It has been 5 years since I last visited Taiwan.
I really miss Taiwan so much so when my wife approve my visa to go to Taiwan with my friends. I am so happy but at the same time a bit sad that we can’t travel together.
We book our tickets with Scoot and it is my first time flying with them. Scoot has been known for many delays so I pray that our trip will be smooth.
The flight actually took off on time and we are on board a new Boeing 787. The seat pitch of the economy class is surprising good compared to other budget airlines like AirAsia and Cebu Pacific. Some flight attendants look a bit “stoned” since it is an early morning flight.
As mentioned, the plane is quite new and we are very curious about the electronic curtain mechanics.
The flight reach Kaohsiung Airport on time without any event.
We then proceed to clear immigration and the queue is long and slow as there are only 3 counters manned.
After immigration and picking up our luggage, we exit the customs and proceed to purchase our SIM cards.
There are at least 2 telco companies; ChungHwa Telecom and Far East Tone. We went with ChungHwa Telecom and you have 8 packages to choose from.
You just need one ID to purchase a SIM card and the whole process should not take more than 5 mins.
We then exit the terminal and on our right, there are a row of taxis waiting.
Our driver Xiao Zhong （小忠）is waiting for us at the opposite of the terminal.
We have book an 8 seat car for the four of us so we can sit comfortably. The exterior of the car look dirty with a layer of dust and I was quite surprised about it. However the interior is clean and spacious. Having said this, maybe he just drop off another customer after going to some where dusty so that may explain why he does not have the time to clean up his vehicle.
Xiao Zhong is friendly and ask us what we want to have lunch. After the flight, we are actually famished. Xiao Zhong recommended us a beef stall but some of us do not eat beef. So Xiao Zhong suggested another place.
We reach somewhere in the middle of nowhere and we saw a big restaurant that specialised in chicken.
We ordered some food and it taste delicious. You can see that they cook the chicken in a traditional way.
We are supposed to tear the chicken apart and we are given disposable gloves and a cloth gloves. You are supposed to wear the cloth glove first and then the disposable glove over it. The reason is they do not want you to dirty the cloth glove and also the chicken is very hot when serve.
The other accompanying food is also nice but I have forgotten what are they called.
The meal comes up to NT1550.
After the sumptuous meal, we make our way to 九棚沙漠.
Xiao Zhong is surprised that I know about this place as many locals do not even know about it.
This is the place that we can ride an ATV in the only desert in Taiwan. To reach there, you will need to travel on some winding mountain road. So please do not attempt to go there by yourself or even riding a scooter there.
The rate for the ride is NT1000 for about 40mins. You can choose to drive an ATV or be driven in a jeep.
After paying the fee and signing your life away, you are good to go. Note that there are no safety helmet provided. You are to drive around the compound like 2 rounds to familiarise yourself and you are good to go. For me, I only ride half a round and I am ask to go!
The ride started with some rough road with small stones and soon you will reach the beach. Travelling further up the beach will bring you to the desert.
As we are rookies, the guide which is actually a 12 year old boy let us try some simple terrain. It was really fun and at some point, we will be stuck in the sand and the guide will come to our rescue.
They also stop at some spot for a photo shoot.
As we practice more, we become more familiar and also become more daring to try some steeper slopes. Though sometimes we got stuck but we just laugh at each other.
The most fun part is the ride back. When riding along the beach, all of us accelerate to the maximum and we can feel the breeze caressing our face. It is so fun that this become one of the highlights of our trip.
After the ride, we cannot stop talking about it. Riding an ATV has always been in my bucket list and now I even ride it on a desert. One tick on the list is gone!
Our next stop is to go to a hot spring for a bath. Before that Xiao Zhong brought us to a famous bun shop, 小杜包子. We were later told that this is a famous shop in the area.
Xiao Zhong ordered some buns on our behalf but unlike the regular customers, he walk into the kitchen and grab it for us. This is just like clearing the immigration with an APEC pass!
The store has many different type of buns like some weird ones; cheese bun.
After the bun, Xiao Zhong drive us to 恒春老街for some green bean soup.
The soup is very starchy and the serving portion is huge.
After the soup, we took a stroll along the street and found another stall with long queue selling duck noodles.
We then go back to the vehicle and go to our next destination; Chuhuo Special Scenic Area.
This place is well known for fire burning from the ground. Xiao Zhong told us during his younger years, this area has more fire spots. When one walk on the ground, gas is released and burn. So when you walk around, the fire will follow you.
However this also resulted in many bush fire. Finally the government decided to cover up most of the holes and leave some holes burning for tourist sake.
It is not impressive and almost a waste of time as it is no longer magnificent.
There are trucks in the car park selling fireworks. I suggest you not to buy it because it is illegal. If you just want to go there to “been there done that”, remember to look up to the sky; the stars are beautiful.
Our next stop is finally the hot spring in 四重溪.However the hot spring is fully book and there are no room for us. We actually expected that as it is a public holiday and many people will flock to hot spring.
We then decided to give it up and just go for dinner.
Xiao Zhong brought us to 红柴坑. The seafood here is more geared towards local and the restaurant will sell the catch of the day.
We were told that the famous seafood here is lobster and it is locally caught. Crab is instead brought from the northern part of the country.
We ordered some seafood and all the seafood are real fresh. I am not be an expert in seafood but my friends are and they can vouch for its freshness.
The cost for our food is NT3500. Though the price is almost the same as our home country but we definitely cannot get the freshness like what we have there.
There are also several other seafood restaurants here so you can choose which one to go to.
However do not come here too late as there are instances that the catch is little for the day and they are all sold out.
After dinner, we decided to head to our hotel.
We book Akau City B and B (阿猴城民宿). Before our arrival, we have already informed the minsu (民宿) that we will be arriving late.
During the holiday period, it is very difficult to get a budget room. So once we chance upon an available room, we grab it.
Check-in is fast. Once they verify with our hotel voucher and we are good to go.
The room is simple and with minimum necessities. They still provide sachet of shower gel, shampoo and even toothbrush. However there is no bath towel!
The bed is hard and the mattress is very thin.
There is no lift in this minsu. So if you have a large luggage, then good luck to you.
There are only 4 rooms if I am not wrong. There is a water dispenser on the 3rd floor. Since this is a minsu, this means that you are living with the owner or the room is within the same building of a business.
If the business is close, then you will not be able to go out.
After we have settle down, we quickly go for our shopping therapy. The night market is just outside the minsu and it is almost the end of the market.
So we walk northwards to the other end. The market is just like any other markets in Taiwan. Food is the main draw and since we are in a tourist spot, tourist items like t-shirts and fridge magnets will be everywhere.
Though it is touristy but it is still a good market to go to. In the end I bought a t-shirt and a fridge magnet. I do not believe that I will even buy a fridge magnet!
We shop till almost 2300hrs and we call it a day.
I woke up early around 0600hrs and decided to take a walk around the street.
The owner of the minsu is already sitting at the shop though the shop is still closed and we greeted each other.
There is a cycling event going on as the Taipei Mayor cycled for 27 hours from Keelung in the Northern Taiwan to Kenting. There are hundreds to cyclist accompanying him but all cyclist still adhere to rules by cycling by the side of the road.
The street is quiet but some parts are not that clean after the night market has closed. Small bits of trash can still be seen on the street.
I just love walking into their convenience stores as they sometimes sell some unique stuff and food.
Near to the minsu there are some food stalls that sells breakfast. There are some shops that offer tours and tickets so your tour can be arrange easily.
You can rent an electric scooter in Kenting. You do not need a license to rent one but I need to remind you to exercise caution when using one. One China Chinese recently lost control over the vehicle and ride off the cliff and died. Also as it is not a licensed vehicle, you have almost no insurance protection but it is still a popular way to travel within Kenting.
There are many hotels along the street too. From budget to expensive ones and I even found one that even has a lift!
I saw at one hotel even organise dive trips.
Finally the rest of them woke up and decide to have breakfast in a nearby food stall.
We ordered some local food like sandwich, burger and some local food. The bill comes up to NT370.
We then walk the street again and we wonder why the police chose a zebra as their mascot.
At 1000hrs, Xiao Zhong arrive at our hotel to pick us up for our tour.
The first stop is Sail Rock (船帆石).
This area has many hotels facing the sea and course the room rate will cost more. To get to the night market from here, the taxi fare is about NT200 one way which is quite expensive to me.
After some photos, we then go to our next stop; Eluanbi Park (鵝鑾鼻).
This is considered my highlight of my second day trip. Remember the fridge magnet that I bought in the night market, it is actually a picture of Eluanbi Park lighthouse.
You have to pay an entrance fee of NT60 which I find it reasonable. You will need to walk about 7 mins to the lighthouse.
The lighthouse is located in a hill within a large grass land.
The park also has a viewing deck which you can view the Bashi Channel.
You will need to do a lot of walking in the park but the view is worth it.
After the park, we go to the next destination which is the southern tip of Taiwan. There are no entrance fee to this attraction but you will have to walk at least 500m to the landmark which is basically a block of concrete.
If you ask me is it worth going to this place, I would say no. If you want to “been there done that” then just go there once.
Next stop is Longpan Park(龙盘公园).
This place is really nice as it is facing the Pacific Ocean. The wind is strong and the view is awesome.
Lunch is next on our agenda. We told Xiao Zhong we went to eat some local delights.
Xiao Zhong brought us back to one of the food store in Heng Chun. This place is usually only frequented by locals.
We are recommended some dishes and they were all delicious especially the mutton.
I also have a cup of cider and most of us sleep all the way back to Kaohsiung after drinking it.
We reach Kaohsiung around 1600hrs and we bid farewell to Xiao Zhong who has been a wonderful guide.
Xiao Zhong is a fantastic guide. He does not talk a lot but he knows the way around. He always bring us to places where locals go which we really like it a lot. He do give some brief description about the place and also the do’s and don’ts in each area.
He may not go to the attraction with you but I will take it as he does not want us to be followed and has has seen all the attractions almost everyday in his work.
I will recommend Xiao Zhong and he also do tours all around Taiwan.
Check-in into the Kindness Hotel is fast after verifying our hotel voucher.
This hotel really surprises us.
There are free snacks in the hotel restaurant between 1700hrs and 2300hrs. The snacks includes buns, ice cream, coffee, tea, juices etc.
We book a 4 person room. Though the room is not considered big but it is very well equipped. It has toiletries, different shampoo and shower foam for male and female.
Tissues, cups and even dental floss are provided.
I counted at least 8 power points for you to charge your gadgets.
They also have a list of items that you can borrow from the hotel.
The hotel also provide free bicycles for you. It has also 4 washing machines and dryers and laundry bags and washing powder are also provided.
Staff is really friendly but the hotel do not have a tour desk. So they cannot arrange any tour for you as this is a business hotel.
The room door of the hotel is a little strange. Each room has two doors. The main door room will lock automatically once you closed it and I wonder what is the use of the outer door.
The room power can only be turn on if you slot the card into the outlet in the room. The strange thing is that it has two cards; one card is attached with the keys and the other card is removable.
So what we do is that if we need the aircon or power to be turn on while we are away, we detach both cards and put the card without the key into the slot while the card with the key is pass to the reception for safe keeping. This is especially useful if you need to charge your gadget while you are away.
They also provide computers for you to at the restaurant and reception.
After we settled down, we decided to go to the restaurant to have some snacks.
As mentioned, the variety of snacks offered though is little but to me this is a very generous gesture. We ate the bun, herbal egg and dumplings.
It is almost having a dinner there. There are ice cream, hot drinks and cold drinks.
After having our fill, we took a 7min walk to Kaohsiung MRT station. The weather start to turn cold but it is a welcome to us as we are from the tropics.
The station has a simple guide to let you know which station to go to for some of the attractions. I find this very useful and they done this in a very nice and professional way.
We took the train to Kaohsiung Arena and then walk to Ruifeng Night Market which is about 500m away. It is really crowded but there are signs to point you to the right direction.
Ruifeng market is considered the best market in Kaohsiung city. It is more frequented by the locals and the price is not as inflated as Liuhe Market.
As a typical market, it sells food and general merchandise. The market is not very big actually and it is very compact.
They even sell clothes for dogs!
We stayed for about 2 hours and leave.
We walk around the market in search for food but could not find anything suitable. So we decide to return to Kaohsiung Train Station to look for food.
I ordered Pork Chop rice and it actually taste quite good.
After the meal, we walk back to our hotel and call it a day.
We have breakfast in the hotel and the spread is good enough for me. It has rice, noodles, porridge, bread, soup, bun etc. It is more than I could ask for.
After our breakfast, I take a look at the hotel surroundings. Since it is daylight, I have a better view.
There are actually hostel and hotels just beside Kindness hotel. In the opposite, there are shops selling breakfast, drinks, comic bookshop and several fast food down the road towards the train station.
There is also a convenience store just a few shops down. I would say that this hotel location is good.
We took a train to Sizihwan station.
We then exit from Exit 1 and take a 15 mins walk to Gushan Ferry terminal. Even before you exit the station, there is a shop that offer rental of bicycle and electric scooter that can be transported with the ferry.
The queue for the ferry to Cijin Island (旗津島) is different from passenger and passenger with transport. The fare is NT25 per person and you have to pay extra if you have a transport with you (bicycle, scooter etc.).
You do not need to buy a ticket. Just deposit the money into the box just before you board the ferry.
The ferry is just a 10mins ride and even before your butt can warm the seat.
As it is a public holiday, the island is quite crowded.
We decided to rent a transport and we decided on a quad bicycle. When you rent the transport, the staff will advice you on which route to take.
Our first stop is the light house. All vehicles must park at the foot of the hill and walk up the slope.
The walk is a little tiring and the weather is getting hot.
Even the dog at the gate seems to be suffering from the heat.
The Kaohsiung Lighthouse is facing the Kaohsiung port. You can have a good view of the port and also the city.
The trees are also prune into shapes.
After visiting the lighthouse, we walk down the same slope and walk up the slope at the opposite direction to the fort.
The fort is pretty huge. The authorities should put some replica cannons into the fort to make it more interesting. It should also put up sign to explain the function of each room.
After the fort, we proceed to the beach.
The sand is a little dark. I overheard someone saying it is due to the volcanic reaction but I don’t remember any volcano in the area.
We took some pictures and left.
The next stop is the Windmill Park. It is located at one end of the island and it is pretty far from the beach.
Halfway to the park, we noticed we have run out of time decide to turn back but due to the traffic, we cannot make a U-turn.
We then decide to just go ahead and by the time we reach the park, we decided just to take a few pictures without getting down from the vehicle.
Along the way to the Windmill Park, we have lost count the number of temples we have passed by.
We then make a U-turn at the traffic light and rush our way back.
The vehicle is really slow and maybe we are quite heavy. So I suggest you rent a electric scooter instead.
We took a short cut and barely make it for the 2 hour mark.
After returning the bike, we proceed for lunch.
We pass by a row of trishaw which is usually peddled by old folks. Seeing them, I can’t help but pity them but they still need to make a living.
Just beside the bike shop, the road if filled with food stalls and also seafood restaurants. Cijin Island is well known for its seafood and we are recommended to give it a try.
Even before we settle down for lunch, we decide to try the smelly toufu and something like green tomatoes. I do not dare to try it and my friends feedback that the toufu is quite tasty actually though it might be smelly. However you must eat the toufu while it is hot.
There are several seafood restaurants along the street and just pick what you want. The price is almost identical. You just need to pick from what is available and they will cook it.
You will have to go and scoop the rice yourself.
The food is tasty and fresh. The lunch cost us NT1580.
After lunch we decide to head back to the main island. The queue is very long and we are in the ferry in 20mins. Since there is no vehicles on board, we decide to just stand at the lower deck.
Back to the MRT station, we next head to KaiXuan (凯旋) MRT.
When we exit the station, we are approached by a taxi driver that offer to bring us to Dream Mall for NT80. I was a little skeptical as the driver mentioned the fare for going to the mall is between NT85 and NT95.
However we are tired so we decide to just ride it.
The mall is about 1km away and we are at the entrance of the mall in 5 mins.
Dream Mall is a high end mall to me. Everything is branded and well, expensive. Nothing seems to interest us there and we decide to just chill out in one of the café.
At the basement of the mall, there is a large variety of food and café to offer you from Pizza to finger food.
We settled down Perfume Dance Café. Each of us ordered a drink and we have a waffle to be shared by everybody. There is a time limit of 90min if there are customers waiting.
After we have rested enough, we pay the bill of NT1012.
We decide to head back to the MRT station and again took a metered cab. The fare came up to be NT84! So the taxi driver is not lying. I would recommend you to take the taxi as it is quite a long walk. Though there is a shuttle service but there is usually a long queue for it.
We saw a sign that point us to Kaixuan Night Market and we decide to visit it. The walk to the night market is about 20mins but since it is already the evening, the weather start to cool.
Just before we reach the market, we saw a train station; Kaixuan Ruitian station. This seems to be a new station and construction is also different from a typical metro station. It travel on the road and only 4 stations is in operation now. I suspect that it is a light rail system.
You can only use a store value card to pay for your fare and we see an armed officer standing in the train.
We then proceed to the market but as we are still early, most of the stalls are still close. We just loiter around for 10mins and decide to make a move back to the train station.
We intend to go for a foot massage but we decide to head back to the hotel first. Along the way, we visited the souvenir shop in the TRA station selling TRA very own souvenirs. I bought some key chains and they are really nice.
Our original intention is just to wash up and quickly leave for the massage. However our stomach have other thoughts and we ended up eating at the hotel restaurant. Hahahaha!!!
We then decide to walk to Formosa Boulevard Station instead of taking a train there. This is good for us to burn some calories.
We also seize the opportunity to see the most beautiful train station in Kaohsiung.
Using Google Earth, we search for massage shops around the station and found one. It is a Thai massage but to me it is just a usual Taiwanese massage.
We opted for a 2 hour massage at NT1200.
The massage is exactly what I have experienced 4 years ago in Taipei. The masseur really rub into your nerves and muscles. I was almost in tears and I requested the masseur a few times to be more gentle.
I must salute the masseur for their dedication and hard work.
After the massage, it is already 2230hrs.
We then walk to Liu He Night market. As it is already late, them market is quite empty.
We happen to see a Japanese style pharmacy shop where it is like Watsons.
We do not fancy the food in the market and we just decide to ride a taxi to the McDonald’s opposite Kaohsiung Train Station.
The taxi driver that drove us is very comical and when we told them we seems to be disorientate and he laugh at us saying that there is no way one can get lost in Kaohsiung as it is like a square box.
We reach McDonald’s in 5 mins. We wolf down all our food like some hungry pigs. This is the first time I have tried a pork burger and it is not as bad as I thought. As a matter of fact, it is quite delicious.
After the meal, we finally walk back to our hotel satisfied.
Our last day in Kaohsiung.
The night before, we contacted a taxi driver to bring us around the outskirt of Kaohsiung.
We managed to contact Joy and he is able to make it.
After having our breakfast, we check out of the hotel and Joy is already waiting for us outside the hotel.
We have told Joy explicitly which are the must see attractions for us.
Our first stop is the area around 柴山 to see the monkeys. The monkeys here are very smart. If you have nothing to offer them, they will not come to you. Joy waved some packet drinks to them and they start swarming to us! We just stayed in the vehicle and look at them.
Next is The Martyr Shrine.
Joy then drive us to eat (yes, we are going to eat again!) some snacks. The “bread” is stuff with vegetables and it is quite nice.
After our “feeding” time, we proceed to Zuoying Lotus Pond.
This place reminds me of our Haw Par Villa. If you climb the pagoda, you will have a good view of the surrounding.
And guess where is our next destination? Yup, you got it right. We eat again.
This time Joy bring us to eat pig blood. This is not my taste so I just look see only.
Our next stop is the highlight of today’s day tip; Fo Guang Shan (佛光山).
This is a Buddhist temple and it is very majestic. Upon passing through the front building, you will see a big Buddha statue flank by 2 rows of pagoda.
In the first building, it is like a shopping centre with restaurants and even Starbucks.
There are also 3D and 4D short film about some stories on Buddhism.
There are also performance within the compound at designated time.
We never expect to stay in the temple for so long and we only visited part of the compound. I would suggest to stay there for the whole day if you are interested.
There are bus service between the temple and Zuoying Station. It leave about an hour interval and it cost NT70 one way.
Our next stop is a suspension bridge in Pingtung. It should be also another highlight of today’s trip but unfortunately it is under maintenance due to the recent earthquake.
We were told that the bridge will be light up at night and it is beautiful.
So since we cannot cross the bridge, we just snap a few pictures and left.
We are suppose to reach the airport around 1800hrs so we ask Joy to bring us somewhere to buy some local food or snacks to bring back.
Joy then brought us to a local supermarket call 全联福利中心. We spend about 30mins and quickly leave for our next stop.
We ask Joy to bring us to eat before bringing us to the airport. I think Joy is also unfamiliar with the airport surrounding food stores so we just get him to stop some where and we just find food.
We ordered noodles (not your usual type of string noodles) and the portion is huge.
We eat quickly and then rush to the airport.
We bid Joy farewell and he is surprised about the extra money that we have given him. It is not really a tip but along the way, he brought us food and fruits to eat. For example, the pig blood meal and the snacks are paid by him. He brought us some pineapple for us and did not ask a single cent from us.
Therefore it is right for us to pay him back though we do not know how much is it.
I will recommend Joy to anyone who wish to get a car and driver in Kaohsiung.
Kaohsiung airport is not big but it is quite nice. It is spacious and well maintained.
This conclude our tour in Kaohsiung and I would say I enjoy it very much. The people are still so friendly and I really hope to come back again with my family.