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Did you know that Taiwan is home to Cijin Island – a ‘tropical paradise’ just a short five minute ferry ride from it’s third biggest city Kaohsiung? We had spent our first three days in this city exploring popular attractions such as Pier 2 Art Center and the LOVE lookout, so for our last day, we decided to do something a little more scenic and back to nature.
Day trip to Cijin Island
To reach to the island, you just jump aboard the hop-on, hop off Cijin Ferry. The terminal is a short seven minute walk from Sizihwan station – which can be reached from the city by the orange KMRT line. The ferry fare is 30 TWD, paid either via cash (drop your money into the box by the barrier – similar to the buses) or by using a topped up EasyCard.
If you can, try to be one of the first getting on the ferry so that you can get one of the two outside benches at the front. You can then soak up the rays and get a lovely view as you approach Cijin island. Alternatively, there is plenty of seating inside.
When we disembarked, the first thing we noticed was the sheer number of cyclo bikes / moped rental places. If you don’t fancy the walk, this is your best way to get around the main landmarks on the island and the coastal path is very flat. We opted to walk, so we didn’t have to keep worrying about locking up a bike during photo stops.
As you make your way along the old street (chock full of seafood stalls and the ubiqitious 7/11 and Family Marts), the beach looms quickly into view. Our first thoughts were how quiet it was, but it was a Monday morning when we visited and apparently the weekends are usually a lot busier. There were also a couple of surfers in the water and plenty of dog-walkers about.
The sand is an unusual black-ish colour, very much like beaches we had seen on our travels in Iceland and New Zealand. There are a lot of areas on the beach where you are unable to swim due to strong currents – several signs warn of massive fines and potential death too! We presume through drowning, not execution.
The real revelation here was how nice the beach area was, adorned with palm trees, little tiki beach huts and a few bars. It really felt like a tropical island paradise and something we weren’t expecting. Nice one, Kaohsiung!
Along the boardwalk from the beach, we came across possibly the island’s most famous attraction, the Rainbow Church. It is actually more of a contemporary art installation than a place of religion – although Instagrammers do seem to worship it! We knew it was a very well known photo spot, purely by the sheer number of people queuing to have their pictures taken.
Click here to check out our top things to do in Kaohsiung blog post
Continuing our walk, Cijin Shell House looked to be closed as we walked past, so we made do with posing with the Giant Seashell (a lot quieter and easier to get a photo with than the Rainbow Church).
Along the coastal path, there is a small section which was closed which meant we had to walk inland to the main road for while. This was a happy accident as we came across the Tinamou Temple, a national protected relic. This was built in 1673 and restored in the 1920s, which also makes it the oldest mazu temple.
Our last coastal stop was the Cijin Windmill / Turbine park where several turbines are in place producing just enough electricity to power the surrounding park lights for several hours a day. The park is also adorned with various sea-life mosaic models, likely inspired by Cijin’s fishing industry heritage. Along with the Rainbow Church, this is another popular area for visitors to pose (although we thought it was a bit so-so).
On the way back way to the ferry port, we saw that a lot of seafood stalls had opened since we arrived in the morning (it was now early afternoon). The Qihou / dried fish market was now open so we wandered around there (quite quickly though as some of the fishy aromas were a little overwhelming). All of the stalls have makeshift fly swatters above them to keep away pests from the dried fish, a speciality of Southern Taiwan.
We spent a half a day on Cijin Island in Kaohsiung, but you could easily make a full day of it. The sunsets are apparently legendary, and many people online recommend watching the evening red hues from the perfectly named ‘Cijin Sunset Bar’, right on the boardwalk. All in all, we enjoyed our little taste of the tropics in Taiwan.
Where to stay in Cijin Island
If you decide you want to stay a bit longer on the island then check out In Young Hotel. This lovely hotel is designed by award-winning Linli Su Architecture Studio and is just a short 1-minute walk to Cijin Seashore Park.
Other Taiwan blog posts
- Top things to do in Taipei, Taiwan for first time visitors
- The best Taiwanese food – ultimate Taiwan food guide
- Taiwan itinerary – Taipei to Kaohsiung
- Taiwan’s night markets – a photo essay
- Top things to do in Tainan, Taiwan
- Pier 2 Art Center and Shoushan Love lookout in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
- Taipei day trip – a visit to Houtong Cat Village
- A trip to the Anping District in Tainan, Taiwan
- Tasting Taiwan on a Taipei food tour
Here are some highly rated accommodation suggestions for all types of budget in Kaohsiung!
Hostel accommodations that come highly rated include:
Legend Hotel Pier2
Hostel with private and dormitory rooms near Pier2 Art center. Check out prices and availability for Legend Hotel Pier2
Brand new guesthouse located near Formosa Boulevard metro station with private and dormitory rooms. Check out prices and availability for AHIRUYAH
If you are looking for something mid range then these hotels are in excellent locations with great reviews:
Kindness Hotel Shinkuchan
Comfortable hotel a 5-minute walk from the Shinkuchan Night Market with buffet breakfast. Check out prices and availability for Kindness Hotel Shinkuchan
Just Sleep Kaohsiung Station
Clean and spacious hotel located a 5 minute stroll away from Formosa Boulevard MRT Station. Check out prices and availability for Just Sleep Kaohsiung Station
Alternatively if you are looking for something more special then treat yourself to a stay at one of these beautiful hotels in Kaohsiung:
Silks Club Kaohsiung
Modern and stylish hotel with rooftop infinity swimming pool and SPA and wellness area. Check out prices and availability for Silks Club Kaohsiung
Park Lees Hotel
Elegant hotel with floor-to-ceiling windows and 3 minutes walk from MRT Kaohsiung Arena Station. Check out prices and availability for Park Lees Hotel
Comfortable hotel with hot tub in each room and 5-minutes walk from Love River. Check out prices and availability for Starhaus Hotel
Pocket WIFI rental in Kaohsiung
Having a pocket WIFI device was super handy during our trip. We pre-ordered one online with Klook and collected the device at Taipei airport and dropped it off at Kaohsiung’s airport. The rental cost was pretty cheap at only £1.25 per day, and we were both able to connect our phones to it.
Getting around Taiwan
Use 12Go Asia to find the best public transport routes around Taiwan.
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