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Cijin Island Day Trip from Kaohsiung Guide + Photos 2024

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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 Kaohsiung?

Kaohsiung is known for its popular attractions such as Pier 2 Art Center and the LOVE lookout, but for something a little more scenic and back to nature, explore the beaches and Instagrammable coastal statues of Cijin Island.

cijin island Kaohsiung

Or get-up close with Kaohsiung lighthouse, a short walk from the Cijin Island ferry terminal (the lighthouse has incredible panoramic views of the island and city).

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How to get to Cijin Island, a short ferry ride from Kaohsiung

To get to Cijin island from Kaohsiung, you just jump aboard the hop-on, hop off Cijin Island Ferry from Gushan Ferry Pier Station (map).

The Gushan Ferry Pier Station Terminal is a short seven minute walk from Sizihwan station – which can be reached from the city by the orange KMRT line.

Gushan Ferry Pier
Gushan Ferry Pier
Entrance to the passenger waiting room at Gushan Ferry Pier

The 2024 Cijin Island ferry fare is 20 TWD one way when paid by Easy Card, or 30 TWD when paid either via cash (drop your money into the box by the barrier – similar to the buses).

If you can, try to be one of the first to get on the ferry so that you can get an outside seat (if it is sunny and warm).

You can then soak up the rays and get a lovely view as you approach Cijin island. The Burano style Kaohsiung rainbow houses by Gushan Fish Market are well worth looking out for.

Alternatively, there is plenty of seating inside complete with a very cheesy safety video.

Cijin Island ferry
Ferry to Cijin Island

When we disembarked, the first thing we noticed was the sheer number of cyclo bikes / moped rental places by the Cijin Island arrival ferry terminal.

cyclo bikes / moped rental places Cijin Island

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. Bike hire on Cijin Island starts from $NT100 as of March 2024.

We opted to walk and explore Cijin Island on foot, so we didn’t have to keep worrying about locking up a bike during photo stops.

cyclo bikes rental - studio ghibli cat bus Cijin Island
cyclo bikes rental Cijin Island

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Arriving in Cijin Island

As you make your way along the old street (chock full of seafood stalls and the ubiquitous 7-Eleven Taiwan 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. In 2024, we we revisited Cijin Island twice and it was a lot busier in the afternoon, particularly on the promenade and at the Cijin Sunset Bar.

Cijin Island / Qijin in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

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Things to do in Cijin Island, Kaohsiung

Cijin Old Street / Qi Jin Old Street

A mix of bars, restaurants, cafes and street-food stalls, Cijin Old Street is your best bet to grab some snacks or drinks on your way to or from the beach.

Many of the stall holders are a little too enthusiastic to get you in to their stores (especially the Cijin Bicycle rental places) but this all part of the experience – and don’t worry because you are on island time after all!

Old Street

Be sure to visit Cijin Tianhou Temple too, a small shrine and place of worship that often has lanterns and incense.

Cijin Tianhou Temple Cijin Island
Cijin Tianhou Temple

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Kaohsiung Lighthouse and Cihou Fort

Kaohsiung Lighthouse has been closed for several years but on our most recent spring 2024 visit, it has now reopened and wow, what a stunning view and interesting place to explore.

Kaohsiung Cijin Lighthouse

Built in the 1880s and with a prime view of the ocean and surrounding harbour, Kaohsiung Lighthouse on Cijin Island is free to visit with several small museum rooms full of historic documents and artefacts.

The Shoreline Coffee and Roastery at Kaohsiung / Cijin Lighthouse has a small outdoor seating area in the shadow of the lighthouse, with perfect panoramic views of the coast.

A little further down the road, Cihou Fort can also freely be explored on foot; it was built in 1876 and used to act as an outpost to guard Kaohsiung Harbour, complete with towers, battery and underground accommodation blocks and cells.

Head onto the rooftop for more unspoilt vistas and views of Cijin Island and mainland Kaohsiung.

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Cijin Star Tunnel

A curious Cijin Island attraction located in the foothills below Cihou Fort and the Lighthouse, this subterranean stroll was once a tunnel built as part of the Japanese occupation but has now been spruced up with overhead lights and painted murals – it also leads out to a spectacular seascape

Cijin Star Tunnel is free to visit and a short walk from the main Cijin Beach and ferry terminal.

Cijin Star Tunnel Cijin Island Kaohsiung
Cijin Star Tunnel Cijin Island Kaohsiung

Cijin Beach

A short stroll from the ferry terminal along Qi Jin Old Street brings you to Cijin Beach, popular with surfers and dog walkers, plus tourists on bikes.

Cijin Island Beach Taiwan sign

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!

Cijin Island Beach Taiwan
Cijin Island Beach Taiwan

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Cijin Sunset Bar

If you want to enjoy brews with sunset views, Cijin Sunset Bar directly overlooks the beach and is popular with expats and tourists – it has daily happy hour specials plus even a cute cat with its own Instagram account.

Based on our recent experience, visit Cijin Sunset Bar for drinks only as the food was the worst we’ve had in Taiwan and the most awful ‘TexMex’ we can recall. But hey, the beer and tunes were good!

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Rainbow Church

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.

April 2024 update – we revisited Cijin Island and the Rainbow Church recently and it is looking rather forlorn and faded – someone needs to give it a fresh coat of rainbow paint!

Rainbow Church

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Cijin Shell House

Continuing along the Cijin Beach promenade and main walking route, 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).

A Day Trip to Cijin Island / Qijin in Kaohsiung, Taiwan blog post

Tinamou Temple

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.

A Day Trip to Cijin Island / Qijin in Kaohsiung, Taiwan blog post
Tinamou Temple

Cijin Windmill / Turbine park

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. We thought it was a bit so-so, which many Google reviews also seem to agree with – definitely not worth a special trip.

A Day Trip to Cijin Island / Qijin in Kaohsiung, Taiwan blog post
Cijin Windmill / Turbine park
A Day Trip to Cijin Island / Qijin in Kaohsiung, Taiwan blog post
A Day Trip to Cijin Island / Qijin in Kaohsiung, Taiwan blog post

Cihou Market

On the way back 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.

A Day Trip to Cijin Island / Qijin in Kaohsiung, Taiwan blog post
Qihou / dried fish market

Cijin Island – is it worth it?

We’ve visited Cijin Island in Kaohsiung several times over the last few years as it is such an easy journey from harbour (could it be the shortest ferry ride in the world?)

The Cijin Island sunsets are  legendary and there are lots of free things to do on Cijin Island (the Lighthouse views are a must,) and many people online recommend watching the evening red hues from the perfectly named ‘Cijin Sunset Bar’, right on the boardwalk.

View of Kaohsiung city from Cijin Island

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.

Cijin Island Kaohsiun

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Kaohsiung Accommodation

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

Mid range

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

Treat yourself!

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 

Starhaus 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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