Kaohsiung the biggest port city in Taiwan deserves a place on your Taiwan itinerary. It’s laid back and low key but there’s still exciting food and places to discover at every turn. The city’s fantastic public bike system (the first hour is free) will see you zipping down lanes to find mom and pop run dumpling restaurants, along the Love River and across town for a glass of soy bean milk. It makes exploring such a breeze that you might find yourself staying longer in Kaohsiung than intended- it’s one of those places that invites you to live like a local for a while. But, if you only have a couple of days, here’s our travel guide on things to do in Kaohsiung…
Note: all addresses & directions for restaurants, activities and sights are listed at the bottom of this post.
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Day 1 Morning
Start your day with a traditional Taiwanese breakfast but make sure you start early-most of these joints are done and dusted by 10am. The place to eat is Guo Mao Lai Lai Doujiang where queues form, eager to load up on bowls of savoury and sweet soy bean milk (doujiang), tiao (savoury donuts) and meat filled buns. The savoury doujiang is a must eat here- bowls of soy bean milk with a curd like texture is mixed with sesame oil, spring onion, drizzled with chilli oil and topped with tiny crunchy shrimp. Sure to get all your engines firing AND it’s a cheap meal, around 80TWD/$2.50USD for two people.
Once you’ve broken your fast, catch the MRT to Zuoying Station and head to Lotus Pond. This large man-made lake is dotted with pagodas and temples, the most famous being the Dragon and Tiger temples which are both worthy of a photo op. Stretch your legs and walk to the temples which will take you half way around the lake, stopping for a bubble tea on your stroll. Pick up a public bike near the Dragon and Tiger temples after you’ve finished admiring the buildings and enjoy a leisurely cycle back to the MRT station (there is a bike stand outside the MRT station).
You’ll be starving after your day of wandering around Lotus Pond so make like the locals and head to Ruifeng Night Market for a progressive street food dinner. It may be smaller than its counterparts in other Taiwanese cities but there are just as many tasty snacks to discover. The giant deep fried chicken fillets at Angel’s are delicious as are the fried rice stuffed chicken wings! Bypass the touristy Liuhe night market which is pricier and seems to be geared towards big tour groups.
Day 2 Morning
Breakfast this morning is baskets of xiao long bao- steamed soup dumplings, a perennial favourite in Taiwan. On the corner of a lane in a local part of town you’ll find Yonghe Steamed Dumplings a premises made up of a few metal tables under an awning. The xiao long bao here contain a coarsely chopped pork filling and the dumplings are loaded with soup. We could easily eat 2 or 3 baskets each. Go crazy!
You’ll be groaning from the number of dumplings you’ll have consumed so if you’re in the mood to walk them off it’s about 2.6km/1.6miles to the Cijin Island ferry pier. Otherwise walk about 5 minutes to Yanchengpu MRT station and its one station’s ride to Sizihwan MRT, a stones throw from the ferry terminal.
Cijin Island, a district of Kaohsiung is a ten minute ferry ride away. This small island will offer you an afternoon of seafood, a fort and a lighthouse to explore and even a swim if you fancy it at the beach. The best way to get around the island is to hire a bicycle- the tandems are a bit of fun and there are even 4 person electric bikes to hire. Ride to the lighthouse and fort first for great views of the island and Kaohsiung and then cycle along the path that lines the beach.
If you’re feeling peckish along the way sample Cijin Island’s famous snack of chopped tomatoes dipped in gingery sweet sauce or if you can find fish ball soup, give that a go, the fish balls contain meaty pieces of fish and it makes for a light but satisfying lunch.
Once you’ve had your fill of Cijin Island take the ferry back to Kaohsiung and stop for afternoon tea at one of the numerous snow ice restaurants outside the exit to the ferry terminal. You get double dessert if you get a creme caramel topped one! It’ll be late afternoon by this time and you’ll want a spot to take in sunset so walk up to the former British Consulate which sits high up on a hill, it should take you about 15 minutes. Although you have to pay to get into the grounds of the old consulate, the surrounding areas do just as well as spots to sit and farewell the day’s light.
You’ve managed to pack a lot into your day and after all that gallivanting about town you’ll no doubt be getting hungry again. You may have noticed 24 hour economy restaurants around the place- restaurants that are buffets of sorts with vegetable dishes, soup, whole fish and casseroles where you pay by the portion (you’ll pay approximately 120TWD per person). Make a beeline for one of these (we ate at a good one here) and load up your tray. It’s a good way to sample a more homely style of Taiwanese cooking and you’ll find these places very popular with the locals.
48 hours in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, DONE!
We hope this Kaohsiung travel guide has helped you eat and explore like a traveller, not a tourist!
Heading to Taipei? Check out our 48 Hours in Taipei travel guide and you might find our Must Eats Taiwan post handy too!
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One of Kaohsiung’s best attributes are the city’s public bikes. Bike stations are located all over the city and the first hour is free. The next 30 minutes costs 10TWD/$0.30USD and then it’s 20TWD/$0.60USD for every 60 minutes thereafter. To use this service you need a registered Easypass (see below) or a credit card. You’ll find yourself using the bikes constantly and it makes getting around the city a real breeze https://www.c-bike.com.tw/english/
Chances are you’ll probably have purchased an Easypass to use whilst you’re in Taiwan. These handy transport cards let you load money onto them and use them all over Taiwan on buses and the MRT. The Easypass card can be purchased for 100TWD/$3USD. Any amount left on the card can be refunded for a 20TWD/$0.45USD fee at any MRT station. Using an Easypass gives you 20% off MRT tickets plus you can use it on most buses around Taiwan and at 7/11’s and Family Marts.
We use the app Maps.Me to guide us around cities by GPS using offline maps.
No matter where you’re travelling to we always recommend you have travel insurance. We use and love World Nomads. The great thing about them is that you can purchase travel insurance while you’re already travelling!
Chasing a Plate’s Pricing Guide
$ under 200TWD/ $6USD for 2 pax
$$ 300-500TWD/ $9-15USD for 2 pax
Guo Mao Lai Lai Doujiang $
No.186, Liuhe 2nd Road, Kaohsiung
Closed on Sunday
Yonghe Steamed Dumpling $
Lane 99, Dayong Rd, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung
11:00am to 8:00pm
24 Hour Economy Restaurant $-$$
No. 117, Zili 2nd Rd, Qianjin District, Kaohsiung
Explore like a traveller:
Ruifeng Night Market $-$$
Closed Monday and Wednesday
Open 5:00pm to 1:00am
Closest MRT Station: Kaohsiung Arena Station
Take the Metro to Sizihwan, take exit 1 and follow the signposts to the ferry terminal.
Former British Consulate at Takao
No. 20, Lianhai Rd, Gushan District, Kaohsiung