Located at the southwestern region of Taiwan is Kaohsiung, the island’s second largest and most populated city. A bustling seaport (the busiest in Taiwan and one of the busiest in the world, in fact) mentions of Kaohsiung usually come accompanied by associations with sea trade, maritime transportation and heavy industries - however, this hip metropolis is so much more than just an industrial hub of Taiwan. Blessed with a pleasant, mild climate year-round - mainly thanks to its proximity to the ocean - as well as mountains, pristine forests and the iconic Love River, Kaohsiung is fast becoming recognised as a tourist attraction in its own right.
Its hosting of the 2009 World Games further thrust this unique little city into the spotlight, and since then major beautification projects have been undertaken by the city to improve its urban landscape. Today Kaohsiung is known for its historic architecture, beautiful rivers and lakes, and hopping night markets amongst other attractions.
The official language is Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, but older residents of the island may only speak Taiwanese (otherwise known as Hokkien) and some Japanese. English is not widely spoken in Kaohsiung as of May 2015.
Getting around in Kaohsiung isn’t difficult, thanks to the city’s extensive and efficient metro network: the Kaohsiung MRT. Those wanting a bit of fresh air and exercise may want to grab a rental bike and pedal around the city instead, though - the great weather and flat landscape makes cycling a viable and enjoyable transport option in Kaohsiung.
What to see and do
No trip to Kaohsiung is complete without a visit to the jewel of the city’s crown, its beautiful Love River. A scenic waterway that meanders lazily across the city’s urban landscape, the Love River’s aesthetic value is further enhanced by trees and shrubbery along the river banks as well as little boutique cafes and parks that has sprung up on its sides over the years. Come nightfall, the river banks are lit up with coloured lights, making for a truly romantic and tranquil ambience amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
Besides the Love River, experiencing a colorful, chaotic Taiwanese night market is also a must for every visitor to the island. Head to Kaohsiung’s Ruifeng night market in the Zuoying district for your night of fun and discovery - there you can gorge on cheap but stunningly flavorful local foods (the brave may attempt to ingest the infamous ‘stinky tofu’) and splurge on everything from clothes, perfume, jewellery to electronics and household items all at jaw-dropping prices.
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