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From fishing village to port city, to a now an up and coming tourist destination, Kaohsiung in Southern Taiwan is full of history, tasty food and friendly people!
How long to spend in Kaohsiung? My recommendation is to plan your Kaohsiung itinerary for 2 or 3 days in Kaohsiung! I really love this city and I do think it’s underrated but Kaohsiung in Taiwan is not huge, many of the popular things to do in Kaohsiung can be seen in just a few days and there are plenty of other amazing places to see in Taiwan, so in my opinion 5 days in Kaohsiung isn’t needed for example!
The best way to see a city is to ensure that you see it in sections so you’re not running from each side of the city all day and Kaohsiung is an easy city to do this in. So in this Kaohsiung travel blog, here is my recommended Kaohsiung itinerary to fit into your Taiwan itinerary!
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR TAIWAN
First up, have you got travel insurance for Taiwan yet? I am covered with World Nomad’s who I really recommend! They are designed by travellers, for travellers with excellent customer service and a range of cover options.
Get a free quote here while you’re thinking about it:
SIM CARD FOR TAIWAN
I found the wifi pretty good in Taiwan but I do think it’s best to have a local sim card so you have constant internet access.
The best way to get a sim card for Taiwan if your phone is unlocked is to buy this EasyCard & Sim Card package deal in advance. You’ll need an EasyCard to get around on transport in Taiwan anyway and at the same time you can get a Taiwan Sim Card with 4G and pick them up at Taoyuan Airport when you land.
If your phone is locked or you don’t want to go to the hassle of getting a sim card, I suggest getting a portable wifi device for Taiwan which you can get delivered to your home free of charge 2-3 days before you leave for Taiwan!
AIRBNB IN TAIWAN
Kaohsiung has some great Airbnb options like this which will make you feel like a local! To get $30.00 off your Airbnb stay(which is one night’s free accommodation in Taipei!),open a new account using this promo code!
How to Get around Kaohsiung.
Before we get into the places to visit in Kaohsiung let me reassure you that Kaohsiung is incredibly easy to get around. There is a metro (MRT) just like in Taipei with nearly identical stations and signs. You’ll need an EasyCard to use the metro and this works on all transport around Taiwan.
Most hostels and hotels in Kaohsiung will offer a Kaohsiung tourist map to help you get around so look out for these.
I found Taichung and Tainan quite hard and time-consuming because of their lack of metro but it’s very easy in Kaohsiung and Uber is reliable here too from my experience so keep this in mind when planning your Kaohsiung itinerary.
1 Day in Kaohsiung.
Breakfast in Kaohsiung.
Taiwan is famous for its breakfasts and Kaohsiung has a great place to eat breakfast which is popular with the locals and with tourists!
Xing Long Ju is the place to head to and the nearest MTR station for Xing Long Ju is City Council Station and then it’s a short walk away.
The opening hours of Xing Long Ju are 4:00 am to 11:00 am and I think no matter what time you get there you’ll need to queue but that’s all part of the experience!
Note that when you see the queue, the longest queue on the left is for the Bao Dumplings, if you do not want one of these there is a smaller queue on the left that takes you past this where you can get other breakfast items. If you’re in a rush, skip the Bao and you should be served quicker.
A typical breakfast in Taiwan is breakfast soup, omelette, fried breadsticks, bao, dumplings and soybean milk, all of which you can get in Xing Long Ju. It can be pretty stressful ordering food here but it’s all part of the experience!
If this restaurant in Kaohsiung happens to be too busy or closed, there is another restaurant 2 doors down on the corner and some of my followers on Instagram told me they went there instead and enjoyed it so either way, don’t miss a Taiwanese breakfast in Kaohsiung off your Kaohsiung itinerary!
Need help booking a train to Kaohsiung from elsewhere in Taiwan? You can’t book trains in Taiwan using the Taiwan Train System but you can book them on 12GO Asia. So book your trains around Taiwan here:
Pier 2 Art Centre.
Next on your Kaohsiung itinerary, from Xing Long Ju you can walk down to Pier 2 Arts Centre or catch the metro one stop to Yanchengpu and take exit 1.
This used to an area of abandoned warehouses but it is now a bright and thriving area full of really cool street art and murals which I think shows how much Kaohsiung has changed in the last few years, going from a port city into a tourist attraction!
You can walk around the buildings spotting the art and the impressive and random statues that they have, and you can go inside the warehouses where they have various games and exhibitions on. There’s even a small train going between the warehouses which is a fun activity for children in Kaohsiung. Make sure you explore the full area, it’s pretty big and even covers the nearby park!
The Art Centre is open from 10:00 am each day and is free to enter unless you want to see one of the exhibitions that require tickets.
Cijin Island from Kaohsiung.
From Pier 2 Arts Centre Kaohsiung walk towards Gushan Ferry Pier which is close by to take the ferry over to Cijin Island.
Visiting Cijin Island is a must-do activity in Kaohsiung because it’s totally different from the main city and will give you a taste of a Taiwanese holiday destination.
The ferry to Cijin Island from Kaohsiung takes about 15 minutes and you’ll get off in a tourist hub, but don’t let that put you off. The best way to get around Cijin is by hiring some golf carts or bikes which you can do as soon as you get off, or you can walk like me but be warned this slice of an island is bigger than it seems.
Be sure to enjoy the fresh seafood that Cijin Island is known for, head over to the beach which will make you feel a million miles away from Taiwan Kaohsiung. Head up to Cijin Fort and Cijin Lighthouse for a awesome view over the Kaohsiung city and if you like to get a good Instagram photo, go to the Rainbow church!
Make sure you plan a few hours on Cijin Island on your Kaohsiung itinerary to make the most of it and cover all of the popular things do to in Cijin Island.
Kaohsiung’s Night Markets.
By now it will be getting late and the night markets in Kaohsiung are the place to go for dinner on day 1 of your Kaohsiung itinerary!
Kaohsiung has a few night markets:
- Ruifeng Night Market
- Liouhe Tourist Night Market
- Jin Zuan Night Market
- Kaisyuan Night Market
All of them are good to go to, in my opinion, Rufieng Night Market is the best night market in Kaohsiung but you should wait and go there the next day as it fits in better with the 2 days Kaohsiung itinerary due to its location. If you’re staying central in Kaohsiung as I did at Flyinn Hostel (which I really recommend I’ve stayed there twice in their private rooms and really like it) then Liouhe night market is probably the best one to go to!
To see a list of where to go in Kaohsiung, have a look at my full things to do in Kaohsiung blog post!
2 Days in Kaohsiung.
Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Monastery.
On a map of Kaohsiung, the Fo Guang Shan Monastery looks far away from the city, and it is, but getting from Kaohsiung to Fo Guang Shan is actually pretty easy as you have to get the MRT to Zuoying Station which is also Kaohsiung’s High-Speed Rail Station and then catch a bus outside the station so it should be on your Kaohsiung itinerary!
I have detailed exactly how to get to Fo Guang Shan Monastery from Kaohsiung in this post with more details on what to do at Fo Guang Shan so make sure you read this too.
I recommend going here though as it’s like nothing I’ve seen before in Asia, the monastery is huge, there’s a Buddhist museum which is engaging and interesting and seeing this huge bronze Buddha is pretty impressive!
I recommend giving yourself about 2 hours to explore the monastery and bare in mind that the bus from Zuoying Station takes about 40 minutes each way. I’d also recommend getting lunch at the monastery in one of its many restaurants as there are limited options in the rail station and at Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung which is where I suggest going in Kaohsiung next.
To help you plan your trip around Taiwan, have a look at all of my Taiwan Blog Posts here!
Lotus Pond & Lotus Pond Temples.
You may have seen photos of a Dragon and Tiger Temple in Taiwan and this is, in fact, the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda located on Lotus Pond.
Lotus Pond is a litter North of the city but still on the metro line so don’t let the distance put you off. The reason I recommend you visit these 2 places together in this itinerary for Kaohsiung is that they are both North and the MRT station you reach the monastery for- Zuoying, is the closest metro station to Lotus Pond.
To get to Lotus Pond from Fo Guang Shan take the MRT back to Zuoying Station, from here it is a 20-30 minute walk to Lotus Lake and the temples that surround it.
Here is my full guide on visiting Lotus Pond in Kaohsiung, the history of the pond and the temples, plus, the correct way to visit the temples to ensure you don’t end up with bad luck!
Another way to see the Lotus Pond is to join a free walking tour ran by Like it Formosa which is what I did. They offer their Religion tour on Thursdays and Sundays from 3:00 pm and it’s a great way to meet fellow travellers and get a much deeper understanding of the importance of Lotus Pond.
Ruifeng Night Market.
I think this is the best night market in Kaohsiung because it’s full of food but best of all I like its layout in a car park and that it’s off the street. Ruifeng Night Market is also a bit out of the city but it is close to Lotus Pond which is why I suggest seeing both of these Kaohsiung attractions together.
This way you’re staying north of the city pretty much all day and seeing everything up here rather than going up and down on the metro!
Note that the opening hours of Ruifeng Night Market are from 6:00 pm and it is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays so try to work your 2 days in Kaohsiung around this if you can or switch up day 1 and 2 that I have recommended in this Kaohsiung itinerary.
Related Post: Best Night Markets in Kaohsiung!
3 Days in Kaohsiung.
If you have three days Kaohsiung I would recommend heading out on a day trip from Kaohsiung to see more of Southern Taiwan on your Kaohsiung itinerary!
If the historic city of Tainan is not on your Taiwan itinerary then you can easily visit Tainan on a day trip from Kaohsiung, there is a direct local train that runs from Kaohsiung main station to Tainan main station.
There is an island called Xiaoliuqui / Lambai Island just south of Kaohsiung which looks incredible and like total paradise, here you can even go snorkelling with Turtles, I found this blog post really helpful on how to visit Xiaoliuqui from Kaohsiung.
If you want to go hiking in Kaohsiung there are a few places you can visit like Shoushan National Park, Guanyinshan Trail and Dayuan Mountain.
Kenting National Park is in the very south of Taiwan. I have heard mixed things from travellers about this place, it looks beautiful but without your own transport, it seems hard to get around. Kaohsiung to Kenting takes a few hours by bus so it is time-consuming for a day trip which is why I do not recommend it.
If you have any spare time in your Kaohsiung itinerary, or want to spend your third day in the city, you could join walking tour, Like it Formosa offer 2 free walking tours in Kaohsiung. These tours also look good:
To see a list of what to do in Kaohsiung, have a look at my full things to do in Kaohsiung blog post!
Accommodation in Kaohsiung.
If you’re looking for a hostel in Kaohsiung, I recommend FlyInn Hostel. I’ve stayed here twice. It’s rated very highly on Hostelworld and for good reason, it’s in a great location next to Sanduo Shopping District MRT, it’s been well designed with good private double and single rooms, and dorm rooms and I love that there is an all-girls floor with a well-kept, clean bathroom.
The best places to stay in Kaohsiung as being near an MRT station whether that’s Sanduo Shopping District or Formosa Boulevard in the centre so you can get everywhere in the City very easily and it will make planning your Kaohsiung itinerary easier.
If you want to stay in a hotel in Kaohsiung here are highly rated hotels for great prices:
AIRBNB IN KAOHSIUNG
Kaohsiung has some great Airbnb options like this which will make you feel like a local! To get $30.00 off your Airbnb stay(which is one night’s free accommodation in Taiwan!),open a new account using this promo code!
How To Get To & From Kaohsiung.
Trains are the best way to get around Taiwan. You can’t book trains online via Taiwan’s train system but you can book them online using 12GO Asia, the top transport booking platform in Asia. Search for your trains here:
Kaohsiung is well connected by train. On my first visit, I got a train from Hualien where I visited Taroko National Park on the East Coast.
Taichung, Tainan and Taipei to Kaohsiung are very easy too, you can get a high-speed train to Kaohsiung from Taipei in just a few hours. You can also get a high-speed train from Taichung and Tainan or the local train if you want to save money and have more time.
Outside of Taiwan
Kaohsiung has Taiwan’s second-largest airport with the second-highest number of flight routes. It’s very easy to get to and from Kaohsiung City to Kaohsiung Airport in 15 minutes on the Metro (it’s the fastest I’ve never got to an Airport I think!).
Popular flight routes to Kaohsiung are Singapore to Kaohsiung, Malaysia to Kaohsiung and the Philippines to Kaohsiung!
Need help getting to the airport??:
To SEE Kaohsiung, have a watch of my YouTube video here!
- Kaohsiung Travel Guides:
- The 3 Best Night Markets in Kaohsiung you Must Visit!
- How to Visit Cijin Island From Kaohsiung & Things To Do in Cijin Island!
- The Best Things To Do in Kaohsiung!
- Taiwan Travel Guides:
- 1 Week Taiwan Itinerary!
- How to Do a Day Trip to Taroko National Park via Bus from Hualien!
- 12 Taipei Travel Tips and Things To Know about Taipei!