Sunday, August 4, 2019

Attractions in Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan, with population reaching 2.7 million. The city was founded in 17th century and developed into an important port, business and administration center. We spent 3 days visiting several interesting places and attractions in Kaohsiung, including Bo Er (Pier 2) Art District, Cijin Island, and the night markets. We took the opportunity to tour around the city with it's environmental friendly light rail train as well.

We would like to share our experience in Kaohsiung. Let us start with Bo Er Art District.

BoEr Art District (驳二艺术特区)
BoEr (驳二) or Pier 2 is a special district designated for art and exhibition. It is located at the western side of the city, which can be easily accessed by MRT (Sizihwan Station or Yanchengpu Station) and Light Rail (Hamasen Station or Penglai Peer-2 Station). It is a big area with several exhibition halls. Artworks are available around the open area as well. Entrance fee is required for the exhibitions in halls.  

It is a good place to walk around while exploring the creativity of the locals transforming the previous warehouses into art centers. However, for us, it is not a site that worth us to travel thousand miles to pay it a visit. It would be great if we can arrange our visit to Pier 2 on our way back from Cijin Island.

We visited Pier 2 in mid May. The hot weather in the afternoon deterred us to stay long in that area. 

One of the huge catchy outdoor artworks beside the exhibition hall- showing that we are in the right area (upper left). Figures showing the MRT stations around Kaohsiung City as acupuncture points (upper right), mushrooms sitting on the exhibition hall, and a cat on no entry sign are some of the examples of exhibits that we can see on the street, free of charge. 

Group photo at  Pier-2 Art Center.

Metal work.

Bumble Bee has been stationed for a long time. The colour is fading away.

Cijin Island (旗津)
Cijin Island is a district in Kaohsiung City. The fastest way to reach the island is by taking ferry. Gushan Ferry Pier is just 10 minutes away by foot from Sizihwan MRT Station. There are many places of interest in Cijin- Cihou Fort, the star tunnel below Cihou Fort, Rainbow Church, and the old town are a few of them.

Our recommendation, visit Cijin Island together with Peer 2. We share more about Cijin Island in another post. 

Skyline of Cijin Island. The ferry pier on the left and Cihou Mountain on the right. We can see the fort and the lighthouse on the top of the hill.

Night Markets
We visited two night markets in Kaohsiung- Liuhe Night Market and Ruifeng Night Market. To us, night markets are the biggest attractions in Kaohsiung. 

Liuhe Night Market is well organized and more tourist friendly. It is located nearby Formosa Boulevard MRT Station, and about 50 meters away from our hotel. Ruifeng Night Market is dominated by locals, with more stalls, more variety of food, and of course, more crowds and noise and smokes from the cooking stoves. Ruifeng Night Market is around 200 meters from Kaohsiung Arena MRT Station.

We share more experience in night markets in another post.

Love River (爱河)
Many sources state that Love River is a must visit place in Kaohsiung. We found the fact was, we couldn't see much on the ground.

We walked along the riverside nearby Aozihdi MRT Station (on our way to Ruifeng Night Market), and found the place was not as pleasant as we had imagined. Of course, we had to give credit to Kaohsiung authority for cleaning the river, which was once heavily polluted. When we put the motivating story of cleaning aside, the place is not more than a jogging and cycling park on the side of a canal. 

 The side of the river is well illuminated. We can see people jogging and cycling around the area.

 Another part of the river.

MRT Stations
There are a few nicely designed MRT stations in Kaohsiung. We visited Kaohsiung Central Station on our way to Tainan, and Formosa Boulevard Station, which was nearby our hotel. Formosa Boulevard Station is really worth a visit. We couldn't stop ourselves gazing on the glass artwork every time we walked through the main hall of the station.

The dome of the main hall at Formosa Boulevard MRT Station is covered by the largest glass artwork in the world, with the diameter spans around 30 meters. Designed by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata, the artwork was named Dome of Light. 

Kaohsiung Station with nice ceiling.

Kaohsiung Light Rail 
This new light rail system was fully operational in 2017. The light train system is unique in the way the train is charged at the station, and running on battery on the rail. Thus we can't see cable along the railway. 

The railway is built mostly on ground level, so it is a good way to go around Kaohsiung City. For the city tour, we hopped on Cianjhen Star Station and hopped off Hamasen Station. 

Light Rail Train ticket can be bought from the vending machine at the station. The vending machine accept COINS ONLY.

The railway with grass. There is no cable on the top of the rail, as the train is running on battery.

Unlike MRT which runs below the ground, we can see the scenery on a light rail train.

Some of the nice scenery along the rail.

Kaohsiung and Tainan is worth a visit, especially if you like Taiwanese food. For Kaohsiung, we like the night markets the most, of course, the light rail, Cijin, and Peer 2 are worth a visit. If you wish to know more about the place we stayed and the transportation, please read our post on Getting around Kaohsiung.

More about our experience in Kaohsiung and Tainan:

More about our experience in Taipei: 

Trip to Cijin District, Kaohsiung

Cijin or Qijin (旗津) , is an old town located on a small island at the other side of the coast of Kaohsiung City.  The town was founded more than 340 years ago. Unlike busy Kaohsiung City , Cijin is relatively peaceful and quiet. It can be easily accessed by public transport. The jetty to Cijin is located nearby Sizihwan (西子湾) MRT station. Taxi was available at the MRT station, but we preferred to travel by foot, which took us around 10 minutes. 

Most of the interesting places are located at the western coast of Cijin- between the Cihou Fort at the north to the Cijin Windmill Park at the south. Our advice- go early, as the island town may get hot in the afternoon. Get an electric bicycle will really save a lot of time and energy. Get a tourist map from them, stick to the plan, and ride safely. Electric bicycle can be rented nearby the jetty. Comfortable footwear, umbrella, and sufficient drinking water are important for an enjoyable trip there. A good thing about Cijin- the entrance to the tourist attractions are free.

We reached Cijin at around 9:30 am and spent a whole morning at Cijin. We returned to Kaohsiung City at around 2 pm. We took our lunch at a restaurant nearby Sizihwan MRT Station. 

Gushan Ferry Pier is around 700 meters away from Sizihwan MRT Station (upper left). There are designated lane for tourists and locals (upper right). We can always ask for help if we are not sure which lane to follow. The waiting time is around 10 - 15 minutes, and it takes 15 minutes to travel from Gushan to Cijin (lower right). We enjoyed nice view of Cijin and Kaohsiung from the ferry. The fare for ferry was NTD30 per person per trip. By the way, we need to prepare exact amount of fare, as change is not possible at the payment machine.

There are several shops where we can rent electric bikes. They are located right opposite of Cijin ferry pier (upper left). We can rent a bike for two or bike for four (upper right). The bike path is wide (lower right). The overhead cover helps to deter some stinging sunlight as well. In order to rent a bike, we need to bring along an identification document (passport, identification card, or license). We got a special rate of NTD800 for 2 bikes- one for two, and one for four. 

We could see visitors walk slowly along the bike path under the hot sun. We felt lucky to be on the bike. Most of the signage along the bike path were written in Chinese only. Anyway, it won't be an issue if we follow the map and ride along the bike path.

Cihou Fort is located at the northern tip of Cijin Island.  If we are moving around with electric bike, then we need to park the bike on the foot of the hill (upper left). We need to walk 5 minutes uphill to reach the entrance of the fort (upper right). Consumed by time, the fort has nothing left but the concrete structure (lower right). There is a path leading to Cihou Lighthouse beside the fort. We didn't visit the lighthouse due to the hot weather.

Cihou Fort was built in 1875 to secure the entrance to the port. The cannons were located on the upper level of the fort with the ammunition rooms and barracks built right under them. The fort was abandoned during the Japanese occupation. The fort was restored in 1991 and opened to public in 1995. To our surprise, the fort was designed by a British engineer. No wonder it looks similar to Fort Cornwallis in Penang

Cijin old town and Kaohsiung City can be seen from Cihou Fort. 

Cijin Tunnel (旗津隧道), or Star Tunnel (星空隧道) was built to serve military purposes. The tunnel was restored and opened to public in 1995. The tunnel was built right underneath Cihou Fort, leading to another side of the hill. 

The entrance to the tunnel (upper left), leading to the old jetty on the other side of the tunnel (upper right). We can see old bunkers beside the tunnel (lower right). There is a monument built to commemorate Dr. James Laidlaw Maxwell beside the tunnel. Dr. James was a medical doctor and missionary. He contributed to the local community in many ways, including the building of the first modern western hospital in Tainan (also the first in Taiwan).

Nice view on the other side of the tunnel.

The beach was empty, due to the super hot weather.

Rainbow Church is not more than a place for us to take a few photos. 

We were lucky that not many people were there during our visit.

There is a giant seashell beside the cycling path- another place for taking photo. The last two tourist spots- War and Peace Memorial and Cijin Windmill, are quite far away from the giant seashell.

War and Peace Memorial commemorates the people who fought and died in World War 2.

Finally, Cijin Windmill Park. Several windmills are built around the park. There were not much things to see there. We roamed around the park for around 10 minutes, and then took a long way back to Miaoqian Road (seafood street), and returned our electric bicycles on time.

The old town of Cijin spans a few streets away along Miaoqian Road. The whole place was quiet during our visit. We stopped at two places to have some food at Miaoqian Road- chirougeng (赤肉羹) and DaOnegong (大碗公).

Chirougeng, is a special dish with fried pork serves in think soup. It is available at the seafood street (upper left). A small portion of dish was sold with NTD100. DaOnegong is located along the same street (lower right), serving nice cold and hot dessert. The street was quiet during lunch time due to the low season.

Ki-au Presbyterian Church is located at the western end of the seafood street.

Cijin is definitely a must-visit place in Kaohsiung. It provides a different atmosphere- relaxing and calm beside the busy cosmopolitan. It will be great if the historical sites at Cijin can be better highlighted and brought to the attention of tourists. By the way, we bought some very special dried seafood at seafood street.

We would like to share our experience at the Night Market in Kaohsiung. Stay with us.

More about our experience in Kaohsiung and Tainan:

More about our experience in Taipei: 

Kaohsiung Night Markets

We visited two night markets in Kaohsiung- Liuhe Night Market and Rueifong Night Market. Liuhe Night Market is located right beside Formosa Boulevard MRT Station, at Liuhe Road 2. It is nearby our hotel. 

Liuhe Night Market is huge and well organized. A wide area has been designated for pedestrian. We can find various types of street food and local products along the market. There are several eateries and convenient shops available as well. We visited the market twice in our 3-day stay in Kaohsiung.  

Entrance of Liuhe Night Market at Zhongshan Road. It was 7 pm. We could see visitors were moving into the market.

We were attracted by the poster of the Mayor of Kaohsiung- Han Kuo-yu (韩国瑜)in front of a stall selling local products.

Crispy fried squid (upper left), special small sausage wrapped in big sausage (upper right), grilled beef (lower right), and fried chicken were really nice. 

Fried oyster with egg (upper left), oyster with mee sua in thick soup (upper right), crispy fried small crabs (lower right), and fried pork were some of the food that we had tried.

Rueifong Night Market is located around 300 meters away from Kaohsiung Arena MRT Station- take the exit 1 of the station and follow the crowd, and we shall reach the night market in a few minutes.

The walkway at Rueifong was narrow and we needed to squeeze through the crowd to move forward. It was hard to get a place for us to stand while waiting for our food to be served. We like Liuhe more than Rueifong. Well, Liuhe was designed for the tourists like us, while Rueifong was mainly serving the locals.

The entrance to Rueifong Market.

We can hardly find a place to stand in Rueifong Night Market.

There are more variety of food available in Rueifong, compared to Liuhe. However, the crowd made us very uncomfortable. Several types of food that we tried- grilled squid (upper right), fried noodle (lower right), and fried rice with duck. The food were nice.

The stalls for games and family activities were available in Ruei Fong Night Market. These stalls attract more locals to the night market.

Anyway, both of the night markets- Liuhe and Rueifong are worth a visit. We visited Cijin District in Kaohsiung as well. Please follow us if you wish to read more about our experience at Cijin.

Getting around Kaohsiung

Place to Stay
Most of the tourism spots in Kaohsiung are located along the MRT lines. So we would recommend a place with easy access to MRT system. We stayed at Big Bear Hotel for 2 nights. The hotel is located at Liuhe Road, around 100 meters from Formosa Boulevard MRT Station- the interchange station for two MRT lines in Kaohsiung City. We can go around Kaohsiung City easily from that station. Kaohsiung Airport is around 30 minutes away from the hotel by MRT.

Big Bear Hotel is inside this building, together with a few other hotels. Eateries and convenient shops are available around the hotel area. Liuhe Night Market is located 50 meters away from the hotel.

The lift area at the ground floor of the hotel (upper left), which leads to the lobby of the hotel (upper right). The room is simple (lower right), provided with hot and cold drinking water, tv with internet channels, and hot water supply for bathroom. The internet connection however was not stable. The air condition was not cooling during the daytime as well. 

MRT system really helps us in planning our trips. Places that can be reached using MRT include Cijin District (Sizihwan Station, then use ferry), Pier 2 Art District (Sizihwan or Yanchengpu Station), Love River tourist sites (Aozihdi Station), Liuhe Night Market (Formosa Boulevard Station), Rueifong Night Market (Kaohsiung Arena), and many more. The guide map for the MRT is available at Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Website.

The MRT connects airport to whole Kaohsiung City as well as to other nearby cities. We took commuter train from Kaohsiung Central MRT Station to Tainan. The trip from Kaohsiung to Tainan took us around 40 minutes. 

MRT station was clean with clear signage (upper left). The train was quiet, with announcement made in English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese dialect (upper right). Tickets can be bought via counter or vendor machine (lower right). Intercity train ticket can be bought on site. We found some interesting signage at Kaohsiung Station. It is the interchange station for inter-city commuter.

We took ferry from Kaohsiung City to Cijin District. The ferry trip was very comfortable. By the way,  we had to pay the exact amount of fee (NTD 30 per person per trip) at the ferry point, as change was not possible for the ticketing machine.

Light Rail is convenient, operating on the ground, thus we can see all the beautiful scene of the city. During our visit, we could only pay the fee with coins at the station. Unlike MRT, the light rail was charged by the number of trip, not by the distance. We didn't use Light Rail service much.

Koahsiung International Airport is a modern airport (upper left). We could get tourism information easily there (upper right). As far as the signage indicated, the airport was guarded by patrol dogs (lower right). The MRT station is located at the lower level of the airport. However, we had to move out of the terminal building to reach the lift to the MRT station.

We didn't have the opportunity to visit any shopping mall in Kaohsiung City. We bought all our food, beverage, and local products at the night markets and the shops in vicinity, as well as at Cijin old town. Night markets in Kaohsiung start around 6:30 pm until midnight.

Local products of Kaohsiung, such as pineapple tart, dried fruits, dried meats, and many more are available at Liuhe Night Markets. Some of the local products are available at the convenient shops as well. We found some special dried seafood at Cijin old town.

Liuhe Night Market is well-organized and tourist-friendly. We had good shopping experience there.

We walked a lot in Kaohsiung City. The city is overall clean and safe for pedestrian, day and night. Drinking water can be bought from convenient shops easily. So umbrella is the one that we should bring all the time.

The people there are polite and tourist-friendly. We found the staff at the hotel, shops, and MRT were friendly and helpful. It was hard for us to bargain, but we could get some free items if we bought bulk.

More about our experience in Kaohsiung and Tainan:

More about our experience in Taipei: 

Historical Places in Tainan

Tainan was the capital city of Taiwan from 1683 to 1887, under the ruling Qing Dynasty. The provincial capital was moved to Taipei after 1887. As one of the oldest city in Taiwan, Tainan is filled with old streets, temples, and of course, remnant of the old forts and castles. 

First of all, getting a right place to stay is important. For us, we stayed in ECFA Hotel (爱客发商务旅客), which is right at the heart of the city. The hotel is surrounded by old temples, and Chihkan Tower  (赤崁楼) is just nearby. Most of the places of interest and food streets are located at the old city (An Ping area and West Central District), staying somewhere nearby the area is highly recommended.

Let us start with the forts and old city remnants- Chihkan Tower (赤崁楼), AnPing Old Fort (安平古堡), Eternal Golden Castle (二鲲鯓炮台), and the south city gate (府城南门). South city gate is named Dananmen (大南门) in Google Map. Due to the summer promotion, these places could be accessed free of charge. The hot and humid weather deterred tourists activities, so these places were quiet during our visit. 

Our recommendation- visit Anping Old Fort, Anping old town, and Eternal Golden Castle together, as these places are nearby to each other. Chihkan Tower is surrounded by food streets. So visit the tower in late afternoon follow by a street-dining feast along the food streets will be nice.

South city gate is located south from Zhongyi Road. We can visit old Confucius Temple and old Tainan administration offices along the road. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi shopping mall- the biggest shopping mall in Tainan, is around 400 meters to the west of south city gate. 

Chihkan Tower is located at Section 2, Minzu Road. The tower was build around 1650 by Dutch, named Fort Provintia, as a defense tower in urban area. 1662, the fort was taken by Koxinga (郑成功), a Chinese general, and turned it into administration center of Tainan. The old fort was completely destroyed by earthquake. The beautiful towers that we can see today is built in 19th century on the foundation of the old fort. It has been renamed as Chihkan Tower. 

The original entrance of Fort Provintia. The entrance had been blocked for safety reason.

The foundation of the old tower.

Chihkan Tower from Minzu Road entrance (upper left). The entrance was free during our visit (May and June promotion). Some items, including the original design of the tower were exhibited in the building (upper right). The landscape was beautiful (lower right). The tower is beautiful, but, lack of historical value. The statue of lion and other decorative items were built in recent years. The tower worth a short visit anyway. We stayed there for around 30 minutes. Then, we walked down Minzu Road and Guohua Street. We took several types of food along the streets for dinner.

Anping Old Fort was built in 1632 by Dutch, to safeguard the entrance to Tainan seaport. It was originally named as Fort Zeelandia. The fort was taken by Koxinga in 1662, and renamed it as AnPing. The fort was completely abandoned under the ruling Qing Dynasty. The complex we can see today is built after World War 2. 

This wall was built by Dutch- the first owner of the fort. It is located around 50 meters behind the entrance.

Old well left at the semi-circle bastion of the old fort.

The white tower which we can see in the tourism leaflets and websites is standing on the foundation of old fort. It was built after World War 2. There is a souvenir shop and information center beside the tower. 

Several cannon replicas are displayed around the fort. These cannons are facing the sea. Photo was taken beside the white tower.

The tower is open to public, free of charge. We can see beautiful scenery of Tainan from the top of the tower. 

The original state of Fort Zeelandia. From here, we know that what have been left for us today are not more than a few battered walls. The site was badly preserved. There is a museum on the left of the entrance. It worth a visit. 

Our group photo outside of the museum. We spent around one hour walking around the fort and the museum. We roamed around Anping old town for a while before we walked to Eternal Golden Castle. It took us around 30 minutes to walk to the castle. The hot weather almost got us killed.

The Eternal Golden Castle is actually a small fort, around 1.7 kms from Anping Old Fort. It was built by Qing Official in 1876 to safeguard the coastline of Tainan.

The huge flat area at the middle of the fort was the resting and training ground for the soldiers (upper left). The armory (upper right), huge cannons pointing towards the coastline (lower right) and the moat can be seen as well. Some sources stated that the fort was built with the bricks dismantled from Fort Zeelandia. We took taxi to Wen Zhang Beef Soup (文章牛肉汤, some website refer it as Win Chang Beef Soup)to take our lunch, before we went back to our hotel. We visited Fucheng Nanmen and Confucius Temple the next day.

South city gate, or Fucheng Nanmen is located at Shulin Street. The gate is the only one with defensive enclosure in Taiwan.

The enclosure extends from the city gate and forms an outer layer of city wall. The enclosure was built around 1835.

 City gate.

Former Tainan Broadcasting Bureau Building, built in 1932. The building is located nearby the south gate.

Old temples and buildings are scattered all around the city- Confucius Temple (upper left),  Koxinga family temple (upper right), old fire station (lower right) and old court house are a few of them.

The good thing about Tainan- we can get nice food along the streets when we are moving from a tourist spot to another. We shared our experience in getting nice food in Tainan in our blog as well. We shared information about the place we stayed, shopping, and transportation as well.

More about our experience in Kaohsiung and Tainan:

More about our experience in Taipei: