Kaohsiung is not just about its city sights. There are also plenty of exciting venues at the suburbs of Kaohsiung that can be covered within a day, provided that you have the correct transport to bring you around.
Chartered Tour to Suburbs of Kaohsiung – A fully customisable Itinerary
Contents in this Article
- 1 Chartered Tour to Suburbs of Kaohsiung – A fully customisable Itinerary
- 2 #1: Fo Guang Shan (佛光山)
- 3 Delicious Local Lunch – Dumplings!
- 4 #2: Lotus Pond / Dragon Tiger Pagoda (蓮池潭、龍虎塔)
- 5 Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋閣)
- 6 Pei Chi Pavilion (北極亭)
- 7 #3: Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine（忠烈祠)
- 8 #4: Sizihwan (西子灣)
- 9 #5: Cijin Island (旗津)
- 10 Cihou Fort (旗后炮台) and Star Tunnel (星空隧道)
- 11 #6: Pier 2 Art District (駁二藝術特區)
- 12 #7: Kaohsiung Love River (愛河)
- 13 #8 Ruifeng Night Market (瑞豐夜市)
- 14 Final Thoughts
Close on the heels of a very eventful day at Kenting, we spent the next day on a fully customisable chartered tour to the suburbs of Kaohsiung from KKday.
Although the tour comes with a recommended itinerary, this chartered tour gives us the flexibility in choosing the attractions we wanted to visit and the amount of time we wished to spend at each location. This was made possible because our driver’s contact details were given to us a few days beforehand, and we were able to communicate and discuss our requirements and expectations with her even before the day of the tour. Our 8-hrs tour was therefore carefully planned and agreed upon before we even met our driver for the day!
#1: Fo Guang Shan (佛光山)
Similar to the 10-hr taxi tour to Kenting, our transport for the day was a professional taxi driver – a local who is familiar with their local attractions and culture. Our first stop for the day was Fo Guang Shan (佛光山), which was about an hour’s drive away from our lodgings at the Kindness Hotel.
If you are visiting Kaohsiung, Fo Guang Shan (佛光山) is a place you should never miss. It is much more than a place of worship – its scale and magnitude makes it a place of wonderment and majesty.
Of course, the main attraction at Fo Guang Shan is this giant statue of the Buddha. You just need to be here to experience the awe and magnitude of this.
The path of enlightenment leading to the statue of the Buddha is flanked by eight pagodas, each with their own theme and exhibition.
We only had time to visit the exhibition and educational movie at the first Pagoda nearest to the statue of the Buddha. But there are lots more elsewhere.
Incidentally, this place has got fantastic shopping as well, so if you would like to pick up some well-made souvenirs or buddhists accessories at a good price, this may be the only place to do so. The rest of the shops here are rather high-end.
Fo Guang Shan is actually made up of many museums, exhibitions and prayer halls, each of them an epitome of magnificence. This place is so huge, we wished we had more time to explore each of these areas in detail.
The nearest spot to the great statue of the Buddha is at the Big Buddha Court, and that’s where we can offer some incense to the Buddha and get really close to him.
Standing next to the statue of the Buddha and looking back at the path of enlightenment leading to the statue. Somehow, standing here made me feel like part of a period drama, it feels so much like being in a ancient palace!
Fo Guang Shan is huge, and preferably would need at least a day in order to cover the premises entirely. We had more to do at the surburbs of Kaohsiung today, so half a day was all we could spare.
Passing by the main entrance hall on our way back to our chartered cab. This place is filled with high-end restaurants and shops, making it look more like Takashimaya Shopping Centre rather than a place of worship!
If you prefer some peace and quiet, then it is a very good idea to visit Fo Guang Shan early in the morning and leave by noon, because that’s when hordes of tour groups keep coming in. The scene when we came in the morning, and that when we left at noon was very very different!
Delicious Local Lunch – Dumplings!
Cost of lunch was not included in the package. Local fare was what we had for lunch today, and our friendly driver brought us to this dumpling house at a Zuoying marketplace where she grew up at.
As authentic as it can get….and pretty good as well!
#2: Lotus Pond / Dragon Tiger Pagoda (蓮池潭、龍虎塔)
Want your luck to change for the better? Then you must visit the Dragon Tiger Pagoda located at the Lotus Pond in the Zuoying District of Kaohsiung. The Chinese believe that if you enter through the Dragon’s mouth and exit from the Tiger’s mouth, then your ill luck will be left behind and your good luck will increase. Seeing how poor my luck has been, I just had to give it a try. Even if it didn’t work, there is no harm done because I still would have enjoyed the beautiful scenery here.
The signage here says to enter through the Dragon’s mouth and exit through the Tiger’s mouth. So here goes….
The Dragon is beautiful, isn’t it? The Tiger isn’t that bad either. 🙂
Inside the belly of the Dragon is a narrow passageway with figurines depicting ancient and mythical chinese characters. It felt so much like our own now-defunct Har Par Villa.
We were able to climb to the top of the Dragon Pagoda to see this stunning view of the Lotus Pond (蓮池潭) and the Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋閣) in the distance. This is the most wonderful viewing spot of the whole Lotus Pond area, and we absolutely enjoyed the privacy of this view because not many visitors could be bothered to climb up the pavilion!
Out of the Dragon’s Pagoda and ready to change my luck for the better with the Tiger.
The belly of the Tiger has similar Chinese mythological figures as the Dragon’s.
And out through the mouth of the Tiger! See the fangs of the tiger in front?
Has my luck changed for the better? I am not quite sure yet at this point, but what I can say at least that this was fun!
Another fantastic view of the Dragon.
The Long-Gui (Dragon Turtle), an auspicious creature in Chinese mythology guarding the Dragon Tiger Pagodas.
Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋閣)
The Spring and Autumn Pavilions is just a short walking distance from the Dragon Tiger Pagodas.
The main theme of the Spring and Autumn Pavilions is the massive statue of Kuanyin riding the Dragon.
For those who are interested, you can enter this Dragon’s mouth as well, and inside the Dragon, you will find carvings related to Kuanyin and Buddhism.
We were more interested in feeding these tortoises that resides in the half-moon pond at the entrance of the Spring and Autumn Pavilions.
Looks like this one got himself stuck in a cove and couldn’t get out!
Opposite the Spring and Autumn Pavilions is the Chi Ming Palace, the most spectacular temple by the Lotus Pond.
Pei Chi Pavilion (北極亭)
This is again, a short walking distance away from the Spring and Autumn Pavilions and features the Taoist deity Xuan Wu (also known as the God-Emperor of the North Pole, hence the name of this pavilion).
Beautiful statues and pavilions aside, this place is one of the best spots for viewing the Kaohsiung cityscape.
Throw in a coin and make a wish.
#3: Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine（忠烈祠)
We were supposed to go to the former British Consulate at Takao (打狗), but our driver told us it was located up a hill and a bit of climbing up the stairs was needed. So she offered to drive us up another hill (Shoushan) to see the Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine and the Love Observatory. I thought it was a wonderful recommendation.
This place is popular with local young couples at night and its not difficult to understand why that was so. From this viewing point, it looked as if we had the entire Kaohsiung under our feet!
#4: Sizihwan (西子灣)
Sizihwan is at the foot of Shoushan and is the place to watch the sunset at Kaohsiung. We were there too early for sunset, but watching the bay and its calm waters is beautiful enough.
From Sizihwan, we could see the former British Consulate at the top of a neighbouring hill. That was the hill we the one we were supposed to climb. Fortunately we didn’t!
#5: Cijin Island (旗津)
Next stop for us was Cijin, an island that is accessible by both road and ferry from Gushan. We recommend taking the ferry because you’ll get to see the beautiful harbour view along the way.
The ferry had its entire lower deck reserved for motorcycles. Yes! Even vehicles are allowed on the ferry, they just need to drive straight up on board!
The upper deck for passengers.
The best views are at the front of the ferry.
The entire ride only took us 15 minutes to reach the ferry terminal at Cijin.
There are a number of sights on Cijin Island. You could engage a trishaw driver to ferry you around the island if you have difficulty walking.
You could also rent a bike to explore the island.
Cijin is essentially a harbour town, so its main industry is seafood.
The Cijin Tianhou Temple where folks pray to the sea goddess Mazu for safety at sea. It is the oldest shrine in Kaohsiung.
Cijin is so bustling with seafood products that they even have an entire street called Seafood Street!
Cijin Main Street.
This quirky museum at Cijin was highly recommended by our driver. Of course admission fees had to be paid by ourselves.
This was actually a collection of freakish stuff and animals, some alive, but most of them dead.
A freakish mysterious and unknown animal.
A gigantic live turtle that is bigger than a dog.
The most nightmarish of the entire collection has to be this mummified specimen of a man-fish. Said to have originated from Japan and is at least 1400 years old.
Cihou Fort (旗后炮台) and Star Tunnel (星空隧道)
The last attraction to visit at Cijin Island was the historic Cijin Fort which formerly guards the northern entrance to Kaohsiung Harbour.
The Cijin Star Tunnel leads us straight out to the sea where the water can get treacherous at times. Visitors are advised to steer clear of path in certain months in case the water from the sea sweeps them off.
Spot the crabs! No wonder this place is well-known for seafood!
Climbing up the hill of the fort to get an sweeping view of the coastline.
The upper fort.
At the fort is where the views of Cijin Island is most stunning.
I am not imagining it. The coastline here does look like the upper part of a heart shape!
Highly recommended to visit was the Cihou Lighthouse, but it was closed when we were there. What a pity.
After so much fun at Cijin Island, it was time to take the ferry back to Kaohsiung.
#6: Pier 2 Art District (駁二藝術特區)
We had explored all the areas that we wanted to visit in Kaohsiung suburbs in less than 8 hrs. With some time left in our hands, we requested our driver to bring us to Pier 2 Art District, a place where art becomes greater than life.
Pier 2 District used to be a warehouse district, but now the warehouses and the surrounding architectures had been turned into a hub of indoor and outdoor art.
What we actually wanted to see was Bumblebee from Transformers, and after looking around for a very long time, found that this was actually Bumblebee, without his usual coat of yellow paint! What a letdown!
Moving Train for the young and not-so-young.
My favourite piece of art has got to be this tipsy-topsy house, where everything in it, including the house, is upside down.
This place is popular with art lovers and the younger crowd and is a great place to spend an hour or two of your time. The exhibitions keeps changing so this landscape may be different the next time you visit.
There is a big open field with interesting exhibits made of train metal.
#7: Kaohsiung Love River (愛河)
Enroute back to Kindness Hotel, our driver made a quick stop for us at the Love River, one of the most iconic attractions in Kaohsiung. It is a romantic and charming place, and one where I would love to have a cup of coffee at the banks with Tommy.
#8 Ruifeng Night Market (瑞豐夜市)
We asked our driver to drop us off at the Kindness Hotel because we had other dinner plans for the night. The recommended itinerary was actually to drop us at Ruifeng Night Market which was highly recommended by the locals. We eventually did visit Ruifeng Night Market on another evening.
Read our review on Ruifeng Night Market.
This is in summary, our action-packed day to the suburbs of Kaohsiung. It would not have been possible to cover so many attractions within a day without a fully customisable and flexible chartered tour – one that caters to our individual needs. If you are travelling in a group, then getting a chartered tour is even more economical because the cost of hiring the driver and vehicle is spread around. Looking at the amount of time saved in taking public transport, I’ll say this is a very good investment.