Visiting Kaohsiung, Southern Taiwan’s Largest City

Not long ago, Kaohsiung wasn’t really on the international travel map. Sure, people in Taiwan knew it was a pretty relaxed city, but most international travelers visiting Taiwan chose the bright lights of Taipei, the majesty of Hualien, the history of Tainan or the scenery of Taitung over the arguably more subtle charms of southern Taiwan’s largest city. Slowly but surely, this has been changing, and Kaohsiung is working hard (but in a relaxed way, because unlike Taipei, Kaohsiung is a relaxed town) to open itself up to the international travel set. Kaohsiung’s efforts have not gone unnoticed – in 2018, venerable travel giant Lonely Planet put the city on its annual Top Ten Must Visit Cities list, putting Kaohsiung firmly on the international travel map.

At ⟪Taiwan Scene⟫, we’re big fans of Kaohsiung for a bunch of reasons (not the least of which being that heading down to Kaohsiung on tours and research trips gives us a few days away from the hectic, stressed out pace of our home city, Taipei). In this article, we’ll offer readers a brief introduction to Kaohsiung, including a bit about its history, geographic layout, getting to, from and around the city, and, most importantly, what to do when you get there.

image source: visual beat

Kaohsiung: A brief Introduction

Kaohsiung is southern Taiwan’s largest city, further south than even Tainan (whose name literally translates to “South Taiwan”). Though this may come as a surprise to some, it makes sense when considering that the city’s fairly recent historical origins. While Tainan was the southern capital of Taiwan for centuries, Kaohsiung only came into existence as a city during the Japanese colonial period. Nearby Tainan lacked a navigable harbor, prompting the Japanese to create a new city further south to facilitate the shipment of goods from southern Taiwan. While Tainan still retains its clout as southern Taiwan’s cultural hub, the now-smaller city has long been eclipsed by Kaohsiung in terms of population, modernity, and economic importance.

Kaohsiung’s  Top Experiences

Cultural Discovery

1.Lotus Pond & The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas & Kaohsiung Confucius Temple

Though lacking the dynasty-spanning histories of other Taiwanese cities, Kaohsiung is no slouch when it comes to history and culture. A quick walk from the Zouying HSR Station brings you to Lotus Lake, home to the Kaohsiung Confucius Temple and, most notably, Kaohsiung’s most famous landmark, The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. When you visit these structures, be sure and enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit through the tiger’s for maximum luck.

Image source: Taiwan Scene

Lotus Pond & The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas

Add: Liantan Rd., Zuoying Dist., Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take Bus Red 51B or 301 from HSR Zuoying Station and get off at Lotus Pond Station

Contact: 07-799-5678

Dragon Tiger Towers

Kaohsiung Confucius Temple

Add: No.400, Liantan Rd., Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take the THSR to Zuoying Station or TRA to Xinzuoying Station

Transportation: Take Bus Red 51B or 301 from HSR Zuoying Station and get off at Lotus Pond Station

Contact: 07-222-7914

2.Fongyi Academy

To the east of the city center, the Fongyi Academy is a whimsical recreation of a traditional Chinese academy, complete with colorful life-sized statue representations of various characters from the era. There’s a space where you can dress up in Qing dynasty garb, and for those looking for a more serious take on history, next door to the Fongyi Academy is the Fongshan Chenghuang Temple, a more traditional Taoist Temple.

Fongyi Academy is located at the east side of the Cheng-huang Temple on Fong-ming street, Fong-Shan District.

Add: No.62, Fongming St., Fongshan Dist., Kaohsiung City


1.Take the metro to Fongshan Station (O12) Exit 2 → Walk along Guangyuan Road→Turn left on Caogong Road and turn right on Fengming Street (6 min walk from Fongshan Station)

2.Take the metro to Dadong Station(O13) Exit 2→Walk along Guangyuan Road→Turn right on Zhongzheng Road and turn left on Fongming Street (8 min walk from Dadong Station)

Contact: 07-740-5362

Urban & Arts exploration

1.National Kaohsiung Center For The Arts (WeiWuYing) 

Also in the east side of town, the newly-opened National Kaohsiung Center For The Arts (WeiWuYing) holds the official title of world’s largest performing arts center under one roof. This massive complex (designed by Dutch architect Francine Houben) spans 9.9 hectares and sits in the northeast corner of a vast lush park. It’s absolutely worth visiting, and definitely hard to photograph without a drone or wide-angle lens.

Wai Wu Ying (image source: Visual Beats)

Add: No. 1, Sanduo 1st Rd., Fongshan Dist., Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take the metro to Weiwuying Station (O10) Exit 6

Contact: 07-262-6666

2. The most beautiful MRT station: Formosa Boulevard

Of course, no visit to Kaohsiung would be complete without a stop at Formosa Boulevard Station to catch a glimpse of that station’s famous Dome of Light. Designed and created by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, the Dome of Light commemorates the birth of Taiwan’s democracy. The Formosa Boulevard station is named after the Kaohsiung Incident, a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations that occurred in Kaohsiung in1979 during Taiwan’s martial law period. The Dome of Light is made of 4,500 glass panels, making it the world’s largest work of glass art.

The Dome of Light at Formosa Boulevard, Kaohsiung

Add: B1, No. 115, Zhongshan 1st Rd., Xinxing Dist, Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take the metro to Formosa Boulevard Station (R10, O5)

3. Pier-2 Art Center

The Kaohsiung government turned this abandoned warehouse site into a fully functioning arts center a decade ago, marking the city’s shift from industry to tourism. Managed by the Bureau of Cultural Affairs Kaohsiung City Government, there are a number of excellent venues worth visiting at Pier 2, including the Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway and the Moonlight Theater. There are also restaurants and cafes with sweeping views of the harbor and nearby mountains, as well as privately operated coffee stands offering single origin coffee and fresh baked goods.

Pier-2 Art Center (image source: Taiwan Scene)

Add: No.1, Dayong Rd., Yancheng Dist., Kaohsiung City


1.Light Rail:

  • Take the light rail to Penglai Pier-2 Station (C13)
  • Or take the light rail to Dayi Pier-2 Station (C12)


  • Take the metro to Yanchengpu Station (O2) Exit 1 → Walk along Dayong Rd (5 min walk from Yanchengpu Station)
  • Or take the metro to Xiziwang Station (O1) Exit 2 → Head East and you’ll arrive at Pier-2 Penglai Warehouse in 2 minutes

Contact: 07-521-4899

Nature & outdoor activities

1.Shoushan National Nature Park

To the west of the city sits Kaohsiung Harbor, and one of Taiwan’s most amazing urban parks. Though technically inside of the city itself, Shoushan  is a world apart from the (comparatively relaxed) urban hustle of Kaohsiung. The mountain has endless trails to hike up and on, and is home to hundreds of Formosan Macaque monkeys who aren’t shy about coming down to beg (or steal) snacks from hikers. The best times to see them are in the early morning and late afternoon, and feeding them is definitely discouraged. Shoushan Mountain is also an excellent place to get great panoramic shots of Kaohsiung. 

Shoushan, Monkey Mountain in Kaohsiung city, Taiwan.
Monkeys in Shoushan, Monkey Mountain in Kaohsiung city, Taiwan.

Add: No.301, Wanshou Rd., Gushan Dist., Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take bus 56 to Shoushan Zoo Station

Contact: 07-522-1010

2.Kaohsiung Martyr’s Shrine

On the southern slope of the mountain is the Kaohsiung Martyr’s Shrine. Originally established during the years of Japanese rule as the Takao Kotohira Shrine and dedicated to Omononushi-no-Mikoto and Emperor Sutoku, the shrine was renamed “The Kaohsiung Martyr’s Shrine in 1946, demolished after Japan switched recognition to the PRC in 1972, and rebuilt in the following years in a more traditionally Chinese style. Of the original shrine, little is left outside but a few stone lanterns lining the walk. It’s an excellent place to watch the sun go down over the harbor, or to stretch out after hiking up nearby Shoushan. 

The Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine
Kaohsiung skyline at sunset with the Love sign.

Add: No.32, Jhongyi Rd., Gushan Dist., Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take bus 56 to Lover View Area Station

Contact: 07-521-0368

3.Cycling along Sizihwan Bay

Finally, Kaohsiung’s Sizihwan Bay is known for its beautiful sunset, and has excellent biking and running trails. It’s an especially nice spot to stroll in the evening.

Sunset at Sizihwan Bay (image source: Taiwan Scene)

Add: Lianhai Rd., Gushan Dist., Kaohsiung City


  • Take the metro to Sizhiwan Station (O1) 
  • Or take the light rail to Hamasen Station (C14)

Kaohsiung: Where and What To Eat

1.Cijin Island: Seafood

As befits a port city, seafood is always a good bet anywhere in Kaohsiung. One of the best places to get great seafood is on Cijin Island, accessible by a quick ferry ride from just in front of the Pier Two Art Center (which is itself a pretty hip place to hang out). The island has tons of restaurants serving everything from sashimi to lobster, and if you’re more in the mood to stroll and dine you’ll find tons of places serving local favorites like braised squid on a stick and grilled octopus.

Fresh shrimp and crab for grill.

Cijin Shuttle Boat Station

Add: No. 10, Hai’an Rd., Qijin Dist., Kaohsiung City


1.Take the metro to Sizihwan Station (O1) → Walk to Gushan Terminal to take the ferry to Cijin Island.

2.Take the metro to Sizihwan Station (O1) Exit 2 → Take a 3-minute walk to Kaohsiung Port warehouse No.2 → Take the ferry to Cijin Island

3.Take the light rail to Penglai Pier-2 Station (C13) or Hamasen Station (C14) → Take a 3-minute walk to Kaohsiung Port warehouse No.2 → Take the ferry to Cijin Island

2. Fruit & Shaved Ice

Being a hot city located in the heart of one of Taiwan’s most agriculturally productive areas, it’s only natural that one of the most popular treats in Kaohsiung involves blending fresh fruits and shaved ice. While you’re in town, definitely look for one of these shops where you can get a huge bowl of sweetened shaved ice served with heaping portions of locally grown fruits like pineapple, bananas or mango. While you can find this treat all around Taiwan, you can expect the fruit in Kaohsiung to be fresher and the servings way larger. 

(Image Source:@vancouverfoodie)

Daonegong Shaved Ice Shop(大碗公冰品 創始店)

Add: No. 107, Binhai 1st Road, Gushan District, Kaohsiung City


1.Take the metro to Sizihwan Station (O1)

2.Take the light rail to Hamasen Station (C14)


Apo Shaved Ice Shop (阿婆仔冰)

Add: No. 150, Qixian 3rd Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take the metro to Yanchengpu Station(O2) Exit 2

Contact: 07-551-3180


Taiwanese Oden is a popular snack that you’ll see people munching on everywhere around Taiwan. It’s one of the first things you’ll see at any 7-11, consisting of various stewed meat and fish balls floating in broth along with corn, root vegetables and other tasty items. But the dish is especially popular in Kaohsiung, where they take it to new levels by offering a wider variety of items and sauces to tickle your taste buds. 


Jing-Ji Kantoni Stand(金枝黑輪店)

Add: No. 223, Qixian 3rd Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take the metro to Yanchengpu Station (O2) Exit 2


4.The acclaimed Hua-Da Milk Tea

Taiwan is famous for handmade teas, and Huada Milk Tea is one of the most famous brands in Taiwan, with a history of over 35 years. 

Huada milk tea (Image Source: Taiwan Scene)

Add: No. 99, Xinyue Street, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take the metro to Yanchengpu Station (O2) Exit 2

Contact: 07-551-2151

5.Liuhe Night Market

Of course it wouldn’t be a Taiwanese urban experience without a visit to a night market, and Kaohsiung’s Liuhe Night Market is definitely one of the best in Taiwan. In addition to being less crowded and way more relaxed than pretty much any major night market in Taipei, Liuhe also offers tons of fresh seafood cooked in a tantalizing variety of ways, as well as lots of tropical fruit items that are way easier to find down south than up north.

Liuhe Night Market (image source: Visual Beats)

Add: Liuhe 2nd Rd. & Zhongshan 1st Rd. intersection, Xinxing District, Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take the metro to Formosa Boulevard Station (R10,O5) Exit 11

Kaohsiung: Getting There (and Getting Around)

To borrow a phrase from our favorite Youtuber Ryan George, getting to (and around) Kaohsiung is super easy, barely an inconvenience. The city’s Zouying district is the last stop on Taiwan’s famous high-speed rail system, which is also served by the Kaohsiung Metro. Though not nearly as large as the Taoyuan airport in the north, Kaohsiung’s international airport is an important transit hub with daily flights to and from destinations both in Taiwan and around the world. And of course, Kaohsiung is serviced by buses and regular trains from not only all points north but also to popular travel spots like Kenting (on the southern tip of the island) and Taiwan’s beautiful east coast.

Kaohsiung mass rapid transit, Taiwan

Kaohsiung’s Metro system is the second largest in Taiwan. The KMRT has two lines, with the shorter East-West line spanning from Sizihwan at the mouth of Kaohsiung Harbor to Daliao, in the city’s eastern suburbs. The longer North-South line stretches from Gangshan South station in the north to Siaogang station in the south. The two lines intersect at the Formosa Boulevard Station, home of the famous Dome Of Lights installation and regarded by foreign media as one of the aesthetically pleasing metro stations in Asia.    

Kaohsiung: When To Visit

Being south of the Tropic of Cancer, Kaohsiung tends to be warmer in the winter and hotter in summer than any other Taiwanese city. “For our money“, winter and spring are the best times to visit Kaohsiung.   

Things To Do Outside of Kaohsiung

1.Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

We hope this article convinces readers to spend a few days visiting Taiwan’s southernmost metropolis. Like everywhere else in Taiwan, there’s always more to discover for those who take the time to explore. If you’ve based yourself in town but are looking to check out a few spots just outside of the city itself, one spot absolutely worth spending the better part of the day within an hour’s drive of town is the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum. One of Asia’s best-known Buddhist centers and the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan, Fo Guang Shan contains the world’s tallest bronze sitting Buddha statue flanked by Eight Pagodas. The Museum has in its possession a relic which is said to be Buddha’s tooth —one of only three in the entire world—as well as many Buddhist artifacts donated by various countries.

(Image Source: Taiwan Scene)

Add: No. 1, Tongling Road, Dashu District, Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take EdaBus 8501 or take Ha-Ho Express (哈佛快線)  from Zuoying High Speed Railway Station and get off at Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center Station

Contact: 07-656-3033

Further to the north sits the picturesque Hakka Village of Meinong, an airy, open stretch of agricultural space known for its culture, handicrafts, and of course, great Hakka cuisine. You can get there by bus from Zouying station, and rent a bicycle at the bus station in Meinong to really get a feel for what the area has to offer.

Meinong paper umbrella.(Image Source: Taiwan Scene)

Meinong Hakka Cultural Museum(美濃客家文物館)

Add: No. 49-3, Minzu Road, Meinong District, Kaohsiung City

Transportation: Take bus E28 from Kaohsiung Main Station and get off at Meinong Station

Contact: 07-681-8338 #9