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Friday, September 7, 2018

Things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (updated August 2018)

I have been to Taiwan a couple of times, but it was my first time venturing all the way south on my recent trip - which is gonna to be the last for at least a year. Well, because baby Olivia is coming soon in November 2018 (yay)! If you haven't been to been to Taiwan, extend your trip by two to three days and venture beyond the usual Taipei, because South Taiwan has lots to offer too!

Our initial plan was to head straight to Kenting, but the continuous 4.5h flight and 2h train ride would be too strenuous for Lady M, so we decided to stop by Kaohsiung for a day. So, if you're like us, check this post on what to do when you're in Kaohsiung!

Here's what this post is going to tell you.
- Getting to Kaohsiung
- Travelling in Kaohsiung
- What to do
- Where to stay
Cijin Island, Kaohsiung

Getting to Kaohsiung

Okay, but before that, you may ask, how the heck do I get to Kaohsiung? If you have no idea, Kenting is located south of Kaohsiung, which makes Kaohsiung the closer city from Taipei (if you are travelling from Taipei or Taoyuan Airport). So here's how you get to Kaohsiung:

1. Fly in direct to Kaohsiung. 
There are direct flights to Kaohsiung (from carriers like Scoot), but chances are that the tickets are gonna be expensive.

2. Take the High Speed Rail (HSR). 
Frequent services run from Taipei or Taoyuan to Zuoying Station in Kaohsiung. It takes about 1.5-2 hours as it goes at a whopping top speed of 300km/h. Tickets are available at the stations, but I would recommend you to get a 3-day pass (~SGD$95) if you are going to take the HSR frequently.

Tips: Get some food to munch on for your journey, food and drinks are allowed!
Zuoying Station

With either Option 1 or 2, you can get to the city centre easily with their Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (MRT or also known as KRT). Easy peasy, if you are wondering about the fare, it's on an average of NT$20-40 (~SGD$0.90-1.80).

3. Travelling by public bus/TRA
Not recommended as it's gonna take a really, really long time (>5 hours). Even if you're on a tight budget, don't scrimp on the HSR. Trust me.
The skyline of Kaohsiung

Travelling around Kaohsiung

Like any other cities, Kaohsiung is easily accessible with train and bus services connecting to pretty much everywhere. There's also Uber, which pretty saved us from the hot and humid weathers of August. Prices are moderate and definitely cheaper than Singapore's.

What to do in Kaohsiung

1. Catch a light show at Formosa Boulevard MRT. 
You heard that right, the Dome of Light is a light installation at their MRT station which entertains its passer-bys with an orchestrated light and music show. You don't even have to tap out or get off the station to see this.

Getting there: Take the MRT (Red/Orange line) to Formosa Boulevard MRT. Follow the Dome of Light sign boards.
2. Explore Cijin Island.
Located just 10 minutes off the shores of Kaohsiung is Cijin Island. To be honest, there isn't much to do except to enjoy the sculptures (including the famous Rainbow Church) and have a seafood dinner at the end of the trip. You could rent a scooter or bicycle to sightsee the island.

Getting there: Take the Orange line to Sizihwan, exit 1, walk 8 minutes towards the pier, where you can get a ferry ticket (NT$30/SGD$1.30) to Cijin, just 5 minutes away. 
And not to forget the Rainbow Church, which has no Sunday services.

3. Indulge in arteries-clogging food at the night markets.
There are several night markets to choose from, such as the more famous Ruifeng and Xin Jue Jiang night markets. However, according to our Uber drivers' advises, locals do not frequent these two anymore as the prices were driven up by the influx of tourists. Hence, we decided to visit Guang Hua Night Market instead. Don't miss out on local delights such as papaya milk and stinky tofu when you're there.
4. Kiss your date at Love River
A city is not completed with a romantic river that runs through the city, like River Thames in London or Singapore River, well in Singapore. In Kaohsiung, there is their 12-km Love River which is lined with the corporate landscape and eateries. You could also take a 40-minute romantic boat ride (NT$200/SGD$9) down the river.

Getting there: Take the Orange line to Yanchengpu Station. Exit via Wufu Road and walk 10-minutes east towards the Love River.

5. Pier 2 Art Center
We didn't have time for this as we decided not to rush our itinerary. In any case, we would check this hipster place out if we had time. Pier 2 Art Center is a revamped district of old warehouses, which is now transformed into a booming tourist attraction of art installations, museums and boutique cafes. Out of these installations, perhaps the most famous is the Bumblebee, which was the actual piece used for Mayday's (五月天) DNA concert.

Getting there: Take the Orange line to Yanchengpu Station. Exit via Dayong Road and walk 5-minutes towards the Art Center.

Where to stay in Kaohsiung

Being on the less touristy side of Taiwan, as compared to Taipei, their accommodation choices (hotels, inns, AirBnbs, etc.) are comparably cheaper than Taipei. For our choice of 1-night stay, we chose 麗尊酒店 (The Lees Hotel), a 5-star hotel close to the city area and Guanghua Night Market. The best thing? It is less than SGD$100 per night! We even got a free upgrade to a family room as all rooms with king beds were occupied. Although it's not like the 5-stars hotel in Singapore, for SGD$100, we are thoroughly satisfied with their squeaky clean room, beautiful bathroom, and great front desk service.

Getting there: Take the Orange line to Xinyi Elementary School Station. Exit via Zhongzheng 3rd Road into Guanghua 1st Road. The walk is approximately 7-minutes walk to the hotel.