Kaohsiung (高雄; Ko-hiông in Taiwanese, Gāoxióng in Mandarin), with almost 2.8 million inhabitants in 2019, is the third most populated city in Taiwan after New Taipei and Taichung. It in the south of the island on the west coast. Kaohsiung is known for its harbor, although more for commercial than tourism reasons. Hence it is also known as the Harbor Capital (港都) of Taiwan. Its year-round fine weather and the low cost of living makes Kaohsiung the place to visit.
Kaohsiung is Taiwan's third largest city and its largest port. Although the ranking has declined, Kaohsiung is still the world's 14th largest cargo-container seaport as of 2018. The city has high concentrations of heavy industry, including steel production, shipbuilding, and other exports that have led to Kaohsiung's relatively high levels of air pollution (though the situation has improved substantially). Unlike Taipei, Kaohsiung is a planned city with wide streets and slightly less traffic congestion than the capital. The city has made great strides in transforming itself from a primarily industrial city into a modern Asian metropolis, and several areas of the city, such as along the banks of the Love River (Ai He, 愛河), have benefited from major beautification projects under the tenure of former mayor Frank Hsieh. The city is often known as Taiwan's "Harbor Capital" (港都) because of its close connection and heavy reliance on the ocean and maritime transportation.
Kaohsiung began in the 17th century as a small fishing village named "Takao" (打狗), derived from the local aboriginal name meaning "bamboo forest". The name was changed to "高雄" (meaning: "high hero") by the Japanese in 1895, also pronounced "Takao" in Japanese, as they found the original name of 打狗 ("beating the dog") to be vulgar. The modern name of "Kaohsiung" is the pronunciation of "高雄" in Mandarin.
Many visitors coming from the north will arrive by high-speed train at the Zuoying High Speed Train Station, which is far to the north of the city. The city center around the Central Train Station and the Formosa Boulevard Subway Station can be accessed via the MRT's red line.
Another common point of entry is the Kaohsiung International Airport, which is comparatively close to the city. The airport is on the MRT's red line, and the central area of town is a 20 minutes MRT ride away. There is a tourist information office on the ground floor of the international terminal.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Kaohsiung enjoys a mild tropical climate, comparatively milder and drier than northern Taiwan. The weather however remains hot and sticky in the summer, with June, July and August seeing the most rainfall. Still, the proximity of the sea makes the summer heat much more bearable than in other cities at a similar latitude.
- 1 Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH IATA) (about twenty minutes to the south of the city center). International flights from Asia arrive daily. The airport is on the MRT Red Line and is also easily accessible by scooter, car or taxi.
Kaohsiung is also well-served by domestic flights from Taiwan's outlying islands. However, the popularity of Taiwan High Speed Rail has resulted in the cancellation of all flights to other cities on the island except once daily service to Hualien.
- 2 Taoyuan International Airport (TPE IATA) (about twenty minutes to Taoyuan HSR station). Although Kaohsiung has an international airport, its service is much more limited compared to Taoyuan. The Taoyuan Airport MRT stops at Taoyuan Airport.
Depending on where you are flying from, it may be a better option to fly to Taoyuan Airport, take the MRT to Taoyuan HSR Station, and then take the high speed rail to Zuoying station.
- 3 Zuoying Station. This station is served by high speed and regular TRA trains, with both the regular TRA trains and the Red Line of the MRT connecting the relatively far away station to the city. On the regular TRA trains, the name of the station here is New Zuoying Station (aka Xinzuoying Station).
- 4 Kaohsiung Station. Kaohsiung's main railway station for regular TRA trains, located in the city center. Connected to THSR Zuoying Station both by regular trains and the Red Line of the MRT. Also serves trains to the East Coast cities of Taitung and Hualien.
Traveling by train is a viable option for getting to Kaohsiung, as the fastest high speed trains from Taipei cover the distance in just 90 minutes on the Taiwan High Speed Rail line (THSR). There are 3 types of tickets: Business Reserved, General Reserved, and Non-Reserved. Reserved are approx. NT$1500 and non-reserved slightly cheaper at NT$1400. Get Designated Seats if you are traveling with luggage, they are less than NT$100 more expensive.
The stations and platforms are wheelchair-friendly and all trains include a wheelchair-accessible car (wider doors, ample space, accessible bathroom). Note that the official English guide for online reservations distinguishes between "senior or disabled tickets" and "handicap-friendly seats"; while it's possible to buy a ticket for the former online ("correct passenger ID" required), a ticket for the latter has to be reserved by calling the ticketing office on the phone.
The HSR terminal is in Zuoying (左營, also Tsoying) on the northern outskirts of town, and you'll need to connect to the city center via the MRT Red Line (approximately NT$20–25), bus, ordinary train, or taxi (approximately NT$250–350). The MRT Red Line now extends to Kaohsiung Main Station (#R11) and the HSR Station (#R16) and beyond (see system map). Kaohsiung is also served by the Taiwan Railway Administration's Western Line and Pingtung Line. The city is roughly 4 to 5 hours away from Taipei by normal express train.
Buses run the length of the island, with stops in major towns. They feature fully reclining seats, baggage transportation and, on most, video game consoles or televisions for each seat. Prices run around NT$1000 per trip, give or take, depending on the initial and final destination.
Most major bus companies have their office and stops close to the train station. They are located on the same road as the train station, about half a block down the street.
Because Kaohsiung is also a harbor, transportation by boat will bring you directly into the city.
A great way of getting around is to use the free city bicycles – see below.
As the sidewalks double as scooter parking areas, caution and awareness are a must when walking through unfamiliar areas off of main streets. Generally, it is best to walk between the scooter parking row and store fronts, rather than between parked scooters and the road. Pedestrians should be especially aware when crossing a road as cars and motorbikes often run red lights. Exploring Kaohsiung on foot is highly recommended, as many of the distances between sites of interest are not far.
The long-delayed Kaohsiung MRT has two lines. The Red Line runs from north to south, offering a handy route from the THSR Zuoying station and the airport into the downtown core, while Orange Line runs across the city from the Port of Kaohsiung in the west to eastern suburb of Daliao. The Metro Line is very clean and offers a convenient way to quickly move within the city. However, as the metro is rather young the network is yet not very dense and often you have to walk few minutes to the next station. Operation of the MRT stops at about 23:30 for the orange line and as late as 12:30 for the red line. Ask at the information desk to be sure.
Feeder buses are available to bridge network gaps and provide better access to the metro lines. The MRT stations are all well connected to the city bus lines for further transfers. Stations and trains are wheelchair-friendly, but note that when there are multiple exits from a single station, usually only one of these is equipped with a lift.
The K-MRT's ticket gates accept iPass, Taipei MRT's EasyCard, contactless MasterCard debit and credit cards, UnionPay credit cards, and QR codes from LINE Pay (if you set up your LINE Pay account outside Taiwan, make sure to set the QR code screen to Taiwan to generate a code valid for local use). An ongoing promotion means that MasterCard cardholders get 30% off weekend rides when paying with any contactless MasterCard. There are two separate contactless readers: the lower one is for iPass and EasyCard and the new upper one is for bank cards.
Taxis can be an easy way to get to somewhere unfamiliar, and are fairly common in the city. If you have the business card of a location, or the Chinese characters written down, they can easily get you there far faster than most other means.
It is best to get the price in advance, and, if possible, buckle up. Few taxi drivers speak English, and the majority ignore any and all rules of the road. Do not be surprised if they drive the wrong way, up a hill, through heavy traffic. Typically, going from one end of the city to the other should never be more than NT$400.
This behavior of cab-drivers is rarely seen nowadays however may still happen more often on the country side.
Do not be surprised if they open the door and spit what looks like blood. In actuality, the taxi driver is chewing betel nut (binlang). This commercially available product is a mild stimulant and is used by many taxi drivers.
Bikes are also common in Kaohsiung, and the large number of locally produced bikes (often rebranded and sold overseas) means purchasing a new bike will often be cheaper relative to its counterpart in other countries (primarily Europe and America).
As Kaohsiung is predominantly flat, a great way to see the city is by bike. There are many bicycle paths across the city, most of which are clearly marked. The city government's website has recommended paths for visitors, together with maps: Cycling in Kaohsiung. Riding along the Love River north towards the Art Museum area offers a pleasant ride and some scenery of the old Kaohsiung that is fast disappearing. Pleasant bike routes can also be found around Sun Yet-Sen university and on the coastal side of Shoushan mountain, but expect a few hills to climb. It is best to avoid this place on the weekends when hordes of young Kaohsiung couples head to the mountain for some romantic sunset views of the city and ocean at one of the countless coffee shops. Cijin Island also offers some nice riding around the streets at the northern end of the island. However, it is not yet legally possible to bicycle to and from Cijin as the underwater Kaohsiung Harbor Tunnel to and from Cianjhen District is officially closed to bicycles around the clock, even during late nights when ferries stop running.
- [dead link] (Free) Kaohsiung Public Bicycle, toll-free: 0800255995. 24/7. The city operates a bicycle rental service (city bikes - blue bikes). Bicycle renting stations are at MRT stations and bicycles can be dropped off at any station, regardless of where they were rented. You can also give back the bicycle and rent it again right away to extend the free period. OpenStreetMap.org, which many mobile Apps like OsmAnd or Mapy.cz, use, has most renting stations around Kaohsiung listed. Metro cards can be used to rent the bicycles, but you have to register online first. Free the first 30 min of each rental, NT$5/30 min thereafter.
- obike and V bike. Due to Kaohsiung Public Bicycle, other bicycle rental companies began to operate around the city. They use an app to find, book and unlock bikes that can be parked anywhere, though it's best to park in a designated bicycle parking spot. You load onto the app some credit via a credit or debit card. NT$2/15 min.
- Giant. Giant, a well-built, recognized Taiwanese brand, has shops throughout the city, and some of the store managers speak English. Bikes are street legal, even without a helmet, but theft is common for any bike over NT$3,000. Also, see the country article on getting around with bicycles.
Scooters are the primary means of transportation within Kaohsiung. With a dedicated two-wheel vehicle lane on most major roads, and with frequent and varied scooter shops around town, renting or purchasing a scooter is very easy; however, see the Taiwan article for legal issues including licenses.
Scooters come in several engine sizes from below 50cc to more than 250cc. Most common are the 4-stroke 100 and 125cc models, which are also suitable to explore the surroundings of the city. The larger scooters, 150cc and more, often include a greater subset of amenities for a second passenger, including a backrest, wider seat, full windshield and footholds and can rival a motorcycle overall size, weight and fuel consumption. Often, they come with larger wheels as well.
All passengers on a scooter must wear helmets by law. Helmets are sold almost everywhere, and start at NT$100. A helmet with visor is strongly suggested.
A foreigner-friendly scooter rental company is called Ken's Scooter Leasing [dead link], the owner named Ken and Elin operate the business with the language school, speaking fluent English and willing to help people to get around in the city. Rent is reasonable.
555 Scooter Rental, Sales & Repair is beside Kaohsiung railway station, has competitive prices for both short- and long-term rentals, and the staff speaks English, Chinese, Japanese and Afrikaans.
Scooters with an engine size of 50cc require a light motorcycle license to drive, and should be insured and registered in the owner's name. If you have a Taiwanese automobile driver's license or a valid International Driving Permit you do not need an additional license for these small scooters. Motorcycles with an engine displacement of 51 to 250cc require a heavy motorcycle driving license. However, foreigners often drive scooters up to 250cc with no license, insurance or registration. Due to a loophole in Taiwanese law, scooters registered to foreigners who have left the country cannot be bought by Taiwanese citizens because the registration cannot change hands, legally. An underground market in "foreigner scooters" allows visitors to purchase scooters without insurance or registration.
City police are often more lenient on foreigners. Short of being towed for parking in a red zone (a stripe of red paint on the edge of a sidewalk or road), foreigners are usually waved through stops, or, at best, ticketed. If the scooter is not registered to you however, it's hard to say what exactly happens when the ticket is sent out. Often the best idea is to speak a language other than English or Chinese, play dumb and hope the officer will get flustered and let you go - that is, if you're the type who likes to break laws in foreign countries.
Rentals are available in various locations across town, but obtaining a license within the city can be a problem. It is recommended you call ahead if you have an international drivers license to insure it will allow you to drive. In addition, license laws in Taiwan fluctuate from year to year for foreigners. You must have an Alien Residence Card for more than a year to take the license examination (2006).
Parking is scarce, but available. The city recognizes this problem, and attempts to make the city more car-friendly by building parking garages and painting designated parking spaces alongside streets. However, for travel within the city itself, or only locally, it is recommended you get a scooter.
An inexpensive ferry service connects various areas of Kaohsiung City, including Taiwan's nearest island, Xiao Liuqiu (小琉球) - Little Ryukyu - which is a coral island located just south of Kaohsiung and is reachable by ferry from Dong Gang (東港), which is only a 15-minute scooter or taxi ride from Kaohsiung International Airport.
Kaohsiung has a well-developed bus network, with services generally running frequently. Bus fares can be paid with an iPass or an EasyCard, or by cash.
If you want to get to Cijin District:
- Take bus No.1 at the Kaohsiung Train Station or take bus No. 31 at the Zhuo Iing Bus Station to the Ferry Pier.
- Take bus No. 35 at the Ciang Zhen Bus Station to Cijin Peninsula.
- Take Bus No.12 at the Kaohsiung International Airport to Shiaugang and take Bus No.14 to ChiangZhen Ferry Station.
Or, you may take a ferry:
- Gushan ferry terminal (from which one can take the ferry to Cijin island) is an easy 10 min walk from Sizihwan MRT station (you may have to ask for directions though as the route is not that straightforward, but signboards are pretty clear nowadays)
The Cijin District (旗津; Qijin) is a slender island in Kaohsiung harbor which serves as a natural breakwater for the harbor. The district is filled with seafood restaurants selling freshly caught seafood which can be prepared right after you pick it out. Cijin is connected to the rest of Kaohsiung City by underwater tunnels, but the transportation of choice is one of the many ferries that traverse the harbor. Fare for the ferry ride is NT$15 per person. Bikes and scooters can be brought aboard, but the fee is NT$30 with a scooter. There is no extra fee for bringing on a bike. The ferry is easily accessible for wheelchairs, which can share the space with scooters and bikes. The street that goes straight from the ferry has about two blocks of snack stands, as well as seafood restaurants near the end. There is also a plaza with a fountain and a beach at the end of the street. If you rent a bike (either before or after the ferry ride), there is a nice coastal path that goes south along the beach. Going a short ways north will lead you to the lighthouse and the fort, which are located on a hill with great views of the city, the harbor, and the ocean. The somewhat run-down area is especially crowded on weekends with many visitors bringing their entire family along. The island is also projected to be an international tourism spot in southern Taiwan by the city government.
- 1 Cijin Coast Park (Cijin Seaside park), No.990 Qijin Third Road, Qijin District. The Cijin Seaside Park is a long area of picturesque terrain along the west coast of Cijin Island. Take a leisurely stroll past intriguing architectural designs with a constant view of the Taiwan Strait. The park incorporates a long path for walking and cycling as well as an ecological area and Cijin Beach.
- 2 ChiHou Lighthouse, #34, Chi-Xia Lane, Chi-Jin District. The lighthouse was built by English technicians in Ching Dynasty (1883). In 1916, the Japanese remodeled it into Baroque stye and painted it white. This renovation was made as part of the expansion of Dagao port. The lighthouse has played a crucial role in guiding ships since 1918 during night sailing
- 3 Chihou Fort, #34, Chi-Xia Lane, Chi-Jin District. Chihou Fort is a battery which was designed by an English engineer. It was after the Ching (Qing) government took over Taiwan that the fort became a military base. The fort stationed a naval commander and one hundred soldiers. The battery was also armored with four British-made Armstrong breechloaders weighing 6.5 tons each. The fort was occupied by the Japanese army in 1895. Subsequently, the cannons in the fort were dismantled and melted. Meanwhile the battery was abandoned. In 1988, Kaohsiung city government started to restore the battery and it was completed in 1992. As a result, a new Cihou battery was reborn to please the tourists.
- 4 TianHou Temple, #39, Miao-Chen Road, ChiJin District. Chihou area is a place in Kaohsiung city that most fishermen live. This temple is built about three hundreds years ago, and dedicated to the Goddess of Sailors, Matzu. People believe that Matzu can protect every fisherman who put out to sea. The temple is crafted with charming yet authentic folk art. TianHou temple is also regarded as the oldest temple in Kaohsiung.
The Western districts
The area to the west of the Love River (愛河; pinyin: Ài Hé) includes the Gushan (鼓山) and Yancheng (鹽埕) districts.
The main attractions in Gushan are:
- 5 The British consulate (British Consulate at Takao). Sitting atop a hill, the red brick building offers beautiful views over the Kaohsiung harbor and the sea. While a nice structure representative of the era in which it was built, it is now thought to have been the official residence of the British Consul, and not the consulate proper.
- 6 The Takao Railway Museum. Turned into a museum in 2010, this was Kaohsiung's first railway station. There are exhibition rooms, a railway document archive and a platform and track area.
- 7 The Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, 80 Meishuguan Road, [email protected]. The museum hosts a permanent collection and temporary exhibits, mainly of paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries.
While all three attractions are within Gushan, the Museum of Fine Arts is located at the Northern end of the district. The first two attractions are better visited together with the Yancheng district.
Yancheng, once a largely sodden, marshy land, was drained in imperial times for salt production. It became part of the modern harbor front. Many of the warehouses there, long abandoned, have been renovated and refurbished as part of the Pier-2 Art Center.
- 8 [dead link] The Pier-2 Art Center. The centre occupies several warehouses that were artfully converted into exhibition space and cafes. Many contemporary art exhibitions are held there, as well as occasional live music events. It is on the bicycle path that borders the harbor front.
- 9 The Dome of Light (光之穹頂 / Guāng zhī qióngdǐng). A public artwork in the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station. Created by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, it is the world's largest stained glass installation. The dome is divided into four sections: water, earth, light and fire. It also takes the form of a yin and yang symbol. An audio guide (available in several languages) can be borrowed from the KRTC Art Shop inside the station. It costs NT$30 and gives a half-hour narration of the key features of the artwork.
- 10 Shoushan (壽山 / Shòu shān). Also known as Monkey Mountain, is on the west coast, across the harbor from Cijin. All along the mountain, it is possible to see monkeys looking for a snack. Although there are signs posted forbidding feeding the monkeys, some of the locals don't hesitate to do so. Some monkeys are nice, but some can be nasty and attack as soon as they see some food.
- 11 Central Park (中央公園 / Zhōngyāng gōngyuán) (get off the MRT at Central Park Station and go out exit 1). The park has a small hedge maze in the middle, a pond with some bridges and fish, clay tennis courts, and "Urban Spotlight," a café with a stage to display local talent.
- 12 Dream Mall (夢時代購物中心 / Mèng shídài gòuwù zhòng xīn). A large mall that is a bit out of the way, but worth it to visit the Hello Kitty Ferris Wheel on the roof.
- 13 Republic of China Air Force Museum (about NT$200 by taxi from Gangshan South station). The overall exhibition area of the museum spans over an area of 3 hectares, which consists of various collections of artifacts, archives, weapons and airplanes.
- 1 [dead link] i-Ride Experience Center (i-Ride 體驗中心), No.9, Fuxing 4th Rd., Qianzhen District (5 minutes on foot from Software Technology Park light rail station), ☏ , [email protected]. 10:00-17:00. Panoramic flying attraction in Kaohsiung Software Technology Park. The ride brings you an amazing soaring experience across the Kaohsiung skyline with immersive 4D effect.
- 14 Kaohsiung Mosque (高雄清真寺), No. 11, Jianjun Road, Lingya (walk north from KMRT Weiwuying Station). The 2nd mosque to be built in Taiwan.
- 15 Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum and Memorial Building (佛光山佛陀紀念館 / Fóguāngshān Fótuó jìniànguǎn), No. 1, Tongling Rd, Dashu, Kaohsiung 840 (there are several shuttle buses from Zuoying, Dashu and the Main Station (bus 8010) in Kaohsiung – see monastery website), ☏ , [email protected]. One of Taiwan's largest Buddhist monasteries – Chan (Zen) tradition. While amount of impressive monasteries in Taiwan is rare, this place is the one must see destination, even if you are not into Buddhism. The monastery area is the manifestation of a new and modern Buddhism interpretation (Fo Guang Shan), founded in 1967. Like the Bahá'í Gardens in Haifa (Israel), this place is free and offers complementary tours. Do not miss out on this picturesque and unique monastery. Arrive early (09:00) and get some unspoilt pictures. Also try this email address.
- Pier 2 Art Center, between Sihzihwan Metro Station and Yanchengpu Metro Station. This former warehouse district has been converted into a series of contemporary art galleries. As these are commercial galleries and not museums, admission tends to be free. Between the warehouses there are numerous outdoor sculptures. The district is near Fishermen's Wharf, which can serve as a great place to grab a meal after a day looking at art.
- 2 Fishermen's Wharf / Banana Pier, Near Sihzihwan Metro Station. This tourist area features a number of restaurants with live performers and seaside seating. There is also a free exhibit within Banana Pier about Taiwan's banana industry.
- 3 Lotus Lake, Zuoying District. Take a walk or bike around Lotus Lake. The lake is surrounded by temples, some of which have built out onto the lake. Of note are the Dragon-Tiger Pavilion and Spring Autumn Pavilion, as well as Taiwan's largest Confucius temple. During the day the lake is surrounded with stalls selling food, drinks and trinkets. Across the street from the Dragon-Tiger Pavilion is a Taiwanese puppet shop that's worth checking out. Just south of the lake is one of the restored gates of the Old Wall of Fongshan, built in 1826. A few blocks down on Shengli Road is the North Gate, the best-preserved of the three. On the other side of the gate is a new park and the Military Dependents' Museum, which features many vintage Taiwanese household items.
- 4 Pei Chi Pavilion (北極亭), On Lotus Lake in Zuoying District. This large statue of Beiji sits on Lotus Lake. The plank connecting the statue to the shore is lined with a series of beautiful sculptures of animals. The statue is hollow and contains a temple within. Although relatively modern, this statue is colorful, colossal, and well worth a visit.
- 5 Spring & Autumn Pavilions (春秋閣), On Lotus Lake in Zuoying District. This Taoist temple complex contains a large dragon that you can enter. The inside of the dragon is beautifully painted with murals. Once you are done sightseeing within the dragon, you can exit out its opposite end. The nearby Dragon-Tiger Pavilion is also worth seeing, and features two pagodas you can visit as well.
- 6 Kaohsiung City Temple of Confucius (左營孔子廟). 09:00–17:00, closed Monday. Free.
Cijin (旗津; Qijin)
- Cycle. If you have only a brief period in Kaohsiung, skip Cijin. If you have more than a day, you will find the island to be a pleasant and relaxing place to take a break. Most of the major sites can be seen within two hours. Locals take a ferry to the island, and as a result the ferry is an affordable way to experience a brief boat ride. The elongated island is made for cycling and has a nice cycling track. You can rent a bike either before or after you take the ferry. There is a shop opposite exit 1 of Sizhiwan Station that rents out bikes for NT$59. Average price for bike rental in the area tend to be around NT$100. Once you get off the ferry you can turn right and start biking to the lighthouse and the fort, then continue south along the west coast. Alternatively, you can get off the ferry and continue straight through the market until you hit the beach at the end. From there, you can turn right to the fort and lighthouse or turn left down the bike path along the beach. The fort does not have guard rails installed, and may be dangerous for young children to visit, as there are many steep drops.
- Rising Victory Bicycles, #84 Miao-chien Road, Cijin District, ☏ . 09:00-21:00. Make your way to the end of the market from the ferry and, once past the seafood restaurants, you will see the beach. It is public access, but you will need NT$15 for the ferry ride first. There are nice facilities at the beach.
- The Chijin Kiln Studio, #25 Hai-an Road, Cijin District, ☏ , fax: . Tu-F 12:00-21:00, Sa Su 11:00-21:00.
- Kaohsiung Lantern Festival. At the end of Chinese New Year, near the Kaohsiung harbour and along the Love River, the Kaohsiung Lantern Festival is filled with a variety traditional lanterns and more modern light sculptures, nightly fireworks shows, Taiwanese food stands and other art programs and live concerts.
- Urban Spotlight. Located at the corner of Central Park, Urban Spotlight is a cafe with a stage where local live bands perform in the evening. Take a walk around Central Park then stop at the cafe to cool off.
- Night Markets. Food, games, and shopping. Try the Liuho Night Market, which is a tourist market. Ruifeng night market, at the corner of YuCheng and Nanping, heaves with locals. Closed Mondays and Wednesdays.
- Take a nighttime stroll along the promenade of the Love River and enjoy the live music, a coffee or an ice cream in one of the cafes.
- Go to the top of the 85 Tower, the second tallest building in Taiwan.
- Hike Monkey Mountain (壽山; Shòu shān) and enjoy the view of the city and the ocean. Beware of the namesake monkeys, who have been known to steal hikers' food, drinks, and even cameras.
For foreigners, work in Kaohsiung usually falls into two branches. The majority of employment involves English as a Second Language (ESL) work in buxibans (補習班, cram schools), kindergartens and schools (public, private or university). Most of the others are businessmen and women in the employ of multinational corporations here to manage, oversee or deploy production in Taiwan for their home company abroad.
Substitute work is easily available for native English speakers and can be obtained through internet groups such as Taiwan Teaching Jobs or through local postings in expatriate hangouts. More permanent teaching work is also available, especially in the summer and around Chinese New Year. Most buxibans require teachers to sign a 1-year contract and provide a work permit and ARC (Alien Residence Card). ARC holders are also covered under national health insurance. Without the proper paperwork - including a 4-year university degree - you cannot get an ARC and will need to leave the country every 2–4 months to renew your visa. You will also be working illegally, which involves a number of other inconveniences (including lack of phone and Internet access). It is also highly illegal for foreigner to work as teachers in kindergartens few provide work permits.
- 1 Hello Market (哈囉市場). A big, old-fashioned outdoor market selling all manner of food, plus clothing and household goods. See the fish flopping out of their bins and frogs trying to escape from their bags.
There are numerous seafood restaurants dotting the main street in Cijin Island, all offering the same fresh seafood for about NT$100-200 per dish. It is a great idea to go in a small group and order a few dishes to try, probably one more dish than the number of people in your group. In the evening, a night bazaar goes into full swing. There are lots of little eats to eat as per Taiwan's night markets, BBQ squid, mochi to name a few are particularly good.
- Flavor of the Sea Seafood Restaurant, #75 Miao-chien Road, Cijin District, ☏ .
- Wen-Chin Seafood Restaurant, #28 Miao-chien Road, Cijin District, ☏ . 11:00-22:30.
- Man-San Seafood Retaurant, No.179-11, Jhongjhou 2nd Rd., Cijin District, ☏ . 11:00-21:00.
- Riverside Sea Food Restaurant, #68-16, Chong-chou Second Road, Cijin District, ☏ .
Night markets are a great place to pick up cheap local foods, including stinky tofu, barbecued squid, red bean pancakes and the like.
- 1 Liouhe Night Market (Liuhe Night Market 六合夜市), Liuhe 2nd Rd 六合二路 (MRT Formosa Boulevard). The most popular and touristy night market, full of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese tourists. Lots of seafood, some local dishes but more stuff for tourists, from Turkish doner to "Thai" banana pancakes. Don't expect the food to be particularly good—the practice seems to be to display a tank of live prawns to prove how fresh they are, all the while sticking frozen ones on the grill. Open pretty much every day after 17:00/18:00. It's fun if you've never experienced a Taiwanese night market before, but in the end it's basically a tourist trap. For real local eats, turn right at the western end of the market and head north up Zili Road (自立路).
A more local, food-oriented night market is Rueifong Night Market (瑞豐夜市), straight outside exit 1 of MRT Kaohsiung Arena. It is open Tuesday and Thursday to Sunday, but if you are uncomfortable in crowds you should avoid the weekends. A similar night market is 青年夜市 near MRT Da-Dong.
Lunchboxes are common throughout the city, and a choose-your-order buffet take-out are typically NT$50-100. The food is typically fried, with a mix of vegetables and meats.
The ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores have tea eggs, hot dogs, packaged beverages and junk food. Lunchbox style microwavables are also available, including dumplings, spaghetti and curry rice.
- Jiu Pin Xiang Vegetarian (九品香素食). A chain of small vegetarian buffet restaurants with a delicious variety of mock meats, tofu, and vegetables. Tell the cashier if you want rice. About NT$100.
- Smokey Joes offers Tex-Mex, including fajitas, tortillas and other Western staples at affordable prices (NT$170 and up). The menu is in English and the staff usually understands some English as well. They offer a 'VIP' card for people who spend over NT$1,000 on 20 separate meals which gives the holder at 10% discount at any store operated by Amy (the owner of Smokey Joes). This includes Mama Mia's, an Italian restaurant located downtown.
- The Pantheon serves traditional Greek and Mediterranean food at good prices. They are known for their Gyro lunch (around NT$200), qne hey also offer a 20% discount on takeout.
- Cosplay Cafe, ☏ . daily noon-21:30. Offers a cosplay themed restaurant. 161, ChangMing St, SanMin District.
- Bull Fighter Restaurant, 79, Wu Fu 3rd Road, Cianjin District (downtown near Love River), ☏ . It mainly serves steaks and grilled seafoods and is suitable for most Western visitors at fair costs (NT$400-500 each, free salad bar included). Or, you can choose pastas (only NT$200, salad bar included).
- Escape 41 a little bit hard to get to without your own transportation (if you are sporty, a bicycle will do, but don't be afraid of uphill-riding, cab might drop you off there as well) though you'll be rewarded. Its located directly on the coastline behind Zhongshan University, far off the cities hustle and bustle. Great at sunsets, big terrace; western food, not cheap but ok. 41–2, CaiShan, Gushan District (07) 525–0058. 
- Michino Diner, serving popular breakfast and brunch. You can choose between burgers, sandwiches, salads, omelettes and real American breakfast and brunch at NT$150-300, phone: +886 216-2290 Address: #79 Datong 1st Rd (高雄巿新興區大同一路79號) Hours: Tu-Su 10:00-22:00
- 2 Sushi Express (near Carrefour and Starbucks, next to McDonald's). Sushi train with good variety including healthy vegetarian options. NT$30 per plate.
- The Spice Shop, 508 Mingcheng 2nd Road, ☏ . An Indian restaurant serving a-la-carte style meals, with each dish ranging from NT$120-270.
There is also a Ruth's Chris, an Outback and several steak houses in town.
Two local beer companies, Tsingtao and Taiwan Beer, are ubiquitous throughout the island and can be purchased by visitors cheaply with little hassle about age restrictions. Most major soft drinks are available, and tea stands on almost every corner offer concoctions of fruit, yogurt, green tea, the Taiwanese specialty "bubble tea," and a variety of other flavors.
While tap water is most certainly not potable, good reverse osmosis filtration will remove bacteria and heavy metals, and is considered safe for consumption. Water dispensers, which resemble gas stations, are present throughout the city. However, they, along with many of the bottled water brands, are suspect. Both have been found, in the past, to simply bottle or distribute tap water. To avoid ingesting non-potable water, only purchase bottles that are sealed with an expiration date clearly printed on the bottle. Often, it is easier to simply purchase green tea at a stand or a convenience store, or a soft drink. Restaurant water is safe, with the exception of some lunchbox eateries and stands on the street.
- 2 Coins Bar (2 COIN小酒館), 350 Fujian St (½ block from the Lees Hotel at Wu-Fu 1st Road and Fujian). 2 Coins Bar is a small bar down the street from the Lees Hotel. The bar owner is quite nice, but doesn't speak English. Good music and decent prices are standard for this relaxing bar.
- Green Creek Cafe, #2, Hai-an Rd., Cijin District, ☏ . 07:00-23:00.
- La Mambo Cafe & Dine, 2F., #10, Hai-an Road, Cijin District, ☏ . 11:00-23:00.
- Lamp Disco, 3F, 42 Zihciang 3rd Rd (MRT Sanduo Shopping District Station Exit 1, across from the 2 legged skyscraper), ☏ . Tu-Su 22:00-04:00.
- Brickyard, 507 Jhongshan Rd (MRT 2 blocks south of Central Park Station). Club nights W, F, Sa. Door charge on F and Sa: men NT$300, women NT$150.
- Siang Shia Zou (向下走), B1, 323 Xintian Rd (behind Hanshin Department Store). 18:00-02:00.
- Roof Island (屋頂), 51 Liwen Road, Zouying Dist (MRT station Kaoshiung Areana). 18:30-03:00.
- Austria Star Bed & Breakfast. 10 min away from the HSR (free shuttle bus every 30 min from 6:15 until 22:45)
- 1 Backpacker 41 Hostel (背包客四一), No. 39, Lane 261, Siwei 3rd Road (苓雅區四維三路261巷39號), ☏ , [email protected]. Pretty and clean hostel with large beds and a kitchen. Dorm: NT$410.
- 2 Cozy Planet Hostel (Cozy Planet), 8F-3. No. 331, Jhonghua 4th Rd., Qianjin District (when you see Splendid Field Dental Clinic, enter the door between the clinic and Suzuki Motorbike store. Reception is on the 8th floor), ☏ , toll-free: 0800 668-606, [email protected]. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Cozy Planet hostel has both dormitories (2,4 and 6 beds) and private double rooms, free WiFi, AC, hot water, fully equipped kitchen, lounge with satellite TV, guest computers, and lockers. The place is centrally located near metro station, sights and shopping area. Complimentary daily room cleaning, laundry service, bikes, and simple breakfast. Non-smoking and no pets allowed. NT$550-1600.
- 3 Takaobay Hostel, No.33 Dacheng Street, Yancheng District, ☏ , [email protected]. Newly furnished with a very friendly and helpful proprietor. Close to the Pier-2 Art Center. £10-30.
- 4 Trip GG Hostel, 6th floor, No. 117 Zhongshan First Road 中山一路117號6樓 (right across from Formosa Boulevard metro station, exit 1), ☏ , [email protected]. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: noon. Friendly hostel with a kitchen, a lounge with a view, curtains on the bunks for privacy, an outlet beside each bunk, lockers big enough for a regular-sized backpack, decent wifi, and a free, simple breakfast. Free towel rental. Washing machines available (NT$50 to wash and NT$50 to dry, or air-dry on the outdoor stairwell for free). NT$600 weekdays, NT$700 weekends, cheaper if booked online.
- 5 Century Hotel (世紀旅店), No.85-5, Lingya 2nd Rd., Lingya District (KMRT Sanduo Shopping District Station, KMRT Central Park Station), ☏ , [email protected].
- Hotel Holiday Garden, 279, Liouhe 2nd Road (六合二路279號). Clean and modern tourist guest house. Around 4-star service and rooms. Staff speak English and are very forthcoming in helping you in anyway. All rooms have free highspeed WLAN-connections. Taxi drivers recognize the hotel by the Chinese hotel name "華園飯店". Close to Love River and behind hotel there is a orange-line K-MRT station.
- Huahou Hotel (華后大飯店), 219, Gong Yuan 2nd Road, ☏ . Clean hotel near the river. From NT$933.
- The Kingship Hotel Kaohsiung, #98, Chi-Shen 3rd Road, Yen-Chen District, ☏ , fax: .
- Moon Lake Shinkuchan Modern Hotel, 348 Minsheng 1st Rd.
- Nobel Hotel, 146 Sanduo 1st Rd, ☏ .
- [dead link] T-Hotel (大益飯店), 177 Datong 1st Rd (高雄市新興區大同一路177號) (5 minutes walk from Formosa Boulevard (美麗島) KMRT station), ☏ . Renovated, clean, comfortable and modern. Standard hotel room offers LCD TV, iPod docking sound system and free broadband internet connection. Extra services include laundry, bike rental service and a recreational area. Full buffet breakfast included with accommodation. Rooms from NT$1880.
- Venus Hotel (高雄昭来大饭店), 311, Cing Nian 1st Road (青年一路311號) (SE Corner of Jhongshan 2nd Road/Cian Nian 1st Road), ☏ . (website is in Traditional Chinese). Clean and affordable hotel near the city center and shopping centers (Far Eastern 21 shopping mall, night markets) and minutes from KMRT stations (between R8 and R9 stations)right across the street from Brickyard. Free breakfast is included in room rate with choice of traditional Eastern or Western style faire. The hotel offers free internet and the front staff speaks enough English to get you what you need or to get you where you need to go. Rooms from NT$880 for students; NT$1099 for everyone else.
- Howard Plaza Hotel Kaohsiung (福華大飯店), 311 Chihsien 1 Road, ☏ .
- The Lees Hotel Kaohsiung (高雄‧麗尊大酒店), No.105, Wufu 1st Road (高雄市苓雅區五福一路105號) (walk 8 minutes from Sinyi Elementary School MRT station). Check-in: 15:00, check-out: noon. The staff can all speak English and they are extremely helpful in every way. The hotel is well maintained and in a nice district. NT$3000–4500 per night.
- The Splendor Kaohsiung (金典酒店), 7-85F, No. 1 Tzu-Chiang 3rd Road, ☏ .
- Wen Pin Hotel, No.22, Dan-Yeng Rd., ☏ , [email protected].
- 6 Jòhō Hotel, No. 306, Zhongshan 1st Rd., Xinxing Dist., ☏ , [email protected]. A stylish hotel with a restaurant, lounge and gym. It is a 10-minute walk from Kaohsiung Railway Station and KMRT Formosa Boulevard Station. Double from NT$7,200+10%.
Kaohsiung's crime rate is much lower than probably any city of comparable size in the West, so tourists need not be too worried. Theft tends to be the most common form of criminal activity encountered by foreigners, and expensive bikes and scooters are frequent targets.
As a major seaport, organized crime has also become an increasing problem in the city, and a fair number of businesses are nothing more than a front for local gangs. That said, the gangs do not resort to random violence or theft.
In general, Kaohsiung offers a very safe environment as long as you mind your own business and don't get involved with local rivalries. Violent crime is very rare, and visitors should not encounter any problems - though, like any major city, it is always wise to err on the side of caution.
Also please remember: tap water is not potable.
- Tainan is to the north. It can easily be accessed by train or car. There is a regular train service from Kaohsiung Central Train Station. The journey takes around 30 minutes, which makes Tainan an attractive day-trip or even half-day destination.
- Pingtung County is to the south. All the way to its southern end is Kenting.
- Taitung County is to the east. However, the Southern Cross-Island Highway ( Provincial Highway Number 20) has been closed mid-way since 2009 due to the Typhoon Morakot, so you have to take a very long detour via the South-Link Highway ( Provincial Highway Number 9) if going by road.
- Penghu – An outlying island archipelago, with a saturated turquoise sea around and coral sand, so pack beach wear.
|Routes through Kaohsiung (THSR)|
|Chiayi ← Tainan ←||N S||→ END|
|Routes through Kaohsiung (National Highway)|
|Chiayi ← Tainan ←||N S||→ END|
|Chiayi ← Tainan ←||N S||→ Pingtung County|