Travel Taiwan: Top 3 Things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
January 5, 2020
Kaohsiung Taiwan, the last big city before Kenting National Park, is a great place to spend 2-3 days when traveling Taiwan. But…what to do? When is the best time to visit? How do we get around? Here are the top 3 Things to do in Kaohsiung Taiwan when you have only a few days (or hours).
1. Pier 2 Art Center: A Budget Friendly ½ Day Trip
If you’re visiting Kaohsiung there are many things to see such as the local day market, or Lotus Pond. There is also Kaohsiung Pier 2 Art Center. A place for travelers and backpackers to enjoy a different side of Kaohsiung. Built with leisurely walking and biking paths, it’s an easily accessible destination for traveling on a budget or with family. Take a few hours, and take a look at the art pieces spread between the boulevards.
Pier 2 Kaohsiung
A Little History About Pier 2 Art Center
Built in the 1970’s as a busy hub for imports and exports of Southern Taiwan, it has recently shifted from an industrial based area into a colorful service sector. Pier 2 is a place where tourist and travelers can come together to enjoy a difference scene in Kaohsiung. With the collision of artists and business entrepreneurs, Pier 2 Art Center has taken on a lively energy. We suggest you get ready to take some selfies…
When to Visit
When looking for hings to do in Kaohsiung Taiwan, Pier 2 Art Center is a great way to spend a half day. Located against the shipping piers, is the artistic warehouse cluster. There is a flow of boats, and people and bicycles in and around the studios and galleries and shopping boutiques. Pier 2 Art Center consists of three groups of warehouses laid out along two boulevards by the port. The first group features designer workshops, boutiques selling local and imported lifestyle products and trendy cafes. A flea market is also held here on weekend afternoons.
What Else Can You Do at Pier 2 Art Center?
The second group are former bicycle warehouses that now serve as a children’s performance area, and ice-cream parlour, Eslite bookstore and a cutesy stationery store. We suggest if you’d like to view some of the performances, to check out their website for up to date details. The third cluster has performance venues such as In Our Time, restaurants and installation works made with materials from the areas past.
The Takao Railway Museum is the first railway station in Kaohsiung built during the Japanese occupation. On November 9, 2008, the station was closed down to later be classified as a historical site by the Kaohsiung City Government. You can purchase a NT$149 pass which includes admission to a contemporary art gallery and a viewing tower, and a ride on a toy train. But, if you are on a tight budget, there are plenty of free things you could take part of.
This includes salon’s and exhibitions that happen on a monthly basis. Check out their webpage for more information about current exhibitions and events. Also take note that many of the designers’ workshops and boutiques at Pier 2 do not open until noon or 1pm.
Places like Pier 2 Art Center seem to have a timer on them. The cheap rent that drawn in the artists and creatives, the decisions to make some cash, the boutiques with the shiny things and keychains that start to move in, then the mass produced instagram-able art. People come, the look but, sometimes, don’t seem to see. Then, inevitably, the space turns in onto itself. But, you come and take a look for yourself.
“Great cooperation needs time and hardship to accumulate.”
Hours 10am-6pm Mon-Thu, to 8pm Fri-Sun and national holidays
Address: No.1 Dayong Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City 803, Taiwan
Contact: (07)5214899 or (07)5214881
2. Lotus Pond: Get Ready to see Some Temples
Along with Pier 2 Art Area, and the Dome of light, visiting Lotus Pond Kaohsiung is a great way to spend an evening. In the middle of a city life in Kaohsiung, Lotus Pond is a family friendly destination that offers some of the unique beauty only found here in Taiwan.
Located in Zuoying District, 5 km from city center, it is easily accessible to backpackers and travelers alike via bus, train, or scooter. There are two buses on the red line 51 and 35, which are located outside the MRT/High Speed Rail Zuoying Station that will take you very close to Lotus Pond. You can also walk from Zuoying Train Station after a short(ish) stroll and a delightful bridge crossing. We suggest this way if you are traveling and have some time. You can gain a great view of the city from the bridge and will get to see some of the life outside of the tourist sights along the way.
Top 5 Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear a good pair of shoes.
- Definitely walk around the pond. This will bring you away from the more touristy areas. But, make sure you bring a good pair of shoes because it is a few Km around.
- Go into the temples, but be respectful.
- The temples are beautiful. The locals take a lot of time caring for these special religious spaces, so clean up your trash, don’t talk loud, and (even in the subtropical heat) cover your shoulders before entering.
- The best time to go is between Summer and Fall (Aug-Oct).
- Yes, you are in Kaohsiung and it will still be quite warm during this time. But, water sports! There are many water-related activities you can join in on such as dragon boat races, waterboarding, or the pond jump trampoline. You can also enjoy a bubble milk tea and cool off with a shaved mango ice. Yumm.
- Go early to buy some cheap and unique fruit.
- The morning market opens around 7 AM. Stands line the streets with fresh and special asian fruits such as starfruit and durian. A cheap and healthy choice to start your day and a great way to connect with some local people. But, even if you miss the morning market, there are stands open during the day and also convenience stores (Taiwan has the most in the world per capita!) around every corner.
- Slow down.
- There is much to see at Lotus Pond. But, slow down. Remember, it isn’t about how many stamps you get in your passport, but rather the quality of experiences in your explorations.
Dragon and Tiger Pagoda This is the most iconic spot around Lotus Pond. On the southern edge of there are the red-and-yellow seven-story Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, completed in 1976 placed right in front of the temple Cihji Palace constructed in the 17th century. They’re connected to a temple by a zig-zaged bridge. Both dragon and tiger figures of these pagodas are two of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs. Many people believe that the dragon symbolises power and strength, people who are born in the year are believed to be smarter and more blessed than others, and on the other hand, tiger symbolises righteousness, prowess, and harmony in Chinese culture. Be sure to enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit through the tiger’s jaws. Otherwise, bad luck may come upon your future.
Inside both of the dragon and tiger, there are stories on both sides of the walls about heaven and hell to remind visitors to do good deeds during the life on earth. Once you are in the pagodas, you are embraced with epic detail of Chinese ancient architecture such as red color window frames, doors, pillars with spiral stairs all the way to seven floors, and ancient figure paintings on the top of windows. The Chinese culture aesthetics can be seen through every detail of the design in every corner of the building. The views from the top of both pagodas are stunning too with a bird-eye view of the lake.
Pei Chi Pavillion
Built to honor the Taoist deity Xuan Wu, the God-emperor of the North Pole, this statue is 72 meters tall and is one of the largest statues in the world, on water. Really. It is. See it at Lotus Pond Kaohsiung.
The pavilion at Lotus Pond belongs to the Zuoying Yuan Di Temple and the Feng Gu Palace. Construction began in 1991 and was completed in 1995. From the seats of the pavilion, you can enjoy an impressive panoramic view of the temples and pond. Just one of the interesting things to do in Kaohsiung Taiwan.
Legend has it…
According to legend, Xuan Wu, a Taoist God also known as the “Dark Warrior” or “Mysterious Warrior,” spoke through mediums to order the building of this pavilion. Xuan Wu is of the higher-ranking deities of Taoism and is referred to as a very powerful god, able to control the elements and capable of great magic. Walk up the staircase past the karaoke stage, past the small statued gods and get a closer look at the size of this figure. Lotus Pond, Kaohsiung is full of small treasures like this.
If you have the time after visiting Xuan Wu and Dragon and Tiger Pagoda, there are still many things to do in and around the Lotus Pond, Kaohsiung. From water sports to markets, to the unique wildlife (including some lakeside roosters), take a few hours, a day, or a weekend and experience something special.
Johan and I watched a man enter the temple, light an incense stick and say a prayer. Upon leaving he entered a 10NT coin into one of the machines out front. Take a look at what happens. There are many things to do in Kaohsiung Taiwan
Out came a little fortune.
Everything at Lotus Pond is man-made. The temples, the walkways, the lake. Living creatures seem to be drawn here, though. There are roosters by the lake, there are people wide-eyed gazing, and lotus flowers bursting from the depth of the water. In a city landscape, there is nothing like it around. Nature, even constructed, can bring living things closer together. Man goes to great lengths to create spaces to worship, to feel connected to something other. Lotus Pond is proof that we often build our own gardens for a chance to witness something otherworldly.
3. KAOHSIUNG’S DOME OF LIGHT: A GOOD STOP ON THE WAY
Artist Narcissus Quagliata. Watch this before you go. It may give you quite more to think about upon seeing the Dome of Light.
There are plenty of things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan when traveling or on vacation. Among Lotus Pond, Pier 2 Art Center and visiting the local markets, Kaohsiung’s world famous Dome of Light is something you should absolutely make time to see.
This is Kaohsiung’s busiest metro stop. This is where people, often buried in the ‘where are we going next?’ walk amongst the solemnity of light and stillness of the Dome of Light. The Dome of light is is the worlds largest glass instillation measuring 30 meters wide and constructed of 4,500 pieces of glass panel. Go take a look for yourself.
Some Worth Knowing Info on the Dome of Light
The Dome of Light is an attraction easily missed by visitors and tourists alike when looking for things to do in Kaohsiung Taiwan. In a city that expresses its cultural roots and contemporary history through public art pieces, like ones at Pier 2 Art Center, it is easy to see The Dome of Light, take a look, and move on. But, it is indeed worth more than a few moments of thought.
It took nearly four years to complete. The work was curated personally by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata and shipped from Germany for installation at the station. The dome tells the story of human life in four chronologically arranged themes:
Water: The Womb of Life
Earth: Prosperity and Growth
Light: The Creative Spirit
Fire: Destruction and Rebirth, with an overall message of love and tolerance.
Each of the dome’s four quadrants echoes themes of Taiwan’s own tumultuous political history. The imagery moves through colors and images of painful growth and inevitable destruction but turns to rebirth and hope of something other.
How to Get There
Situated at the Kaohsiung MRT transfer station for the Red Line and Orange Line (Formosa Boulevard Station) the Dome of Light can be found in the B1 level of the Formosa Boulevard Station.
For those who are new to the MRT stops in Taiwan, when you walk in there are kiosks that will ask you how much you want to put in (based on where you want to go it will be about NT$ per stop) and how many people.
It will then dispense a little plastic coin that you use to enter the train area. Do not lose it! When you get off, you drop the coin into the exit slot and away you go.
Once you are at the Orange and Red line transfer station, get out and make a left. You will have to take the elevator upstairs to get to the area. It will all seem quite mundane as far as MRT stops go, then you will come up to a fairly large opening where Kaohsiung’s Dome of Light resides. There are also some shops and a 7-11 around the station where you can grab a trinket or some quick food.