In the past, Kaohsiung never really got the attention it deserved, but in recent years tourists both local and foreign are starting to realize that there’s more to this city than the island’s largest port. Full of night markets, temples, and tons of good restaurants, Taiwan’s second largest city is definitely worth a visit, and while you’re there be sure to check out these attractions.
The Old British Consulate
This was the first foreign consulate built on Taiwanese soil, and after years of disuse, it has now been fully restored to its original state. Built in 1865, the British Consulate compound consists of the residence, a short hiking trail, and the consulate itself. It’s a bit of a walk to get up the hill, but it’s nice and relaxing up there, and you get a nice view of the harbor.
Kaohsiung Harbor is known as the love pier and, to be honest, it is the perfect venue for a first date. There are cafés and bars with outdoor seating and plenty of places for couples to take a walk along the river. If walking just doesn’t do it for you, then you can take a cruise on one of the many riverboats moored by the docks.
It’s easy to see why this pond (more of a lake) is the city’s most popular attraction. There are around twenty temples on its shores and plenty of bikeways and paths for you to wander. The most interesting, or what some might call unusual, of the structures on the lake are the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. They say it’s good luck to enter the dragon and exit the tiger.
Pier-2 Art District
Pier-2 Art District is an area that consists of 25 old warehouses that have been repainted and given a new lease of life as art galleries, shops, and places to dine and have a drink. There’s even a mini-train on which you can take a ride around the area, an ice cream parlor, and a place where kids (young and old) can play some games.
Taiwan’s Largest Confucius Temple
Located on the corner of Lotus Pond, Kaohsiung’s Confucius Temple is the largest of its kind in Taiwan. Built in the ’70s, the temple is a replica of a temple from the Song Dynasty era. It’s an impressive building, but make sure you don’t visit on Confucius’ birthday, which falls on September 28. This day is also known as Teachers’ Day in Taiwan, and the temple is usually packed with worshippers.
The Night Markets
It should come as no surprise that Kaohsiung is home to quite a few night markets, and each is packed with stalls selling clothes, souvenirs, and of course, some of the best street food in the world. Whether you head for the tourist night market of Liuhe or the more popular Ruifeng makes no difference, as a visit to any of the city’s night markets is an experience to remember.
Formosa Boulevard MRT Station
Yes, it’s a metro station, but one like you’ve never seen before. The incredible Dome of Light is the world’s largest work of glass art. Created by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, the colors are simply breathtaking, leading many to label the station as the most beautiful subway station on the planet. Do not forget your camera!
Tuntex Sky Tower
Once the tallest building in Taiwan before a certain Taipei 101 came along, Tuntex Sky Tower has a viewing deck on the 74th floor, and it’s a great spot for a nice view of the city in the daytime or evening. There’s even the luxury Sky 85 Tower Hotel in the building located on the 37th to 85th floors.
This long and thin island runs along the harbor and city coastline and is a very popular day trip destination for locals. You can take a ferry from the harbor to the island and spend the day on the beach (be careful of the riptides) or explore the island on a bike. Here you’ll find Tianhou Temple (see below), a lighthouse, and some huge wind turbines. There are also many places to grab a bite to eat, so it’s quite possible to spend the entire day on the island.
Cijin Tianhou Temple
There are that many impressive temples in Kaohsiung that you could spend weeks there and not see them all. So if you’re short on time, make do with a visit to this old Mazu temple. It was built in 1673 and is everything you expect from a historic temple. From stunning mosaics to stone lions, this temple is probably one of the best examples of what places of worship looked like centuries ago.
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