Natural wonders and urban elegance on the water

Bordered by mountains in the north and the South China Sea to the south, coastal Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second-largest city after Taipei. It’s a thriving, waterside, urban oasis, with a warm climate and laidback style. Located in Taiwan’s south, its industrial history has been replaced with skyscrapers and spacious boulevards, cosmopolitan cafes, bustling night markets, glossy malls, museums, galleries and a variety of parks, although there are still plenty of historical sites to discover. There are even a couple of beaches and acres of forest nearby! Head to the Love River to get your bearings, wander the riverbank paths and cafes, and explore the various shopping streets. Hop a short ferry to pretty Cijin Island, get lost in the Dapingding Tropical Botanical Garden or Yushan National Park, and explore the biodiversity of Monkey Mountain. If you’re craving both city thrills and natural wonders, Kaohsiung might just be your kind of town.

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Things to do

  • Live it up on the lake

    The man-made Lotus Lake is a tourist hotspot, famous for all the pretty lotus blooms floating on the lake and all the colourful temples around it. Among these, the Spring and Autumn Pavilions are especially popular, as is the Confucian Temple. Kids are drawn to the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, as you can run in through the dragon’s mouth and out through the tiger’s mouth. With scenic statues and palaces as well, it’s a lovely lake around which to stroll or, with a rental bike, cycle.

  • Walk on the moon

    Who knew a trip to Kaohsiung could take you from the lushness of Lotus Lake to the arid badlands of the moon? Take a train out to Gangshan South and get your cameras ready for the spookily cinematic Tianliao Moon World Landscape Park. Created by years of erosion, this intriguing park features an informative geography centre and good walking paths so you can wander the still lakes and peaked lunar landscape and capture some incredible images.

  • Warehouses of wonder

    If you’re in the mood for a little port-side shopping or gallery-hopping, head to the Pier-2 Art District. It’s a colourful and scenic area consisting of clusters of old warehouses that have been transformed into venues, galleries and designer shops showcasing both vintage and contemporary lifestyle products. There’s a children’s theatre, outdoor art installations, hip cafes and a weekend flea market, all laid out along two boulevards that run alongside the port.

  • Markets after dark

    Kaohsiung is home to a bunch of fun night markets, where you can bustle along with the locals, eat sizzling street food, shop for clothes or gadgets and have a bit of fun. For a focus on food, head to Rui Feng market. Liuhe Night Market takes over three blocks of Liuhe 2nd Road after 6pm and does a great line in seafood, alongside its regular stalls, while the Kai Xuan-Jin Zhuan Night Market is one of the biggest in the city.

  • Dream big!

    Dream Mall is the biggest mall in East Asia, a sprawling centre of shopping and leisure activities. The interior design is based around four themes – water, flowers, nature and the universe. Dream Mall’s nine floors showcase more than 600 stores, including some major chains like Marks and Spencer, as well as an ice and snow theme park, a rooftop ferris wheel and a cinema complex. This state-of-the-art mall takes the retail and culture experience to a whole new level.

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Airport information

Kaohsiung International Airport

Distance to Kaohsiung City 16km

From the airport Kaohsiung International Airport is a modern, mid-sized airport. The quickest way into the city from here is via Metro – there’s a station in the airport and it will take around 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can catch a taxi, but that can take more than half an hour, depending on traffic. There are also buses and rental cars available.

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When to go

The weather in Kaohsiung is pretty mild all year round, but November to April is the best time to visit as it’s less wet and humid than the rest of the year. The Lantern Festival happens in January, where colourful lanterns illuminate Love River and other areas.

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Getting around

Kaohsiung is well serviced with public transport that will get you to many major tourist sites, as well as taxis and ferries to Cijin Island. There is a solid bus system that works well with the Metro train system and you’ll find good signage in English.

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