The Yellow Line. I used to take this line a lot more, but since Taroko Park opened we usually drive into the city, and work our way north from the 88 Expressway.
1. Fongshan 鳳山. It's easy for me to get lost in Fongshan. I've driven through there a few times, and it rarely goes well for me.
If you're unfamiliar with Kaohsiung, Fongshan is divided from downtown Kaohsiung by the freeway. A lot of people who work in Kaohsiung live in Fongshan because it's slightly cheaper. If I was going to live in Kaohsiung, I'd probably live in one of the suburbs further east/northeast. Da Shu ("Big Tree") maybe, or Da Liao.
|Feng Yi Academy|
I once visited one of the old "academies" in Fongshan, the Feng Yi Academy, which dates back to 1814. The Feng Yi Academy and others like it were the Ching Dynasty equivalent of the American one-room schoolhouse, where the youth of their day learned the basic skills needed to advance through the Confucian hierarchy. Of course the American version was a more democratic affair, but there are many parallels just the same.
There are other Ching era relics in that area, but nothing that's likely to make an impression. If you're in the neighborhood I suggest visiting the Feng Yi Academy, but be warned that it's been "Disneyfied" a bit, and that the parking situation is terrible.
2. Martial Art Stadium 技擊館. This is the first MRT stop you encounter after exiting the freeway. We used to park in the lot behind the stadium, and take the MRT into the city. Easier than fighting your way down Jong Jeng Road 中正路.
|Intersection of Jung Jeng Road and Jung Shan Road. (MRT Formosa Boulevard Station).|
You would think there'd be a lot of good restaurants on Jong Jeng Road, but I haven't found many. There used to be a really good Italian/pizza restaurant not far from the freeway, but they closed it down for lack of customers.
3. Formosa Boulevard 美麗島. As said in the previous entry, Formosa Boulevard is where the Red Line and the Yellow Line come together. It's a big, noisy intersection, and also one of the ugliest parts of downtown Kaohsiung. I remember it being a more happening area before the advent of the (K)MRT, but these days most of the businesses in that area are dying a slow death.
4. Yenchengpu 鹽埕埔. This is the stop for the Kaohsiung Zoo, and also one of the most pleasant parts of Kaohsiung to walk around. There's a Caves Bookstore in the area, and also a lot of bars. I've never been there at night, but it's probably very lively.
|The one Formosan black bear unfortunate enough to be trapped in the Kaohsiung Zoo.|
If I were you, I wouldn't bother with the Kaohsiung Zoo. That place sucks. It's old, and all the animals there look unhappy. The area around the zoo can be interesting, but you'd want to avoid it during the middle part of the day.
5. Shidzewan 西子灣. This is without a doubt the most heavily touristed part of Kaohsiung. Nothing there is half as awesome as stuff you'd find in Taipei, but if you lower your expectations it can be a fun day trip.
From Shidzewan you can take a ferry across to Chi Jin 旗津 Island. Chi Jin Island is NOT Kenting (not even close), but it's still much better than Syiaogang to the south. You can rent bicycles there, watch boats, and have some good seafood.
|The Old British Consulate.|
For that matter, Shidzewan itself has some points of interest. The old British Consulate 打狗英國領事館 features some interesting exhibits and a nice teashop, and there's an excellent view of ships passing in and out of Kaohsiung Port.
Shidzewan is also close to Kaohsiung's Love River 愛河, which boasts - in my opinion - the best Lantern Festival in Taiwan. Just don't try driving a car into that area during the festival - you'll sorely regret it.
One place to avoid is the Kaohsiung City History Museum 高雄市立歷史博物館. Definitely one of the most boring/irrelevant museums in Taiwan.
|Kaohsiung Port. Chi Jin on the far right, the 85 Skytower in the middle, and Shidzewan in the left foreground.|
If you really want to learn about Kaohsiung's history, and if you really want to know what makes that city tick, look no farther than the Kaohsiung Port. The rest of Kaohsiung grew up around that port, and prior to its construction Kaohsiung was little more than a fishing village. It was the port that brought industry to Kaohsiung, and it's still the mainstay of Kaohsiung's whole economy. It's little wonder that they built the 85 Skytower 高雄85大樓*, Dream Mall 夢時代, the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center 高雄展覽館, and Jung Shan University 中山大學** within easy reach of this important place.
But is it interesting? Only if you like boats. Lucky for me I'm fascinated by boats, so of course Kaohsiung Port has its attractions for me.
Then again I am kind of weird, so yeah, maybe give it a miss?
Kaohsiung, According to the MRT and My Faulty Memory (Red Line)
台灣西方文明初體驗 The Influence of Western Civilization on Taiwan (1 of 4)
Shopping Around Taitung City 在台東市逛街
The Airport MRT
*The 85 Skytower is the tallest, most famous building in Kaohsiung, although many people would be at a loss to tell you what its name is. You can see this building from just about anywhere in Kaohsiung, and it's located near the Sanduo Shopping District MRT Station. Don't bother going there. It's more a landmark than a functional space.
**There's a surprisingly nice swimming beach near Jung Shan University, though who knows what's in the water there. I can only tell you that it hasn't killed me... yet.