qianjin District, Kaohsiung City
Entrance Fee: FREE
Nearby Attractions: Kaohsiung Bridge, Wufu 4th Road, Kaohsiung Film Archive and Holy Rosary Cathedral
How to get to the Love River in Kaohsiung:
Head to Kaohsiung MRT and take the orange line. Alight at Yanchengpu Station and exit to Wufu Road. Transit time is about 10 minutes. From Formosa Station, fare is NTD 30/PHP 34(USD 0.66/EURO 0.56/SGD 0.90/MYR 3) but if you use your Easycard, MRT fare is only NTD 17/PHP 29(USD 0.56/EURO 0.48/SGD 0.77/MYR 2). Walk east to Wufu Road until you reach the Love River.
HEART OF LOVE RIVER
The Heart of Love River in Kaohsiung is a reservoir for floodwater where two artificial lakes were built: the West Lake and the East Lake. The former is the return point for the Love River Cruise boats. The two lakes are connected by a bridge, forming a beautiful heart shape, hence the name Heart of Love River.
Address: Bo’ai 1st Road, Sanmin District, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
How to get to the Heart of the Love River
To get to the Heart of Love River in Kaohsiung, take the MRT and get off at Houyi Station. Head to Exit 1 and ride Bus R30 to Heart of Love River.
FORMER BRITISH CONSULATE
This age-old building with red-bricked archways is a former British Consulate. One of the historic buildings in Kaohsiung. The well-preserved structure has 4 sections where photographs and historical documents are exhibited. The building is located on a hill that offers s neck-swiveling view of Sizihwan and Kaohsiung Port. Cafes and restaurants are sprinkled inside the building so visitors can dine and sip coffee.
Address: No.20, Lianhai Road, Gushan District, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Open Hours: 09:00 AM -9:00 PM
Nearby Attractions: Shaochuantou Park and Shihba Wanggong Temple
How to get to Former British Consulate
Take MRT and alight at Sizihwan Station.
KAOSHIUNG CENTRAL PARK
Amidst the towering buildings in the bustling city of Kaohsiung lies an oasis of greenery – the Central Park, one of the top destinations here. Inside the park complex, you’ll find the Scenic Lake, the Water Square, the Kaohsiung Literature Library, Outdoor Terrace, Middle Island, Speech Square and the Hedgerow Labyrinth. Central Park is accessible via the Central Park Station. The station was designed by British architect Richard Rogers known for the flowers covering the courtyard grass areas. Central Park Station is also often included in the list of most beautiful subway stations in the world.
Kaohsiung Central Park
Address: No. 11, Zhongshan 1st Road, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Nearby Tourist Attractions: Shopping malls – Kaohsiung Hanshin Department Store, President Department Store, Urban Spotlight and Shinkuchan Entertainment District.
How to get to Central Park in Kaohsiung
Ride Kaohsiung MRT and take Exit 1 of KMRT Central Park Station. If coming from Formosa Station, single-journey ticket is NTD 30/PHP 34(USD 0.66/EURO 0.56/SGD 0.90/MYR 3) but if you use your Easycard, adult fare is only NTD 17/PHP 29(USD 0.56/EURO 0.48/SGD 0.77/MYR 2). Travel time is about 2 minutes.
MARYTR’S SHRINE AND SHOUSHAN LOVE OBSERVATORY
Originally constructed as the “Takao Kotohira Shrine” during the Japanese colonial period in Taiwan, the Kaohsiung Martyr Shrine was restored to transform it to a martyr’s shrine. Its architectural flair is reminiscent of National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine in Taipei, like a Chinese palace with decorative sculptures and colored paintings.
While you are there, don’t miss the Shoushan Love Observatory fronting the Martyrs’ Shrine. It’s easy to spot as it marked by a gigantic “LOVE” sign and monkey sculptures hugging each other, a perfect spot for photo opt. This spot offers a scenic view of the Kaohsiung City hugged by the denim blue Pacific Ocean including the Cijin, Gushan and the busy Kaohsiung Port below. It is best to hike up Soushan National Park at night when the whole Kaohsiung city is illuminated by lights.
Address: No. 32, Zhongyi Road, Gushan District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Nearby Tourist Spots: Shoushan Love Observatory
Entrance Fee: FREE
How to get to Kaohsiung Martyr Shrine:
To get to Martyr’s Shrine in Kaohsiung, take the orange line MRT and alight at Sizihwan Station. If you are coming from Formosa Station, single-journey ticket is NTD 30/PHP 34(USD 0.66/EURO 0.56/SGD 0.90/MYR 3) and for Easycard, MRT fare is only NTD 17/PHP 29(USD 0.56/EURO 0.48/SGD 0.77/MYR 2). Transit time is about 6 minutes. Walk uphill for about 20 minutes until you see the Martyr’s Shrine.
FO GUANG SHAN BUDDHA MUSEUM
Since its opening 7 years ago, the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum has attracted hordes of tourists in Kaohsiung. This massive memorial center is a Mahayana Buddhist cultural, religious and educational museum that is believed to contain the tooth relics of Sakyamuni Buddha. Upon entry, the grandiose front hall flanked by the Gate of Perfect Ease and the Gate of Liberation, where statues of symbolic white elephants and lions congregate, welcomes curious tourists. Then you need to walk to Great Path Buddhahood fringed by eight towering pagodas before reaching the Memorial Hall, sitting behind it is the gigantic Fo Guang Buddha. Since this place is sprawling, allot at least half day if you wish to explore the entire museum.
Join Fo Guang Shan and Cheng Ching Lake Tour
Visit Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Memorial Center and explore its sprawling surroundings. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Cheng Ching Lake and take a leisurely walk across the Bridge of Nine Turns. Tour includes English speaking guide, hotel pick up, insurance and mineral water.
Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
Address: 84049, Taiwan, Kaohsiung City, Dashu District, Taiwan
Open Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Entrance Fee: Free, donations are welcome.
How to get to Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
To get to Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum in Kaohsiung, take MRT and alight at Zouying Station. If coming from Formosa Boulevard Station in, fare is NTD 25 (PHP 42/USD 0.83/SGD 1.12/MYR 3.54) and discounted fare if you use Easycard or rechargeable card is NTD 22/PHP 37(USD 0.73/EURO 0.62/SGD 0.99/MYR 3). Take exit No.1 and look for the bus stop just beside the MRT station. Take bus #8501 via E-DA World. Alight at Fo Guang Shan Memorial Center. Bus fare is roughly NTD 65/PHP 110 (USD 2/EURO 2/SGD 3/MYR 9). Travel time is about 45 minutes.
LIUHE NIGHT MARKET
Just like the rest of Taiwan, Kaohsiung has its share of night markets peppered throughout the city. The popular night markets include Ruifeng, Jinzhuan and Liuhe, which I was able to visit. Others have a local fee and are said to be cheaper. Because Liuhe Night Market is just a 5-10 minute walk from my hotel I made sure I pay I try it during my visit to Kaoshiung. It’s a great place to try Taiwanese street food and it’s pretty organized. Night markets in Kaohsiung starts at dusk to midnight.
Address: Liuhe 2nd Road Xinxing District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Nearby Tourist Spot: The Dome of Light (inside Formosa Boulevard)
How to get to Liuhe Night Market
Take the MRT and alight at Formosa Boulevard. Take exit 11 – the Liuhe Night Market Exit.
TIANLIAO MOON WORLD
More often than not, Tian Liao Moon World is not included in the list of top places to see in Kaohsiung, but it should be. As you might have guessed, the Tian Liao Moon World is peppered with ruggedly-sharp pinnacles making it look like the Moon’s surface. There are two lakes in the area; both naturally formed and still active. There’s also an old town here with farms. There are wooded hiking trails and observatory decks inside the park, head to 308 Highland that offers a scenic view of the total range of these mountains and the lovely lakes. The park is well maintained and fairly easy to walk for about 1-2 hours at a leisurely pace. No need to bring food as vendors are widely available.
HOW TO GET TO MOONWORLD PARK
At Kaohsiung, to get to Tian Liao Moon World Park, you can ride the Kaohsiung MRT and alight at Gangshan South MRT Station. If coming from Formosa Boulevard to MRT to Gangshan South Station, single-journey ticket is NTD 55/PHP 93(USD 2/EURO 2/SGD 2.48/MYR 8), if you use Easycard or other rechargeable card, fare is discounted – NTD 47/PHP 80(USD 2/EURO 1.32/SGD 2.12/MYR 7) only. Transit time is approximately 31 minutes.
Exit and ride the red bus #70 to Tianliao District. Get off at Moon World Bus Station. Buses are available from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Travel time is roughly 1 hour and bus fare NTD 30/PHP 51 (EURO 1/USD 1/SGD 1/MYR 4).
KAOHSIUNG SIDE TRIP
Alishan Mountain Tour
Explore Alishan’s nature and meet the indigenous Tsou people while enjoying a traditional aboriginal meal followed by a tribal dance performance. Then explore this mountain park full of cherry blossom and bamboo forests, glittering waterfalls, hiking trails and high altitude tea plantations.
HOW TO GET TO KAOSHIUNG FROM TAIPEI, TAIWAN
THSR One Way Ticket to or from Zuoying (Kaohsiung)
WHERE TO STAY IN KAOSHIUNG
Tree House Hostel in Kaoshiung is not a budget hotel, but if you check their room rates, your jaw will drop! It’s quite cheap considering how posh their rooms are! It’s like staying in a luxurious hotel at a budget price!
The Tree House Hotel
3F No.132, Liuhe 2nd Rd, Cianjin District, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
TAIWAN POCKET WIFI
KAOHSIUNG TRAVEL TIPS
There are luggage storage/lockers at Kaohsiung MRT Stations. Small locker charge is NTD 20/PHP 34(USD 0.66/EURO0.56/SGD 0.90/MYR 3) for one day use, medium lockers charge is NTD 30/PHP 51(USD 1/EURO 0.84/SGD 1.35/MYR 4) while large lockers charge is NTD 50/PHP 85(USD 2/EURO 1.41/SGD 2.26/MYR 7)
Buy rechargeable MRT card like Easy Card, Happy Cash, Icash or Ipass, you’ll save a few bucks riding the MRT. For example, for NTD 20/PHP 34(USD 0.66/EURO0.56/SGD 0.90/MYR 3) fare, you are only charge NTD 17/PHP 29(USD 0.56/EURO 0.48/SGD 0.77/MYR 2) if you use your rechargeable card.
If you only have 1 day to spend in Kaohsiung, you can head to Lotus Pond and the Heart of Love River where most attractions are concentrated. I will write a detailed Kaohsiung Itinerary soon.
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