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We visited Pier 2 Art Center as part of our final port of call on our recent 3 week Taiwan trip in Kaohsiung, a coastal city in the south of the country (and the third biggest city, after Taipei and Taichung respectively).
Our initial impressions of Kaohsiung were very favourable and it also felt like no other city we’d been to in Taiwan. Given so much of the city is so close to water (be it the sea or main river), they’ve utilised the space really well, with various restaurants, bars, art projects and markets on the water’s edge. In certain parts of the city (especially along the Love River section – and yes, that REALLY is it the name of the river), it feels like you are wandering around somewhere like Melbourne or Basel, not Asia.
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Pier 2 Art Center
This can be seen none more so than at Pier 2 Art Center, a sprawling cultural complex spread over several old industrial warehouses (and as the name suggests), right next to the port in the Yancheng District. Once a hive of international shipping trade and railway freight, the area fell into disuse until it was revived in 2006.
We visited over on a Saturday and the whole area was abuzz with families, friends and teenagers out shopping, browsing or going to the various pop-up exhibitions. There is a lot to see and do here so make sure you give yourself at least a couple of hours to explore fully.
If you are fan of shopping, there are lots of permanent and pop-up stores for you to browse, plus at the weekends, there were several craft markets dotted around (all selling unique and homemade items).
What sets this apart from all the other cultural parks in Taiwan (e.g. we weren’t that impressed by the ones in Tainan or Taichung, especially the Blueprint Creative Park which has now become quite shabby in parts) is how good the outdoor art and the sheer size of the area to explore. No matter where you look, you’ll see a massive colourful mural or some form of huge modern sculpture – no wall is left untouched!
We also noticed several pop-up exhibitions whilst we we there (some free, some not) all quite diverse in nature from a ‘fantasy world of puppet art’ to a ‘Run For Your Life’ horror exhibition.
We opted for the more sedate Moomin temporary exhibition and pop-up store, as it was free admission. Inside, you could pose with massive Moomin figures, have a play snowball fight in a Moomin ball-pit (we kid you not!) plus get personalised pictures with Moomin backgrounds from a vending machine – all were Moom-incredible!
Other attractions include the Takao Railway Museum (we glimpsed local families riding the small train around a small section of the site – they even have a miniature bullet train you can hop on!) plus the Banana Pier, a former banana warehouse that is now home to several cafes and restaurants plus a free to visit historic exhibition.
The playing field at the rear of the site is very popular, especially in the early evening as families have picnics and fly their kites. There are lots of sculptures to see too, like a huge suitcase plus some old train engines and carriages.
How to get to Pier 2 Art Centre by public transport
To reach Pier 2 Art Centre, take orange line on the KMRT to Yangchengpu Station (exit 1), or take the Light Rail tram to Dayi Pier-2 station.
The Shoushan LOVE Lookout
A short (but fairly steep) walk from the Pier 2 Art Center complex takes you to the Shoushan LOVE lookout. There is supposedly a public bus you can take to get up there (we never saw one), or alternatively you could take an Uber. We bravely (or foolheartedly; delete as appropriate), decided to walk up the hill (it takes approx 20 minutes from Pier 2 Art Center using the road).
Located just in front of the Martyr’s Shrine, this fairly new lookout opened in 2012 and is a superb (and free!) spot to see the whole of the city, port and surrounding mountains (we’d also heard the Observation Deck 85 was quite ‘meh’ so this seemed the better option).
As well as an observation deck, there is a huge metal ‘LOVE’ sculpture at the top (hence the name), which is very popular as a photo spot with romantic local couples (or tour groups, much as we discovered to our chagrin).
You do have to jostle for position to ensure you get your photo with the LOVE sign – on our visit, we found a couple with a tripod were trying to hog the sign for several minutes at a time, blocking all others out – we find a hard stare in their direction generally helps or walking into their shot (only if they are taking forever though!).
If you are going for sunset (like we did) and you don’t have a form of transport, definitely start to make your way down before it goes dark as the road isn’t lit in parts (mainly the bit between the lookout and the start of the village) plus the mopeds do come down at one helluva speed. The nearest KMRT to the base of the hill is Sizihwan Station.
Finally, if you fancy a cold beer / soft drink at the top as a reward, there is a small shop at the top, or a Hi-Life convenience store (like 7/11, but pink in branding) at the edge of the Pier 2 Art Center complex. Enjoy Kaohsiung and cheers!
Other Taiwan blog posts
- Top things to do in Taipei, Taiwan for first time visitors
- A Day Trip to Cijin Island in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- Top things to do in Tainan, Taiwan
- What to do in Taichung, Taiwan
- Anping District in Tainan, Taiwan
- Tasting Taiwanese cuisine on a Taipei food tour
- Modern Toilet restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan
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.
Words by Neil Hassall. Photography by Neil Hassall and Caroline Keyzor.
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