Kaohsiung has a long history as the largest port city and industrial hub of Taiwan. In recent years, it’s focused on tourism, quickly becoming one of the best destinations in Taiwan for a relaxing getaway.
The sprawling metropolis now has dozens of urban parks, wide streets with cycling lanes, and other pedestrian-friendly features. There are also plenty of things to do in Kaohsiung.
The city offers bustling night markets, historic pagodas, and one of the most romantic rivers in the world. It’s also got a fantastic jazz scene and world-class art museums. Of course, if you’re looking to relax, you could also visit one of its two swimming beaches, or wander through 1000 hectares of lush forest right at the city’s doorstep.
Need ideas for where to go? Start planning your trip with this list of the best Kaohsiung attractions…
Table of Contents
- What to do in Kaohsiung: Top attractions & places to visit
- Enjoy a relaxing walk along the banks of Lotus Lake
- Get a bird’s-eye view of the city from 85 Sky Tower
- Take a romantic ride down the Love River
- Find incredible bargains at Liuhe Night Market
- Walk the streets of the Old City of Zuoying
- Admire priceless artwork at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts
- Spend a day walking the beaches of Cijin Island
- Where to stay in Kaohsiung: The best hotels for sightseeing
What to do in Kaohsiung: Top attractions & places to visit
Enjoy a relaxing walk along the banks of Lotus Lake
If you want to know what to do in Kaohsiung on your first day, visit Lotus Lake. It’s the top attraction in the city and contains several additional cultural sites.
The lake is a large man-made body of water southeast of the Zuoying District. The lake itself draws visitors from all over. It’s famous for the thousands of lotus plants floating on the surface of the water.
Lotus Lake is also surrounded by temples. As you walk around the lake, check out the twin Dragon and Tiger Pagodas or the Spring and Autumn Temples. The twin pagodas are particularly interesting, containing seven stories of red pillars and yellow walls. Built on the water, the pagodas connect to the shore via a wide bridge.
Get a bird’s-eye view of the city from 85 Sky Tower
For the best panoramic view of Kaohsiung, climb to the observation deck near the top of the Sky Tower. You can look out over the city and spot a few of the destinations on your Kaohsiung sightseeing tour.
The tower has 85 floors. The observation deck is located on the 75th floor and includes a small snack bar and gift shop. Enjoy an ice cream or coffee while gazing out the large windows and trying to see the Love River or Kaohsiung Harbour.
The rest of the tower doesn’t contain any attractions. It’s mostly office space. There’s also a posh hotel with rooms near the middle of the tower.
Take a romantic ride down the Love River
The Love River stands out as the most romantic of the Kaohsiung points of interest. It covers 12 kilometres, crossing through the downtown and harbour areas.
On each side of the river, you’ll find several parks, outdoor cafes, and shops. If you’re not afraid of heights, try the recently built Ferris wheel on the bank of the river. You may get to experience local cultural events.
The city hosts the Lantern Festival in February and the Dragon Boat Festival in June. If you come in June, look out for dragon boats lining up to race on the river.
The river is one of the best places to visit in Kaohsiung when you want to relax and enjoy the urban scenery. Rent a love boat or duck boat and pedal your way down the canal. If you don’t feel like exerting yourself, ride a gondola or one of the tour boats.
Find incredible bargains at Liuhe Night Market
If you’re searching for where to go in Kaohsiung for shopping, visit Liuhe Night Market. As with other Asian night markets, it’s a crowded collection of assorted vendors.
It’s not the biggest night market in Asia but it has a wide selection of goods. You can shop for trinkets, electronics, and clothes. The market also has various street foods, including crispy fried squid.
Depending on when you visit, the market may contain dozens of vendors or just a few. During the weekdays, it’s less busy and fewer vendors set up shop. On the weekends, it’s one of the busiest spots in the city.
Walk the streets of the Old City of Zuoying
The Old City of Zuoying is one of the top points of interest in Kaohsiung for history buffs. It’s a walled city built almost 300 years ago when the Qing Dynasty annexed Taiwan.
Over the years, the city has renovated several historic sites within the walled area, including three historic villages. If you want to check out the historically important landmarks, take a guided tour. The sites remain mixed with urban sprawl, making it difficult to find sections of the wall or the old gates.
Besides the historical streets, the old city offers access to a few of the top things to see in Kaohsiung including the Banping Lake Wetland Park and the Confucius Temple.
Admire priceless artwork at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts
The top tourist attractions in Kaohsiung include several museums, but the Museum of Fine Arts definitely offers up the most unique experience. Instead of visiting one of the history museums, you can view various styles of contemporary and modern art ranging from sculptures to paintings and calligraphy.
One of the first collections that you’ll see is the massive Sculpture Hall. The second and third floors contain galleries of various sizes while the third floor houses the calligraphy and artwork requiring climate control.
You’ll likely spend at least a couple of hours admiring the collections and exploring the spaces inside and outside the museum.
Spend a day walking the beaches of Cijin Island
If you’ve got just 24 hours in Kaohsiung, you may not have time to visit Cijin Island. It’s part of the city, but you need to take a short ferry ride to the island or take a taxi through one of the tunnels. Exploring the entire strip of land on foot should take up most of the day. To get around a little more quickly, rent a bicycle.
Locals visit the island for its beaches and fresh seafood. Besides the food and sand, you should enjoy the various religious and historical sites including Chi Jin Mazu Temple and Cihou Fort.
If you want a better view of the harbour, walk up the hill to Cihou Lighthouse. The interior isn’t always open but a nearby tower offers a viewpoint.
Where to stay in Kaohsiung: The best hotels for sightseeing
Much like in Taipei, choosing where to stay in Kaohsiung can sometimes present a challenge with hundreds of hotel options to choose from. For most travellers, the areas around Xinxing and Zuoying are the best places to start your accommodations search as you’ll be within reach of the top points of interest in Kaohsiung.
- Hotel Lainn: One of the best budget picks in Kaohsiung, this modern hotel offers spacious rooms just blocks away from Liuhe Night Market.
- The Howard Plaza Hotel Kaohsiung: A fantastic mid-range hotel featuring comfortable rooms and a host of extra amenities including a gym, outdoor pool, and hot tub. The hotel is located just 10 minutes away from Hsinshing Night Market.
- Hotel Indigo Kaohsiung Central Park: No doubt one of the funkiest places you’ll stay on your trip to Taiwan. The rooms at this luxury hotel charm with retro pop art influences and sleek contemporary furnishings and fixtures. You’ll absolutely love the chance to retire to the rooftop bar for evening cocktails with views over the city.