We are big fans of Taiwan – whether it be the food, the heritage or simply the fact there doesn’t to seem to be that many other Western tourists visiting, we relish our time there. Our most recent trip to Taiwan took in various regions including Taipei, Jiufen, Tainan and Taichung.
The Kaohsiung Lantern Festival is held at various sites along the city’s beautifully named ‘Love River’. This was unlike any other Taiwanese city we’d stayed in so far. Sure, Taichung has the smaller Da’an river running through out, but Kaohsiung has really made something special out of its waterfront.
Green parks, boardwalks and various bars and restaurants running along the banks reminded me of Melbourne or London’s Southbank, or the Rhine in Basel.
Slightly unexpected, you can also take a gondola trip along the Love River. Unlike Venice of late though, Kaohsiung actually seems to be embracing tourism.
This year’s (2019) Kaosiung Lantern Festival ran from early to late February, between Kaohsiung Bridge and Qixian Bridge. As the Chinese / Lunar New Year this time was the ‘Year of the Pig’, most of the lanterns had a porky theme.
There were several massive displays of lanterns to visit but the best section was immediately next to the Kaohsiung Bridge in the Peace Park. A section of pathway had been lined with various lanterns created by various community groups, individuals and businesses from the local area.
From a piggy Marilyn Monroe to an effigy of Mayor of Kaohsiung (Han Kuo-Yu and his shiba dog), there were hundreds of luscious lanterns on display. We perused the lanterns both at dusk (when it was a little quieter and easier to get pictures), and also at night, to get the full lit-up effect.
The banks of the Love River were thronging with local people and other Asian tourists so this must be a very much loved occasion.
In total, there were four themed lantern zones – one for the kids, a ‘Good Old Days’ area (erm, not sure), Star Lights and ‘Romantic Love’. The latter made good use of a 100 metre long lantern tunnel, allowing for fantastic photos at sunset.
As well as the lanterns, a big part of the event (and which we equally enjoyed!) was the sheer number of Taiwanese street-food and drink stalls.
We ate our way around Taiwan over the course of several nights at the lantern festival, enjoying scallion pancakes to delicious bao buns, shaved ice to cotton candy – there were loads of food to try.
Although we must admit we didn’t try stinky tofu again – after trying it on a food tour earlier on in the trip and deciding once was definitely enough.
During the Kaohsiung Lantern Festival, there are lots of one-off events such as theatre performances, live bands and a Hello Kitty ice-sculpture carving (in 25c degree heat – I kid you not!). One of the ones we stumbled across and enjoyed the most of a hot-dog eating competition – if only we’d known beforehand, we might have entered!
Our time in Kaohsiung was really enjoyable and whilst we aren’t saying you should make a special visit here to enjoy the annual city lantern festival, it is worth trying to coincide it with your next trip to Taiwan.
Chinese New Year truly is something special, with all the temples and streets adorned with lanterns. You can also design and release one into the sky yourself, like we witnessed in the town of Shifen.
Taiwan-na go back again soon!
Other Taiwan blog posts
- Top things to do in Taipei, Taiwan
- Dihua Street during Chinese New Year in Taipei
- Pier 2 Art Center & Shoushan Love lookout in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- A day trip to Cijin island in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- Taipei day trip – a visit to Houtong Cat Village
- Anping District in Tainan guide
- 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
Words by Neil Hassall. Photography by Neil Hassall and Caroline Keyzor.