Kaohsiung, located in the southern part of Taiwan, is the country’s second largest city and often overlooked by tourists. Better known for its maritime activities in the past, this vibrant city has developed much in terms of tourism and sightseeing activities.
Besides the ubiquitous lively street food scene, Kaohsiung is a city that marries religion with culture and art. Here are some of the best of what Kaohsiung has to offer!
Romance the Love River
This meandering 12km river flows through Kaohsiung and, as its name suggest, is a popular place for couples to go dating. Along the river, there are romantic enclaves, cafes and bistros. One of the best times to come here is during the evening when the sun is starting to set. The air cools and twinkling lights in a myriad of colours sparkle up the sides of the riverbank.
You can also choose to wind down the day by taking a leisurely boat ride on the Love River Cruise and soak in the city sights.
Visit Night Markets
Liuhe Night Market
Dating back to the 1940s, the Liuhe night market was once the top food bazaar in Kaohsiung. Do not get me wrong, it is still crowded and worth a visit. However, other night markets in the region have surpassed its popularity in terms of food variety and standards.
Ruifeng Night Market
Ruifeng night market is considered to be one of the best in the city and is frequented by throngs of locals and tourists alike. There are hundreds of stalls lined up here selling a mind-boggling variety of mostly food and some clothing and accessories. Do remember to go prepared with an empty stomach, a voracious appetite and loose-fitting shorts but note that they are closed every Monday and Wednesday.
Kai Xuan/Jin Zhuan Night Market
This sprawling night market is actually made of up of two markets located at adjacent roads. Combined, they form the largest night market in Kaohsiung and is a food paradise! The stalls offer a wide array of mouth-watering food, clothing and even old-school carnival games.
Immerse in the artistic vibes at Pier-2 Art Center
This huge space resembles the Esplanade in Singapore but on a much larger and more impressive scale! Originally an abandoned warehouse site, the government converted the area into an arts center to accommodate and encourage the thriving local arts scene.
The Pier-2 art centre is a definite must-go if you have even a single art-fancying bone in you. In fact, it has turned out to be the unexpected fondest memory of the trip for many visitors. Many travellers spend an entire blissful day visiting various art galleries, admiring the many interesting public sculptures, snapping pictures of the many murals on the old buildings and people-watching at the souvenir cafe.
This area is also a hotspot for wedding photoshoots (4 in a span of a few hours is perfectly normal). If you are wondering why, the allure stems from rows of old but refurbished warehouses which create rather incredible Insta-worthy shots!
Calm your heart and mind at Fo Guang Shan Monastery
Built on the top of a bamboo hill, this enormous park consists of a Buddha museum, several shrines, meditation halls and even a pond. Most people leave this place feeling an indescribable sense of inner peace.
The surroundings are beautiful and the many golden buddha statues are quite spectacular. You do not have to be religious to visit this monastery. The tranquility itself makes it worthwhile.
The city of Kaohsiung boasts more than 15 museums that caters to its history, culture and the arts. Most of them are located conveniently within the city itself. If you don’t have the time to visit them all, here’s a shortlist of the top 3 most interesting museums worth checking out.
Takao Railway Museum
Train-fanatics, this will be right up your alley. The Takao Railway Museum was a former train station built during the Japanese colonial period in the 1900s. This station was the first railway station built in Kaohsiung and was originally called Takao Station. The last train departed here in 2008 and to retain its rich historical significance, the Taiwan government decided to convert it into a museum.
Go back in time as you step into the railway museum still decked in its original decor and furnishing.
Kaohsiung Museum of History
Built in 1939, the Kaohsiung Museum of History, with its Japanese-style roofing, is a standalone building of typical Imperial Crown architecture style. This place is a must-visit if you want to know more about the history of Kaohsiung, as one of the largest ports in the past, and Taiwan in general. There is also an informative and interesting section about the early settlers and their culture. You can easily be entranced in its wonders and end up spending a few hours here without even knowing.
National Science and Technology Museum
Spanning a vast floor area of 112,400 square meters, this science museum is the largest in Asia! There are so many things to do in this museum. From inspiring exhibits on ‘Air Navigation and Aerospace’ to fun ones about the ‘Science of Cooking’, there are ample galleries of wisdom to capture your interest. You can also watch a 3D film on a ginormous screen (6 stories in height) in their state-of-the-art theatre!
Get in touch with nature at Shoushan National Nature Park
The Shoushan (longevity mountain in Chinese) National Park consists of lush foliage, an abundance of wildlife, hiking trails, limestone caves and a few temples. Inquisitive macaque monkeys are commonly spotted here too. The more adventurous can spend a good part of the day exploring the various caves with intriguing features and formations, all created naturally through erosion.
Nearby lies the Shoushan Love Observatory where you can catch many lovers nestling up to each other and get a panoramic view of the city that is especially dazzling at night. The iconic “LOVE” sign is also a great photo opportunity!
Take a day tour to Kenting
Just 2-hours drive away is the famous beach town of Kenting! Locals flock to this stretch of paradise in the summertime. Considering the Taiwanese people’s deep passion for food, Kenting main street transforms into a huge night market where you can eat to your heart’s delight after a day of frolicking on the beach.
While you are at Kenting, it is a must to check out the Eluanbi Lighthouse situated on Cape Eluanbi, the southernmost point of Taiwan. This 19th century lighthouse still lights up today and it remains the most powerful lighthouse in the whole of Taiwan.
The weather in Kaohsiung is extremely pleasant (around 24 – 29 degrees in the day) during the last few months of the year and now is one of the best times to visit. If you have never been to Kaohsiung, what are you waiting for? Book your plane tickets now!
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