Pretty Places: 10 Hotspots of Kaohsiung and Pingtung
I’m sure you’ve heard of Taipei and planned for all the ungodly shopping and eating that you’re gonna do, but what happens when your plane tickets point you to Kaohsiung this time?
No, Kaohsiung is not a modern metropolis like its counterpart.
And no, Kaohsiung isn’t very ulu (remote or isolated) either.
In fact, if you’re dying to have a short getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, Kaohsiung is perfect for you!
Being the largest port city in Taiwan, Kaohsiung is able to fuel your shopping needs and food cravings yet provide you with that much needed laid-back pace of life.
1. Happy Farmer
Guava-picking with Happy Farmer in Qishan District, Kaohsiung
All those city elements aside, the magic of Kaohsiung rests in its natural elements – besides the ocean, we’re talking agriculture.
The fruits in Kaohsiung are known to be cultivated with tender loving care, by that I meant tons of meticulous work and probably a lot of anxiety.
No pesticides are used to cultivate these fruits as well. Au naturel, baby!
My lovely tour guide Lynn did mention that the humble farmers who cultivate those fruits worry rain or shine, even when the sun is out.
Sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes bestowed upon me by the Happy Farmer team
Taiwan is known for the sweetness of its fruits, thanks to agricultural technology.
If you didn’t know, wax apples from Taiwan used to suck, but now they taste the best in Taiwan (East Asia), even though wax apples originate from South East Asia. Wax apples have definitely become something that Taiwan is proud of. Check out some dope wax apple lanterns in my article on one of Pingtung’s largest lantern festival.
So, are we in Kaohsiung just to pick fruits?
Nope, fruit-picking is just part of the exciting programme that Happy Farmer has to offer.
In order to propagate food and agricultural education, and as an attempt to effectively deal with labor shortage during the busy farming seasons, the Kaohsiung city government started the Happy Farmer program in 2013, the first ever rural experience camp that integrates the sixth industrialisation and rural rejuvenation community.
If you’re wondering what the sixth industrialisation is, it refers to the vertical integration of primary, secondary, and tertiary industries (1 x 2 x 3=6) to achieve greater value added in products and services, through working with diverse sectors and industries, at the same time growing the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries.
The Happy Farmer programme provides an in-depth guide for the tourists into the community: Comprising DIY activities, fruit-picking, trying local food, and a professional local guide to explain the agricultural aspect of things.
After picking some really large guavas under the sun, we were transported to an air conditioned room. In front of us lay several leaves and flowers that the people of Happy Farmer have kindly gathered for us.
Before floral imprinting via hammering
Hammered flowers imprinted on canvas bag
Amongst the different leaves and flowers that were offered, I decided on three of the same flower.
Minimalism is the way to go, no?
Oops, how ‘millennial’ of me.
Anyways, once we chose what we were about to aggressively hammer, we had to place some scotch tape over our to-be artwork. Of course, the tape has to be clear.
Then, you start hammering on the flowers on the canvas.
Though I was with a small group of people doing this DIY thingy, the room was banging loud when everyone started hammering.
After a good pounding of three minutes, I thought I was done.
But no, one has to hit it continuously so that the ‘juices’ of the flowers and plants stain the canvas sufficiently. This unassuming activity might be more helpful (and fun) than you think when it comes to stress-relief.
Strength required? Moderate to depending on how stressed out you are. This activity is perfect for adults and kids alike, and you get to bring home your masterpiece on a useful canvas bag as well.
Address: Around the Meinong, Dashu, Qishan, Liugui and Neimen districts
2. Old Railroad Bridge Education Wetland Zone
New railroad and old railroad bridges
Look left, then right.
Over here you’ll see the new railroad on your left, and the old – on your right. Initially, I was shocked to know that the one on my left was the new railroad, but then it makes sense for it to look worn due to wear and tear.
The old railroad is easily accessible and you can stroll from one end to the other, at the same time watching the trains go by on the new railroad. The railroads are surrounded by huge patches of grass below for anyone to chill or have a picnic. There are also many cute dogs walking around with their tiny legs. Good news? They don’t bite.
More good news? Admission to the Old Railroad Bridge Education Wetland Zone is free! That was a mouthful, but we all love it when something’s free.
Do you want me to say it?
Fine, this spot is 10/10 insta-worthy. Perfect for memories.
The place is a 17 minute walk from Jiuqutang Train Station. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to the Old Railroad Bridge Education Wetland Zone from the station. (Scroll down all the way for information on Taiwan’s trains)
Address: No.109, Jhuliao Rd., Dashu Dist., Kaohsiung City, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Walk further down and you will be greeted by Sanhe Tile Kiln.
3. Sanhe Tile Kiln
Ceiling of Sanhe Tile Kiln
If you know what a furnace is, a kiln is a furnace for burning, baking, or drying, especially one for calcining lime (resulting in the creation of cement) or firing pottery.
Sanhe Tile Kiln is home to lots of interesting pottery, sculptures, and tiles.
Tiles in the Sanhe Tile Kiln
Intriguing clay sculptures in the Sanhe Tile Kiln
If ancient kilns and the history and traditional production of bricks interest you, the Sanhe Tile Kiln is the place to go. Moreover, the place also sells pottery and clay creations that you can purchase as souvenirs (Psst, most of them are very affordable!) or give as gifts.
The Sanhe Tile Kiln also sells snacks, drinks and ice cream for your enjoyment as you explore the place together with the old and new railroads.
Address: No. 94, Zhuliao Road, Dashu District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 840
4. Huaqiao Fish Market
Sashimi and sushi shop in Huaqiao Fish Market
Half-eaten uni from one of the sashimi stalls in Huaqiao Fish Market
The uni was sooooo good, by the way.
Anyways, the Huaqiao Fish Market holds auctions for its fresh catches early in the morning most of the time, and most stalls open by 11pm and close by 8pm.
Fresh fish being sold here from 100NT$ to 200NT$ (S$ 4.30 to S$8.80)
When it comes to the seafood, the 7,000 reviews on Googles speaks for the quality, freshness and affordability of the seafood in Huaqiao Fish Market.
What’s interesting is that the whole place seems like a wet market, yet consists of stalls that offer fresh sashimi and sushi where people can dine at while being comfortably seated.
Fresh meats, fish and oysters in Huaqiao Fish Market
The market is a must-go for all seafood lovers. If you don’t dig seafood, the place also sells quality meat, dried goods, and drinks. A hot-selling item from the market would be the dried sakura shrimp that taste heavenly with rice. There’s something to take away for everyone!
Address: No. 39, Chaolong Road, Donggang Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 928
5. Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area
Not far from Huaqiao Fish Market is where the largest lagoon on the southwest coastline of Taiwan, Dapeng Bay lies. This place is highly recommended when you’re touring about in Pingtung.
You can plan your trip with helpful suggested itineraries on Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area’s website and directions here, whether you intend to get her via public transport, the Little Liuqiu ferry, or via driving.
At Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, you can go for a boat tour that gives you an amazing view of the magnificent Dapeng Bay. From now till September, you’ll be able to enjoy bridge-opening shows at 5pm on the weekends and during the holidays.
Aside from the Huaqiao Fish Market, you should take full advantage of the fresh and inexpensive seafood in the area. Seafood restaurants abound on Guangfu Road in Donggang, not far off from Dapeng Bay.
Address: No.169, Datan Rd., Donggang Township, Pingtung County
6. Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
Beautiful, endless lanterns illuminate the place during Fo Guang Shan Museum’s New Year Festival of Light and Peace
The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum is beautiful in the day and night. Even though it’s called a museum, I have to warn you; it is one large museum – not the kind of place that you can finish exploring in an hour. It would be perfect to spend about half your day here.
This 2019, the Fo Guang Shan New Year Festival of Light and Peace started from the 5th of February till the 6th of March. This month-long festival was inspired by Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s New Year Spring Couplet “Always Well-rounded and Auspicious,” and it features various activities to help people gain peace and joy.
One of the many bodhisattvas featured in the Fo Guang Shan Museum
Thousands anticipate the fireworks to go off behind the beautiful massive statue of Buddha
The more you look… This is insane.
Make a wish and leave some prayers, who knows? Keep yourself hopeful for 2019!
Address: No.1 Tongling Road, Tongling Li, Dashu District, Kaohsiung 84049, Taiwan
7. Shan-Chuan Glass Suspension Bridge
The 262m glass-&-steel suspension bridge over Ailiao River
The 15 storey high suspension bridge is open to all from 9am to 5pm every day except for Monday and admission is 50NT$ (S$ 2.20) per person. Check before going though, to avoid disappointment.
I’m not sure if the picture taken is making you anxious, but if you’re trying to overcome your fear of heights – this would be the place to do it. This bridge is stable AF. It’s not shaky at all.
Do take note that the bridge may be crowded on weekends so your best shot would be on weekdays.
At the end of the bridge I found some pushcarts selling food and drinks. Do check out the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park if you are nearby, where you can learn all about aboriginal culture and the artefacts. There’s even a wax museum there and one can participate in the tribal cultural activities and ceremonies (e.g harvest festivals) to experience the vibrant culture of the people.
The admission per person ranges from 80NT$ (S$ 3.50) for students and those in the military to 150NT$ (S$ 6.60) for adults.
Though I didn’t get to visit the biggest aboriginal museum in Taiwan, I would recommend it because visiting the bridge by itself may not be very interesting for some. You can check out all the good things that people are saying about the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park on Tripadvisor. You can find the directions to cultural park here if you’re driving or getting there by train.
Just like the bridge, the cultural park opens on all days from 830am to 5pm except for Mondays. But once again, do check just to be sure before going!
Shan-Chuan Glass Suspension Bridge
No. 56, Section 1, Zhongzheng Road, Sandimen Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 901
Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park
No.104, Fengjing, Majia Township, Pingtung County 903, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
8. Ten Drum Rende 仁德 Creative Park (Tainan)
During the Japanese Colonial Era in Taiwan (1895–1945), a ton of sugar cane was planted in Taiwan due to its well-suited climate and the demand for sugar during the war.
After World War II, the Japanese withdrew from Taiwan, but left a few sugar mills and exclusive railways behind. The constant advancement of industries, increasing prices for land, and cheaper imported goods resulted in a stagnant use of the sugar mills.
Wistful sugar factories that have been preserved in the creative park gives visitors a nostalgic glimpse into the past of the once functioning sugar factory.
Many of the sugar mills were demolished while the remaining were preserved and remodelled into creative parks. The Ten Drum Art Percussion Group attained two mills: One in Qiaotou (Kaohsiung) and one in Rende (Tainan). The group replaced the old warehouses of the sugar mills with resources (and of course drums) that demonstrate the production process of drums.
The creative park put together different drums in a section where visitors can play the drums and learn about the endless variations of them. There’s even an area nearby the outside of the park where you can have a fun mini session on the basic rhythms of drums and then come up with your own beats as you go along!
A cosy cafe of the Ten Drum Rende 仁德 Creative Park
Nestled in the Ten Drum Rende 仁德 Creative Park is a beautiful and comfy cafe that’s selling pretty cakes and drinks for you and whoever you’re with to chill out at.
A giant-ass swing on the very top of the Ten Drum Rende 仁德 Creative Park
I didn’t believe myself when I saw this swing perched on the very top of the creative park.
I didn’t expect the place to offer that many activities aside from the drums, railroads that once transported sugar and even people, a cafe, and epic drum performances by the Ten Drum Art Percussion Group?
Plus a giant swing?
Okay, we see you.
Put Ten Drum Creative Park on your list right now. It opens from 9am till 5pm, by the way.
Did I mention that there’s also bungee jumping available in the park itself?!
Don’t forget that this article is only covering the 8th recommended place. That’s Tainan for you!
Address: No.326, Sec. 2, Wenhua Rd., Rende Dist., Tainan City 717, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
The other ‘branch’ is located at: No.24, Tangchang Rd., Ciaotou Dist., Kaohsiung City, Taiwan (R.O.C.), and it opens from 930am till 5pm.
9. Lukang Old Street
A kettle resting outside of the Yi Gu Zhai Tea shop on Lukang Old Street. The shop sells tea and flour tea mush (mian cha).
One thing that’s striking about Lukang Old Street is its colour. Its red-tiled walls and and floors add to its distinctive identity.
Speaking of identity, this aesthetic street comprises Longshan temple, many unique shops, homes, and street food. The exteriors and interiors of the shops and houses are beautiful, it’s as if any spot in Lukang Old Street would make a great shot.
Intricate ceiling of Longshan Temple in Lukang Old Street
This quaint street will keep your senses and especially your tastebuds busy. If you see duck noodles while exploring the street, make sure to get it!
Enjoy the historical place of local trade while you’re enjoying the delicious traditional offerings of Lukang Old Street.
Address: Yaolin Street, Lukang Township, Changhua County, Taiwan 505
10. Miyahara Ice Cream (Taichung)
A hotspot for youths, Miyahara Ice Cream is a beautiful place to enjoy some beverages, sweets, snacks and desserts.
One of the many interesting shortbread bars that Miyahara has on its shelves.
The place has some really interesting snacks and many others with stunning packaging that would be perfect if you’re looking for some last-minute souvenirs before you take a flight back home.
Of course, Miyahara also sells its own house brand ice cream and its ice cream menu is extremely unique.
Sadly, I didn’t get to try it because I didn’t see it. I only felt regret coursing through me when I read up more on Miyahara through HungryBird’s blog post.
If you happen to be there though, go for it! Their menu consists of endless chocolate, tea, fruit flavours with so many more interesting and yummy toppings.
Address: No. 20號, Zhongshan Road, Central District, Taichung City, Taiwan 400
Hot tip: You can book online for some train tickets. Book early too!
That’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed the list!