How to Travel from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park

Let’s talk about how to travel from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park. It is easier than you might think, so there is no excuse not to visit Kenting National Park!

Kenting National Park is one of the most popular day trips from Kaohsiung (although you could easily spend two to three days in Kenting). It is one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan and shouldn’t be missed!

One of the most frustrating parts of planning a day trip (at least for me) is figuring how to travel from one city to another. And that’s where this post comes in!

You’ll learn the easiest way to travel from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park.

Your day trip to Kenting National Park will be stress free after reading this post, and you can enjoy the beauty of Kenting without stressing about how to get there.

There are three ways to travel from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park. They all require taking the bus, and it is just a matter of whether you catch the bus at Kaohsiung Station or Zuoying Station (the high-speed rail station), or the airport. The express bus leaves from Xin Zuoying Station and is the most popular way to travel from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park.

PS: If you’re looking to take multiple day trips from Kaohsiung, you might want to check out my posts about Fo Guang Shan Monastery (one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been) and Cijin Island (a must for anybody visiting Kaohsiung).

Before We Get Started

I hate figuring out how to travel from one place to another, but I love writing transportation guides for you!

I would love to have an all-in-one resource that goes over how to travel from one place to another, and that’s why I write them. Hopefully they make your travel experience better.

If you’re traveling throughout Taiwan, here are the transportation guides I’ve written to date to help you navigate Taiwan public transportation:

Fo Guang Shan Big Buddha

Option One: Taking the Bus from Zuoying HSR Station

This is the best and most popular way to get from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park.

You can take the express bus, which is spacious and comfortable, and that is the reason it is such a popular choice for tourists and locals.

The bus ride from Zuoying Station to Kenting National Park takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours depending on traffic. It will take longer during rush hour and on weekends than it will during off-peak times on a weekday.

It isn’t uncommon for the buses to be delayed by 20-30 minutes so keep that in mind and budget your time accordingly.

How Much Does the Bus from Zuoying Station to Kenting Cost?

A one-way ticket costs on average 371 NT (or approximately $12.50 USD).

Compared to other bus tickets in Taiwan, it is pretty expensive to take the express bus from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park, but it is so worth it! I’m guessing the bus is a little more expensive because it is taking you to a national park and one of the most beautiful places in all of Taiwan.

You can save a little bit of money by purchasing a return ticket. A return ticket costs 650 NT (or approximately $22 USD).

Where to Purchase a Bus Ticket

You purchase your ticket at Zuoying HSR Station at a ticket booth.

Take Exit 2 towards the bus stop, and you’ll walk right into the ticket booth.

The bus from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park is one of the rare instances where you’re not able to use your transportation card and have to purchase an actual ticket from a ticket booth.

Your EasyCard will not work on this bus!

You have to purchase your ticket before you get on the bus, so you’ll want to leave enough time in your schedule to wait in line, buy a ticket, and get on the bus.

I suggest allotting 15 minutes to purchase a ticket. You probably won’t need that much time, but it is better to have extra time than be rushed and stressed about not catching the bus you want.

How Often Does the Express Bus to Kenting National Park Leave?

The express bus to Kenting National Park runs every 15 to 30 minutes from 8:30am to 7pm.

This means you can basically show up to the bus station whenever you want and not have to wait too long to catch a bus!

It is the perfect bus schedule for people who are laid back and want to go with the flow rather than plan exactly when they need to get on the bus because it only leaves every 90 minutes.

I recommend you try to get on an early morning bus. You’ll have more luck at avoiding traffic congestion, and you’ll have more time to spend at Kenting National Park if you’re only doing a day trip.

What About Getting Back to Kaohsiung from Kenting?

The express bus leaves Kenting National Park for Kaohsiung every 15 to 30 minutes from 8am to 7pm.

You do need to pre-buy your ticket before you get on the bus, which is the main reason you should purchase a return ticket rather than a one-way ticket.

Kaohsiung Night Market

Option Two: Taking the Bus from Kaohsiung Station

This is the second most popular way to travel from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park.

The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours, so there is no difference between the time it takes to get from Kaohsiung to Kenting whether you depart from Zuoying HSR Station or Kaohsiung Station.

You need to get on either bus 9117 or 9188. Both take you to Kenting National Park. The difference is in where they drop you off. 9188 drops you further south, so if you want to explore the southern part of Kenting, this is the bus for you!

How Much Does the Bus from Kaohsiung Station to Kenting Cost?

The bus from Kaohsiung Station to Kenting National Park costs:

  • 352 NT (approximately $12 USD) if you take bus 9117
  • 362 NT (approximately $12 USD) if you take bus 9188

Unlike the express bus, you are not able to purchase a return ticket. You can only purchase a one-way ticket from Kaohsiung Station to Kenting.

It isn’t that much of an inconvenience, but it is something to keep in mind when you’re planning your trip and budgeting.

Where to Purchase a Bus Ticket

You can either purchase your ticket in cash on the bus or purchase it at the bus station before you get on the bus.

Both payment methods work well, and it comes down to your personal preference more than anything else.

If you only have larger bills and need to get change made, I suggest purchasing your ticket at the station rather than on the bus, so your bus driver doesn’t have to make a lot of change.

A Note About Where to Catch the Bus:

Both the 9177 and 9188 depart from Zhongshan Bus Station at Kaohsiung Station.

The bus station is located one block south of Kaohsiung Station on Jiangguo 2nd Road.

You won’t have any trouble finding the bus station. There are signs in Kaohsiung Station to point you in the right direction, and there will be a crowd of people heading towards the bus station.

Plus it is only one block away from Kaohsiung Station, so you should be able to see the buses as soon as you start walking towards the bus station.

If you’ve walked more than a block, you know you’ve gone the wrong way! But you shouldn’t have any issue finding the bus station.

How Often Does the Bus to Kenting National Park Leave?

The buses departing from Kaohsiung Station are less frequent than the express bus that departs from the HSR station.

There are currently 35 buses a day to Kenting National Park that depart from Kaohsiung Station.

The up side to the buses departing from Kaohsiung Station is that their hours of operation are much longer than the express bus.

The first bus departs at 4:15 am (yes, you read that right!), and the last bus departs at 10:30 pm.

This is perfect for the extra early birds (like me) who want to have as much time as possible at Kenting National Park and have no problem getting out of bed long before the sun is up.

A Note About Bus Time:

You can try to find an English version of the bus timetable online, but my recommendation is to use Google Maps.

Google Maps works really well in Taiwan, and you can easily and accurately find when the next bus departs and even plan your trip days in advance by changing your departure time in the app.

I rely heavily on Google Maps when I’m in Taiwan, and I love it. It makes traveling through Taiwan so easy, and it is nice to not to have to do any Googling to try to find bus timetables (that may or may not be up-to-date and accurate).

Kaohsiung Martyrs' Shrine

Option Three: Taking the Bus from Kaohsiung Airport

The final bus option (and the least popular) is to take a bus from Kaohsiung Airport to Kenting National Park.

It takes two hours to travel from the airport to Kenting, so all three buses take about the same amount of travel time.

I don’t know whether or not there is a place to store your luggage on the bus, but if there isn’t, you can rent a locker at the airport if you’re coming back to Kaohsiung that evening.

How Much Does the Bus from Kaohsiung Airport Cost?

This bus is unique because the price you pay depends on how you pay.

  • Cash: 367 NT (approximately $12 USD)
  • Credit Card: 418 NT (approximately $14 USD)

It is nice to have the option to pay by credit card- especially if you’re running out of NTD cash. It is a little bit more money, but it is still cheaper than paying an ATM transaction fee to get some cash.

You can’t purchase a return ticket on this bus either, so a one-way ticket is the only option for you.

Where to Purchase a Bus Ticket

You have to purchase your ticket before you get on the bus to Kenting.

The ticket counter to purchase a ticket is located near the arrivals lobby near Exit 5.

The ticket counter is inside the terminal so don’t go outside looking for it!

The ticket counter is really easy to find, and you should be able to spot it at Exit 5. If you’re having trouble finding the ticket booth, you can always ask one of the airport employees roaming around or at the help desk.

But you shouldn’t need to because the ticket booth is so easy to find!

How Often Does the Bus to Kenting National Park Leave?

There are only eight buses a day from the Kaohsiung Airport to Kenting National Park.

They depart at:

  • 10:10 am
  • 11:10 am
  • 12:50 pm
  • 1:50 pm
  • 4:10 pm
  • 5:10 pm
  • 6:50 pm
  • 7:50 pm

If one of those time slots doesn’t match your schedule, you’ll have to head into Kaohsiung and catch a bus from either the HSR station or Kaohsiung Station.

Lotus Pond Scenic Area Kaohsiung Taiwan

Other Ways to Travel from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park

There are, of course, a few other ways you can travel from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park.

I’m not going to go to talk about them in this post because they aren’t all that common and/or cost a lot more money than I think they are worth.

They are:

  • Renting a car/scooter and driving yourself
  • Renting a taxi to drive you
  • Going on a private tour

Conclusion

I hope this post illustrates how easy it is to travel from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park!

You now have no excuse not to visit Kenting and take in all its beauty!

I personally recommend taking the express bus from Zuoying HSR Station. I think it is the most convenient because it leaves on a regular schedule, is very comfortable, and you’re able to purchase a return ticket.

No matter what bus you choose to take, your trip from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park will be stress free. You just need to get on the bus and get off once you get to Kenting National Park.

It doesn’t get any easier than that!

One final tip before I leave you to your Taiwan adventure:

The buses will be cold!

Taiwanese people enjoy having very cold and air conditioned buses and trains. I’m always freezing whenever I’m on a Taiwan public transportation even though it is hot and humid outside.

You might want to bring a scarf or something light to put over your arms to keep you a bit warmer. Otherwise your bus ride from Kaohsiung to Kenting might not be as enjoyable as it could be.

12 Essential Tips for Visiting Kaohsiung Night Markets

Night markets are an essential experience to have while visiting Taiwan! They’re the best place to try local street food and experience a taste of local life.

There are a number of Kaohsiung night markets you can visit while exploring the city, but there are a number of things you should know before you visit any Kaohsiung night market.

And that is where this post comes in!

It gives you all the information you need to navigate the Kaohsiung night markets like a local and have the best experience possible!

The only place I’ve ever eaten dinner in Kaohsiung is at a night market. There is no better place to indulge in Taiwanese food without breaking the budget.

Before we get started, if you’re heading to Kaohsiung, be sure to read my 3 day Kaohsiung itinerary. It is the only itinerary you need to plan the perfect trip to Kaohsiung.

1. Don’t Haggle

Haggling is a common practice in many Asian countries, but you shouldn’t haggle at the night markets in Kaohsiung (or anywhere in Taiwan for that matter).

It is considered very rude to haggle in Taiwan, and you could seriously offend the person selling you their food.

The prices at Kaohsiung night markets are already set at a fair price, so there is no need to try to negotiate a lower price.

Haggling, in general, isn’t common in Taiwan, so you shouldn’t expect to haggle no matter where you are.

The exception to this is you can sometimes haggle with a street vendor selling goods (not food) if there isn’t a price tag on the item. And even in that scenario is isn’t common practice.

Be prepared to pay the listed price at the Kaohsiung night markets.

You’re getting a fair price and don’t have to deal with the stress of haggling. It is a win-win situation!

Taiwan Night Market

2. Be Prepared to Eat at Communal Tables

All of the night markets in Kaohsiung have communal tables in the middle of the street where you can sit to enjoy your food.

They’re plastic tables and plastic chairs that are pulled out of storage and set up every evening for the night markets.

You share the table with whoever else happens to be walking past and wants to sit down to enjoy their food.

It is kind of fun but can be a bit awkward if you’re sitting along eating like I was, but the Taiwanese are really nice.

You never know what type of fun conversation you’ll end up having!

The communal table approach to sitting is common at nearly every night market across Taiwan. The only night market I’ve been to that had a different arrangement was the Hualien night market.

At that market, there were tables behind the food stalls, so it was a more private and relaxing place to eat.

3. Bring Your Own Napkins

Napkins aren’t usually provided at the food stalls when purchasing food at a Kaohsiung night market, so you’ll need to bring your own.

There are a number of street food dishes that are served in sauce and are messy to eat. It is likely that you’ll need a napkin at some point while visiting a Kaohsiung night market, so you better be prepared.

I personally bring a reusable cloth napkin with me because it is better for the environment.

But any type of napkin or Kleenex will work!

You just don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you have to use your shirt sleeve to wipe your face.

4. Take Food Risks

You’ll notice a distinct smell when you visit any Kaohsiung night market. It wafts through the air and, frankly, doesn’t have the most pleasant smell.

That, my friend, is stinky tofu, and you need to try it.

The smell of stinky tofu can turn you off, but once you get past the smell, it tastes incredible.

There are a number of other Taiwan street food dishes you may be hesitant to try because they are unfamiliar to you, but you should take the risk and try them.

What’s the worst that can happen?!

You take a bite, don’t like it, put it in the trash, and then try something else.

But at least you were brave enough to try something new. You never know when you’ll find your new favourite food!

A few other dishes that may seem unfamiliar but are worth a try are:

  • Oyster omelette
  • Deep fried milk
  • Taro balls
  • Aiyu jelly

It should be your goal to try at least one new dish when you’re visiting the Kaohsiung night markets.

You might be surprised which one you like the best, and you’ll be so glad you gave it a try!

It would be a shame to go home and regret not trying more traditional food while you were in Taiwan.

Taiwan Street Food

5. Use the Washroom Before You Visit a Kaohsiung Night Market

This is a very important tip that not many people are talking about.

There aren’t any washrooms at the night markets in Kaohsiung, so you’ll want to be sure you use a washroom before you head out to a night market.

You don’t want to have to leave early just because you have to use the washroom!

If you do need to use a washroom while visiting a night market, you should look for the nearest metro station. They all have public washrooms you can use, so you don’t have to go back to your hotel.

6. Brings Your Cash

Kaohsiung night markets operate mostly in cash.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a vendor who will accept your debit or credit card (I’ve never personally seen one), so you’ll want to bring cash with you to the market.

It is best practice to bring cash in smaller denominations, so it is easy for vendors to make change, but most vendors will be able to make change in a pinch.

7. Look for Long Lines

Long lines are an excellent indicator that the vendor is selling something delicious.

If you’re not quite sure where to start or what your want to eat, keep an eye out for a food stall that has long lines. Then jump in the line if the food looks like something you’re interested in trying.

It is hard to go wrong with your choice if the locals like it enough to queue up for it!

You’ll often see the longest lines at black pepper bun stalls. They’re an incredibly popular street food found at all the Kaohsiung night markets.

It is essentially a bun filled with black pepper and either beef or pork that is cooked in a clay oven right in front of you.

Black pepper buns are on every list of foods you need to try in Taiwan and for good reason!

There is a vegetarian version of black pepper buns made with potato as the filling, but it isn’t that great. You can find much better vegetarian and vegan options at night markets, so I don’t recommend you give the vegetarian black pepper bun a try.

Other dishes that often have a long line are:

  • Fried chicken
  • Braised beef cubes

You should, of course, give less popular dishes a try as well.

Just because a vendor doesn’t have a long line, doesn’t mean the food isn’t worth trying.

One of my favourite night market foods is corn on the cob. It sounds basic, but the spice they put on the corn is incredible. The corn on the cob stalls never have a long line, but they are still delicious. And the same goes for many other street food.

In general, searching for food vendors that have a long line is a great place to start if this is your first time visiting a Kaohsiung night market.

You’ll be able to get a sense of what you like and don’t like, and you can choose less popular stalls with the information you learn by trying the most popular food.

Kaohsiung Night Market

8. Take Time to Play a Few Games

Games are available to play at all Kaohsiung night markets. They’re similar to the typical carnival games you’ll find at a county fair, but they’re a little more DIY.

They’re still really fun though!

The most common game you’ll find at Kaohsiung night markets is trying to throw a ball into small baskets behind a counter.

It is fairly difficult to win but is a lot of fun.

Another popular game is the balloon popping game where you’re given darts and have to try to pop the balloons behind the counter.

It is also quite difficult to win but is a great way to kill some time while you’re digesting your food before you head in for another round of eats.

The games are inexpensive, but it can still add up if you play a lot. Be cautious of how much you spend on them, so you don’t blow your budget. Plus the prizes aren’t that great, so they’re more for fun rather than winning something of value.

I suggest playing a game with your travel companion(s) (if you’re not a solo traveler), and the loser has to buy the winner their favourite Taiwan street food!

9. Bring Your Own Tea

What is a day in Taiwan without a nice refreshing glass of bubble tea or iced tea?!

Tea is an essential Taiwan experience, and I guarantee you’ll be sipping more tea than yo ever imagined!

Tea is so refreshing on a hot, humid Taiwan day, and it is absolutely delicious.

The fact that it is incredibly inexpensive doesn’t hurt either!

But, interestingly, it isn’t so easy to find tea at the Kaohsiung night markets!

You’ll need to bring your own tea to the night market if you want to sip on it while wandering through the vendors and trying food.

There are normally tea stalls within a block or so of all the Kaohsiung night markets, so it isn’t difficult to find a place near the market to grab a tea before heading into the market itself.

You’re more likely to find fruit juice vendors than tea vendors at all the Kaohsiung night markets.

The juice is super fresh and squeezed in front of you, so it is a great alternative to tea.

I suggest trying the freshly squeezed juice at least once while you’re at a Kaohsiung night market, but I personally find that the flavour of tea goes better with the street food than the fruit juice.

I personally enjoy grabbing a fruit juice as I’m leaving the night market and enjoying it as I walk back to my hotel. It is the perfect way to cap off an evening of food!

10. Don’t Arrive at the Night Market Too Early

Kaohsiung night markets normally open around 6 pm or 7 pm, but you don’t want to get there right when they open!

The markets are officially open at that time, but they aren’t fully set up and ready to go.

Some of the vendors will be open and ready to sell you food, but the majority won’t be. You want to arrive at the night market about an hour after it opens.

That way nearly all of the stalls will be open, and you can have any food your heart desires.

If you arrive at a Kaohsiung night market right when it opens and it is pretty dead, you can wander up and down the stalls to see what you might want to eat once the market gets going.

Exploring the area around the night market is another great way to kill a little time before the night market is fully operational. I love wandering around side streets and alleys while traveling. It is one of the most fun ways to get to know a more local (and less touristy) side of the country.

Taiwan Street Food

11. Bring Your Own Bag

You’ll be offered a plastic bag on a regular basis at Kaohsiung night markets. Nearly every time you purchase something, you’ll be offered a plastic bag.

It is terrible for the environment.

But, lucky for you, there is a simple way to combat this excessive plastic use and that is by bringing your own reusable bag!

It is a small thing you can do, but it makes a big difference in the long run.

I like to bring a water resistant bag to the market just in case anything spills out of a container while I’m walking.

12. Kaohsiung Night Markets Aren’t a Tourist Trap

It isn’t uncommon to hear stories of a traveler who has gone to a market and gotten scammed. It is an unfortunate thing, but it can happen if you’re not careful and aware of your surroundings.

But that isn’t the case with night markets in Kaohsiung.

Kaohsiung night markets (and all night markets in Taiwan) are legitimate, safe, and fairly priced.

Locals frequent Kaohsiung night markets, so you know they are legit. The night markets in Taiwan are not designed as a way to lure unsuspecting tourists in and scam them out of a bunch of money.

Of course, there is the risk of being pick pocketed. It is a risk you take wherever you go- even while walking in your home town. But petty crime rates are very low in Taiwan, and you’ll be safe by exercising a basic level of awareness of your surroundings.

So you can rest assured that the Kaohsiung night markets are not a tourists trap. You can explore them and enjoy everything they have to offer without a worry!

They’re one of my favourite things to do in Taiwan, and it would be a shame if you missed out on them because you had the misconception that they are a tourist trap!

Conclusion

There you have it! 12 essential tips you need to know before visiting a Kaohsiung night market.

Every tip on this list is purposeful, and if you follow all of them, you’ll have an amazing experience at the Kaohsiung night markets.

What might seem obvious while reading this post isn’t always as obvious when you’re on the road exploring a new country.

You’ll thank me for these tips when you don’t have to run to find a washroom in the middle of a night market!

I hope you enjoyed these tips! If you have any other expert Kaohsiung night market tips, drop them in the comments. I’d love to read them!

Now stop reading (unless you’re going to read another one of my blog post *wink wink*) and get out there and eat some delicious Taiwanese street food!

10 Practical Taiwan Travel Tips

Taiwan is an amazing country with lots to see and do. It is an underrated country, so there isn’t as much information about Taiwan on the internet as other popular Asian countries like Thailand.

This post will provide you with 10 incredibly practical and helpful Taiwan travel tips. It includes transportation tips, dining tips, and general Taiwan travel tips. It will hopefully help you when you’re in Taiwan.

You always want to try to blend in as a tourists, and these Taiwan travel tips will help you look like a local. Well, maybe not a local, but at least not an ignorant tourist. Nobody wants to be that person who is clearly a tourist and hasn’t done any research before visiting the country.

Lucky for you, you won’t be that person if you follow these 10 Taiwan travel tips!

1. Be Careful Where You Sit on Public Transportation

Finding a seat and sitting down sounds like one of the easiest parts of figuring out the transportation system in a new country, but that isn’t the case in Taiwan.

There are dedicated seats on the metro and buses for elderly people, pregnant people, and people living with disabilities. The seats are marked either with a coloured fabric over the top of the seat on the bus or by a different (normally dark) coloured seat on the metro.

The dedicated seats are normally near the front of the bus or near the doors on the metro.

You do not want to sit in those seats even if there aren’t people who need to use them nearby. People in Taiwan take these seats seriously, and you’ll get dirty looks from the locals if you sit in them.

Even if all the other seats are taken, it is best to stand rather than sit in these spots!

This is one of the best Taiwan travel tips I can give you! It’ll help you blend in, and you won’t look like a jerk if you’re taking a seat that is reserved for someone who needs it more than you do.

2. Bring Your Own Drink to Restaurants

This is one of the most unique Taiwan travel tips on the list and was not something I’ve ever encountered while travelling before. As a North American, it is considered quite rude to bring your own drink into a restaurant, so it was a bit difficult to get used to bringing my own drink to dinner in Taiwan.

There is, however, a very logical reason for this behaviour. Bubble tea is an immensely popular drink in Taiwan, and you can purchase it at a walk-up window on the street. No matter where in Taiwan you are, you won’t be more than a few hundred meters from a bubble tea window.

Restaurants are used to people bringing in their own outside drink, and they don’t mind one bit. Some smaller, local restaurants don’t sell drinks, but most do.

You can purchase a drink where you’re dining in most cases, but you may as well bring your own drink that was probably much more affordable than buying a drink at the restaurants.

3. Visa is the Most Widely Accepted Credit Card

This was another surprising thing I learnt while in Taiwan. Visa is the most widely accepted and preferred credit card in Taiwan. Master Card and American Express are accepted but by fewer vendors.

Most major retailers and hotels will accept any major credit card you have, but that may not be the case if you’re trying to pay by credit card at a local restaurant or store.

It is definitely something to be aware of and prepare for if at all possible. It is awful to be stuck in a situation where you’re trying to purchase something, your credit card isn’t accepted, and you don’t have enough cash to pay for whatever you’re purchasing.

I only used my credit card to purchase rail tickets when I was in Taiwan. I used my Master Card and had no issue. But I heard a number of stories from travellers about running into trouble because they didn’t have a Visa.

National Concert Hall Taipei, Taiwan

4. Cash is King

This tip fits in nicely with my last tip.

You want to carry cash with you while travelling in Taiwan. There are a number of places that only accept cash. This includes night markets, and you will undoubtably be visiting at least one night market in Taiwan.

You’ll also be making a number of small purchases (mostly bubble tea if you’re anything like me) that you’ll want to pay cash for. You don’t want to be paying credit card conversion fees on small purchases!

I personally like to take out cash before I leave on a trip, so I don’t have to worry about paying an ATM fee in whatever country I’m visiting.

You can also exchange money when you get to Taiwan. You’ll want to avoid exchanging money at the airport though. Most airport currency exchange kiosks charge a higher percentage than kiosks anywhere else. It is a bit of a scam so try to avoid it at all costs!

5. Cities are Walkable but Spread Out

I love walking and tend to walk wherever I need to go when I’m travelling. I’m talking walking over an hour to get from one destination to another, but I know I’m not the norm in that regard.

It is definitely possible to walk to most tourist attractions in Taiwan, but it isn’t always the best use of your time. The tourist sights in cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung are really spread out, and take public transportation is your most time efficient option.

If you’re not in Taiwan for a long time, you’ll want to take public transit to make the most out of your time. If, however, you’re like me and have a few weeks in Taiwan and love walking, feel free to hit the pavement and walk until you can’t walk anymore!

6. English is Widely Spoken

I know this isn’t technically a travel tip, but it is a good thing to know.

You don’t have to worry about not being able to communicate while in Taiwan. Many of the locals, especially the younger generation, speak English.

Metro stations, buses, trains, and metro cars all have English signs, so you’ll be able to figure out where you are and where you need to go.

Many restaurants have English versions of their menus. You just need to ask, and they’ll be able to help you out.

Taiwanese people are incredibly friendly! They’re more than happy to help you out if you’re lost or need help with something. Locals will likely come up to you while you’re in Taiwan and want to talk to you about where your’e from and how you’re liking Taiwan.

Language barrier is not something to worry about at all.

Of course there are a number of people who don’t speak English, but they’ll always do their best to help you and find someone who does.

Fo Guang Shan Big Buddha

7. Get a Transportation Card

You’ll be using public transportation quite a bit in Taiwan, so you’ll want to pick up either an EasyMoney card or iCash 2.0 card.

You can purchase both cards at any convenience store, at the airport MRT station in Taipei, or at metro stations in Taipei and Kaohsiung. You’re able to load and re-load your card at these places as well.

You pre-load the transportation card with money and then simply tap the card when getting on and off transportation. This allows you to easily use public transportation and save time. It is a hassle to purchase single-journey tickets whenever you want to use public transportation.

There is a small fee to purchase a transportation card, but it is well worth it. It will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

Paying with cash on the bus is especially annoying. You need exact cash, and you’re given a little card saying you paid that you have to give back to the driver when you get off the bus.

My iCash 2.0 card wasn’t working properly one day, and I had to use cash on the bus. It was a bit annoying, and a transportation card works much better.

Transportation Guides:

You can’t use your transportation card when travelling between cities. You have to purchase either a train, bus, or plane ticket.

Here are a number of travel guides to help you plan your transportation between cities:

8. Pay When You Order and No Tipping

One of my favourite parts about dining out in Taiwan is that you pay for your meal when you order not at the end of the meal.

This completely eliminates the awkward time at the end of your meal when you’re trying to get your server’s attention to bring you the bill. It is my least favourite part of dining out, and I love that it isn’t an issue in Taiwan.

You order your food, pay for it, eat, and then walk out. It is the perfect system in my mind. If you want to order more after you paid, simply tell your server. You’ll need to pay for the new items you ordered, but it isn’t an issue at all to add to your order mid-meal.

Tipping isn’t common practice in Taiwan, so you don’t need to add anything on top of the base price for your meal. People are paid a living wage and don’t rely on tips, and it can often be seen as rude if you do tip.

I know it can be difficult to get used to not tipping if you’re from North America, but it does save you some money! You don’t have to worry about shelling out an additional 15% to 20% anytime you eat out!

9. No Talking on Public Transportation

This is another one of those Taiwan travel tips that will help you blend in and look like a local when using public transportation in Taiwan.

It is also one of my favourite things about Taiwan transportation. I hate when people have casual conversations on public transportation, and I don’t need to worry about that in Taiwan!

It is considered quite rude to talk while on public transportation in Taiwan. This includes having a conversation with someone you’re with or talking on the phone.

You don’t want to be the obnoxious traveller who is carrying on a loud conversation annoying everybody else on the train or bus. Reserve your conversations for when you’re off the train, and everybody around you will very much appreciate it.

Taipei 101

10. Eat Like a Local

Taiwanese food in incredible and some of the most delicious food in Asia.

Food, for the most part, is really affordable and inexpensive in Taiwan. There are certainly places where food is expensive, but it is really easy to not break the bank while eating out in Taiwan.

To eat the best food at the best price, eat where the locals eat!

This includes at night markets, street vendors, food courts in department stores, and mom-and-pop restaurants. You’ll know you’re in a good place when there are more locals than tourists!

It can be difficult to find a local place to eat. You can ask your hotel for recommendations, and they should be able to help you out. My preference is to wander into a local neighbourhood and then use Google Maps to find a restaurant nearby. I then read the restaurant reviews until I find a place that suits my fancy.

I’ve found some of my favourite restaurants in Taiwan using this technique. I’ve found it to be a great way to try a local place and know I’m getting good food. If the locals give it a good review, I feel confident giving it a try.

BONUS: Great Public Wifi System

Taiwan is on another level when it comes to accessing public wifi!

The Taiwanese government has implemented a wifi program that is available pretty much everywhere in the country.

It is called iTaiwan.

You simply create an account, and you’re able to access public wifi basically everywhere.

I did have a few issues accessing it when I was in Taiwan. You’re asked to input your passport information if you’re no Taiwanese, and it would never connect for me.

I think that my experience is pretty uncommon, and iTaiwan works for most people!

I have heard people say you need to register for an iTaiwan account at a tourist centre in Taiwan or online before you arrive in Taiwan, so that may be where I ran into issues.

Here is a link to the iTaiwan website for you to check out if you want to learn about the program before you land in Taiwan.

If you choose to use iTaiwan, it is essential that you use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your devices and your data!

Using public wifi leaves you at high risk of having your data stolen (and possibly sold), and VPN cloaks your location, so you’re completely safe and protected from prying eyes.

I’ve used a number of VPNs in my time and was never really satisfied until I started using Nord VPN.

Nord VPN allows you to connect up to 6 devices with one account, works all over the world (including behind China’s fire wall), and allows you to access streaming services from around the world.

I adore Nord VPN and don’t plan on switching to a new VPN provider in the future!

Nord VPN

Conclusion

There you have it! 10 really practical Taiwan travel tips that will help you navigate and explore Taiwan.

These tips are designed to help you integrate into Taiwan and explore the country like a local as much as possible. You’ll use transportation, eat, and shop like a local! These Taiwan travel tips will make travelling in Taiwan so much easier!

You’ll be able to relax and enjoy what the country has to offer rather than stressing about transportation, food, and money if you implement these travel tips.

All these tips are things I wish I knew before I went to Taiwan. I hope they help you while you’re in Taiwan, and you don’t make some of the mistakes I did.

Kaohsiung Itinerary: 3 Days in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Kaohsiung is one of the most popular cities for tourists to visit in Taiwan. It has a number of beautiful sights to see and is only a short train ride from Taipei. This Kaohsiung itinerary will help you plan the perfect 3 days in the city!

Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan (Taipei is larger) and is one of the largest port cities in the world. The first archaeological signs of Chinese influence in Kaohsiung dates back to the 12th Century. In 1624 the Dutch arrived in Kaohsiung and colonized the city.

In 1895 Taiwan was given over to the Japanese in the Treaty of Shimonoseki  and as part of the end of China and Japan’s war over Korea. Kaohsiung was returned to China’s control at the end of WWII.

As you can tell, Kaohsiung has an interesting and turbulent past. You’ll be able to learn about the city’s past and experiences by following this 3 day Kaohsiung itinerary.

3 Day Kaohsiung Itinerary Overview

Day One: Lotus Pond- Dragon and Tiger Pagodas- Cihji Palace Temple- Spring and Autumn Pavilions- Five Mile Pavilion- Yuandi Temple Beiji Pavilion- Central Park- Jhongsiao Night Market/Singjhong Night Market

Day Two: Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine- Cijin Island- Takao Railway Museum- Pier-2 Art Centre- Dream Mall- Ruifeng Night Market

Day Three: Fo Guang Shan- Kaohsiung Museum of History- Love River- Liuhe Night Market

How to Get from Taipei to Kaohsiung

It is quite common for tourists to travel from Taipei to Kaohsiung.

There is a high speed train that runs between the two cities, and you can get from Taipei to Kaohsiung in under 2 hours! The high speed train is super fast considering the distance from Taipei to Kaohsiung is over 350km!

You can purchase tickets online through the Taiwan High Speed Rail website or in person at Taipei Main Station. I recommend purchasing your tickets online a couple of days in advance to ensure you get a ticket.

You can also take the local (slow) train, bus, or fly from Taipei to Kaohsiung; however, I recommend taking the high speed train.

For more detailed information on how to get from Taipei to Kaohsiung, check out this post. It is dedicated solely to how to get from Taipei to Kaohsiung and goes in depth into each transportation option.

Best Time to Visit Kaohsiung

There is hardly a bad time of year to visit Taiwan!

The country has a tropical climate, so it doesn’t get cool very often. January and February may be the only months you want a light jacket.

It rains quite a bit in May and June, but it rarely rains for an entire day. You shouldn’t be deterred from visiting Taiwan during the rainy season. You can often avoid the rain by popping into a store of cafe for an hour or so.

My personal favourite time to visit Kaohsiung is in the Fall.

The weather is a bit cooler, so you don’t feel too uncomfortable walking outside during the midday heat.

Where to Stay in Kaohsiung

I recommend staying in the Xinxing District and pick an accommodation that is walking distance from Formosa Boulevard Station. Formosa Boulevard Station is the only metro station in Kaohsiung that connects both the red and orange metro lines.

You’ll have to use both the red and orange metro lines while following this Kaohsiung itinerary, so staying near Formosa Boulevard Station makes transportation incredibly convenient.

Not only is the Xinxing District well situated in terms of transportation options, but it is also a fun area to stay in. It is within walking distance of multiple markets, has lots of local restaurants nearby, and is a safe area.

My Hotel Recommendations

Kindness Hotel

This is where I stayed last time I visited Kaohsiung.

I loved my stay at Kindness Hotel and would highly recommend it to everybody. It is super affordable but still high quality.

The rooms are huge! There is ample room for luggage, and it doesn’t feel cramped in the least.

There is also complimentary tea, coffee, ice cream, and desserts all day.

If that doesn’t sell you on Kindness Hotel, I don’t know what will!

La Inn

This hotel is absolutely gorgeous! La Inn is super modern and leans into the grey and black colour palette, which is 100% my aesthetic.

It is more expensive that Kindness Hotel, but it doesn’t break the bank.

And you get what you pay for! La Inn feels and looks higher quality than Kindness Hotel, so it makes sense it is a bit more expensive.

Bamboo Business Hotel

The last hotel on my recommended list is Bamboo Business Hotel.

It is a nice hotel that is between Kindness Hotel and La Inn in terms of quality.

The hotel is nice, comfortable, and clean, but it is pretty run of the mill. Bamboo Business Hotel feels pretty generic and familiar.

But that means it is the perfect choice for people who want something that feels like “home”. It feels like a step up from a Best Western.

Lotus Pond Scenic Area Kaohsiung Taiwan

Getting Around Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung is a fairly large city with 3 million residents, and, unfortunately, a lot of the tourist sights are spread out around the city. This means you’ll be using public transportation a lot while following this Kaohsiung itinerary.

I personally prefer walking to taking public transport, but sometimes it just isn’t a viable option. When you only have three days in a city, it is pretty difficult to justify walking three hours from one sight to another (not that that has ever stopped me).

Plus you’re contending with the Taiwan heat and humidity in Kaohsiung, and if you’re anything like me, you’re a sweaty mess of a human by just thinking about humidity.

What I’m trying to say is that you’ll be taking the metro and a few buses while in Kaohsiung.

The Metro

The Kaohsiung Metro consists of the Red line and the Orange line. They intersect at Formosa Boulevard Station, which is why I recommend staying in that area.

In addition to the underground metro lines, there is also a new(ish) light rail system. It isn’t fully built yet, but it is in operation at the stations that are built.

You can catch it at the end of the Orange line at O1, and it intersects with the Red line a R6.

The light rail is a great option for areas that aren’t serviced by the Kaohsiung Metro, but it has its limitations. It doesn’t run all that frequently and is slow compared to the underground metro. But it still gets the job done!

The Bus

Kaohsiung has an extensive bus system. I used buses in Kaohsiung far more often than I anticipated because the metro doesn’t service everywhere I needed to go. You’ll most likely be catching a few buses while following this Kaohsiung itinerary.

The good news is that the buses are clean and run pretty close to on time depending on traffic of course.

Some buses have stop announcements in English but many don’t. You’ll want to have the Chinese characters of the station you want to get off at, so you don’t miss your stop. Alternatively, GoogleMaps does a good job of tracking the bus even when you’re offline, so you can use that as a guide as well.

Tips for Using Public Transportation in Kaohsiung

  • Get an Easy Card (or other transit card): You can get transit cards at any convenience store or at a metro station. You load the card up with money and simply tap it when you get on and off the metro/bus. The card automatically deducts the fare, so you don’t have to worry about paying the driver with cash!
  • Be careful what seat you sit in: There are dark blue seats on the metro and bus seats with coverings on buses. These seats are reserved for older individuals, people living with disabilities, and pregnant women. It is taboo to sit in these areas even when the train/bus isn’t crowded and there aren’t people in those demographics that need the seats.
  • Stay Quiet: It is frowned upon to have a loud conversation with a friend or talk on the phone while on public transportation.
  • No food or drink allowed: You’re not meant to eat or drink while riding public transportation in Taiwan. This is a pretty standard rule in cities throughout the world.

Wifi and Internet Access

Taiwan is known for having an excellent public wifi system called iTaiwan.

iTaiwan covers basically the entirety of Taiwan (including Kaohsiung), and you’re entitled to use it as a tourist!

You have to make an account (including entering your passport information), and you can hook into the iTaiwan wifi network wherever it is available.

It is a great system, and it is nice to have access to wifi basically everywhere in the city.

But there are risks associated with using public wifi.

Connecting to public wifi (even if it is password protected in a hotel or cafe) puts you at risk of having your personal data accessed, stolen, and sold by your not-so-friendly neighbourhood hacker.

That is where a virtual private network (VPN) comes into play! A VPN protects all of your data by putting up an invisible forcefield around your electronic devices that makes it impossible for prying eyes to see your online activity!

Having a VPN is an essential for every traveller who wants to keep their data safe!

I’ve used a lot of different VPNs throughout the years, but the only one I’ve been completely happy with is NordVPN.

It is the most reliable and quickest VPN I’ve ever used.

You can connect up to 6 devices on one account, so you can protect all of your devices at once!

Plus NordVPN often runs ridiculous sales where you can save up to 70%! So there is no excuse not to protect yourself and your data!

NordVPN

Day One

Day one is my favourite day in this Kaohsiung itinerary. It hits most of my favourite tourist attractions. Most of the sights are centralized in one area, so you won’t have to use public transportation much on day one!

Visit the Lotus Pond Scenic Area

The Lotus Pond is the most popular tourist attraction in Kaohsiung, so of course it is the first stop on the Kaohsiung itinerary!

There are a number of sights surrounding the Lotus Pond, and you see a lot of attractions by just walking around the pond.

The Lotus Pond and the surrounding attractions is what made me want to visit Kaohsiung. It was just as beautiful as I anticipated, and I know you’ll love it too!

How to Get to the Lotus Pond Scenic Area

The closest metro station to the Lotus Pond is Zouying High Speed Rail Station. This is stop R16.

Once you get off the metro, you can either catch a bus or walk/bike to the Lotus Pond. You can rent a bike outside Zouying Station if you want. There are rental bikes throughout Kaohsiung, so you don’t need to drop it back at the same location you rented it from.

It takes less than 10 minutes to walk from the station to the Lotus Pond, so this is my preferred way to get there. You simply cross the road once you exit the station and head north on Shengli Road. You will be able to see the pond once you have walked about two blocks.

What to See at the Lotus Pond Scenic Area

Dragon and Tiger Pagodas

If you’ve ever Googled Kaohsiung, the first image that comes up is always the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. They are an iconic landmark in Kaohsiung and shouldn’t be missed.

The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas are said to reverse your luck. You enter through the Dragon and exit through the Tiger. Once you’ve gone through the pagodas, your luck will be reversed, and you’ll be lucky!

You can only enter the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas through the Dragon, so you don’t have to worry about not reversing your luck. There is a long walkway to the entrance of the pagodas, and the path leads you right to the Dragon’s mouth.

There is no entrance fee; however, there is a donation box at the entrance for voluntary donations. I suggest throwing a few New Taiwanese Dollars into the donation bin to help with the upkeep of the pagodas.

Each pagoda is seven stories tall, and you’re able to walk to the top of them. You get a magnificent view from the top, and I recommend going up at least three or four stories.

The view from above four stories isn’t vastly different from the view at four stories, so you don’t necessarily climb all the way to the top.

Dragon and Tiger Pagodas Kaohsiung Taiwan
Cihji Palace

Cihji Palace is directly across from the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. In fact, you’re able to see the temple from inside the pagodas (remember that great view I told you about).

Cihji Palace is dedicated to the Chinese god of medicine.

You’ll want to remember to respect the temple rules (whether written or unwritten). This includes dressing respectfully. If you’re not sure what the rules are, just follow what the locals are doing. You can’t go wrong that way!

Spring and autumn pavilions

Next up on your trip around the Lotus Pond are the Spring and Autumn Pavilions.

These are two pavilions that have a giant dragon at the front. You’re able to walk through each temple and through the dragon.

I highly recommend walking through the dragon. It is longer than it looks but so worth it! The walls inside the dragon have artwork on them, and it is fun to spend some time looking at everything.

I really enjoy the Spring and Autumn Pavilions and would highly recommend visiting them. If you’re going to skip something on the Kaohsiung itinerary, I don’t recommend it be this!

Five Mile pavilion

The Five Mile Pavilion is the most relaxing pavilion along the Lotus Pond. It is directly behind the Spring and Autumn Pavilions at the end of a long bridge.

It isn’t the most beautiful or spectacular pavilion, but it is beautiful and has great views. You can sit on the benches inside the temple to relax or spend some time taking pictures of the rest of the pavilions from the bridge.

pei chi pavilion

This is my favourite pavilion at Lotus Pond. I was expecting to like the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas most, but this was the winner for me!

This pavilion honours that Taoist God Emperor of the North Pole. It is a staggering 72 meters tall and is the largest statue on water in all of Southeast Asia. Pretty impressive right!

The Pei Chi Pavilion is absolutely breathtaking. It is colourful and detailed, and it is a must-visit attraction on the Kaohsiung itinerary!

You access the pavilion by walking down a long bridge that has stone warriors down both sides. As you get closer and closer you get an appreciation for just how large the pavilion is.

It is quite the experience, and you’re able to get some amazing photographs. Assuming you can avoid the crowds of other tourists that is.

There are a number of areas for prayer at the Pei Chi Pavilion, and tourists and locals alike light incense and pray to the gods. There are also a few places to sit and relax, but they are normally quite busy and not as relaxing as the Five Mile Pavilion.

Pei Chi Pavilion Lotus Pong Kaohsiung Taiwan

How Long Should You Spend at the Lotus Pond Scenic Area?

I suggest spending at least half a day at the Lotus Pond.

This allows you to take your time visiting each pavilion and temple (I didn’t even list them all by the way!). You also won’t be rushed if you allot yourself half a day at the Lotus Pond.

You can go back to your favourite pavilions, walk the entire perimeter of the pond, grab some tea or a snack, and enjoy your time.

Lotus Pond and its attractions is often what draws tourists to Kaohsiung, so you mays well take the time to enjoy everything it has to offer and not rush yourself. This Kaohsiung itinerary gives you ample time at each location, so you can enjoy yourself.

Wander Through Central Park

Next on the Kaohsiung itinerary is Central Park.

Central Park is located in the Cianjin district and is the perfect place to get away from the concrete jungle and crowds.

Central Park is a huge green space in the heart of Kaohsiung. Locals use Central Park as a place to gather and spend time with friends, do tai chi, and countless other things. It can get crowded during weekends and holidays and is often the sight of outdoor festivals in Kaohsiung.

How to get to Central Park from the Lotus Pond Scenic Area

It is super easy to get from the Lotus Pond to Central Park!

You simply head back to Zouying (R16) and get on the train heading in the direction Siaogang. You ride the metro until the Central Park stop (R9) and get off. It doesn’t even require a transfer, which is always a nice bonus!

When exiting Central Park station, take exit 1. This will lead you right to Central Park where you can enjoy some fresh air and relaxation.

Things to do in Central Park

Kaohsiung literary library

The Kaohsiung Literary Library is a newer addition to Central Park. It is a huge library that you’re able to walk around and explore. It is a neat place to explore if you’re a literary nerd like I am.

speech square

Speech Square is where you’ll find a lot of older people playing chess and sipping tea. It isn’t the most exciting part of Central Park, but it is worth strolling past.

scenic lake

You’re able to stroll around Scenic Lake and take in the beauty of Central Park. Scenic Lake has a lot of beautiful greenery and feels very relaxing. It is the perfect place to sit down, relax, and read a book.

water square

Water Square is the coolest part of Central Park. If you’re there are the right time, you’re able to watch the water dance. It is quite beautiful and well worth waiting for if you have the time!

The water dance show last about 20 minutes.

The water dances at the following times:

Monday-Friday: 12:30, 15:30, 18:30, 19:30, 20:30, and 21:30

Saturday-Sunday: 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 19:30, 20:30, and 21:30

How Long Should You Spend at Central Park?

I recommend spending at least two hours at Central Park. This gives you time to take in all the different sights, watch the water show, and relax a little bit.

If you don’t want to spend that much time in Central Park, the area surrounding it has a number of different stores and restaurants you can explore.

Zhongxiao (Jhongsiao) Night Market

Zhongxiao (Jhongsaio) Night Market is the next stop on the Kaohsiung itinerary! It is walking distance from Central Park and is the perfect way to start your first evening in Kaohsiung!

How to get to Zhongxiao (Jhongsiao) Night Market from Central Park

It is quite simple to get to the Zhongziao Night Market from Central Park. You simply cross the street and follow the signs.

The easiest way to cross the street is to go through the Central Park metro station and take exit 2. You’ll avoid waiting for the long traffic light to change to walk across the street!

You turn left on Qingnian 1st Road and walk up the road until you reach the night market.

The Zhongxiao Night Market is on the smaller side, but you should have no problem finding it. You’ll know you’re getting close when the pedestrian traffic starts to get busier and you smell the delicious food.

Things to do at Zhongxiao (Jhongsiao) Night Market

Zhongxiao Night Market is a food market, and you’ll find all different types of cuisine being sold. The market is only about 200 meters long, but there are a lot of different booths in the small area.

You can find all the traditional Taiwanese street foods at the market including stinky tofu, egg rolls, pepper buns and more! You can also find a variety of less traditional foods if you’re an adventurous eater. Foods like goat, oyster omelettes, and braised pork blood.

How Long Should You Spend at Zhongxiao (Jhongsiao) Night Market?

I suggest spending 30-45 minutes at Zhongxiao Night Market depending on how much you want to eat and how much time you spend walking past the stalls and seeing what food they have to offer.

Night Market Corn on the Cob Taiwan

Xinjuejiang Night Market

Xinjuejiang is my favourite night market in Kaohsiung! It has more of a focus on shopping and fashion than it does on food. There are still plenty of food options to enjoy, but the star of the show is the shopping!

How to get from Zhongxiao Night Market to Xinjuejiang Night Market

The two markets are walking distance from one another, so that is a huge bonus! You have to walk less than ten minutes from one to the other!

To get from Zhongxiao Night Market to Xinjuejiang Night Market, you simply walk down Qingnian 1st Road back towards the way you came and turn right at the street right before the main street that Central Park Station is on.

From there you walk straight until you reach the market! You’ll know you’re nearing the market when the pedestrian traffic rapidly picks up! Xinjuejiang Night Market is a popular shopping location for young locals, and it is busy every night.

Things to do at Xinjuejiang Night Market

Xinjuejiang Night Market is the place to go if your’e looking to buy some new clothes, skincare, or makeup. It is full of trendy stores including local stores and international brick-and-motar stores like Nike.

There are tons of different alleys for you to walk up and down just off the main shopping street. This is where you’ll find the local boutiques. They are often more affordable than the international stores, and they have tons of cute items!

A lot of the smaller boutiques carry similar items, so if you find an item you love but is a bit out of your price range, there is a good chance you’ll be able to find the same item in a different store at a lower price.

I found many of the stores at Xinjuejiang Night Market to be more size inclusive than I’m used to in Asia. I’m a size 8 in American sizing and found many different items that fit me and were flattering.

This was exciting since I normally go into boutiques in Asia knowing I won’t fit into any of the clothing.

How Long Should You Spend at Xinjuejiang Night Market?

It is easy to spend hours at Xinjuejiang Night Market wandering through the stores, sampling cosmetics, and snacking.

I recommend spending at least 90 minutes at Xinjuejiang Night Market.

This gives you ample time to get all your shopping done and not feel rushed. But since this is the last thing on the Kaohsiung itinerary for the day, you can spend as much or as little time at the market as you want!

Day Two

Day two of the Kaohsiung itinerary is the busiest and requires you to use public transportation the most out of all three days. Even though day two is busy, it doesn’t feel rushed, and you’re able to enjoy your time at each of the sights!

Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine

Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine is a shrine located on Shoushan mountainside. It honours fallen soldiers and has a stunning view of Kaohsiung and the harbour.

Kaohsiung Martyrs' Shrine

How to get to Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine

Getting to Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine from Formosa Boulevard Station is relatively easy. You take the Orange metro line to the end and get off at Sizihwan Station (O1).

Once you exit the station, walk towards Gupo Street. At Gupo Street, turn right. Walk straight until you get to Qiangguang Road then turn left and follow the road up the mountain.

Once you’re on Qiangguang Road, you just follow it until you get to the shrine. The walk up the mountain isn’t terribly strenuous and most people who don’t have physical limitations should be able to walk to the shrine with no issue.

Things to do at Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine

View the Kaohsiung martyrs’ shrine

Visiting the Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine is the main attraction in the area. You can wander around the shrine and take photographs of it. It is a beautiful shrine and well worth spending some time wandering through it and taking in its beauty.

take pictures at the love sign

The love sign is a new addition to Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine, but it has quickly become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Many newly engaged couples get their photo taken at the love sign.

take in the view

The view is the real showstopper at the Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine. You get an amazing view of the harbour and part of Kaohsiung.

It is my favourite viewpoint in Kaohsiung, and it is well worth taking the time to visit the shrine just to take in the view. It is particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset.

How Long do You Need to Spend at Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine?

Allotting 30 minutes to wander through the shrine and take photographs of the love sign and scenery should be enough time. If you’re an avid photographer and want to take tons of photos, then you might want to allot 45 minutes at the shrine.

Cijin Island

Cijin Island is another tourist attraction that comes up in every Kaohsiung itinerary and with good reason! It is located a short five minute ferry ride away from Kaohsiung and has a number of popular tourist destinations.

You can rent a bike on Cijin Island and pedal your way around the island. I didn’t rent a bike when I visited and regretted it. You can rent your bike either before you get on the ferry or once you’re on Cijin Island. But be sure to rent a bike. You’ll be regretful like me if you don’t!

How to get from Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine to Cijin Island

The first step in getting from the shrine to Cijin Island is walking back to Sizihwan Station. Once you’re back at the station, follow the directions in posted at the station to the ferry terminal. The walk takes less than 10 minutes and is very simple.

You then wait for the next ferry to arrive, get on it, and then get off on Cijin Island. The ferry ride only takes a few minutes, so you’ll be there in no time!

When you get off the ferry, turn right, and then follow the crowds down the main street in Cijin. This main street is where you can rent a bike if you want.

Things to do on Cijin Island

visit the lighthouse

The lighthouse is the most popular tourist attraction on Cijin Island. It was built in 1883 by the British. It was used extensively during Japanese occupation and is now open to the public.

Unfortunately is was closed for renovations when I was in Kaohsiung, so I don’t have any first-hand experience of it. But it looks amazing, and I would love to go back to see it!

Kaohsiung fort

Kaohsiung Fort is located near the lighthouse and was also built by the British in 1883. It is mostly in ruins now but is a great place to get stunning photographs of the island and Kaohsiung.

You can easily spend 20-30 minutes wandering around the fort ruins and taking photographs. You can walk along the pieces of the walls that are still standing to get the best photographs. It is a lot of fun.

rainbow church

The Rainbow Church is probably the most Instagramable place in all of Kaohsiung. Visitors flock to Cijin Island just to get a photograph of the Rainbow Church.

It isn’t actually a church but, rather, a colourful art piece in front of the ocean. It is quite beautiful.

There are long queues to get a photo at the Rainbow Church no matter what time of day or time of year you visit Cijin Island. If you’re looking for the perfect Instagram photo, it may be worth waiting your turn, but if you’re not, it is probably enough to walk past and see it rather than waiting in the queue.

Cijin Island Rainbow Church
cijin tunnel

Cijin Tunnel is my favourite attraction on Cijin Island. It is a small tunnel you walk through and at the end you’re right by the water. It is incredible! The view is amazing.

You’re really close to the water, so you’re able to see the waves crashing, hear the seagulls, and smell the water.

It was be a bit trick to find the tunnel so be sure to follow the signs for the tunnel closely otherwise you could miss it. The tunnel is near the base of the hill that has the lighthouse and fort on it, so if your’e closer to the Rainbow Church then the lighthouse, you’re not in the right area.

How Long Should You Spend on Cijin Island?

You’ll need three to four hours on Cijin Island to see all the major sights. This allows you to spend time exploring each of the sights, bike from place to place, and enjoy some food.

The shaved ice is particularly good on Cijin Island, and I would recommend stopping for some shaved ice to cool down and relax before getting back on the ferry to Kaohsiung.

Takao Railways Museum

The next stop on the Kaohsiung itinerary for day two is a quick stop at the Takao Railway Museum. This is an old railway station that ceased operating in 2008, and the Kaohsiung government turned it into a museum.

How to get from Cijin Island to Takao Railway Museum

The first step in getting from Cijin Island to Takao Railway Museum is taking the ferry back to Kaohsiung. You catch the ferry back to Kaohsiung at the same place you got off the ferry when you arrived on Cijin Island.

Once you’re off the ferry in Kaohsiung, walk back to Sizihwan Station. From there, you’ll walk a few blocks to the light rail station.

The railway museum is right next to Hamasen Station (C14). There are signs directing you to the light rail station, and you’ll be able to see it on your left-hand side as you begin walking.

The light rail station is also connected to the metro station if you choose to walk through the station rather than above ground. Walking through the station is the best option for people who are concerned that they will get lost (even though it is quite difficult to do).

Things to do at Takao Railway Museum

There honestly isn’t too much to do at the Takao Railway Museum. There is a small museum and a few train engines and cars you can view.

The most popular reason people go is to take photos with the statues/artwork that the government has placed in the field adjacent to the railway museum. You can take your photo with giant suitcases and other such pieces of artwork.

This area is popular amongst young people and is another great place to get the perfect Instagram photo to commemorate your time in Kaohsiung.

How Long Should You Spend at Takao Railway Museum?

15-30 minutes is enough time to take pictures and visit the museum if you want to.

Pier-2 Art Centre

Pier-2 Art Centre is a really cool part of Kaohsiung where there is a bunch of art, statues, and murals that you can admire and take your picture with. There are also a number of independent art stores you can shop at if you want to take a piece of art home to remember your time in Kaohsiung.

How to get from Takao Railway Museum to Pier-2 Art Centre

You can walk from Takao Railway Museum to Pier-2 Art Centre in a matter of minutes, so it is quick and easy to get from one location to the next.

You simply walk across the field next to the museum and then cross the street. You’re able to see Pier-2 Art Centre as you’re walking across the field, so it is nearly impossible to get lost.

If you’re worried about getting lost, just follow the light rail tracks. The light rail stops at Pier-2 Art Centre, so if you follow the tracks, it is impossible to get lost.

Pier-2 Art Centre Kaohsiung Taiwan

Things to do at Pier-2 Art Centre

Pier-2 Art Centre is very popular amongst locals and tourists, and it can get quite busy and crowded if you go on a weekend afternoon. That being said, is is still worth checking out!

The area is filled with different public art you can look at. It includes murals, statues, life-size transformers, and more. There is a lot of unique art at Pier-2 Art Centre.

The area has a really cool hipster-esque vibe that doesn’t feel pretentious.

There are also a number of shops and cafes that you can stop at to do some shopping or pick grab a snack.

How Long Should You Spend at Pier-2 Art Centre?

This is a difficult thing to estimate because the amount of time you’ll want to spend at Pier-2 Art Centre directly corresponds with how much you enjoy art and how much of the are you want to explore.

You’ll need at least an hour at Pier-2 Art Centre, but it is really easy to spend much longer there exploring.

Dream Mall

The next stop on the Kaohsiung itinerary is a stop at Dream Mall. Dream Mall is the largest mall in Taiwan and is one of the largest malls in all of East Asia.

Dream Mall is often overlooked on Kaohsiung itineraries, but I think it is worth checking out!

How to get from Pier-2 Art Centre to Dream Mall

This is the only time in the Kaohsiung itinerary that you’ll be using the light rail system so soak in the moment if you’re a transportation nerd and love riding different forms of transit!

To get from Pier-2 Art Centre to Dream Mall, you simple get on the light rail system at either Penglai Pier-2 (C13) or Dayia Pier-2 (C12). Both stations are near the Pier-2 Art Centre, so you just have to choose whatever station is closest to where you are.

After you’re on the light rail system, you ride it until you get to the Dream Mall Station (C5). The light rail isn’t nearly as quick as the metro, so it takes a little longer to get from Pier-2 Art Centre to Dream Mall than it would if the metro ran between the two locations.

At Dream Mall Station, you just have to walk across the street, and you’re at the mall.

Things to do at Dream Mall

Shop ’til you drop

Shopping is the most obvious thing to do at Dream Mall. The mall is huge, and there are seven stories of stores you can explore.

Each story is dedicated to a certain shopping theme, so it is really easy to find what you’re looking for. For example, all the women’s clothing is on one floor and all the children’s clothing is on a separate floor.

The majority of the stores in Dream Mall are international stores, and you won’t mind many unique stores. Most of the stores you could find in any mall around the world.

eat, eat, and eat some more

The entire bottom level of Dream Mall is dedicated solely to food! There are tons of different bakeries, sweet shops, cafes, and restaurants. You’re guaranteed to find something that suits your fancy.

This is the perfect place to grab lunch or have a coffee and relax a bit after a busy day.

amusement park

There is an amusement park on the roof of Dream Mall! It is a very small amusement park, but it is an amusement park nonetheless.

The highlight of the amusement park is the ferris wheel that sits on the roof. It gives you spectacular views of Kaohsiung if you’re brave enough to ride it.

The rides are a bit expensive, but it is pretty neat to check out and wander around for a while.

How Long Should You Spend at Dream Mall?

This depends on how much shopping you’re going to do. You’ll need at least 60 to 90 minutes to explore all of Dream Mall, grab a bite to eat, and check out the amusement park.

You’ll need much longer than that if you’re planning on doing some serious shopping. But since the stores are basically chain stores, there are better places in Kaohsiung you could go shopping and find more unique items that cost less.

Ruifeng Night Market

Ruifeng Night Market is quickly becoming the most popular night market in Kaohsiung, so I had to include it in my Kaohsiung itinerary. It opens at 4pm every day, so it is perfect timing for you to head straight to the night market after visiting Dream Mall.

How to get to Ruifeng Night Market from Dream Mall

The easiest way to get from Dream Mall to Ruifeng Night Market is to walk to Kaisyuan Station (R6) and ride it to Kaohsiung Arena Station (R14).

To get to Kaisyuan Station, you’ll need to walk approximately 750 meters from the mall to the station. You simply exit the mall from the same doors you entered in and walk across the street with your back facing the door you exited from.

You follow that road all the way until you get to Kaisyuan Station. It is a straight shot once you’re walking down the proper road.

If you don’t want to walk to the station, you can also take the bus. The bus departs across the street from Dream Mall, so it requires a lot less walking than taking the metro.

You take bus 168 East for 29 stops and get off at Kaohsiung Arena. The bus takes twice as long as the metro, so that is something to consider when deciding what transportation method to take.

Wontons in Taiwan

Things to do at Ruifeng Night Market

Ruifeng Night Market is the largest food night market in Kaohsiung and covers a staggering 3,000 square meters and has been open for 20 years. The vendors are well organized, and the market is in the shape of an L.

You can find all the classic night market foods including stinky tofu, pepper buns, fried chicken, and corn on the cob (my personal favourite). The papaya milk is also worth trying out.

There are also some fun little carnival games you can play for a small fee. These are quite fun if you have a friend to play against!

How Long Should You Spend at the Ruifeng Night Market?

This is the largest night market in Kaohsiung, and you’ll want to spend a decent amount of time wandering through it sampling the different food options. I suggest spending a minimum of 90 minutes at Ruifeng Night Market and more if you want to.

Ruifeng Night Market is the last stop for day two of the Kaohsiung itinerary, so you can spend hours at the market if you want to and not be rushed to make it to your next destination.

Day Three

The third and final day of the Kaohsiung itinerary is much more relaxed than day two. It involves a lot less travelling from one sight to another and more time at one major sight followed by a couple of minor sights that are walking distance from one another.

Fo Guang Shan Monastery

Fo Guang Shan Monastery is the main attraction on the final day of the Kaohsiung itinerary. It is a jaw dropping and well worth visiting.

Fo Guang Shan monastery is the headquarters of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist religion. It is the largest Buddhist complex in Taiwan and is home to the largest bronze sitting Buddha statue in the world!

How to get to Fo Guang Shan Monastery

Getting to Fo Guang Shan Monastery is a two-step process.

The first step is taking the metro to Zouying Station (R16). This is the same station you took to get to the Lotus Pond Scenic Area, so it should be easy for you to navigate how to get there.

Once you’re at Zouying Station, walk to the bus station. Walk to the bus stand for bus 8501 and wait for the next bus to arrive. The first bus departs at 8:15am and the second at 8:45am. I recommend taking on of those two buses to make the most out of your time at the monastery.

The bus stops at two locations at Fo Guang Shan. The first stop is at the Buddhist museum and the second is at the monastery.

Most people get off at the first stop, but I recommend getting off at the second stop. This will allow some of the crowds to be gone from the museum by the time you get there, and it means you walk down the hill to the museum rather than up the hill to the monastery.

This makes a huge difference in the Kaohsiung humidity!

Fo Guang Shan Big Buddha

Things to do at Fo Guang Shan Monastery

visit the monastery

The majority of people who visit Fo Guang Shan visit the museum and skip visiting the monastery. This is a mistake. The museum is where the giant Buddha is, but the monastery has a lot to offer as well!

The monastery is on the top of a hill, so you’ll have to walk up a short path to get there. This path is much shorter than the path you would have to walk up if you visited the museum first and then the monastery.

The monastery has a number of statues and temples you can visit. They are all gorgeous and give you some history about Fo Guang Shan Buddhism before you visit the museum.

There are a number of places in the monastery you’re not allowed to visit. These places are reserved solely for the monks and visitors staying at the monastery.

There are signs marking areas you aren’t allowed to enter as a visitor. Please respect these signs and don’t go anywhere you’re not allowed.

the buddha museum

The Buddha Museum is the star of the show at Fo Guang Shan and one of my favourite things on this Kaohsiung itinerary. It is far more impressive and moving than I anticipated it being before I visited.

The Buddha Museum is huge and consists of multiple temples, museum exhibits, and the giant bronze Buddha. It is quite easy to miss something there is so much to see!

Be sure to take the time to explore the museum exhibits before you go to the bronze Buddha. They’ll give you the background information you need to better understand the religion and significance of the Buddha.

There are many helpful volunteers and employees throughout the museum that can help answer any of your questions or help guide you through the exhibit.

There is no entrance fee to visit the museum, but there are donation boxes throughout the property where you can put a donation if you want to.

souvenir shopping

Fo Guang Shan is one of the few places in Kaohsiung that sells souvenirs, so it is a great place to pick up a souvenir of your time in Kaohsiung. They sell all the standard souvenirs at the entrance to the museum as well as near the bus station.

Enjoy a delicious meal

There are a number of different restaurants at the entrance of the museum. They range in prices, but they all serve traditional Chinese food.

I highly recommend the vegetarian buffet on the second floor. The food is delicious, and it is the least expensive buffet I’ve ever been to in my life. I have no idea how they make money on it!

It is popular amongst the locals, so it is often busy. It is common seating, so you’ll probably be sharing your table with a bunch of people, but that is the best way to meet new, interesting people!

How Long Should You Spend at Fo Guang Shan Monastery?

I recommend spending at least six hours at Fo Guang Shan. This includes the bus ride to and from the monastery. You can easily spend upwards of seven or eight hours (even days) at the monastery depending on how much time you spend exploring all it has to offer.

Six hours is enough time for you to see the monastery, visit the majority of the museum exhibits, spend some time viewing the Buddha, and have lunch.

Fo Guang Shan Monastery

Kaohsiung Museum of History

I’ve never seen the Kaohsiung Museum of History included on a Kaohsiung itinerary, and I only found it because I was searching for a museum to visit in Kaohsiung. I really enjoyed the museum, and it shares a lot of really important history about the city and Taiwan’s history.

I knew once I visited the museum I needed to include it on my Kaohsiung itinerary and encourage more people to visit it!

How to get from Fo Guang Shan to the Kaohsiung Museum of History

Getting from Fo Guang Shan to the museum requires two transfers, but it is easier than it sounds!

You take the bus from the Buddha Museum to Zouying Station then take the red metro line to Formosa Boulevard Station (R10/O5). At Formosa Boulevard Station, you transfer to the orange metro line and ride it for one stop at get off at City Counsel (Former Site) Station.

From there you’ll walk for approximately 5 minutes towards the Love River (follow the signs in the station to make sure you’re going the right direction). The museum is on your right-hand side just after you cross the river.

The museum is in an old government building, and it is easy to miss if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. It is a pale green and brown building and has a parking lot at the front.

There isn’t any signage on the museum that is visible from the street, but there is no need to be shy about walking to the door. You’re in the right place and not trespassing. I will admit that they need better signage.

Things to do at the Kaohsiung Museum of History

The Kaohsiung Museum of History is small and only consists of a few rooms. There is a rotating exhibit that hosts different exhibits pertaining to the history of Kaohsiung and a permanent exhibit dedicated to the February 28 Massacre.

Learning about the February 28 Massacre is very important, and I would encourage everybody to take the time to visit the Kaohsiung Museum of History.

Entrance to the museum is free, so there is no excuse not to visit!

How Long Should You Spend at the Kaohsiung Museum of History?

I recommend spending about 30 minutes at the museum. This will allow you to visit the exhibits and watch the multi-media show they have at the end of the February 28 Massacre exhibit.

The museum is quite small, so you won’t need much more time than that even if you intend to read everything in the museum.

30 minutes out of your 3 day Kaohsiung itinerary isn’t too much time to spend learning about local history and a very important event in Taiwan’s history.

Love River

Next up on the Kaohsiung itinerary is a visit to Love River. This is the main river that runs through Kaohsiung, and it is the perfect place to take a stroll or read on a bench.

How to get from the Kaohsiung Museum of History to Love River

It literally couldn’t be easier to get from the Kaohsiung Museum of History to the Love River. You simply exit the museum, turn left, and you’re there! You can see the river from the museum. By far the easiest part of this Kaohsiung itinerary!

Love River Kaohsiung Taiwan

Things to do at Love River

Love River is the perfect place for you to go for a leisurely stroll and take in the beauty of Kaohsiung away from the concrete jungle. I love finding a bench a reading for as long as I can handle the humidity.

There are also river cruises you can go on. They’re a great way to see more of the river without having to spend the time walking the length of it all.

How Long Should You Spend at Love River?

I suggest spending 30-45 minutes at Love River at a minimum and longer if you want to go for a river cruise. It is easy to lose track of time walking along the river, so it is best to plan to spend a decent amount of time there.

Formosa Boulevard Station

Formosa Boulevard Station is another classic sight that ends up on every Kaohsiung itinerary and for good reason! It is the main metro station in Kaohsiung and is one of the most beautiful metro stations I’ve ever seen.

If you stayed in the Xinxing District , you would have seen this station everyday when getting to and from all the other attractions on the itinerary. But for people who didn’t stay in the area, visiting Formosa Boulevard Station is a must!

How to get from Love River to Formosa Boulevard Station

The easiest way to get from the river to Formosa Boulevard Station is walking. Once you’re done exploring the river, head back to the Kaohsiung Museum of History.

With your back towards the Kaohsiung Museum of History, walk across the bridge and follow the main road all the way to Formosa Boulevard Station.

The walk takes approximately twenty minutes, and you don’t need to make any turns. Simply follow the road, and you’ll find yourself at the station.

Things to do at Formosa Boulevard Station

Formosa Boulevard Station is best known for the dome of lights. The station is home to the largest piece of glass art in the world, and it is over 2,000 square meters and contains 4,500 panes of glass.

It is breathtaking and an essential activity for anybody visiting Kaohsiung.

The dome of lights is on the main level of the station before the turnstiles, so you don’t need to pay to see the display!

How Long Should You Spend at Formosa Boulevard Station?

I think ten minutes is enough time to see the dome of lights and take a bunch of photos. There isn’t really anything else noteworthy in the station, so you’re just going to view the dome of lights.

Formosa Boulevard Station Kaohsiung Taiwan

Liuhe Night Market

Liuhe Night Market is the most famous night market is Kaohsiung and is on every Kaohsiung itinerary. It may be the most famous night market, but I don’t think it is the best in the city.

But it is still worth a visit, which is why I have included it on my Kaohsiung itinerary.

How to get from Formosa Boulevard Station to the Liuhe Night Market

Getting from the station to the night market is just as easy as getting from the museum to the river.

You simply follow the signs in the station for the Liuhe Tourist Night Market exit, walk up the stairs, and you’re at the entrance to the market. It doesn’t get easier than that!

Things to do at the Liuhe Night Market

The Liuhe Night Market is strictly a food market, so you’re not going to find any vendors selling souvenirs. There are a number of stores that the vendors set up in front of, so if you need a convenience store or something along those lines, you’ll be able to find one.

The market has all the traditional Taiwanese street food items that are in the other night markets around Kaohsiung. My personal favourite is the corn on the cob. There is something about the spice mix they put on it at this specific market that is incredible.

The market spans quite a few blocks, so there are a lot of different foods to try out. The food is also inexpensive (as it is at all the night markets), so it is a great place to eat a lot of food without spending too much money.

How Long Should You Spend at the Liuhe Night Market?

I think 60-75 minutes is sufficient. You’ve already been to a number of night markets by following this Kaohsiung itinerary, so you’ll have already seen most of the different types of food.

By this point, you’ll probably know what types of food you like, so you can easily find the stalls you want to eat at without walking the length of the market once or twice deciding.

You can, of course, spend as much time at the market as you want. It is the last thing on the Kaohsiung itinerary after all! There are a number of local stores in the area, so it is worth it to take some extra time and wander around the surrounding area to see if there is anything else you’re interested in buying.

Conclusion

As you can tell, there is a lot to do and see in Kaohsiung! You can easily spend 4 or 5 days in Kaohsiung exploring everything the city has to offer, but I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time in Kaohsiung for the average traveller.

This Kaohsiung itinerary hits all the most popular tourist sights in Kaohsiung but also includes a number of less popular attractions. This allows you to get a better feeling for the city and understand it a little bit more.

I think it is important to visit museums and learn about the places you travel to, which is why I included the history museum in the itinerary. It is one of the most underrated attractions in Kaohsiung, and I would encourage everybody to visit it.

There are a lot of other attractions in Kaohsiung you could visit, and you could easily customize your trip to Kaohsiung to suit your personal preferences.

Use this Kaohsiung itinerary as a guide to your time in Kaohsiung and insert any sights that intrigue you or that you stumble on along the way.

Kaohsiung is a really cool city, and I hope this itinerary helps you plan your perfect trip to Kaohsiung!

PS- Don’t forget to sign up for NordVPN and protect your online data when you’re in Kaohsiung. You don’t want your holiday ruined because your online data was stolen!

Beware of the Tea House Scam in China!

Before I go into detail about the tea house scam that is popular in China, I want to make it very clear that this post in no way suggests or encourages you not to visit China just because there is a chance of being scammed. You can be scammed in any city in any country.

China is an amazing country with a long, rich history and culture. It should be considered as a travel destination for any traveller who is looking to explore a new region and experience a unique culture.

The tea house scam is quite popular in China, but you will be able to avoid it once you know about it! Please don’t let this scam deter you from visiting China. You simply have to be diligent and aware of your surroundings!

What Exactly is the Tea House Scam?

The tea house scam is an incredibly popular scam that is most prevalent in Beijing and Shanghai.

You are approached by a young person (or two) saying they either want to practice their English or are a student who is practicing their English. You are likely to be approached by either one young man or two young women.

The people who approach you will be incredibly friendly and charismatic, which makes it difficult to say no to helping them practice their English. It seems like an innocent enough request and a great way to meet locals and learn about their experiences in China.

Once you agree to helping them with their English, they will suggest going to get tea. They take you to a cafe of their choosing and order tea and/or soda without showing you the menu or prices. The owners of the cafe are in cahoots with the people you’re with, and they inflate the prices on the bill.

Your new friends will keep ordering drinks and being friendly. When the bill comes, they will either ask you to pay or say they will pay half the bill.

The bill will be hundreds of dollars.

If you’re new to China and don’t know what things should cost or the exchange rate, you could easily pay the bill without realizing how much it actually cost.

Your new friends will get a cut of the extra money you paid. The cafe and the scammers profit off of you.

Beijing China Tea House Scam

Everything You Need to Know About the Tea House Scam

Once you know about the tea house scam, it is really easy to avoid. You can recognize the signs and be able to identify who may be trying to scam you.

Where is the Tea House Scam Most Popular?

Knowing where the tea house scam is most popular will help you be aware in certain parts of China. The two cities this scam is most popular in are, unsurprisingly, Beijing and Shanghai.

In Beijing, Wangfujing (the main shopping street) and Tiananmen Square are the two places you will most likely encounter tea house scammers.

In Shanghai, Nanjing Road (the main shopping area) is the most popular place for this scam to take place.

How Does the Tea House Scam Work?

You will normally be approached by one or more locals saying that they are learning and ask if they can practice their English with you. Sometimes people they are a student when they approach you.

A solo traveller will normally be approached by a single scammer, and a group of travellers will normally be approached by two people. In my case, I was a solo female traveller who was approached by two young women asking if they could practice their English with me.

After you agree to help them practice their English, they will take you to a cafe and start ordering tea and pop without letting you look at the menu. The drinks arrive, and you start chatting. You have a great time and enjoy speaking with the locals.

Then the bills comes, and it is outrageously expensive. Literally hundreds of dollars for a pot of tea and a pop or two.

And that is when you realize that these lovely locals aren’t your friends at all and actually scammed you.

What to do After You Realize You’ve Been Scammed

There are number of things you can do once you realize you’ve been scammed.

If you realize before you pay, you can refuse to pay. However, you will most likely be met with resistance. A credit card reader will be brought if you say you don’t have enough cash, and the entrance will be blocked by a staff member if you claim you don’t have a card.

You can try bargaining with the cafe staff. You can offer to pay for the actual cost of the tea that you have consumed rather than the inflated, scam price. This way the cafe still covers their expenses, and you don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a pot of tea. I’ve heard a few people say that this has worked for them, but it isn’t a guarantee.

Beijing China Temple of Heaven

Can You go to the Police After You’ve Been Scammed?

You try to negotiate with the cafe staff, but they don’t accept your offer. You end up paying the full amount of the original, scam bill for one reason or another. What now? A lot of people think going to the police will help you get your money back.

That’s what I did, and it worked for me. But I’ve read a lot of stories on the internet saying that the police don’t help. It could be because they are aware of the scam and get a cut from the tea houses. That’s one theory that has been thrown around, but there is no way to know whether that is true or not.

It appears that the Shanghai police are more willing to help tourists than the police in Beijing, but who knows. The police in Beijing helped me get my money back (I was scammed out of $800 my first night in Beijing when I was severely jet legged and wasn’t aware of the exchange rate or how much I was paying for some tea and pop).

I guess the takeaway should be that the police will potentially help you, but it is better to not get into a situation where you need their help.

How to Tell What Locals Genuinely Want to Talk with You and What Locals are Looking to Scam You

One inevitability for (white) tourists in China is that people are going to approach you to take pictures, etc.

The truth is that most people that approach you in China are kind and don’t want to scam you.

There are some warning signs to look out for that will help you recognize the scammers:

  • People who approach you within a tourist sight that has an entrance fee normally aren’t scammers. Scammers tend to hang out in free tourist sights (as listed above).
  • Scammers will insist you go to for tea even if you suggest something else. They also make you go to a cafe they suggest because the cafe staff is a part of the scam.
  • Most Chinese locals will take a picture with you and a have a brief interaction with you then move on with their day. The scammers tend to hang around longer and are more aggressive in trying to get your attention.
  • Scammers tend to say they are from a different city, but they have a suspiciously in depth knowledge of the city you are in.
Tiananmen Square Beijing China

Of course these are only generalizations. There are locals who want to speak with you and practice their English without scamming you. There are ways you can still take precautions and ensure you aren’t being scammed.

The best way to test whether someone wants to speak with you versus scam you is to suggest your own tea house.

You suggest a different cafe you want to try. If they agree, they probably aren’t trying to scam you. A scammer will insist that you go to the cafe they suggest. There really is no better test.

Conclusion

The tea house scam is something you have to be aware of , but you shouldn’t let it stop you from visiting China. The scam is very easy to detect and avoid.

You simply have to know that the scam exists, where it is most common, and how to recognize it. It is so easy to avoid once you are knowledgable of it. It is also easy to test whether someone who approaches you is genuine or not. Meeting locals is a great travel experience, so you shouldn’t be too weary of it. Just make sure they aren’t scammers!

I recommend you share this information with anybody you know visiting China.

The more people who know about the scam, the fewer people scammers can take advantage of and the less money they make.

20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

China is a beautiful country that offers amazing sights and unique experiences. It does, however, have a tendency to intimidate travellers. China is sometimes viewed as a country that is so unlike others that it is difficult to know where to begin when planning a trip. Knowing what to expect before you visit China does a lot to help ease the nerves.

China does not have to be an intimidating country. If you know what to expect before you visit China, it makes the entire trip easier.Did you know that the newest Disney park is located in Shanghai?! It is a super unique park and is fun to visit while in China.

Here are 20 things you should know before you visit China that will make you’re trip easier, less confusing, and more fun!

Xi'an China 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

1. Get a Visa

Getting a visa is one of the most important things you need to do before you visit China. While some nationalities have the right to stay in large Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai for up to 72 hours without a visa, having a visa before you leave is easier than getting one when you land.

Oftentimes the lines to get a 72-hour visa upon arrive are incredibly long. You can stand in line for over an hour in some instances.

The advantages of having a visa before you visit China are numerous. It will help you cut down on waiting in lines, and the entire immigration process will be smoother.

For many nationalities, including Canadians, if you apply for a visa before you visit China, you are able to receive a multi-visit visa that is valid for up to ten years. This is the best option for anybody that is planning on visiting China more than once.

Temple of Heaven Beijing China 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

2. Your Credit Card Probably Won’t Work

Foreign credit cards often don’t work in China, so always carry cash. You should get some Yuan before you visit China. However, you are able to take money out of an ATM if you run out of cash. I recommend only taking money out of a bank ATM just to be safe.

3. Always Carry Your Passport

It is your responsibility as a tourist to always have your passport. Police officers and people selling you entrance tickets to a sight can ask to see your passport. This is especially true for students or seniors that are getting a discounted rate on an entrance ticket.

It is extremely rare to be asked to show your passport, but it is always better to be safe and have your passport on your person at all times.

The Bund Shanghai 20 Things to Know Before You Go to China

4. Squat Toilets

Squat toilets are common in China. Standing toilets can be difficult to get used to using- especially if you’re a female and not used to peeing while squatting.

If you’re a female and not used to peeing while squatting, you may want to consider getting a urine funnel to ensure your urine goes where you want it to.

You also need to bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

5. Get a VPN

China has the Great Fire Wall. Many websites popular websites will be blocked., and you need a VPN to access any sites that are blocked by the firewall.

Blocked sites include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Gmail, Wikipedia, and countless other sites.

My preferred VPN is SurfEasy. Your monthly fee allows you to install a VPN on up to 5 different devices, so it is perfect for sharing with family and friends.

There are free VPNs that work just as well as SurfEasy. Do your research and get the one that works best for you.

Get a VPN and install it on your devices before you visit China to make sure the site you are getting your VPN from is not blocked in China.

Yu Garden Shanghai China 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

6. Don’t Drink the Water

It is not safe to drink tap water in China. Bottled water is easily accessible and very cheap.

If you are ecologically-minded, you can purchase a SteriPen to take with you. It is a portable water purifier that will allow you to purify up to 1L of contaminated water at one time. I use my SteriPen whenever I travel somewhere with unsafe tap water. It is incredibly simple to use, and it effectively purifies water.

7. No Tipping in China

It is not customary to tip in China. This means the price you see for food is the price you will pay! So there is no need to do the math and figure out how much of a tip is appropriate.

Great Wall of China Beijing China 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

8. Be Prepared to Haggle

Haggling is common in China. You can haggle at markets but not at stand-alone stores. You’ll be able to tell where it is appropriate to haggle and where it isn’t by watching the locals.

There are tons of articles all over the internet that have haggling tips for China. The most important thing to remember is that the seller will never agree to a price that loses them money. So start low and work your way up to get the best price.

9. Get to the Airport Early When You Leave

Everybody has to go through customs when taking an international flight out of China- even Chinese nationals. This leads to extremely long queues when leaving the country.

Get to the airport three hours before your flight to ensure you don’t miss your flight!

Psst. Check out this article for airport security tips.

10. Pay Before You Receive Your Food

In many Chinese restaurants it is common to order food, pay for the food, and then receive your food. You will be brought a bill shortly after you order, so be prepared and have your cash out to pay.

Paying before you receive your food is convenient because it allows you to simply leave the restaurant when you are done eating.

Xi'an China Terracotta Army 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

11. Spitting is Normal

Spitting in public is normal in China. You will see and hear it basically all day, everyday.

While most spitting takes place outside, I would recommend you take a quick peak at the ground before you choose a train seat or public toilet to squat in. You normally won’t find spit, but it is always best to take a quick peak just to be safe.

12. Taxis are Cheap

Taxis in China are inexpensive. They are also convenient for getting to your hotel from the airport or train station if you have a lot of baggage and don’t want to navigate the subway system.

Be sure you’re taking a legitimate taxi and be sure to get a receipt when you exit the cab. I once dropped the equivalent of $200 on the seat of a taxi when I was paying. The taxi driver did not give me a receipt when I left the car. Even though I had the taxi number and a picture of the driver’s credentials from the back seat, there was no way to get ahold of the taxi to get my money back because I didn’t have an official receipt.

Learn from my mistakes. Always ask for a receipt when leaving a taxi. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Chengdu China Pandas 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

13. Beware of the Tea House/Student Scam

In big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the tea house/student scam is fairly common. People will approach you and say they are a student, and ask if they can practice speaking English with you. You’re a kind tourist, so you agree.

The person will then take you to a tea house, order tea, and then stick you will the bill. Since the scammer works with the tea house, the bill will be ridiculously high. When this happened to me, the bill was $400USD for tea and cans of coke.

Be cautious of people that approach you on the street asking to practice English. It is quite possibly a scam.

If you are approached and believe the person is genuine, you should suggest a place to have tea. If they insist on going to their tea house, that is a major red flag, and that person is probably trying to scam you.

14. Bring a Translator

More and more people are able to speak basic English in China. That being said, English is not widely spoken. If you want to communicate with the locals, be sure to have a translator. I use Google Translate in China, and it works well enough. Test your translator before you visit China to get used to it and ensure the translations are accurate.

Have your hotel address written in Chinese characters to show a local in case you get lost or take a taxi to your hotel. This is another safety precaution that you probably won’t need to use, but it will help you infinitely if you do happen to need it.

Chengdu China 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

15. China is Safe

China is a safe destination for tourists. The country as a whole does have a number of human rights violation concerns; however, China is no more dangerous for tourists than any other country.

Just like anywhere you go, your safety is your responsibility. If you don’t feel safe in a situation, leave. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t do anything stupid.

Chinese police officers are more than willing to help tourists if you need them (and you most likely won’t).

16. Try the Street Food

China has a lot of street food offerings. Eating at street food vendors allows you to try a number of unique dishes!

Eat food that is freshly prepared. Cooked street food that has been sitting out for a hours can make you ill.

Chengdu China Street Food 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

17. Be Careful When Crossing the Street

You may think you have the right away to cross a street in China because there is a walk sign, but you still need to be cautious. Chinese traffic is busy and chaotic.

People riding scooters and bicycles quite often go through an intersection when there is no traffic even if the light is red. Always check both ways before stepping off the curb and before stepping onto the curb on the other side of the street. If someone on a scooter of bicycle is coming, either walk quickly or let them pass before you continue.

18. You’ll Feel Like a Celebrity

People will not so subtly take your picture while you’re in China. Some people will ask to take a picture with you. But the majority of people will simply take your picture from a distance without asking.

It can be annoying, but you will get more used to it the longer you are in China. You never know when you’re picture will be taken, so make sure you’re always smiling!

Xi'an China 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China

19. High-Speed Trains can be Expensive

China has a large network of high-speed trains. They are convenient, comfortable, and fast. The downside of high-speed trains is that they are often quite expensive.

When booking transportation between cities in China, look at all your options. Flying from one city to another can be cheaper in some cases. Look at your options and decide what mode of transportation is best for you. It can be beneficial to look at prices before you visit China; however, it can be cheaper to buy ticket when you are in the country.

Psst: Click here if you want to learn about the subway system in China.

20. The People are Friendly

The people in China are friendly. They are often shy and won’t come up to talk to you, but if you need help, they are more than happy to help.

If you are respectful of Chinese culture, use a few basic Mandarin phrases, and generally act friendly, you will receive friendliness in return.

Conclusion

I hope this list helps you feel more at ease and know what to expect before you visit China. It is a beautiful country with an incredible history. It should definitely not be left off your bucket list.

Knowing what to expect before you visit China and keeping these tips in mind as you travel through China will help make your trip go smoothly.