Find out some of the things to see in Kaohsiung and why it’s my favorite city in Taiwan.
Kaohsiung: probably you don’t hear about this city in Taiwan very often. Compared to other cities in Asia, Kaohsiung is a little more than a small town. Taipei (the capital of Taiwan) has about 7 million people, Bangkok has almost 9 million, the urban area of Seoul has 25 million, and Tokyo (here my guide) has 35 million.
Taiwan is not a very touristy destination for westerners despite being a very interesting place with a lot to offer: modern cities, incredible history, beautiful landscapes, great food, excellent food, warm climate all year round, nice people and is a very cheap destination. In short, you have no excuse for not visiting this country!
In this article I what to see in Taiwan but I didn’t write much about Kaohsiung. Since I lived in this city and I know it well enough I decided to write two different articles. In this first post, I explain some of the reasons why is it worth visiting Kaohsiung, and in the next one I will focus on what to see.
Why visiting Kaohsiung: the people
If you, like me, love to visit places off-the-beaten-path then this city is the right place to go. Not many people speak English, but they are very kind and always ready to help.
Just to give you an example of how kind the Taiwanese are: I once was having lunch in a restaurant with some friends and, after dinner, the gentleman in front of the table began talking to us. To put it short he paid for our dinner simply because we were foreigners. We had never seen that man before. I and my wife had similar experiences and the same happened to some of my friends.
In simple words: Kaohsiung is the right mix between a modern city and Taiwanese traditions. In this respect, it’s much better than Taipei.
Why visiting Kaohsiung: the weather
Maybe you will be surprised to know that even if it’s only about 350 km away from Taipei, the weather in Kaohsiung is quite different. Winter in Taipei is much colder (sometimes around 10° but with the humidity, it feels much colder) and it rains almost every day. In Kaohsiung (but generally in the southern part of Taiwan) it almost never rains in winter and the minimum temperature hardly drops below 18 degrees, the maximum can reach around 25 degrees. Being accustomed to the weather in northern Italy where it is always gray and rainy, the Winters in Kaohsiung are quite amazing…
Summer in Kaohsiung it’s usually warmer than Taipei but a bit less rainy. If you are not accustomed to the tropical climate I strongly advise you to avoid the months from April to October for a visit to Kaohsiung.
When I was living in Taiwan, on some days of June there were 34°C with a perceived temperature of 48°C!
Why visiting Kaohsiung: the food
I really love the food in Asia, and in Taiwan, you can find some of the best street food of the continent. A characteristic of Kaohsiung is tropical fruits: they are very good and very cheap. Every season has its own fruit: Mango, Pineapple, Lychee, Dragon Fruit, Custard Apple, Wax Apple, Guava are just some of them. Often for less than a euro, you can buy fresh smoothies.
Night markets are also very popular. I wrote an article about the Ruifeng night market. You can read it here.
In Kaohsiung, there is also one of the biggest harbors in Asia so you can find excellent seafood.
Why visiting Kaohsiung: the architecture
Visiting Taiwan can be a bit shocking if you’ve never been to Asia: everything is different and uglier especially compared to European cities. Then little by little, you get used to the mess, and you can start to see why so many people love this country.
Although the buildings are mostly old, in recent years Kaohsiung, and Taiwan in general, have seen incredible development. The result is that in many cities you can see some really old houses side by side with modern skyscrapers.
If you are passionate about architecture, Kaohsiung won’t disappoint you. Here’s a good example: the Formosa Boulevard Subway Station.
These are just some of the reasons why it is worth visiting Kaohsiung. Don’t miss my next post where I explain what to see in Kaohsiung.