Taiwan Guides: Kaohsiung Itinerary On A Budget


Kaohsiung is a beautiful place with a romantic cityscape and many gems in its hinterland.

I’ve tried to summarise a comprehensive list of some activities you can do in Kaohsiung on a budget, with Google map links and selected photos and tips.

It’s not an exhaustive list but I hope it helps you plan your next Kaohsiung trip.

1. Travel within and in and out of Kaohsiung City on a budget

Kaohsiung City is conveniently accessible by:

- a short MRT ride from Kaohsiung international airport

- TRA trains from other cities in Taiwan

You can take a high speed rail or fly to Kaohsiung if you have money and no time, but if you’re wanting to save money on traveling costs, this is the post for you.

Kaohsiung
Dome of Light at Formosa Boulevard MRT

Getting around within Kaohsiung City is also easy. Taking the MRT is an affordable option, with ticket prices starting from NT20.

You can also take various buses within and in and out of Kaohsiung City to nearby attractions like Kenting and Dapeng Bay.

You can rent a motorcycle using your international licence from motorcycle shops near Kaohsiung Main Station. We found this shop 555 Scooter Rental that charges by the day, week or longer term. Prices start from NT350 a day or NT1500 a week. You’ll have to make a deposit (starting from NT4000) either via cash or PayPal and you can message their FB page for info.

Self-driving options give you more flexibility over your schedule and it’s not difficult to navigate roads using Google maps. Just be careful when turning right as you’ll have to look out for motorcyclists on your right who are crossing your path to go straight ahead.

2. Budget activities near MRT stations in Kaohsiung

Hamaxing Cultural Railway Park, Pier-2 Art District

Kaohsiung
Near Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway

Qiaotou Sugar Refinery Museum

Kaohsiung
Explore the ruins of Qiaotou Sugar Refinery

Suzuka Circuit Park (costs nothing to walk around and window shop)

Singuang Riverside Park (there’s a large water feature and a double storey viewing platform)

Kaohsiung
Singuang Riverside Park

You can also consider the following options (I haven’t visited them but they’re on my list for next time):

Kaohsiung Museum of History (and Peace Memorial Park)

Hakka Cultural Museum and park next to Love River

3. Budget activities that require a connecting bus ride, ferry, or a considerable walk from MRT stations in Kaohsiung

Lianchi Tan Scenic area

This is a very pleasant area to walk around, and visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, Spring and Autumn Pavilions, and a couple of temples further down. No admission fees needed.

Kaohsiung
Spring and Autumn Pavilions

There are vendors selling street snacks across the road. There’s also a Turtle Mountain hiking trail nearby.

Shoushan Zoo

This zoo costs only NT40 per person and we spent 2 hours here. Come at 10am plus to feed the goats.

Kaohsiung
Shoushan Zoo map

There’s a water playground for kids, 3 cafés and a tram (extra NT50).

Kaohsiung
Shoushan Zoo MWD café

My favourite place is the bird sanctuary.

Kaohsiung
Shoushan Zoo bird sanctuary

Be careful of monkeys stealing your food, don’t carry around plastic bags or food too visibly.

Shoushan National Nature Park
 This nature park has pretty good hiking trails, except some of them are poorly marked (as there are multiple junctions) and you can get lost.

Kaohsiung
Shoushan Park Hiking Map

Take photos of all the maps you see along the way and if you do venture into the smaller trails, be prepared for some climbing on all fours and a general lack of clarity where you’re going.

Kaohsiung
Shoushan Park Hiking Map

Some of the main paths aren’t roads, pavements or even stone paths, but simply dirt tracks or a running path next to a wall.

Try to follow the older folk if you’re a first timer because some of the hikers go so fast that you may not know which trail they took further up.

Monkeys abound so be careful of your food and hide your food and drinks in opaque bags, not plastic bags.

This park is totally not suitable for slippers, heels, prams, very young kids, anyone who can’t walk well on very uneven paths and who cannot afford the time to get lost in the park for a couple of hours.

Martyrs Shrine and Love lookout

Martyrs Shrine tells the story of how war destroys lives, there are English and Mandarin texts about Taiwan’s recent war history.

Love sign and the nearby lookout provide great views of Kaohsiung City and Cijin Island, look at this through a fresh pair of lens after visiting Martyrs Shrine.

No admission fee.

Cijin Island

- Qihou lighthouse and fort

After taking the ferry to Cijin Island (yes you can also ride your motorcycle and bicycle on board the ferry), I suggest first going to the temporary carpark near Cijin tunnel.

Kaohsiung
Cijin Island lighthouse

Walk through Cijin tunnel first, check out the cliffs, then turn right to follow the path until you reach a flight of steps going up to the lighthouse.

After exploring the lighthouse, continue on to the fort (you’ll sort of enter the fort via the “back door”) then exit the fort through its “front door” and walk back to the carpark.

Kaohsiung
Cijin Island fort

No admission fee to lighthouse and fort. Ferry charges apply (e.g. NT120 for 2 adults on motorcycle).

- Qijin beach, Qihou market and old street

You can take your kids here to play in the sand pit, walk by the beach and check out the street snacks.

Kaohsiung
Qihou market

Visit the busy Qihou market for local seafood products. Vendors at the old street sell tourist wares, street food and drinks.

Kaohsiung
Cream and yam cake

There’s a bakery that sells light cakes with filling, try the one with fresh cream and yam filling.

- Rainbow Church and chilling by the beach

Some couples like to hold their wedding ceremonies at Rainbow Church, and it’s not difficult to see why.

Kaohsiung
Rainbow church

You have to queue up to take photos of the church, or you can skip the queue and walk around the side to take photos. No admission fee.

The beach has great wind and is relatively empty.

- Windmill Park

You can fly kites here (bring your own or buy from street vendors), enjoy BBQ Taiwanese sausages in the wind and take photos of the cute sea animal statues.

Kaohsiung
Windmill park

- Yang Ming Museum of Marine Exploration

With an entrance fee of NT50 (for adults), it’s a relaxed place to take photos and read up on the history of ships. It’s not a big place, there’s a 3D movie at certain timings but I didn’t have time to check it out.

Kaohsiung
Mini lighthouse near the museum

Other places you can consider (which are on my to-do visit list) are:

原壽山洞

The British Consulate at Takow

Xiziwan Lookout

Sizihwan Scenic Area

Chaishan Fishing Pier

Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts

Jinshihu Scenic Area

Chengcing Lake

Hongmaogang Cultural Park

4. Budget Activities a 0.5–1 hour Drive Away

三和瓦窯 Sanhe Tile Kiln

This place offers a few DIY activities for kids and adults (see photo for charges), and also a tour behind-the-scenes to see how their bricks and tiles are hand made (book in advance, costs NT50).

Kaohsiung
Sanhe Tile Kiln DIY activities

You can purchase some cute tile ornaments and have coffee/tea and tea eggs there too. Great for small and large groups.

Kaohsiung
Sanhe Tile Kiln ornaments
Kaohsiung
Sanhe Tile Kiln building

Park at the nearby Dashu wetlands parking lot and walk down the path in the park towards the back end of the kiln until you come to a bridge. Cross the bridge and walk up the slope.

Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Mandala Garden and Museum

If you have only 2 hours, go straight to the Fo Guang Shan Museum. There’s a shopping centre (with Starbucks, a few eateries and souvenir shops) you’ll have to walk past before entering a huge compound with large pagodas flanking the left and right sides.

Kaohsiung
Fo Guang Shan Museum

At the end of the compound lies a museum which has a few exhibits on Buddha and Buddhism, a central area for devotees to pray and obtain sacred water and there are volunteers you can speak to.

Take the lift to the third floor to see the large Buddha, and devotees can pray and write wishes on a wishing “wall”.

Please observe decorum, speak softly and don’t take photos at certain sacred places (there will be signs to inform you of no photography).

If you happen to have another hour or two to spare, you can visit the monastery and the mandala garden that lies in between the monastery and the museum grounds.

No admission fee, there are donation boxes throughout you can donate at.

Fruit picking at 大山元休閒農園

We got free fruit picking vouchers from the Taiwan Tourism Board office in Singapore and contacted this fruit farm on their Facebook page in advance to make an appointment.

Kaohsiung
Picking jujubes in Kaohsiung

As jujubes were in season, we could pick about 15 jujubes each to bring back (and eat all the jujubes we want on the spot). I’ve never eaten a jujube before, it’s like a green apple with a big seed in the middle like a crunchy plum.

Agongdian Reservoir and Risheng Penglai Suspension Bridge

Near the fruit farm, there’s a reservoir you can take a run around (about 6.8km) and take photos at a suspension bridge nearby.

Kaohsiung
Agongdian Reservoir

Tardy-Hill Nature Park

This nature park is set in a pretty obscure location, but it’s perfect for a short pitstop in between Kaohsiung and Tainan.

Kaohsiung
Tardy-Hill Nature Park Map
Kaohsiung
Tardy-Hill Nature Park Bridge

FLOMO Stationery Museum and DIY activities

FLOMO has a museum (NT100 for adults) and various DIY activities (starting from NT50 for eraser, notebook or marker) that you can participate in. You can choose either museum or DIY or both. There’s also a shop you can buy stationery souvenirs at.

Kaohsiung
FLOMO Stationery Museum shop

Make a reservation in advance on their website or contact their FB page as sometimes they are booked for private events.

5. Budget Activities a 1–2 hours Drive Away

Maolin Scenic Area (Purple Butterflies)

From November to March, you can visit Maolin to admire the purple butterflies. You can ask for info at Taiwan tourist visitor centre (e.g. there’s one at Kaohsiung international airport).

If you’re renting a motorcycle to travel to Maolin from Kaohsiung city centre, try to rent at least 125cc and above.

It’s a doable ride with one or two rest stops in between (we stopped over in Pingtung’s Rose Garden 大花農場which has rows of roses you can walk through, a café and a shop selling rose products; look out for their red sign which leads to a dirt road, turn right at the electrical tower).

Rose garden in Pingtung, useful rest stop on the way to Maolin

- Maolin Butterfly Park

You can park near here and walk up the staircase, where you’ll see the visitor centre on the right. There’s a 3D movie at the visitor centre.

Walk further uphill to reach the entrance of the park.

Check out the Purple Butterfly Pavilion first before moving onto Maya Pavilion (great views of the Maolin valley but a tiring half hour climb), then continuing onto the purple butterfly trail. Don’t hurry through the trail. There are a couple of spots where you’ll see the butterflies congregating, but none after that. The map trail below looks easier than the actual trail (just like Shoushan National Nature Park).

Kaohsiung
Maolin Purple Butterfly Park Map

After descending the trail path, turn right when you reach the road with houses and you’ll end up back at the park entrance. We spent about 1.5 hours here. No admission fee.

- Duonagao Suspension Bridge and Duona Glass Bridge

If you’re up for a nice 40 min boardwalk exercise (per way), park here and visit the Awaiting Husband Cliff for photos of Duona Glass Bridge and the suspension bridge.

Kaohsiung
Duona Glass Bridge and suspension bridge

Then turn back and walk along the boardwalk till you come to a tar road, walk down to reach the suspension bridge. Cross the bridge to admire the views, there is a rest area on the other side. Motorcycles are not allowed to cross the suspension bridge but we saw a few doing so. Then enjoy the boardwalk exercise back to the carpark. No admission fee.

You can visit these other attractions in Maolin Valley:

- 藍水湖

- Lovers’ Valley Suspension Bridge

- Lovers’ Valley Waterfall

- 布魯布沙吊橋

These are some other places to check out in the rest of Kaohsiung:

Da Gangshan Scenic Area

Stone Temple

Moon World Landscape Park

Qishan Old Street

Meinong Hakka Cultural Museum

Gaoxiongshiliuguiquxinwei Forest Park

新威景觀大橋

十八罗汉山

Night markets in Kaohsiung

Here's a list of night markets you can visit for your dinner or supper cravings. Some night markets don't open every day so check in advance.

Liuhe Tourist Night Market - my favorite

Ruifeng Night Market - very crowded, very narrow aisles between stalls

Laborers' Park Night Market (劳工夜市) - open Mondays, very happening

Kaisyuan Night Market - can't comment much, we went on a rainy day and many shops were closed

ZihQiang Night Market - mostly food

I haven't been to the following night markets yet but listing them here:

Jhongsiao Night Market

Xingzhong Night Market

Zhonghua Street Night Market

Jilin Night Market

Guanghua Night Market

Jin-Zuan Night Market

Wujia Ziqiang Night Market

Qianzhen Night Market

Dechang Night Market

Erling Night Market

Hanmin Night Market

Haiyang Night Market

Gangshan Nan Night Market

Ruibei Night Market


Originally published at Jules of Singapore.