Last month, I got a SMS from the sister and a proposition. Would I be interested to head to Kaohsiung for a Mayday concert? A few back-and-forth messages later and after the magic phrase “I will pay for the hotel stay” was muttered, I was booked for a trip to Kaohsiung! Say yay.
I was in Taiwan a couple of years ago on a package tour with the family. It was a 7-day trip, but somehow, we managed to “cover” most of the country including Kaohsiung. Not surprisingly though, given that we were shuttled around on the coach bus and places became merely destinations or the finishing line to a looooong ride, I don’t remember much about places we purported to have visited.
Disclaimer: List is curated (with much patience and effort) from a variety of online blogs and sites. I haven’t been to any of the following places. If you have and have comments, please leave us a comment or tweet us at @heykumo. Suggestions and recommendations will be much appreciated! If you like the guide, share it :D
Kaohsiung is served by the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit that consists of two lines. The Red line runs north/south from Gangshan South (南岡山站) to Xiaogang (小港站), while the Orange line serves the eastern/western parts of the city from Xiziwan (西子灣站) – Daliao (大寮站). Here is a handy route map.
Taiwanese are very friendly folks, but we found it much easier to travel/ask for directions in the country with Chinese addresses, so here, they are provided together with the English addresses.
– Mars 睦工廠 (Mars Lu Gong Chang)
Serves western-style brunch, burgers and drinks (caffeine and those of the alcoholic variety). Its specialty is said to be the Mars Poutine burger.
Address: No. 80, Dàyǒng Rd, Yan Cheng District / 高雄市鹽埕區大勇路80號. Access: Alight at Yan Cheng Pu (鹽埕埔) station. Take Exit 4. Open Tuesdays – Sundays 12-10pm. Cash only.
– 咖啡鳥咖啡館 Caffe Bird Coffee
Address: No. 24, Qīngnián 1st Road, Lingya District Kaohsiung City / 高雄市苓雅區青年一路24號. Access: Alight at the Cultural Center (文化中心) MRT station. Head to the Kaohsiung Cultural Center (文化中心), exit on Guang Zhou 1st Street (Linnan Street) then continue walking to the next Guang Hua 1st Road. Qingnian 1st Rd is parallel to Linnan Street. Mondays – Fridays: 8am – 8pm. Weekends: 8am – 6pm.
– 公寓咖啡 Apartment Café
The café is housed in a 40-year-old apartment building; it spans two floors, but seating is limited with only 8 tables on the upper floor (2 outdoors). Serves a variety of food including sandwiches and pasta, with their own “home made” coffee specials.
Address: No. 227, Rényì St, Qianjin District / 高雄市仁義街227號. Access: Nearest station is Central Park on the Red Line. Open daily 11am – midnight.
– here 底加
The café also holds craft workshops from time to time, so do check out their Facebook page for schedules if you’re interested.
Address: No. 11, Guāngfù 3rd St, Qianjin District / 高雄市前金區光復三街11號. Access: Alight at Central Park station. Look out for the big teddy bear at its entrance. Closed on Tuesdays. Free Wifi / Minimum charge NT70.
– Freeway 73 – Brunch & Snack
Café is actually named after its address, heh. Second floor of the café also doubles as an exhibition space.
Address: No. 73, Zìyóu 1st Rd, Sanmin District / 高雄市三民區自由一路73號. Access: The Kaohsiung Main Station is the nearest MRT station. Mondays, Wednesdays – Sundays: 8am – 6pm. Cash only / Minimum charge NT50.
– Camera Coffee
Photography enthusiasts are very welcome here of course, and the café is home to sporadic travel photography exhibitions. Coffee and homemade snacks/desserts are available here.
Address: No. 33, Mínquán St, Xinxing District / 高雄市新興區民權街33號. Access: It is a 20 minute walk from the Central Park MRT station (捷運中央公園站). Closed on Tuesdays; all other days: 2 – 10pm.
– 圓石 in tokyo
Come here for teas, and a hard-to-translate noodle dish called 丹波湯麵 (that looks like udon, but is apparently actually mee-tar-mak).
Address: No. 258, Chénggōng 1st Rd, Qianjin District / 高雄市前金區成功一路258號. Access: A short walk from the Hanshin Department Store (漢神百貨). Nearest MRT station would be Central Park MRT.
– 小巷貝果 (mouse bagels老鼠貝果)
The mouse bagels 老鼠貝果 originated somewhere in Hualien by a man who set out to make his own healthier version of the bagel and hawks them from his trishaw which he rides around Hualien (and sometimes beyond). The Kaohsiung rendition of the mouse bagels trishaw makes its rounds every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4-6pm. Check out its route here.
Address: No. 16, Lane 198, Línsēnyī Rd, Xinxing District / 林森一路198巷16號. Access: Alight at the Formosa Boulevard station (美麗島站) and take exit 8. Fridays – Sundays: 11am – 8pm.
– 小樹的家 Café & Books
小樹的家 (Xiao Shu De Jia), whose name translates to Little Tree’s House, wears its kid-friendliness proudly. The décor is bright and friendly, and its bookshelves are stocked with children’s books. There is even a storytelling session for kids and adults alike every Wednesday and Saturday from 4-4.30pm.
Address: No. 16, Línnán Street, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City / 高雄市苓雅區林南街16號. Access: The café is near the Kaohsiung Cultural Center (文化中心). Come out from the entrance of the centre on Guang Zhou 1st Street (廣州一街) and you should be on Linnan Street. Open Tuesdays – Fridays from 12-9pm, Saturdays & Sundays from 10am – 6pm. Closed on Mondays and every last Sunday of the month.
– 小花花手作雜貨店 / 小餅乾 & 小兔子店 Biscuit & Rabbit
Looks like a lovely zakka slash café. Looking forward to visiting this place.
Address: No. 23, Lane 4, Qīngniányī Rd, Lingya District / 高雄市青年一路4巷23號 Access: Take the train to the Cultural Center station. Mondays – Fridays: 12-9pm. Saturdays: 12-10pm. Sundays: 12-6pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Just found out that they will be shuttering at the end of December :( Visit if you can!
– Little Thing 小事情咖啡館: Coffee and Tea House
Address: No. 101, Wénwǔ 3rd St, Qianjin District / 高雄市前金區文武三街101. Access: Open daily from 9am – 10pm. Cash only.
– 李氏商行 Lee & Daughters Food+Living
This popular restaurant offers all day brunch. Take a look at their food offerings here.
Address: No. 322, Fújiàn St, Lingya District / 高雄市苓雅區福建街322號1樓. Access: Alight at the Cultural Center (文化中心) MRT station. Head to the Kaohsiung Cultural Center (文化中心), exit on Guang Zhou 1st Street (Linnan Street) then continue walking to the next Guang Hua 1st Road. Fujian Street is two lanes parallel to the road. Mondays – Fridays: 8am – 5.30pm. Sundays: 8am – 4pm. Closed on Thursdays. Seating is very limited and reservations are strongly recommended (07) 222-8836.
Well-known for its seafood porridge and smelly beancurd.
Address: No. 23, Qīxián 1st Rd, Xinxing District / 高雄市新興區七賢一路23號. Access: 4pm-midnight.
In the rare event that I may crave Japanese food, this looks like a very nice place to satisfy those fishy cravings.
Address: No. 27, Yǒngmíng St, Lingya District / 高雄市苓雅區永明街27號1樓. Access: A 3 minute walk from the Hanshin Department Store. Closed on Tuesdays. All other days: 12-2.30pm, 6-9.30pm.
– 郭家肉粽 (oh-my-look-at-the-site)
Address: No. 19, Běidǒu St, Yancheng District / 高雄市鹽埕區北斗街19號. Access: Mondays: 7pm-midnight. Tuesdays – Sundays: 12pm-midnight. Look out for their signboard – it is that big bucket of dumplings.
Address: No. 168, Qīxián 3rd Rd, Yancheng District / 高雄市鹽埕區七賢三路168號. Access: Take the train to Yan Cheng Pu (鹽埕埔) station. 8am-8pm.
– Cijin Island 旗津
The Cijin district is a 15 minute ferry ride from Kaohsiung. Includes a lighthouse, temples, beaches and seafood! Sold. Access: From Kaohsiung Main Station, take bus 248 to the Gushan ferry pier. If you’re using the train, take it to Sizihwan station (西子灣站). NT30 for a return trip.
– 六合夜市 Liuhe Night Market
I love the country’s night markets and wouldn’t be missing Kaohsiung’s for sure. Access: Alight at Formosa Boulevard station and take exit 11. But oh my if you only have time for one night market, skip Liuhe and go to Ruifeng instead.
– 瑞豐夜市 Ruifeng Night Market
This is by far the superior night market in Kaohsiung. Liuhe, in comparison, is minuscule. While most night markets in Taiwan runs only one (long) street, Ruifeng employs a different layout and is instead rows and rows and rows of stalls. Most stalls hawk the usual night market fare – but the scale here is pretty darn impressive. Try the seafood porridge (海產粥) and the grilled squid. Warning though, it can get incredibly crowded. Access: Take the train to Kaohsiung Arena MRT (巨蛋站) and take exit 1. Closed Mondays and Wednesdays.
– 小琉球 Little Ryukyu/Liuqiu
Little Ryukyu is Taiwan’s only coral island, and it looks quite amazing really. Access: Little Ryukyu is actually in Ping Tung county, but is accessible from Kaohsiung by taking a 45 minute bus ride from the Chung Nan bus depot near the Kaohsiung Main Station to Donggang (東港) and then taking a 40-45 minute ferry ride (NT380-410 for a return trip). Please check the site for ferry schedules (Traffic > Sailing Schedule).
– 驳二艺术区 The Pier-2 Art Center
The Pier-2 Art Center is a cluster of old warehouses converted into art and exhibition spaces.
Address: No. 1, Dàyǒng Rd, Yancheng District / 高雄市鹽埕區大勇路1號. Access: Take the train to Yan Cheng Pu (鹽埕埔) station and use exit 1. Walk along Dayong Road for 5 minutes to arrive at the Pier-2. Mondays – Thursdays: 10am-6pm. Fridays-Sundays: 10am-8pm.
– 打狗鐵道故事館 Takao Railway Museum
Address: No. 32, Gǔshān 1st Rd, Gushan District / 高雄市鼓山區鼓山一路32號 Access: Take the train to Sizihwan station (西子灣站). Closed on Mondays. Tuesdays-Sundays: 10am-6pm.
– Sizihwan Bay 西子灣
Head to Sizihwan Bay, one of Kaohsiung’s top scenic spots, for the sunset.
– 田寮月世界 Tianliao Moon World
While the literal translation of 月世界 is “moon world”, the correct term for it is actually the “badlands” (a less attractive term, for sure). The badlands is “a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water” (source). The Tianliao Moon World sits between Chongde Village and Gutin Village of Tianliao District – and is one of Taiwan’s four badlands. Access: Take the train to Ciaotou station (橋頭火車站) and then take Red-70 bus from exit 2 to the Moon World bus stop.
Formerly a militant dependents’s village. Upon learning that the area was going to be torn down, two university students, with the blessings of the village inhabitants, took to creating art for and about the place. Unfortunately, the area is due for demolition November 2012. I was super bummed to find out that I’m not going to make it in time to visit this place. (Update: It was still open when I visited in December 2012. I wrote an entry about my visit.)
You can see pictures of the area here.
– Dream Mall
If the force of shopping is strong with you, this largest mall in Taiwan should make you happy. Also, it has a Hello Kitty ferris wheel on its roof. Access: Take the MRT to Kaisyuan station (凱旋站). There is a shuttle bus from exit 1.
– 高雄仁的家 Gao Xiong Ren De Jia
This is a no-frills backpacker B&B near the airport. What it lacks in amenities, I think, it makes up for in heart. Place comes highly recommended by independent travel guides. Their Facebook page gives a pretty good idea of what/how the place is :)
– Hotel Holiday Garden 高雄華園飯店
According to the site, the hotel is a brief 3 minute walk from the City Council (市議會) MRT station. In reality, it takes about 5-8 minutes to walk from the station to the hotel. Longer, if you’re laden with shopping bags. And it will certainly feel longer when you’re underdressed for a bout of cold, windy weather. But nevertheless, it is a pleasant enough walk most of the time. Even though it is just one stop from the interchange station (Formosa Boulevard), I think it may be more convenient to stay near the Formosa station so that you save time changing trains.
The hotel was nice, in a functional but not-very-memorable way. The room we had was large and bright, with a big bathroom. Service was prompt and courteous. Plus points: adapter plugs are provided (but you should bring your own if you have multiple appliances, and who doesn’t?), bath toiletries are decent, bed is comfortable and curtains are heavy enough to block out allllll light. Minus points: I don’t dig the pillows and the clothing hook in the bathroom sits just above the toilet bowl.