To be honest, I had never heard of Kaohsiung until I started planning our trip to Taiwan. Turns out Kaohsiung is the third-largest city in Taiwan! Almost 3 million people live in Kaohsiung and its port is the largest harbor in Taiwan.
In my opinion, Kaohsiung is a very underrated destination. While not as flashy as Taipei, there are lots of fun and interesting things to do in Kaohsiung.
In this post, you can find many Kaohsiung attractions that should be added to your Kaohsiung itinerary!
Things to do in Kaohsiung
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Kaohsiung itinerary planning
Wondering what to do in Kaohsiung Taiwan? So was I, Kaohsiung is not a very well-known destination but after 3 days of exploring I can say from personal experience the city has a lot to offer!
Hopefully, this post will help you decide where to go in Kaohsiung and make the most of your trip!
Things to know when planning a trip to Kaohsiung
Similar to Taipei, Spring and Autumn are the best time to visit Kaohsiung. Temperatures are comfortable instead of scorching hot (35+ degrees Celsius in Summer in not uncommon). We visited in May and had great weather for sightseeing.
The official currency in Taiwan is the New Taiwan dollar (NT$). Here you can find the current exchange rates, at the time of writing €1 is approximately 34NT$ and $1 approximately 30NT$.
The distance between Taipei to Kaohsiung is approximately 350 kilometers and traveling between these cities isn’t difficult. The easiest way to travel is by train (2 hours) or by bus (5 hours).
Kaohsiung 3 day itinerary: map and highlights
In the map below you find all the locations we visited during the 3 days we spent in the city. I marked all Kaohsiung places to visit, the Airbnb we stayed at, where to eat delicious food, and useful transport info (airport, MRT, bicycles, and more).
The perfect Kaohsiung itinerary
- Kaohsiung day 1: visit the Holy Rosary Cathedral, cycle along the Love River, explore the Pier-2 Art Center, check out the Dai Tian Temple and watch the sunset.
- Kaohsiung day 2: cycle around the Lotus Pond, visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, check out the Fongyi Gate.
- Kaohsiung day 3: take the ferry to Qijin Island, explore the Cijin Coast Park, admire the view from the Cihou Lighthouse.
If you have limited time, consider booking this tour to see the highlights of Kaohsiung in a day.
Places to visit in Kaohsiung: checklist
Kaohsiung what to do: day 1
Admire the Holy Rosary Cathedral
We came across the Holy Rosary Cathedral and I was a little surprised to see a church in Taiwan. But this church happens to be the oldest Catholic church in Taiwan!
After a little online research, I learned that 4.5% of the Taiwanese are Christian. Since that’s about 1 million Christians (Taiwan’s total population is around 23 million), it’s actually not that surprising there are several churches in the country!
Cycle along the Love River
The Love River, also called Ai River, is a 12-kilometer long river through Kaohsiung city. Along a large part of the river, there is a beautiful bicycle lane (originally named the Love River Bike Path) with excellent city views.
This cycling trail is 24 kilometers long, it starts at the Love Pier and ends at the Lotus Pond. Along the way you can stop at the Kaohsiung 228 Peace Memorial Park, Zhongdou Wetlands Park, Botanical Garden, and of course the Lotus Pond (read more below)
Visit the Pier-2 Art Center
Hipster galore? Maybe. Okay, totally. But seriously, it’s a cool spot. There are lots of stylish cafes and galleries in these abandoned warehouses turned art center. Perfect for a late afternoon stroll.
Marvel at the colorful Dai Tian Temple
A Taoist/Buddhist Temple (yes, interestingly it’s a bit of both). I loved the colors and intricate details of the roof!
Admire the sunset from the boulevard
We watched a beautiful sunset at the boulevard near the British Consulate. In the picture, you can see Cijin Lighthouse, which we visited on day 3 (see below).
Kaohsiung places of interest: day 2
Cycle around the Lotus Pond
The Lotus Pond is about 5 kilometers from Kaohsiung city center. It’s a man-made lake (impressive right!?) and one of the largest lakes in Taiwan. While it was originally created to irrigate the surrounding farms, Lotus Pond is now a popular recreation area for locals and travelers alike.
There are several trails suitable for hiking and/or cycling. We took the bicycle trail around the lake and came across lots of photogenic temples. The trail is flat and easy and offers great views of Kaohsiung city.
Visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
The coolest temples at the Lotus Pond are without a doubt these pagodas, you enter them through the mouth of a dragon and a tiger! These seven-story pagodas were constructed in 1976, you can climb to the top via a spiral staircase.
Fun fact: if you enter through the Dragon’s mouth and exit via the Tiger, this will help you avoid bad fortune and enjoy good luck. Worth a try right?
Pass under the Fongyi Gate
This gate was part of the wall surrounding the old city of Zuoying, which was one of the first fortified cities in Taiwan. Four gates (North, East, South, and West) were built, the Fongyi Gate (East Gate, pictured above) is the best-preserved one.
Places to go in Kaohsiung: day 3
Bikeway along Dahua 4th road
We cycled to the Qian Zhen Ferry Station and crossed to Qijin Island. We actually cycled all the way to the bridge connecting the island with Kaohsiung city but were informed by a kind police officer that bikes were not allowed on the bridge. So we had to turn back and catch the ferry instead.
In the pictures, you can find the ferry schedule and information about the fares (50NT per person including the bike if you pay cash, 30NT if you pay with iPass).
Cijin Coast Park
We cycled from the Jhonjhou Ferry Station (on Qijin Island) to the Cijin Coast Park where there are lots of sculptures and arty objects.
From the park, we continued to the beautiful Cihou Lighthouse which was built by the British in 1883. Inside you can see some old pictures of the lighthouse.
That completes our 3-day (cycle) itinerary in Kaohsiung, below you can read more about our average daily travel budget, how to rent a bicycle, the best place to stay in Kaohsiung and what to eat in Kaohsiung.
Kaohsiung daily travel budget
I didn’t know what to expect about the travel costs in Taiwan, but I was pleasantly surprised how affordable the country is! During our 3 day trip in Kaohsiung, we spent approximately €59 per day, which I think is a very reasonable amount. And as you can see in the itinerary above, it’s not like we didn’t do anything!
Where to stay in Kaohsiung: Yichi’s place
I booked our accommodation in Kaohsiung via Airbnb. Our room was very big and had a little balcony. There was air conditioning and a fan which made it easy to stay cool in hot and sunny Kaohsiung.
Our private (attached) bathroom was clean and stocked with shampoo, soap, and toothpaste. Large shared common room, hot & cold water dispenser, and laundry machine that can be used.
The location is great: it’s next to the Sky Tower, the 7-11 & Family Mart are around the corner and there are many great local restaurants in the area. It’s also within easy walking distance of the MRT (Sanduo Shopping District Station).
Communication with our hostess Yichi was perfect, she replied to all my questions within minutes and speaks English very well.
• Price: €26 per night.
• How to book: check Yichi’s place on Airbnb Kaohsiung.
Alternatively, click here to find a hotel in Kaohsiung on Booking.
How to get around Kaohsiung: transportation
How to get from Kaohsiung Airport to Kaohsiung City Center
Kaohsiung Airport is connected to Kaohsiung city by MRT, which makes getting to the city center super easy! From the Airport MRT station (the red line) it’s only 4 stops to the Sanduo Shopping District MRT Station in the city center of Kaohsiung.
If you intend to travel primarily by MRT, consider buying a Kaohsiung Unlimited MRT Pass for 24/48 hours to save money.
The best way to get around Kaohsiung: C-bike
We cycled to pretty much all the places we visited in Kaohsiung, there is a great public bike rental system which is very cheap. Also, being from Holland aka the country of bicycles, we love cycling and happily pedaled our way around town. That is after we managed to figure out the slightly complex bike rental system…
It’s actually not that complicated, but the software engineer made some mistakes with the translation of the registration process (from Chinese to English), which makes it really hard to register as a foreigner. Let me walk you through the process:
Step 1: buy an iPass at 7-11 or Family Mart (100NT) and add credit to it (any amount you want). Even if you don’t want to rent a bicycle I would still get an iPass, you can use it everywhere in Taiwan.
It also gives you a discount on public transport and saves you the hassle of paying with coins. You can even use it to pay for coffee in the 7-11 and Family Mart. But I digress, bottom line: get an iPass and add credit.
Step 2: go to a Kaohsiung Public Bike rental point (check the site for more info and to download the app) and place your card on the sensor.
Step 3: choose English, then choose to register. This is where the fun starts… The problem was that our ID numbers were too short and the machine wouldn’t accept them. When we put a zero behind our ID number it did accept them and we could continue to the next step.
Also, you need a Taiwanese cellphone number for the registration process, because you’ll receive a confirmation code via SMS. For the bicycle system in Kaohsiung, you can use the same cellphone number to register multiple iPasses.
Step 4: rent a bicycle. You have to set the machine to Chinese again as they forgot to program an enter button in the English version. Just press the number of your desired bike and click the orange button.
Step 5: go to your chosen bike and press the red (eject) button.
Step 6: don’t rent the bike for longer than 90 minutes, it gets ‘expensive’ after that. You can just switch bikes at a station and continue on your way.
Where to eat in Kaohsiung
We ate a lot of good food in Kaohsiung, below you can find my favorites…
Dry beef noodle
Where to eat this: 802, Taiwan, Kaohsiung City, Lingya District.
Where to eat this: No. 79, Sanduo 4th Road, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 802 (in the shop with the blue sign, not the red one).
Vietnamese Pho, Bánh mì and Bánh xèo
Where to eat this: 阿莲河粉, No. 105號, Ziqiang 3rd Road, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 802.
Price: varies per item (between 80-140NT).
Wu Pao Chun Bakery
Where to eat this: No. 19, Siwei 3rd Road, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 802.
Price: varies per item (between 20-300NT). This bakery won a price for its wheat bread with wine, rose petals and dried lychees.
Kaohsiung travel guide: in conclusion
That’s everything about our 3-day Kaohsiung trip, I hope this article has given you an idea what to see in Kaohsiung. I highly recommend visiting this city as it’s often overlooked, which is really too bad as Kaohsiung has lots to offer!
You can download the list of things to do in Kaohsiung below.
Do you want to read more about traveling in Taiwan? Check out these posts as well:
- Budget for Taiwan
- Taiwan cheap accommodation
- Taiwan travel itinerary
- Hualien itinerary
- Kenting itinerary
- Taichung itinerary
- Tainan itinerary
- Taitung itinerary
- Taipei itinerary
- Taipei day trips
- Best beaches in Taiwan
This post was updated in June 2020.