Kaohsiung – Queen City of South Taiwan

As this was my second time to visit Taiwan, I have thought of travelling to other places not just in Taipei or nearby city. While searching for a place, I found Kaohsiung. ❤

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Kaohsiung is the third largest city in Taiwan, next to New Taipei and Taichung. Kaohsiung is a coastal city and leading all the ports in the Taiwan. Tourism in Kaohsiung is flourishing for the past years as it is less crowded than in Taipei and with it’s unique attractions. I have set 4 days in Kaohsiung to witness the beauty of the South.

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How did I get there?

From Taipei, I booked a train to Kaohsiung. TRA or Taiwan Railway Administration trains have longer travel time than HSR or High Speed Railway yet it is way too cheaper. Since I have plenty of time in Taiwan, TRA is always my option. TRA and HSR ticketing booths are located at Taipei Main Station.

Tze-Chiang type of train is very comfortable. This was the same train type I had when I went to Chiayi last year. If you want a comfortable travel, book your tickets in advance. It took me 4 hours from Taipei to reach Kaohsiung.

 

Where did I stayed?

I booked my hostel via Booking.com and found Single Inn Kaohsiung. The location is great! It was a 10 minute walk from Kaohsiung Main Station and 15 minute walk from Formosa Boulevard station.

My room in Single Inn Kaohsiung is small yet very much suited for a solo traveler. I love that I have window to see the weather outside. My bed is very comfortable. My room is in front of the shared restrooms so I don’t mind changing clothes inside the restroom, I just need to cross one door and I am already at my room.

Yet it was a bit annoying at night as the restroom door was being smashed by other lodgers. All in all, my room was perfect. ❤

My inn also had a great common area to have breakfast and have I mentioned the self-service laundry? 🙂 They have free laundry detergent! It was a joy to have some chores while travelling! 🙂

I love that my hostel is near convenience stores and restaurants. It was a 10 minute walk from Liouhe Night Market. The street where my hostel at is a wedding gown street! I love that boutiques of different kind of gowns are displayed everywhere.

It was a relief from all the stores and shops in Taipei as you cannot see streets with beautiful gowns and dresses.

Where are the places I traveled?

Unlike in Taipei with multiple MRT lines, Kaohsiung MRT have Red and Orange lines only. They have lesser MRT stations too that you can easily remember. Do not expect that all of the attractions like in Taipei are just some foot step away, it can be 10-15 minute walk from the MRT or you have to ride a bus to take you the prime locations in Kaohsiung.

Please also note that you can still use your EasyCard or iPass in all MRT stations, buses and ferry station in Kaohsiung. How great it is! 🙂

Liouhe Night Market

It was a 10 minute walk from my hostel to Liouhe Night Market. It is nearer if you will take Formosa Boulevard. The night market is packed with different food stalls mostly sell sea food, very much likely as Kaohsiung is a coastal city.

Liouhe Night Market is a perfect place if you want to have dinner. There are grilled prawns, small crabs, squids, fishes. There are varieties of pork and chickens too! After a long ride from Taipei, I had dinner at Liouhe. A proper dinner is much deserved! 🙂

Liouhe Night Market will not fail you with their night markets as there are many items to be bought. It was fun to see colorful items from fruits to souvenir items to street parlor games.

 

Formosa Boulevard

This MRT station is grand unlike any other stations. It is home of the Dome of Light. The Dome of Light was created by renowned artist Narcissus Quagliata. This dome is the world’s largest public art installation made from individual pieces of colored glass. The work adds beauty of the station, but also adds a new dimension to the art life in Kaohsiung.

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The dome tells the story of human life in four chronologically arranged themes: Water: The Womb of Life; Earth: Prosperity and Growth; Light: The Creative Spirit; and Fire: Destruction and Rebirth, with an overall message of love and tolerance.

The lead glass panes were created and assembled according to a full-scale blueprint created by Quagliata to produce a creative new departure from this millennia old art form. The fabrication and installation of panes were done in Germany. The glass panes were from different parts of the world like Italy, Mexico, and United States of America. The Dome of Light is completed in four years.

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Fo Guang Shan Monastery

Fo Guang Shan is the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan and best known Buddhist center in Southern Taiwan. It is less than an hour from Kaohsiung proper. I have been to many Buddhist temples from my travels in Cambodia and Myanmar but I guess Fo Guang Shan is one for the books.

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From Zuoying MRT station Exit 1, I searched for the bus station. Be mindful to ride a bus no. 8501 with Fo Guang Shan sign. While waiting at the bus station, there were 2 buses passed by with the same bus number but they will not stop at Fo Guang Shan so I waited for 15 minutes.

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After 40 minutes, I arrived at Fo Guang Shan before 11 AM. The entire complex is 13 hectares! You need more than 3 hours to visit the monastery including museums. The heat was scorching. I mistakenly stopped at the North entrance of the monastery.

Thus, I have to walk for more than 45 minutes to reach the main monastery. For those, who will visit Fo Guang Shan, make sure you will be drop at the South entrance.

When I was dropped at the North entrance, I met an old lady. She will also visit the temple. Upon arriving, she asked monastery personnel for directions and to my surprise that direction is going to a restaurant inside the massive complex. When we arrived at the restaurant, there were some men lined up to get their food. It was a buffet!

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I asked the lady how much I will pay but she said I can pay any amount that I can, so it means donation. There were many choices of food from rice, pork sausages, noodles and soups. I asked the lady again of how much I will pay, she said again “nothing”.

From my observation, it is a restaurant for the monastery’s workers. Some men who were lined up for the meals were construction workers, staffs and volunteers, with the clothes they wore, I knew it was for the workers. I was a bit surprise that there was a restaurant like this that I can eat for free. This lady took me to a sanctuary of peace. 🙂 After eating, I donated some cash at the restaurant. I thanked the lady and said that I have to leave her as I want to explore the monastery.

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I learnt that the monastery is very big when I asked some staff on how I can get to the big Buddha and they said it was far away. And to hear the words “far away” is really far. From the North entrance, it took me 45 minutes to reach the main or South entrance.

I am a Catholic yet I am traveler. And to be a traveler and observing other’s religion is knowing culture too. It is like digging deeper to how this country is being mold and how they progress. The heat undeniably gave me sun burn yet I am blessed to have a beautiful weather. The monastery complex is massively magnificent so I had used all of my time to take photos.

After more than 3 hours at the monastery, I was very exhausted. I thought of coming back to my hostel but time is gold, I have to be productive on that day. 🙂

Lotus Pond – Dragon and Tiger Pagoda

About an hour from Fo Guang Shan, I visited the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda. This pagoda is located at the famous Lotus Pond. The pagodas were man-made built on 1976. Both of the towers are 7-storey high covered with yellow walls, red pillars and orange tiles. Tourists can climb up to the top of these pagodas.

It is said that to walk through the dragon’s mouth and out through the tiger symbolizes turning bad luck into good fortune. Hopefully, by doing so, my fortune will be reverted. But I know God is with me thus my fortune is on His hands. ❤

Whatever may be the meaning of these pagodas, it was a relief from me from the scorching heat from Fo Guang Shan. Hahaha. Few walks from the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda is the Spring and Autumn Pavilions.

I was very exhausted by that time and want to squeeze another place on my day tour so I skipped the pavilions.

Pier 2 Art Center

This art center is located at the Yancheng District in Kaohsiung. It is accessible by MRT and after 10 minute walk from the station. For me, it was like the BGC of Manila where all different kinds of arts from portraits to wall paintings to architectures.

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The old abandoned warehouses are turned to shops, restaurants, museums and colorful pieces of arts. I was like a little girl roaming around the streets at this Art Center.

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It was also a perfect time to take photos as you will see the glorious time of the pier at the afternoon. Glad that no drops of rain happened that time. 🙂

Since I was at the port already, it was spectacular to see the beauty of Kaohsiung harbor too!

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Holy Rosary Cathedral Minor Basilica

As a Catholic, I was very happy to spend one Sunday in Kaohsiung before I left to Taipei. I attended a mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral. Holy Rosary Cathedral is said to be the oldest and biggest Catholic Church in Taiwan. The cathedral is built on 1859.

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It is the home of the Bishop of Kaohsiung as well. The Basilica is built in the style of European Gothic churches, adding a Roman style in places, while the interior is laid out in octagons.

As I had an advanced train booking and English mass will be held by 11 AM, I checked out of my hostel by 9 AM. I need to have exact timing to find the Basilica as it is a bit far from the MRT station. It took me more than 30 minutes to reach the Basilica. I was right on time as seats were filling in quickly.

Not surprised at all, most of the churchgoers are Filipinos. It was like the same when I attended a mass in Taipei last year but in Filipino language. It was nice to see “kababayan” in Kaohsiung which from my experience is lesser from Taipei.

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After the solemn mass at the Basilica, I had to go back to my hostel as I left my baggage there. I was right on time when the train arrived by 2 PM. However, my train ride from Kaohsiung to Taipei took me 7 hours as I booked a local train. If it happens that you booked a local train, expect longer hours of travel time as this type of train will stop in many stations. The booking officer will let you know of this if you will book a local train, it just so happened that I cannot bear a 4 hour train ride while standing.

By past 9 PM, I arrived at Taipei for the last leg of my vacation.

To know about my expenses of my entire stay in Kaohsiung, you may refer to details below,

Accommodation
Single Inn Kaohsiung for 3 nights 1,903
Transportation
Train (Taipei to Kaohsiung) 843
Train (Kaohsiung to Taipei) 650
EasyCard load 200
Food
Kaohsiung and Cijin Island for 4 days 1,166
Attractions
All attractions in Kaohsiung and Cijin Island 0
Others
Toiletries 140
Pasalubong 190
Laundry 100
Total NT$ 5,192

Apart from my stay in Kaohsiung, I also travel to Cijin Island in one full day. It was a 5 minute ferry ride from Kaohsiung proper. To follow my adventure in Cijin Island, click here.

My stay at Kaohsiung highlights my travel in Taiwan. Kaohsiung is incomparable with Taipei as it’s beauty is unique. I was extremely happy to experience a different side of Taiwan! ❤

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