The word is out about Kaohsiung, at least according to guidebook giant Lonely Planet, who put Taiwan’s southern port city at number 5 on its 2018 Best in Travel (Cities) List :
The guidebook giant mention among its reasons for putting Kaohsiung on the list
* Kaohsiung’s massive arts center and 100,000 sq meter cultural and music complex;
* Kaohsiung’s balmy harbor front (Taiwan’s showcase for experimental architecture from around the world);
* Kaohsiung’s sleek light-rail system and access to cool spots for hiking.
Of course, MyTaiwanTour has known about the coolness of Kaohsiung for years, so in honor of being named Number 5 on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel Cities list, MyTaiwanTour offers 5 suggestions for things to do in Kaohsiung.
We know, this seems like a no-brainer, but since Lonely Planet mentioned it, we thought we’d chime in with some praise of our own. Like everything else in Kaohsiung, their Metro system is more relaxed than its Taipei counterpart, making it more than just an efficient way to get around the city. Of course, no visit to the Kaohsiung Metro would be complete without a visit to the Formosa Boulevard Station, whose “Dome of Light” (a multicolored glass installation made up of several thousand glass panels) is an absolute joy to behold. (Need an excuse to see the station? It’s the closest one to the amazing Liuhe Night Market.)
2) Visit Qijin Island
A short ferry from Kaohsiung Harbor brings you to the slender island of Cijin, which offers a carnival atmosphere complete with tons of great food (including excellent seafood), a decent beach given the proximity to the city, and the Qijin Tianhou Temple, an absolute must visit for any serious history buff. First opened in 1673, this is one of Taiwan’s oldest temples, and its first temple to Matsu. The deck of the ferry also offers amazing views of the sunset. (Read more: Something’s Up — Down in Kaohsiung and Tainan: A Cultural-Creative Bloom)
3) Spend a few hours in the uber-hip Harbor arts district: Over the last decade, Kaohsiung has transformed its western harbor area from industrial to artistic use, simultaneously beautifying the area and helping to shake off the city’s industrial reputation. Here you’ll find massive block-long red brick warehouses converted into vast cultural complexes. If catching a Werner Herzog film while enjoying a cup of freshly brewed single-origin coffee is your thing, this is the place to do it.
4) Get into Kaohsiung’s vibrant music scene
Maybe it’s because rents are cheaper than in Taipei, but Kaohsiung has become a hotbed for musicians of all sorts. Indie music spots include Venue (a recording studio, practice room, and bar/event space), Rocks and the Black Dog Pub. The DJ scene is strong as well, with Insomnia Space acting a creative co-working space with a DJ practice room and rental shop. Insomnia Space’s owner, Teddy Tsai, says that the city’s younger set are currently crazy for hip hop dancing and music, gathering regularly to practice street dancing by the Kaohsiung Cultural Center and the National Science and Technology Museum.
5) Visit Kaohsiung’s amazing temples
Of course Kaohsiung is known for the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, but don’t let these two more famous pagodas stop you from getting sidetracked by the plethora of other beautiful temples and pavilions that also sit on Lotus Pond. Visitors looking for a more serious immersive experience should head out to the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Museum, which is connected to the Fo Guang Shan (“Buddha’s Light”) monastery, the largest in Taiwan. Spread out over 100 hectares, the massive complex is worth at least a full afternoon’s outing, containing eight Chinese-style pagodas, several shrines, a 108 meter high seated metal Shakyamuni Buddha statue and (purportedly) several sacred relics of the Buddha himself. (Read more: Taiwan’s Architecture Comes of Age)
Looking for other suggestions for stuff to do in Kaohsiung? Our Southern Taiwan 5 Day Fun Tour visits several of the sights mentioned in this article and many others! Or leave a comment below and let MyTaiwanTour customize your trip in Taiwan!