Known for its bustling harbor that is among the busiest in the world, Kaohsiung is a thriving metropolis where old-world pagodas can be explored in the same day as modern architectural marvels, such as the metro station known as the “Dome of Light.” A number of beautiful natural environments and wildlife preserves also lie within easy traveling distance of the city, and night markets and malls like the Dream Mall – the largest in Taiwan and the second largest in Asia – await those with a desire to shop.
The city’s aesthetic beauty has been heightened in recent years thanks to efforts by civic leaders, and visitors will also enjoy much less traffic congestion in comparison with other major Asian cities, including Taiwan’s capital of Taipei. Kaohsiung is also notable for its bicycle culture, which is greatly bolstered by the predominantly pleasant, flat topography surrounding the city. Many locals can be seen riding to and from their destinations as a part of their daily routine, and the local government has put significant effort into promoting a bicycle-friendly atmosphere. Bicycles are easily rentable throughout the city, and this can be a great way to sightsee without having to deal with the hassle of driving and renting a car. A particularly pleasant ride is to follow the scenic Love River north toward the city’s art district, though travelers wishing to get out of the city may enjoy exploring the coastal side of Shoushan Mountain,whichis famous for its wildlife population andharbors great numbers of mischievous monkeys.
While Kaohsiung has previously held a reputation as a purely industrial city, it has now formed into an exciting, trendy urban landscape with endless options in terms of activities. Being a major city located near miles of beautiful coastline and mountain environments means travelers might go for a trek or ATV ride in the morning and lounge on the beach in the afternoon before enjoying a gourmet meal in the city at night. There is no shortage of sights to see and activities to enjoy in this busy Taiwanese “Harbor Capital,” as it is known locally.
A handpicked selection of experiences endorsed by our experts. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, let us know, as our extensive network of local contacts can open many doors.
Fo Guang Shan Temple
Host to the New Year Festival of Light and Peace every Chinese New Year, Fo Guang Shan is Taiwan’s largest temple in which worship is given a modern twist. Within the temple, eight pagodas stand to symbolize the eight principle teachings of Buddha set forth in The Noble Eightfold Path, and a tall golden statue of Buddha stands at their center. Also housed in the temple is the Buddha Memorial Center, which is notable in how it embraces technology as a medium for religious education. Visitors may pray using touch screens to electronically transmit their messages to Buddha. This is an especially exciting, interactive way for younger children to be involved in the experience of touring the temple. When visiting Fo Guang Shan, it is important to remember that many locals come to the temple in serious religious observance, seeking peace and tranquility, so it is important to tour its spaces and grounds in a respectful manner without creating distractions.
Liuhe Night Market
One of the most popular markets in Taiwan and a hotbed for the nation’s burgeoning culinary culture of small bites and street foods, the Liuhe Night Market’s many vendors offer seafood, handicrafts, clothing, electronic gadgets, live animals, and much more. Local knowledge holds that the area originated when, in the 1950s, the Dagangpu part of Sinsing District was home to numerous food stalls that eventually developed into the modern, larger-scale Liuge Night Market. Local culinary favorites that the market has been known for since its early years include beef steak, papaya milk, and steamed salty shrimp, and many stalls also provide other forms of entertainment and games. The culture of street gaming, which is prevalent in Taiwan, can be seen in the form of both arcade-style games more typically found in train stations and the carnival-style game stalls that tempt crowds in the night markets with tests of strength and coordination.
This manmade body of water, which is named for the colorful flowers that adorn its surface, is also home to many other colorful temples and pagodas. Among some of the most notable are the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, the Beiji Pavilion, and the Confucian Temple. The last of these has an interesting history behind it, with the modern temple having been rebuilt in the 1970s after the original, which dated to the Qing Dynasty, was damaged during war. A stroll or bike ride around Lotus Lake is an ideal way to experience the sunrise or sunset, as these structures reminiscent of China’s ancient palaces are especially striking and colorful when viewed at these times of day. The lake is also ringed with vendors selling food and drink during the daytime, and live music performances are often held at night.
Love River Evening Cruise
The Love River runs through urban Kaohsiang and is lined and marked by numerous colorful bridges, landmarks, and attractions. Travelers will find many opportunities to hire boatmen to take them on tranquil gondola rides down the river, and at no time of day is this experience more rewarding than in the evening light or after dark. The city’s many lights – and riverside attractions like the Kaohsiung Bridge and the Holy Rosary Cathedral – are especially dazzling at night. Cafes also line both sides of the river, allowing gondola riders to stop and enjoy a cocktail or meal before the return ride. Couples will be especially interested in an evening float on the aptly named Love River, as the cooler night air and sights of the city foster a romantic ambiance.
The Dashu district ecological area is home to many relatively small, family-owned plots of agricultural land, and pineapples are an important crop for Taiwan’s economy. Many of these small pineapple plantations will allow visitors to enter and walk around the premises – an experience that anyone who appreciates fresh, locally sourced produce and agriculture will not want to pass up. When participating in one of these plantation tours, local farmers typically educate visitors on how to clear and fertilize the land ahead of planting, when to harvest, and how to eventually pluck the fruits. And of course, tour participants will have the chance to sample a fresh pineapple that has just been sliced open by one of the plantation workers.
The Dome of Light
One might not expect the world’s largest public stained glass installation to occupy a Subway station, but this work of art designed by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata does just that. This glass dome itself is divided into four sections: water, earth, light, and fire, and it takes the form of a yin-yang symbol with 4,500 separate panels. When visiting, travelers may want to time their visits around planned light shows that are put on by the Taiwanese metro system. These specific time slots typically last for five minutes and see numerous travelers stopping in their tracks to admire and shoot photos with their smartphones. There is an art shop located inside the station where visitors may learn even more about the installation and purchase memorabilia.
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas number among the classically styled temples that surround Lotus Lake. Standing seven stories and designed with yellow walls, red pillars, orange tilework, and two fearsome likenesses of a dragon and a tiger protruding from their respective sides. The two structures are equally fascinating to behold from the outside as from within. Upon descending the towers’ spiral staircases, visitors will notice artworks displayed on the walls of the pagodas, such as paintings of 12 Magi and the Jade Emperor’s palaces in the Tiger Tower. Along with being a vibrant example of Chinese architecture, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas are representative of Kaohsiang’s culture of art, architecture, and Buddhism.
Explore in-depth information, experiences and highlights by navigating to specific regions using the links below on the right.
Taiwan is often overlooked by the typical travelers – unfortunately for them. This 8-day adventure takes you snacking through night markets, to the fairytale-esque village of Jiufen, down the scenic east coast, hiking in a grand gorge, and face to face with the largest sitting bronze Buddha in Asia.
- 8 days / 7 nights
- Price Per Person
- From $9,800
Coastal Taiwanese Road Trip: Kaohsiung to Taipei
Taiwan is a beautiful, ecologically diverse island with miles of coastline to explore and a treasure trove of culturally interesting sites and monuments. On this seven-day itinerary that starts from Kaohsiung on the lower west side of the island and traces along a scenic coastal road heading north to Taipei, learn about this fascinating nation and how it came to be what it is today. Enjoy numerous stops at high oceanside cliffs, a visit to a local fishing village, and a full day spent touring the capital, Taipei, and its many museums, parks, and night markets.
- 7 days / 6 nights
- Price Per Person
- From $4,100
Taiwan Top to Bottom with Kids
Gather the family and head to Taiwan for a 9-day trip through the island’s most exciting cities and postcard-perfect natural landscapes that is sure to captivate and teach even the youngest traveler. Education and entertainment can be found hand in hand at interactive museums, cultural villages, ancient tea houses, community farms and temples throughout the island, from Taipei down to Kaosiung. Relish these good times with the whole family and come away with fond memories and new lessons for everyone.
- 9 days / 8 nights
- Price Per Person
- From $6,300
Grand Hi Lai Hotel
Situated in the metropolitan area of Kaohsiung City, The Grand Hi Lai Hotel has become a landmark structure in southern Taiwan. A tall neoclassical structure, the property offers 436 rooms furnished with understated muted tones and plush furniture, creating a homey cozy space. All rooms feature LCD TV, marble bathroom facilities, safe, minibar, and complimentary WiFi. There are 13 dining venues offering Chinese, Western, and Japanese restaurants. Other facilities and amenities include an exclusive Executive Club, fitness center, squash court, medical room, spa center, outdoor swimming pool, department store, spacious Banquet and Meeting rooms, parking spaces, and extensive art collection throughout the property.
Silk Club Hotel Kaohsiung
Whether you travel to Kaohsiung for history, nature, or simply to shop, this southern Taiwanese city is a tempting destination, and the luxurious Silks Club Hotel is a perfect home base for your travels. The hotel's airy, minimalist rooms start at 197 square feet, and guests can pick between two twins or a king-size bed. Linens are 400 thread count, while freestanding tubs and modern amenities like LED TVs, BOSE Sound Link Minis, and Wi-Fi come standard. Suites are fitted with oak floors and separate living rooms — some even have wet bars. UKAI, the world's only Michelin-star-awarded Teppanyaki restaurant, is located within the hotel; other tantalizing dishes like Wagyu beef and freshly caught seafood are also available. The In Jade Lounge is another venue where guests can enjoy fresh dishes, and Dassai Bar serves up premium sakes. With views spanning the New Bay Area, the hotel’s swimming pool beckons, as do the dry saunas and steam rooms for men and women, and a fitness room with premium gym equipment like Italian-imported Technogym treadmills and free weights.
Taiwan Goes Well With
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands - a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
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