If you haven’t been to Kaohsiung you have not been to Asia. It is one of the few exotic Asian destinations where you won’t be harassed by overly aggressive local vendors and hassled by unpaved, potholed roads. Getting around Kaohsiung is easy, hassle-free and very scenic.
Taiwan’s second busiest and most important city is Kaohsiung, located on the southwestern part of the island. It is called Harbor Capital and runs the 6th most profitable cargo-shipment port in the world. The Kaohsiung port has placed this city in the map. Today, it is also a top tourism destination offering all kinds of attractions such as the Love River, Lotus Lake, Holy Rosary Cathedral, Old City of Zuoying, Chai Mountain, and the Kaohsiung Museum of History, to mention a few. Several airlines service Kaohsiung from all major cities in Asia and a number of ferry boats from Japan, China, Hong Kong and Macau.
After arriving by plane or by boat, the traveler will find that hotels, restaurants and every historic landmark are within reach. The most practical, eco-friendly and inexpensive way of moving around is on a rented bicycle. To encourage tourists and locals to move around this way, the city operates a bike rental located at train (MRT) stations; bikes are rented and dropped off at an MRT station. Bikes are legal in the streets, even without a helmet. Using it not only promotes environment care but also the bicycles themselves, since Kaohsiung is a major producer of bicycles. Locally produced bikes are exported to the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere around the world, rebranded and sold under a western name.
Biking around the city is not difficult since Kaohsiung is predominantly flat. Bike lanes follow the Love River all the way to the Art Museum area, providing a scenic ride through old Kaohsiung. Several attractions are within reach from any major hotel in Kaohsiung. There are also bike routes around the Sun Yat-Sen University and coastal Shoushan Mountain, although it gets a bit hilly this part of town. Kaohsiung’s Cijin Island, that slender island positioned as the city’s natural breakwater, also offers some pleasant bike routes leading to the northernmost tip of the island.
For some tourists who prefer a motorized ride, scooter rentals are available, too. There are two-wheeled vehicle lanes everywhere, since the scooter is the most common form of transport. Street laws require riders and passengers to wear helmets, preferably helmets with visors.
There are also several car rentals if one wishes to see Kaohsiung more comfortably on land, but foreigners need to have an international driver’s license. Parking is also a problem since there are more cars than parking areas, which is why moving around on a scooter is preferred by most. It is easy to avoid the problems on license and parking, however; simply, get a taxi. The city government has established a Taxi English Service to make sure that foreigners are served well and taken to their correct destinations. For destinations that have Chinese characters and which cannot be read by westerners, all the passenger has to do is simply show the Chinese name to the driver and he would know what to do. Kaohsiung taxi drivers are typical Asian taxi drivers, by the way: they have little regard for traffic rules, so make sure to buckle up.
Finally, vacationers and tourists get a treat getting around Kaohsiung islands by boat. Inexpensive ferry rides regularly take visitors and sightseers to the Cijin District and Little Ryukyu (“Xiao Liuqiu”), a coral island located just south of Kaohsiung.