Semester break is upon us which means we have a week to ourselves before classes resume. Classes ended on Wednesday, so on Thursday morning I bought a ticket on Taiwan’s high speed rail and escaped to Kaohsiung for 4 days of sightseeing! I had passed through Kaohsiung on my way to Kending once, but I didn’t really think that brief glimpse did it justice.
Blogging is hard work, and this post more than others! My two amazing Kaohsiung friends, Edward and Tiger, brought me to so many interesting places, that I don’t know if I can actually cram it all into one blog post. What follows is my personal top 5 favorite places in Kaohsiung. Perhaps you have others? Share them in the comments!
Favorite Place in Kaoshiung #5: Edward’s Mom’s Breakfast Restaurant (我朋友的早餐餐廳)
Why is this on my list you may ask?
- I love breakfast places in Taiwan, and the tuna egg omelet (ha, can’t come up with a better English name; 鮪魚蛋餅) here is particularly delicious.
- Edward’s mom is super nice.
- If you’re going to go to a breakfast place in Kaohsiung, why not go to my friend’s place? It’s convenient located somewhere in downtown Kaohsiung. Perhaps Edward will provide the restaurant’s address so I can link to it on Google Maps.
Favorite Place in Kaoshiung #4: Pier 2 Arts Area
This was a neat area by the docks in Kaohsiung. Most of the warehouses in the area have been turned into art galleries and are displaying works by local artists. One of the warehouses was turned into a skateboard park for the youngsters. My personal favorite was one exhibit featuring some really funky paintings. I’d have taken some pics if not for the staff patrolling the area and my friend calling me a rebel as I took out the camera.
Outside the buildings are outdoor art installations to varied to mention. As you get closer to the actual docks, you can actually go right up to the boats and chat with the fisherman. There’s also lots of unused equipment, buildings, structures that you can climb on and take some fun pics with (not that I’m actually encouraging such dangerous behaviour )
This was a neat place to visit. After having visited in both on a Thursday afternoon and a Saturday afternoon, I definitely recommend checking it out on a weekend!
Favorite Place in Kaoshiung #3: Reifeng Night Market
What’s a city in Taiwan without nightmarkets? Kaohsiung has a few notable ones, Reifeng being the most popular/crowded. Unlike nightmarkets in Taipei which are contained in alleys between buildings, the nightmarkets in Kaohsiung are parking lots with tons of vendor stalls setup.
Food is amazing at this place! All the usual nightmarket fare can be found here, but steak seems to be the most popular. Definitely come on an empty stomach, and be sure to only buy a little from each vendor so you can try as many as possible
Clothing shopping is awful here. Most of the clothes you can find at nightmarkets in Taipei are available here although at slightly higher prices. My friends tell me the clothes are actually all shipped down to Kaohsiung from WuFenPu in Taipei. Save yourself some money and save the clothes shopping for Taipei (and WuFenPu in particular!)
Favorite Place in Kaoshiung #2: Cihou Lighthouse and Fort
This place was amazing! There’s a little mountain near the coast containing an old fort and a lighthouse. Both places have spectacular views of Kaohsiung and the surrounding coastline. The light house appears to contain a barracks and may still be in use for other purposes.
The fort looks ancient, and parts of the fort roof (that they allow you to walk on) are right up against a cliff with no railing – great photo taking opportunity. When I went, there were couples sitting with their feet dangling off the roof overlooking Kaohsiung. It actually looked really romantic. I strongly recommend checking both out.
Both are accessible from the same starting point. In our case, we checked out the fort first then walked along a path that led to the lighthouse.
I’m afraid I don’t know the complete history on the Cihou lighthouse and fort, although I’m sure a quick looksy on Wikipedia will tell you all the pertinent facts.
Favorite Place in Kaoshiung #1: Cijin Beach and Windmills
Kaohsiung has an island called Cijin that you can take a quick 10 minute ferry over to. Both the Cihou lighthouse and fort are on Cijin so you’ll need to take the ferry to access those areas anyways.
The main street on this island after getting off the ferry consists of nothing but seafood vendors. We ate a bag of some sort of spicy mini sea snails that you have to suck the snails out of as well as some squids on a stick – very yummy!
I would have happily eaten more if not for the intense heat that seems to kill my appetite. The hustle and bustle of vendors on the street and all the locals and tourists makes the place really exciting to walk down. There’s also a few traditional Buddhist templates lining the street with really beautiful artwork depicting scenes from what I can only imagine are traditional Chinese stories.
The street of seafood vendors ends at the coast with a beautiful beach full of screaming children and their parents. The screaming children aside, it was a very idyllic setting and everybody seemed to be very happily going about their leisure activities with their family.
I’m a sucker for flying kites. A quick 5 minute scooter ride away is the windmill park. This area consists of small windmills and tons of people flying kites. I love kites. My friend hadn’t flown a kite before so I got to show him how it’s done. It really does make for very happy memories. My friend’s a bit thin though, and at times it looked like he was going to get blown away holding the kite.
The beach immediately beside the windmill farm isn’t a sandy beach but instead has metal siding up against the concrete dyke. This made for really neat waterworks. Whenever a decent sized wave hit the metal siding, a stream of water would shoot up 30 feet in the air to the amazement of all the people at the top of the dyke.
Food in Kaohsiung
Here’s just a few of the local delicacies I got to try:
- Assorted Pig Parts: the restaurant has apparently been around for 60 years or something.
- Fish Cakes and Blood Jelly: everybody likes pigs blood jelly!
Mango Shaved Ice: okay, so this is sort of available everywhere too, but I’m sure it’s yummier in Kaohsiung given it’s 40C out with the humidex.
- Sticky Rice Rolls: these were delicious, and, of course, the place that makes them is “famous.” (If you’re new to Taiwan, the Taiwanese love their food and restaurants are regularly featured in newspapers/TV/etc. Once a restaurant gets noticed, they’re considered “famous.” Half the restaurants in Taiwan seem to be “famous.”)
Squids / Little Crustaceans / Seafood at Cijin: seafood galore! My only recommendation is to stick to busy restaurants and vendors. The Taiwanese seem to follow a similiar logic, and it works well most of the time.
My Complete Schedule
For those of you planning your own trip to Kaohsiung, here’s my complete schedule! Feel free to have a looksy and pick from it as you’d like. You’ll probably need to Google the areas below for info on how to get there. You’ll also see how amazing my friends were given the number of places they dragged me to!
Lunch at misc. pig part restaurant
Pier 2 arts area
Reifeng Night market
Love River and Tower of Light
Breakfast at parents place
Wa Wa bookstore
Ciaotou Sugar factory
Wendao University (my friend’s school)
Home then to dinner
Dou Hua at desert place
Sticky rice roll place
Si zi wan / the british consulate building
Pier 2 Arts Area
Cijin / the beach / lots of seafood / windmills / kite flying
Cihou fort / cihou lighthouse
Mango shaved ice
Fish cakes / blood jelly cake
Kaohsiung cultural centre
High speed rail back to Taipei