If you are planning to visit Kaohsiung don’t forget to spend a couple of hours walking around the Lotus Pond (蓮池潭). In this article I explain how to get there.
If you are planning to visit Taiwan, don’t forget to include Kaohsiung (here my travel guide) in your itinerary. One of the landmarks of this city (the second largest on the island) it’s the Lotus Pond, only 5 Km from the city center. The Lotus Pond it’s an artificial lake 1,5 Km long and 500 meters wide, surrounded by numerous temples and pagodas. In this area, you’ll really feel like you are in Asia.
A pagoda is a tiered tower with multiple eaves, built in traditions originating as stupa in historic South Asia and further developed in East Asia or with respect to those traditions, common to Nepal, India, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia.
How to get to the Lotus Pond
To get to the Lotus Pond, if you stay in Kaohsiung, take the train from the Central Station to Zuoying. There is one every 15 minutes and the trip takes just 5 minutes. The cost is NT$15. Alternatively, you can take a taxi: in Taiwan they are very cheap. Once you leave Zuoying station, cross the road and head north to Shengli Rd. You will see the lake on the right side after about 200 meters.
The best way to visit the Lotus Pond is by walking around the lake and exploring the temples one after the other. I recommend that you start from the point indicated on the map and continue clockwise. Don’t forget to take your camera with you!
The temples of Lotus Pond
Dragon and Tiger Pagodas (Chinese: 龍虎塔; pinyin: Lónghǔ tǎ)
If you follow my indications, after a few steps you will find the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas on the right side. The two pagodas are twin towers of seven stories each. In front of them, there are two giant statues of a tiger and a dragon. To get to the pagodas you have to walk literally inside their mouths. The two towers are connected to the road by a bridge with 9 bends.
Cihji Palace (Chinese: 慈濟宮; pinyin: Cí jì gōng)
Just in front of the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, you’ll see the Cihji Palace, a temple dedicated to Baosheng Dadi, the god of medicine.
Spring and Autumn Pavilions (Chinese: 春秋閣; pinyin: chūnqiū gé)
A little further you can see the spectacular Spring and Autumn Pavilions. Completed in 1953, there two octagonal buildings of four stories each are also connected by a bridge with 9 bends.
In front of the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, there is a huge statue of a dragon ridden by Guanyin. To get inside the Pavilion you have to walk inside the body of the dragon.
Some of the bas-reliefs inside the dragon are quite interesting.
Pei Chi Pavilion (Chinese: 北極亭; pinyin: Běijí tíng)
The Pei Chi Pavilion honors the deity Xuan Wu using the honorable title “God emperor of the North Pole”. The statue is 72 meters high holding a 38.5-meter sword. If you pay attention you’ll see 7 stars on the sword. This God is trampling on a serpent (the representation of evil), a common myth in many cultures.
According to some records, this should be the tallest statue in Southeast Asia.
When is the best time to visit the Lotus Pond
Like all tourist attractions in Taiwan, avoid weekends if possible, because tourists from the Mainland (don’t call them Chinese if you have Taiwanese people around you) fill every single spot.
Usually the other side of the lake is a bit quieter.
Don’t forget to bring your tripod, for some nice sunset pictures.