Visiting Kaohsiung - What to See and Do
(Taiwan Kaohsiung International Airport KHH, Taiwan)
Kaohsiung enjoys the status of Taiwan's second-largest city. It sits on the south-west coast and is known for its large commercial harbour, which has earned the city the nickname Harbour Capital. Being at the far southern end of the island, Kaohsiung enjoys a relatively balmy tropical climate, ideal for sightseeing and outdoor fun all year round.
Unlike the capital Taipei, this is a planned city. It is the world's sixth-busiest cargo port, and has a decidedly industrial atmosphere. It is not an automatic choice for most travellers, but there are a few reasons to visit. The main attractions are simple aspects of Taiwanese life - local markets, Chinese temples and seafood restaurants.
The Cijin District is a great spot to enjoy a seafood meal, right from the net to your plate. You can also escape the concrete hustle of downtown Kaohsiung in Central Park or take a walk up to the top of Monkey Mountain, well-named for the bands of roving monkeys that live there. Buddhist monasteries, Daoist temples and plenty of modern shopping malls round off the scene in the city.
Ten things you must do in Kaohsiung
- The Cijin District is one of the more popular areas of Kaohsiung. It is a little island connected to the mainland by underwater tunnels, a very appealing way to get around. Famous for its seafood restaurants, most visitors use the ferries to reach Cijin. The island is big enough to explore by bike or foot, with some decent attractions and good scenery.
- The Dome of Light is a public art installation that has become one of the icons of this city. Situated in front of the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station, this magical dome is the world's biggest stained-glass creation. Divided into four sections representing four elements, it is definitely worth seeking out. Audio tours in various languages are available from an onsite kiosk.
- An easy getaway from the city bustle of Kaohsiung is Shoushan, or Monkey Mountain as it is called in English. There is a small zoo at the base of the mountain that contains a range of exotic creatures. From here, trails head up into the mountain itself, where monkeys roam around on the lookout for edible handouts from humans.
- If you enjoy shopping or just a good spectacle, be sure to grab a taxi to the Dream Mall. It is the largest shopping centre in Taiwan and the second-largest in all of Asia. Befitting its size, there are hundreds of different stores to check out here, along with plenty of head-scratching oddities like a giant Hello Kitty Ferris wheel on the roof.
- The ChiHou Fort is one of the big attractions on Cijin Island. It was built by the British in the 1800s and has seen a lot of local history. The Japanese occupied it in 1895 and then it was abandoned by the locals afterwards. In 1992, the fort was completely restored by the local government, cannons and all, and is now a popular tourist attraction in its own right.
- One of the most interesting temples in Kaohsiung is the TianHou Temple. Built over three centuries ago, this classic Chinese-style temple is dedicated to the local goddess of sailors, Matzu. As the oldest temple in the city, it gets a lot of daily attention from devotees and visitors.
- There are several fun night markets in Kaohsiung where you can go shopping and eating after dark. The Liuhe Night Market is one of the more popular and larger markets in the city, followed closely by the Ruifeng Night Market. Both can get quite busy, but are a great way to get out after dark and mingle with the local Chinese.
- Lotus Lake is a fantastic spot to enjoy a stroll and a breath of fresh air in the city. The pretty little lake is surrounded by several classic Chinese pavilions and temples that are built protruding out into the water. Locals love to come down to Lotus Lake and hang out in the evenings and weekends. You can walk or bike around the path that circles the lake.
- Another memorable icon of Kaohsiung is the ChiHou Lighthouse. It was constructed by British engineers during the Ching Dynasty around 1883, and later redesigned and painted white by the occupying Japanese in 1916. Since that time it has been a vital component of the busy harbour, keeping ships safe and visitors impressed with its design.
- The easiest way to relax in Kaohsiung is to drop into Central Park, the main green space in the downtown district. It is not a particularly stunning park, but it has a pleasant little lake at its centre and an interesting hedge maze to wander around. A café and outdoor stage are also onsite, hosting live performances when the weather is good.