Kaohsiung is a port city in southern Taiwan that is home to nearly 3 million people! It is a popular tourist destination and for good reason. It has a lot of personality and is home to some of the best tourist attractions in Taiwan.
There are tons of things to do in Kaohsiung, and you could easily spend three or more days in Kaohsiung and still not see it all. This post will cover the 10 things in Kaohsiung you won’t want to miss!
01 | Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas are an iconic Kaohsiung landmark and the first picture to pop up when you Google Kaohsiung. They’re two 7 story pagodas that are said to reverse your fortune and give you good luck.
You approach the pagodas by walking down a zig-zagging path, and you enter through the mouth of the dragon and exit through the mouth of the tiger. Once you’ve exited the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, you’ll have good fortune!
The pagodas are each 7 stories tall, and you’re able to climb to the top of them to get a stunning view of lotus pond and Cihji Palace. I highly recommend climbing to at least the 4th or 5th story to get a great view. Any higher than that, and the view is basically the same no matter what floor you’re one.
It is free to visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, but donations are accepted. There is a donation box as you enter the Dragon Pagoda and one when you exit the Tiger Pagoda.
02 | Fo Guang Shan Monastery
Fo Guang Shan Monastery is the birthplace of the Fo Guang Shan religion. It is a form of modern, humanistic Buddhism that is widely practiced all over the world. It is a 45-minute bus ride from the centre of Kaohsiung but well worth the effort to get there.
Fo Guang Shan is composed of two sections: the monastery and the Buddha museum. The Buddha museum is the most popular, but the monastery is worth visiting as well.
The Buddha museum is home to the largest bronze sitting Buddha statue in the world. It is 108 meters tall!
The monastery features the tallest standing Buddha statue in Southeast Asia, and it is surrounded by 480 smaller Buddha statues.
Both sights are breathtaking!
Fo Guang Shan also has a multi-level museum you can visit that shares information about Buddhist traditions, festivals, and artwork. There are also a number of temples you can pray at if you wish.
It is free to visit Fo Guang Shan. There are donation boxes throughout the property, but you’ll never be pressured to donate if you don’t want to.
03 | Liuhe Night Market
Liuhe Night Market is the most famous and popular night market in Kaohsiung and is one of the most popular things to do in Kaohsiung.
It is a multi-block night market that features all of the most popular Taiwanese street food. You can find pepper buns, stinky tofu, egg rolls, and oyster omelets.
My personal favorite dish is the corn on the cob. It is amazing how delicious such a simple food tastes when it is fresh and has the right spice mixture.
Liuhe Night Market is technically a pedestrian-only market, but people drive through on their motorbikes and scooters all the time. They’re pretty good at dodging pedestrians, but it is best to keep an eye out form them as you’re strolling through the market.
The market is open every evening from 6 pm onwards. It is open quite late into the night, so you don’t need to worry about getting there right when it opens. Most of the stalls are just starting to set up when the market opens at 6 pm.
04 | Martyrs’ Shrine
The Martyrs‘ Shrine is a lesser-known attraction, but it is one of the best things to do in Kaohsiung and shouldn’t be missed.
It is was originally a Japanese war base but has been repurposed as a shrine to honor fallen soldiers. The shrine itself is gorgeous and worth exploring, but the view is the star of the show.
You get a stunning view of Kaohsiung and the harbor from the hill the Martyrs’ Shrine is on. You’re able to see Cijin Island and the concrete jungle of Kaohsiung city. The juxtaposition of skyscrapers and natural beauty of the water and island is stunning and well worth the walk up the hill.
05 | Pier-2 Art Centre
Pier-2 Art Centre is a hip neighborhood in western Kaohsiung and is included in nearly every list of things to do in Kaohsiung. It is popular with both locals and tourists alike.
The neighborhood was originally a warehouse district, but local artists flocked to the area and fought for their right to be there. It was remade into an art district in 2006 and has been an exhibition center ever since.
It is basically an outdoor art exhibit where you’re able to get up close and personal with large pieces of artwork. The artwork ranges from abstract pieces to statues based on pop culture and everything in between.
There are plenty of art galleries you can visit whether or not you’re in the market to purchase a piece of art or not. The exhibits change regularly, so you’ll always find new artwork whenever you visit.
06 | Cijin Island
Cijin Island is one of the most popular things to do in Kaohsiung and should be on everybody’s Kaohsiung itinerary. It is also located in western Kaohsiung, and the island is just a short 5-minute ferry ride from the city.
You can rent a bike and cycle around Cijin Island. There are plenty of attractions to see on the island, and you can easily spend half a day or more there.
The most popular attractions on Cijin Island include the lighthouse, old fort, Cijin tunnel, beach, and Rainbow Church.
The Rainbow Church is a colorful piece of art featuring the ocean as its backdrop and is a very popular spot to take Instagram photos. It isn’t actually a place of worship despite what its name suggests.
The island also has some of the best-shaved ice in all of Taiwan. Shaved ice is a very popular Taiwanese dessert made of ice, condensed milk, and mangos. It is delicious and incredibly refreshing in the Taiwan humidity.
There are a number of shaved ice stores along the main road near the ferry, and I highly recommend you stop in for a snack before heading back to Kaohsiung.
All of the attractions on Cijin Island are free, so all you’ll have to pay for is a bike rental if you want to cycle around the island.
07 | Love River
Love River is a major river that flows through Kaohsiung from north to south. The river connects with Kaohsiung harbor and is an important part of the city both economically and culturally.
Small boats that seat 15 take tourists up and down the river. They are a great way to see the river without having to walk along the river bank. The river is quite long, so if you want to see most of it, taking a boat tour is your best option.
There are also a number of outdoor cafes along the river. They often feature live music and are a great place to sit, relax, and enjoy the beauty of the river.
At night in a park just off the river, there is a market. It is less touristy than many of the other night markets in Kaohsiung, so it is a great way to get a better taste of the local culture. You can find all the traditional Taiwanese street food you can find at any other market, but it is less crowded.
08 | Formosa Boulevard Station
Formosa Boulevard Station is the main metro station in Kaohsiung. It is the only metro station that both the red line and orange line intersect, and you can transfer from one line to the other.
On the main level of Formosa Boulevard Station before you pass through the turnstiles, there is the dome of lights. The dome of lights is the largest piece of glass artwork in the world. It is over 2,000 meters in size and is made up of 4,500 panes of glass.
The dome of lights is unlike anything else you’ve ever seen before!
The dome of lights has two large pillars created from red and orange glass art and a huge glass art ceiling display. The ceiling display is full of bright, eye-catching colours like yellow, green, purple, orange and blue.
The dome of lights is, interestingly, a wedding venue as well. You would get some stunning photos, but it is probably a bit weird to have a bunch of metro users walking through your wedding venue. But to each their own.
Whether you’re getting wedding pictures there or not, Formosa Boulevard is a must-see attraction in Kaohsiung and shouldn’t be missed.
09 | Pei Chi Pavilion
The Pei Chi Pavilion is located in the lotus pond scenic area just a few hundred meters from the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. It is my personal favorite attraction in the lotus pond scenic area, which surprised me because I thought I would enjoy the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas the most.
The Pei Chi Pavilion honors the Taoist god of the North Pole and is the largest statue on the water in Southeast Asia. It is an impressive 72 meters tall, and you can see it from basically wherever you are in the lotus pond area.
The statue is full of bright colors, and the statue itself is incredibly detailed. You can tell that a lot of time and attention to detail went into each and every aspect of the statue.
There are a number of temples at the base of the statue where you can pray if you choose. You aren’t able to photograph the temples as they are meant for worship, not tourists, but you can walk past them and admire their beauty.
The pavilion is free to visit, but, again, there are a number of donation boxes both along the bridge leading to the Pei Chi Pavilion and at the statue itself.
10 | Ruifeng Night Market
Ruifeng is another very popular night market in Kaohsiung. It is less touristy than Liuhe, so it is a great alternative for people who are looking to visit a more authentic and local night market.
It is still one of the most popular things to do in Kaohsiung, so it is by no means quiet, but it is less busy than Liuhe Night Market.
I personally prefer Ruifeng Night Market to Liuhe Night Market. I think the layout is better, and it is much larger.
Ruifeng covers 3,000 meters of property, so you get a wide variety of stalls and food options.
There are also a few stalls that offer carnival games like darts and knocking jugs down. The prizes are small, but the games are quite fun to play- especially if you have a friend to play them with! The addition of carnival games is a nice way to break up your time at the market and digest your food between snacks!
Should you visit Kaohsiung?
Kaohsiung is a large city, and there are a variety of things to do in Kaohsiung no matter what your interests are. There are sights for art lovers, culture lovers, nature lovers, and foodies. The city really has it all!
This list has covered the best and most popular things to do in Kaohsiung. The best part is that everything on this list is free to enter! The only thing you will have to pay for is food and transportation. It doesn’t get better than that.
I have personally done and enjoyed every single thing on this list and would recommend each and every one of them to my friends and family.
Kaohsiung is a really special city, and I highly recommend you add it to your Taiwan itinerary. You won’t regret it!
This is a guest post by Erica Riley. Erica is an avid solo traveler who has been to over 40 countries. She loves spending long periods of time in each country to get a sense of the country and culture. Erica’s favourite travel activities include attending local theatre and dance performances, wandering through museums, eating way too much food, and riding every rollercoaster she comes across.