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Things To Do In Kaohsiung

Things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan: Markets, Food & a Cool Beach!

After 4 rainy days in Taipei and 3 bright and sunny days in Taichung, it was time to move to Kaohsiung on the incredible fast train which connects the cities of the west coast.  Even though fast trains in Taiwan are slightly slower than some trains in Japan, they still reach about 300km/h and are extremely fun! I wrote about how to get from Taichung to Kaohsiung on the fast train here.

Kaohsiung is a far more southerly town than either Taipei or Taichung and because of that, the weather is usually warmer than its more northerly neighbours. That makes the city and especially the beach areas really pleasant to walk around. So what is there to do in Kaohsiung? Let’s get to it:Dome Of Light Kaohsiung

1. Formosa Boulevard

This isn’t really a tourist spot, but it’s an interesting place to come and visit nonetheless. So what is Formosa Boulevard? It’s actually just an underground station! But at one of the station exits there is an awesome stained glass dome which really does have to be seen to be believed. Designed by an Italian artist, it’s better know as the “dome of light” and has a diameter of 30 meters and is made up of 4500 individual glass panels.Formosa Boulevard KaohsiungIf you happen to pass through the station on your travels around Kaohsiung, you’re bound to see people pointing their cameras upward trying to get a shot of the awesome artwork. For me, I got to see it multiple times because my hotel was literally next door. Better still, I was able to swing by later in the evening when the commuter crowd had died down.Dome Of Light Formosa BoulevardHow to get here: Dome of Light is on level B1 of Formosa Boulevard metro station near exit 2, 4, 5, 7. 

2. Liuhe Night Market

As usual, you can’t get the feeling of a Taiwanese city without visiting its night markets.  Liuhe Night Market was located just a short walk from my hotel in Kaohsiung making it the perfect spot to go and grab a late night snack (I stayed at the Centre Hotel for $30 per night). When you read some of the reviews of this market online, some people claim it’s a simple tourist market and some claim it’s a good market to go and eat local food. For me, this really didn’t feel too touristy and a lot of the signs were still in Chinese… So maybe touristy if you’re Chinese, but not if you’re an English speaker.

I walked up and down the market a couple of times and it’s not really that big to be honest stretching only 1 full block. As usual, there are food carts on the left and right and in the middle there are tables and chairs where you can sit and eat your food.Liuhe Night Market KoahsiungEven though it’s an interesting market to walk around, I found it difficult to find a full meal here that took my fancy. I did, however, find the banana roti and black pepper bun which I wrote about in my post about food in Kaohsiung.Banana Roti Liuhe Night Market

3. Cijin Island

Now, this place is really cool and perhaps a highlight of your trip to Kaohsiung. Cijin Island is a large island a short 5 minute ferry ride from Kaohsiung where you’ll find lots of cool things to see and do. It’s an island with residents just like the mainland, but the infrastructure here is set up primarily for the local tourist crowd which gather here on the weekends.Cijin Beach KaohsiungSo what is there along the beach on Cijin Island? Well, there are two main objects: a Giant Shell a a thing called the Rainbow Church. Apparently the giant shell is there because it’s next to the shell museum, but I had no interest in visiting a shell museum so I didn’t go inside.Giant Shell Cijin IslandThe Rainbow Church actually isn’t a church. It’s just a bunch of colourful sticks representing an art installation which provides a good backdrop for some Instagram pics. There are 2 installations next to each other: one square shaped and the other similar to a chapel which you might see on the beach in somewhere like Bali. And of course they’re both full of colour hence the name “Rainbow”. Simple, but worth visiting!Art Installation Cijin BeachGetting a photo here is free, but there are sometimes queues of people wanting to take photos. When I arrived, there was no queue at all so we had the place to ourselves for a good 10 minutes. But then a bunch of people turned up out of nowhere and started lining up to get a shot. And they were polite! No pushing and shoving and standing in other people’s photos. That’s one of the beauties of Taiwan. The people are so damned polite!Rainbow Church KaohsiungAside from the spots alongside the beach, there are a bunch of other interesting spots around Cijin such as Cijin Star Tunnel, Cihou Lighthouse, Cihou Fort, Tianhou Temple, flower park near the beach and Windpower Park. Tip: prepare one full day if you want to explore Cijin Island properly as there is lots to see and do.Flower Garden Cijin IslandHow to get to Cijin Island: Take metro Orange Line, get off at Sizihwan (R01), take exit 1, turn left and walk about 10 minutes to the ferry port. Buy the ferry ticket on the spot. (NT$25 per person, use exact money). Ferries depart every 10 to 15 minutes. 

4. Pier 2 Art District / Kaohsiung Railway Cultural Park

Pier 2 is an art park/district located in and around old train warehouses which are no longer used for their original purpose and is now claimed by local artists where they display their works of art.

The area is quite large and some of the installations are huge such as the large suitcase shown in the photo below which is made from old rail carriages. They also have houses which are designed so that they appear upside down, but when I was there they were in the process of renovation. Aside from the outdoor installations, there are a few old warehouses where they conduct exhibitions which usually require payment to enter.Pier 2 Art Centre KaohsiungEntry to the park itself is free and well worth a visit because there are lots of cool things to see. In other words, lots of instagrammable spots. A word of warning that busloads of tour groups tend to buzz through every now and then causing the place to become extremely crowded and noisy. But not long after they arrive, they depart again.

How to get here: Take metro Orange Line and get off at Yanchengpu station,  walk 5 minutes to Pier 2 Art District.Kaohsiung Railway Cultural Park

5. Lotus Pond

As the name suggest, Lotus Pond is famous for its lotus plants. But don’t think of a small pond with a few lotuses in it. No… this is actually a massive lake filled with wildlife, temples and also the odd lotus. Opened in 1951, this lake is always busy with tourists coming to check out the various temples.Lotus Pond KaohsiungOne of the highlights of the Lotus Pond is the pair of towers known as the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas with one of the pagodas having an entrance in the shape of a dragon and the other having an entrance in the shape of a tiger. What’s cool is that there is a rule where you have to enter through the dragon and exit through the tiger. The reason being, according to Chinese culture, that if you enter in the correct direction, you’ll draw good luck to yourself. Seems too good to be true!Dragon And Tiger PagodasEach pagoda is 7 storeys tall and contains a spiral staircase in the centre allowing you to reach the top where the views are pretty special. And there are quite a few other temples around the lake as well such as the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, Confucius Temple and a few palaces. If you want to visit them all, you’re going to need quite a few hours as the distance between them is quite far and will require more or less a full circuit of the lake on foot.View From Top Of Pagodas Lotus PondHow to get here: Take the train in the direction of Zuoying (where the high speed rail station of Kaohsiung is), get off at Zuoying and walk 20 minutes to the Lotus Pond. The other option if you’re too lazy to walk is to catch a bus: Red Line #35 from in front of Zuoying station which drops you off at the twin pagodas..

6. Ruifeng Night Market

This is my favourite night market in Kaohsiung. Unfortunately it was raining really hard when I was there and I wasn’t able to enjoy it is as much as I would have liked. Ruifeng Night Market is a night market focused primarily on food.

Ruifeng Night Market isn’t like many other night markets in Taiwan where they block off a street and set up stalls — it’s more like a dedicated fixed market which makes it feel a little bit different to many other night markets you might have been to. Each stall has its own roof so that when it rains, you get wet half the time and the other half you’re safe under someone’s stall. But move in the wrong direction and you’ll catch the deluge running off the canopy — they could probably fix this.Ruifeng Night Market KaohsiungA few of the foods I tried: grilled marinated chicken, taro milk (made from freshly steamed taro and then blended to order), deep fried octopus and bubble tea filled toast! So if you can, try and visit this particular night market because the food is really interesting. Just make sure you arrive on an empty stomach.

How to get here: Take train route Red Line and get off at Kaohsiung Arena Station, walk 3 minutes to Ruifeng Night Market.Bubble Tea Sandwich Ruifeng Night MarketIf you have more time in Kaohsiung, there’s actually plenty more to explore around Kaohsiung such as Kenting National Park, but you’re probably going to need a car and driver to do it. FYI, there are direct flights from Singapore to Kaohsiung these days meaning you don’t even have to go to Taipei at all if you don’t want to (check airfares here). Or better still, fly into Kaohsiung and fly out of Taipei or vice versa. Whatever the case, Kaohsiung is definitely worth a visit if you’re going to Taiwan.

PS If you’re looking for a place to stay, I stayed at the extremely good value Centre hotel for about $30 per night. Check prices here!

What To Eat in Kaohsiung: Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks!

After hunting for good local food in di Taipei City and trying out the food in Taichung, I just had to get the low down on the eating situation in Kaohsiung. Because I was only in Kaohsiung for 2 nights, the following list is not everything you might want to try and it is heavy on market food, but it’s a good start. There are cafes, coffee shops and bakeries as well! Here’s what I tried!

1. Banana Roti

Banana Roti KaohsiungThis first one isn’t really taiwanese specialty food, but it’s worth trying anyway at the Liuhe Night Market. I waited in line with a bunch of other people who were also waiting for the Banana Roti. It looks like a tourist friendly cart because of the 4 languages which are on display: Chinese, Korean, Japanese and English. The ordering process is really simple as you’d expect and you’re allowed to choose a topping: caramel (syrup), condensed milk, chocolate (syrup), sliced almonds, cotton candy and raisins.

I chose the standard combination: chocolate and condensed milk. The roti was cruchy and the banana was super sweet and soft because it had already been pre-cooked. Simple yet awesome. Especially for those who love sweet foods and don’t fear diabetes!

Location: Liuhe Night Market
Price: NT$60

2. Blackpepper Bun

Blackpepper Bun KaohsiungI was curious about these blackpepper buns since seeing them at Raohe Night Market in Taipei. At that time there was a single counter with a massive line just to get these tiny blackpepper buns. Being someone who can’t stand waiting in long lines for food, I skipped the blackpepper buns at Raohe. So when I saw them for sale at Liuhe Night Market there was only one thing on my mind. MUST EAT BLACKPEPPER BUN!

The blackpepper buns are similar to bakpau with main difference being that one is baked and the other is steamed. It makes a massive difference mainly because there is no chance you’re going to get one of those over-steamed slimy bakpaus you often get in Asia *shudder*. In fact, this bun had distinct crispness about it that I really loved! The inside of the bun is filled with minced beef seasoned with black pepper and tastes similar to a black pepper beef you might get at a Chinese restaurant anywhere around the world — except much better!

Location: Liuhe Night Market
Price: NT$50

3. Rose Jelly Fig

Rose Jelly Fig KaohsiungI stumbled across this dessert accidentally when walking around the Pier 2 Arts Center and was impressed! From the front, the cafe itself looks really interesting and the fact that there is an English sign out the front invites you right inside. The cafe itself specialises in serving ice desserts containing fig jelly in the shape of roses — so weird! Who on earth comes up with these ideas?

The number of combinations of flavours is pretty staggering, so to save stressing about which flavour to get, I just got the standard recommended one. The bowl is filled with 4 jelly roses mixed with multi-coloured pearls, shaved ice and lemon syrup. It was a combination I’d never had before, but the flavour was fantastic and really refreshing. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area and it’s hot outside.

Location: Pier 2 Arts Center
Price: NT$90

4. Simtree Coffee

Cake Simtree Coffee KaohsiungI really love cakes and pastries and if I find a bakery or cake shop in a new country, I have to try it. Simtree Coffee isn’t just a coffee shop as the name might suggest, but also a cake and pastry shop — I’m in heaven! And the pastries on offer aren’t just sweet ones, they also have a range of savoury ones making it a decent spot for lunch.

I tried a cake and a quiche both of which looked interesting! The cake itself was quite complicated and really interesting to eat — I love a cake which takes a departure for the same old same old. The cafe itself is quite big spreading over 2 spacious floors and it’s quite empty if you get there at opening time. The concept of the cafe is quite interesting in that they have an environmental focus with lots of reusable cutlery and cakes provided with just a napkin instead of also being placed on a paper plate. It’s a small point, but something which I’d love to see a lot more of.

Location: No 73, Zhongheng 3rd Road.
Price: NT$485 for 2 drinks and 2 cakes/pastries

5. OH! Cafe

OH Coffee KaohsiungIf you’re searching the internet for coffee in Kaohsiung, you might run into OH! cafe. Unfortuntely, the cafe is more of a grab and go kind of place and not really built as a sit down place. The reason is that it’s right out the front of the ferry terminal leading to Cijin Island. So yeah, lots of people want to order a coffee in a paper cup and drink it on the ferry which is a shame as the coffee is really good!

If you hate drinking coffee from a paper cup (that’s me, I know it’s not a popular view), they do have one or two proper cups which they’ll gladly serve you your coffee in.

Location: In front of the ferry terminal to Cijin Island
Price: NT$140 for 1 coffee and 1 iced tea

6. Local Din Tai Fung

Local Din Tai Fung KaohsiungThere are loads of restaurants in Taiwan that serve food which is similar to Din Tai Fung and they’re usually named something you can’t understand unless you can read Chinese characters. These “Local Din Tai Fungs” serve up delicious XLBs (pork dumplings with broth inside), dumplings in chili oil as well as lots of vege and meat dishes.

Prices at these places are almost always cheaper than the original Din Tai Fung and in my view, the taste is not all that different. If you love Din Tai Fung in your home country, look for these local versions all throughout Taiwan when you arrive. And don’t be afraid of the language barrier. Someone will always be willing to help you out. If all else fails, you can type what you want into google translate.

Location: everywhere
Price: NT$185 for 3 portions of dumplings and 1 sweet roti

7. Lu Rou Fan

Lu Rou Fan KaohsiungIf you’re looking for cheap food, Lu Rou Fan is Taiwanese budget fare which is super delicious! It’s a simple dish of steamed rice topped with soy sauce flavoured pork belly. Yum! I stumbled upon this particular place while on the way back from the ferry terminal to Cijin Island. Simply point to what you want on the menu and out it comes.

Location: Binhai 1st Road, next to Lane 88 Binhaiyi Road. Before the ferry terminal to Cijin Island.
Price: NT$65 for 1 portion of lu rou fan + 1 portion of noodles with minced meat

8. Souffle Pancake

Souffle Pancake Shiba Cafe KaohsiungI accidentally found this cafe while looking for something for breakfast around my hotel. From the name, I kind of expected that the cafe would have some sort of connection with Shiba Inu. And true to its name, the cafe is named Shiba Cafe because there is often a Shiba Inu dog hanging out in the corner.

But the main reason I visited this particular cafe was for the souffle pancake which I had read was awesome. And it was. Originally from Japan, the souffle pancake is a pancake made in a souffle style so that it rises and becomes super fluffy. Add some stewed fruit, a bit of cream and even some caramel sauce and you have sugar heaven.

Location: Shiba Cafe, intersection of Zhongzheng 4th Road Lane 63 and Nantai Road Lane 43.
Price: NT$330 for 1 souffle pancake & 2 drinks

9. Chicken Skewers

Chicken Skewer Ruifeng Market KaohsiungChopped chicken on a stick. What could be better as a quick snack? The chicken stick is covered with some herbs and spices and placed on a hot plate where it is slightly burnt/caramelised. The chicken comes off the grill piping hot and super juicy — not a dry piece of chicken to be found! Better still, those spices amp the flavour levels right up giving you a perfectly delicious chicken stick. Simple food done right.

Location: Ruifeng Night Market
Price: NT$45

10. Taro Milk

Taro Milk Ruifeng Night Market KaohsiungFor me, this was one my favourite food/drinks in Kaohsiung. Usually when you drink an ice taro latte or something of the sort, you’re usually drinking a coloured powder mixed with milk. But at this place they actually steam big chunks of taro and then blend them with milk to make a perfectly fresh and original taro milk — so awesome! Just to make sure you’re getting the freshest drink possible, they don’t make it in bulk in advance. They steam each piece of taro on the spot and blend it to order. Definitely something you need to seek out in Kaohsiung.

Location: Ruifeng Night Market
Price: NT$50

11. Fried Octopus

Fried Octopus KaohsiungWhen walking through Ruifeng Night Market, I had the sudden feeling of being pulled in by these gigantic tentacles, battered and deep fried. Because you rarely see octopus tentacles for sale like this, I just had to order a portion. They even weigh the portion to make sure you get the same amount for the same price every single time. The tentacles are then chopped up again and served with a squeeze of lemon of the top. Sweet, juicy, delicious!

Location: Ruifeng Night Market
Price: NT$100

12. Bubble-filled Toast & Earl Grey Tea Jam

Toast Bubble Earl Grey KaohsiungToast filled with egg, sausage or cheese is pretty standard these days around the world. But at one counter at Ruifeng Night Market you can get toast filled with bubble pearls mixed with earl grey tea jam. So weird, but so good! As weird as it seems, it actually tastes pretty normal as all the flavours really go together — almost like a bubble tea with a bit of crispy bread in it. The bubbles are hot because the bread is toasted in a sandwich press just like you’d make a toasted cheese sandwich. Definitely worth trying out if you’re into bubbles and are looking for something different.

Location: Ruifeng Night Market
Price: NT$60

Banana Roti Liuhe Night MarketThe food situation in Kaohsiung is really quite good as you’d expect. Enjoy your culinary journey in Kaohsiung!

Kaohsiung Central Hotel

Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

As we’ve moved further south from Taipei, hotels have seemingly become cheaper until the point of craziness. Centre Hotel in Kaohsiung is incredibly cheap for what you get.

For US$14 per night, you get a modern and clean room with big bed, writing table and chair, toiletries, tea making facilities, LCD TV with international channels and lots of space to store you luggage.Room at Centre HotelThe bathroom is basic, but clean and has hot water, but no shower curtain. The floor does get wet when you shower.Bathroom at Centre Hotel KaohsiungThe price of this place is incredible. It’s cheaper than backpacker budget, but the facilities are definitely in the flashpacker range. That is, you get a proper hotel room for next to nothing. It’s one of the best value hotels we’ve ever stayed in.

Oh and did I mention that breakfast is included in the price? It’s a basic breakfast and you might want to skip it, but it is free!Facilities Centre Hotel KaohsiungThe hotel is located in the very centre of town at the big round about. The MRT is a 30 second walk away.

There is no reason to stay anywhere else in Kaohsiung unless you have a budget up around the $60 per night mark. And even then, you’d be wondering where the extra money goes.Big bed at Centre Hotel KaohsiungOf course, this hotel is not for everyone. It’s still a budget hotel and not everything is perfect. But it’s good enough for most people and I recommend staying here.View from Room Centre Hotel KaohsiungMake sure you check the price on Agoda first to ensure you get a good deal. I found Booking.com to be slightly more expensive.

Centre Hotel
No. 6, Zhongzheng Bridge, Xinxing District, Kaohsiung City
+886 7 285 2520
www.centrehoteltw.com

Double Room: US$14 (Check current price on Booking.com)

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

Best way to get from Taichung to Kaohsiung

The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung

Endless rice paddies, small villages and an imposing mountain range all flash by as you speed between the two western Taiwanese cities of Taichung and Kaohsiung. There’s no better way to get between the two cities than by train.

There are basically 2 types of trains from Taichung to Kaohsiung. A fast one and a slow one. The slow one is cheaper than the fast one. The fast train takes about 1 hour for the 200km journey and the slow train takes over 3 hours.Inside Taiwan High Speed Rail Train Carriage

But when you consider how cheap the fast one is, it sort of seems mad to choose the slow one! I got my ticket on the high speed rail for NT$630 (US$20) and that was a discount from the full price because I bought it a few days in advance and I recommend you do that if you want to get a good price.

Taiwan fast train

Tickets for the high speed rail can be bought at the Taichung main train station or even Taipei main station if you want to buy even earlier. It’s also possible to buy tickets on the day of departure, but you aren’t guaranteed to be seated next your travel partner and you’re going to pay more.

High Speed Rail trains depart from the outskirts of Taichung at a dedicated High Speed Rail station. You’ll need to catch a local train from Taichung main station to Xinwuri which takes less than 10 minutes. Xinwuri is connected directly to Taichung HSR station by a walkway. Check the High Speed Rail timetable here and enter Taichung and Zuoying as the start and end points.phone showing speed of taiwain high speed rail between Taichung and Kaohsiung

Trains going to Kaohsiung terminate at Zuoying which again is on the outskirts of Kaohsiung. From here, you have to catch the subway to where you want to go. I caught the subway to Formosa Boulevard because my hotel was right next to it.

Where to Stay in Kaohsiung

Your main consideration for where to stay in Kaohsiung should be location because the subway system doesn’t reach all corners of the city. If you stay too far from the subway, you’ll be doing lots of walking. I paid US$17 per night at the very centrally located Centre Hotel and was happy with it. The subway is 30m from the front door.

So there you have it. The best way to get from Taichung to Kaohsiung is by High Speed Rail! I hope you find this useful… hit me up in the comments if you have questions.

PS Slow trains depart from Taichung Main Station and arrive at Kaohsiung Main Station and cost between $2 and $5 less than the high speed train. Check here for details.

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)