Blending Kaohsiung’s Old and New — A 2D1N Itinerary14 May, 2016
With tall, sleek skyscrapers looming over each city street, it is hard to imagine what Kaohsiung (Gaoxiong, 高雄市) used to be like as a small trading village. Today, the city skyline bursts into breathtakingly coloured lights at night, with a hulking presence of the 85-storey Tuntex Sky Tower. Fortunately, Kaohsiung has preserved pockets of its rich vein of history dating back to the 17th century, and this is how you can enjoy the very best of two worlds in a 2D1N itinerary.
1. 9:30AM: Leave your Luggage at your Accommodation
Located just 24 minutes away from the Kaohsiung International Airport by train, Japanese-run Ahiruyah Guest House is renowned for its affordable rates, cleanliness, and helpful staff. From Kaohsiung International Airport, you can reach Formosa Boulevard via the red line in 7 train stops. Ahiruyah Guest House is just a 3-minute walk away from the station (No.10 exit). Alternatively, if you’re getting to Kaohsiung from another part of Taiwan, you can take the High Speed Rail (HSR) to the HSR terminal – Kaohsiung Railway Station, from which you can transfer to the red line to get to Formosa Boulevard as well.
This quaint guesthouse serves as an ideal accommodation given its convenient location. It is also surrounded by several scenic spots so that you can have an excellent morning view to wake up to. A typical double room costs about NT$1600 (S$67) per room for 2 persons.
Ahiruyah Guest House
Address: No. 158, Liuhe 1st Road, Xinxing District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 800
Telephone No.: +886 963 806 800
Check-in Hours: 3.00PM-10.00PM
Check-out Hours: 11.00AM
2. 10AM: Visit Lotus Pond
At 42 hectares, the Lotus Pond is the largest of its kind in Kaohsiung’s Zuoying district. It has had its roots all the way back in 1686, starting off as a tiny pond next to a temple built by the mayor of the time. After over 300 years and two recent expansions, it is now home to more than 20 temples dedicated to different deities. As you navigate through the ancient Chinese pagodas, you may notice snippets of life in Chinese dynasties, be it in the form of the ubiquitous red pillars, or the hexagonal windows featured in the homes of many Chinese television serials.
To get to Lotus Pond, you can take the red line from Formusa Boulevard Station to the Ecological District. At Ecological District, take the train to 蓮池潭. You’ll have to walk about 900 metres to reach the pond. Total travel time is about 41 minutes.
Address: No.9, Liantian Road, Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 813
Telephone No.: +886 7 581 0146
Opening Hours: Daily 9.00AM – 6.00PM, but you can visit anytime
3. 11.45AM: Walk Down Sanfong Jhong Street
If you are a fan of George Orwell’s works, you will be forgiven for mistaking the inner lanes of Sanfong Jhong Street —better known as Sanfong Central Street— for a backdrop of a dystopian novel. The street is a little cramped, flooded with tungsten bulbs, people, noise, and wares. Being immersed in it however, makes for a better experience than anticipated. Once a hotspot for exotic foreign goods, Sanfong Central Street is now home to about 100 shops spread across a 400-metre stretch. Rows of grocery items like seafood, Chinese herbs, tea leaves, and confectionary are laid out for potential customers.
Produce aside, there are all manners of food stalls littered around the vicinity offering anything from Taiwanese roasted duck to deep fried pancakes, so keep your eyes peeled for anything that may rouse your palate for lunch.
To get from Lotus Pond to Sanfong Central Street, you can take the bus 205 from 左營市場 to 三鳳中街. The journey will take about 1 hour.
Sanfong Central Street
Address: Sanfong Central Street, Sanmin District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 807
Opening Hours: Daily 9.00AM – 10.00PM
4. 2PM: Shop Till You Drop at Dream Mall
With a happy tummy, it is now time for some shopping! Since its grand opening in 2007, Dream Mall attracts 18 million tourists annually, and has over 800 resident manufacturers filling every inch of its 11-storey premise. You can expect to find a lot of mid-range fashion outlets, some high-end brands, a huge selection of Japanese restaurants and a cinema. The highlight of this mall is the rooftop amusement park that features a Ferris wheel overlooking Kaohsiung’s seascape and townscape.
At Dream Mall, you can shop till your heart’s content before having your dinner at one of the many Japanese restaurants available there. Ikki is well known for its fresh seasonal sashimi that foodies are sure to love; they also offer vegetarian options on their menu. But if you’re more of a shabu-shabu or sukiyaki kind of person, Mo-Mo Paradise won’t disappoint.
To get to Dream Mall, you will have to walk for about 1km or take a taxi from Sanfong Central Street to arrive at Kaohsiung Main Station. Take the red line, and stop at Kaohsiung MRT Shihja Station. Expect to walk about 650 metres to arrive at the mall. The journey will take you about 30 minutes.
Address: No. 789, Zhonghua 5th Road, Qianzhen District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 806
Telephone No.: +886 7 973 3888
Opening Hours: Mon – Thu 11.00AM – 10.00PM, Fri 11.00AM – 10.30PM, Sat 10.30AM – 10.30PM, Sun 10.30AM – 10.00PM
5. 7PM: Stroll Along the Heart of Love River
Love River, or Ai He (爱河) was once used as a water source for irrigation, a transport channel for lumber, and even a waste dump in Taiwan’s early years of industrialization. After a massive purification effort, the river now looks as demure as it sounds. Today, it is one of the focal points of Kaohsiung’s tourism industry — its iconic bridges serve both leisure cyclists and lovelorn tourists looking for a quiet respite from the bustling city. To fully take in its dazzling beauty, it is highly recommended to visit Heart of Love River in the evening.
To get from Dream Mall to Heart of Love River, you can take the red line from Kaohsiung MRT Shihjia Station to Kaohsiung Main Station. It will take about a total of 20 minutes to reach the river.
Heart of Love River
Address: Heart of Love River, Sanmin District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 807
After a long and tiring day out exploring the beautiful city of Kaohsiung, it’s time to head back to your hotel for a relaxing and well-deserved rest!
1. 10AM: Visit Shoushan National Nature Park
At the foot of one of Taiwanese civilisation’s oldest ruins, the Shoushan National Nature Park is home to 800 species of plants, 117 species of birds, and many other mammals, reptiles and insects. Its trails are rather extensive and the perfect way for nature lovers to immerse themselves in Kaohsiung’s natural beauty. Remember to pack some snacks or finger food with you as the hike might take a while and you might get hungry along the way!
You can get to Shoushan National Nature Park from Ahiruyah Guest House in 30 minutes by public transport or in 15 minutes via cab. With public transport, it will require quite a lot of walking. If you’re heading there by public transport, you can take the orange line from Formosa Boulevard to Yanchengpu (2 stops) and walk 1.7km to the nature park.
Shoushan National Nature Park
Address: No. 350, Wanshou Road, Gushan District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 804
Telephone No.: +886 7 262 0610
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 8.30AM – 5.30PM
2. 1.30PM: Check out Pier-2 Art Center
Located just behind the shores of Kaohsiung Harbour, the plot of land that Pier-2 occupies is now a symbol of resilience by a band of local artists who persistently injected creativity into the premise, eventually transforming it into a prominent destination for both tourists and locals alike. As you wander around the premise, you will encounter numerous art pieces like the “3D Train Station”, “Braadspil”, and the whimsical “Sit here, do nothing”.
Some exhibitions require passes to enter – click here for the different passes available. If you are seeking for a lunch spot, there are bistros and restaurants nearby.
One of which would be Artco.C6, the culinary equivalent of the booming art movement. It is raved about for its style and flavourful fusion (fusion of Asian & European) cuisine. Well-known dishes include their Goose Liver Walnut Claypot Rice (鵝肝松露燉飯) and Dried Scallop Green Bean Butter Claypot Rice (干貝青豆奶油燉飯). It is recommended that you book in advance and their service is known to be good, with friendly staff.
To get from Shaoshan National Nature Park to Pier-2 Art Center, we would suggest to take a cab, as it is only 2.5 km away and public transport is not very accessible from the Shaoshan National Park to Pier-2. The cab ride will take about 8 minutes.
Pier-2 Art Center
Address: No.1, Dayong Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 803
Telephone No.: +886 7 521 4899
Opening Hours: Mon – Thu 10.00AM – 6.00PM, Fri – Sun 10.00AM – 8.00PM
Address: No.2, Dayi Street, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 803
Telephone No.: +886 7 521 1936
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30AM – 10.00PM
3. 3.30PM: Enjoy the Panoramic View at the Tuntex Sky Tower
Ascend the apex of Kaohsiung’s modern architectural feat — the Tuntex Sky Tower. Until Taipei 101 usurped the throne in 2004, the Tuntex Sky Tower was originally the tallest skyscraper in Taiwan. Its dark aqua green colour tone and Tetris piece-like shape makes it extremely recognizable to anyone approaching the city.
It costs NT$100 (S$4.20) to access the tower’s observation deck on the 75th floor. You will be treated to what is arguably the city’s best sunset views overlooking Kaohsiung Harbour, Love River, and the rest of the city.
To get from Pier-2 Art Center to Tuntex Sky Tower, take the orange line train from Yanchengpu to Formosa Boulevard. Once you are at Formosa Boulevard, change to the red line to Sanduo Shopping District. Tuntex Sky Tower is just a 10-minute walk away. The total travel time is about 30 minutes.
Tuntex Sky Tower
Address: No.1, Tzu-Chiang 3rd Road, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 802
Telephone No.: +886 7 566 8000
4. 5PM: Kaisyuan Night Market
It can be said that night markets define Kaohsiung’s nightlife, and after the dizzying heights of the Tuntex Sky Tower, these rows of rickety stalls send you back to level ground. Kaisyuan, together with the neighbouring Jin-Zhuan Night Market, form Taiwan’s largest night market, shadowing even that of the famous Shilin Night Market in Taipei. Street food is pretty much a national icon of Taiwan and you would definitely be missing out if you pass up on these goodies. The deep-fried squids and chicken thighs are always a popular hit amongst tourists.
To get from Tuntex Sky Tower to Kaisyuan Night Market, you can take the red line from Sanduo Shopping District to Kaisyuan. The journey will take around 17 minutes.
Kaisyuan Night Market
Address: Kaixuan 4th Road, Qianzhen District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 806
Telephone No.: +886 7 821 4685
Opening Hours: Mon, Wed, Fri – Sun 5.00PM – 12.00AM
Alas, your time in Kaohsiung draws to a close, and in these two days, you will have seemingly travelled across hundreds of years. Each of the landmark above, both historic and modern, take you on a journey through the ages — a cultural slideshow if you will. It does not matter if you are heading back home, or if this is just one leg of a trip across Taiwan, but when likened to a jigsaw puzzle, you now have a significant piece fitted snugly into the southern part of its frame — the port city of Kaohsiung.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock