Apr 23, 2012

高雄-走透透

As my third visit to Taiwan, this time, I would like to try somewhere different, besides Taipei, where everyone is so familiar of. This time, along with my family (first time in Taiwan!), we explored 高雄 Kaohsiung, the city located in the South of Taiwan.

How to get there?
I must say, it is really very convenient to travel around Taiwan. To get from one end of Taiwan (North of Taiwan = Taipei 台北 Station) to the other end (South of Taiwan = Zuoying 左營 Station) via the bullet train 台灣高鐵 HSR, it is only 90 minutes! Wow... 0_0!



It definitely takes much longer to reach one end of Japan to the other :P

TIP
Do not confuse 台灣高鐵 Taiwan High Speed Rail HSR (高鐵 for short) with 台灣鐵路 Taiwan Railway TRA (台鐵 for short). Taiwan High Speed Rail is a bullet train service, while Taiwan Railway is the normal railway. Hence HSR is much much faster, and also costs more. Eg. for my trip from Zuoying to Taichung my TRA trip costs 45% of my HSR trip, but takes thrice as long to get to my destination (3.5hr vs 1hr).

Both the bullet trains and the railway trains of Taiwan and Japan are very similar too! I even wonder if the bullet trains are from the same manufacturer :P

TIP
Like Japan's bullet train system, there are 3 types of tickets on sale:
  • Standard- Reserved
  • Standard- Free Seating
  • Business Class


In Japan, the business class seats will equate to the green car seats.
We tried both the reserved and free seating. The prices differ about 5% for my Taichung-Zuoying trip. Not sure if the discount is better with longer trips. You can check out the fares first here.

Unlike Japan, where we can buy all 3 types from the ticketing machines. To buy reserved seating tickets, we have to buy at the counter. The ticketing machines only sell non-reserved seats.

And there are less free seating carriages compared to Japan's. Japan has about 5 carriages for free seating,while Taiwan has only 3 carriages.


The top ticket is for a reserved seat, the bottom one is for free seating.

What to see?
Lucky us, when we travel in Kaoshiung, accessibility was further aided with the opening of the new MRT line in 2008. And two of the stations have been crowned 2nd and 4th in world's top 15 beautiful subway stations in 2012 by BootsnAll.

And even luckier, we stayed near one of them (Central Park Station 中央公園站, which won 4th) and we visited Formosa Boulevard station 美麗島站 (which won 2nd).

My personal favourite is 美麗島站! The Dome of Light is really spectacular! It is the world's largest public art installation using glass pieces.


Best shot of the Dome of the Light ...


as aided by this :P

It is located just at the station control, so there is no way you can miss it. I would recommend you to visit it on a weekday afternoon/ morning when the commuting crowd has not set in yet.

We visited another recommended spot Heart of the Love River 爱河之心. But were quite disappointed though. Maybe we visited during an afternoon, so lights were not up, and the view was not as nice. But doubt we will visit it again.



Where to eat?
My original plan was to bring my family to Liuhe Night Market 六合夜市, but was persuaded by the hotel staff to visit Rueifong Night Market 瑞豐夜市. This night market is more frequented by the locals.





I would strongly recommend you to try this dish - deep fried octopus at this stall:



You won't miss this stall, as the street where the stall is located is packed. Very very very packed. It's a normal Friday night, yet I feel like I am in Chinatown on a Chinese New Year eve countdown.

The way to order is quite different from the other stalls too:

  1. Take a number.
  2. Once number is called, tell the stall keeper your order, and pay in cash.
  3. Wait for your number to be called again. This time to collect your order.


How to get to Rueifong Night Market 瑞豐夜市:
Exit from Arena MRT station 巨蛋站, Exit 1. It is a short stroll of about 5 minutes to the night market.

Where to shop?
With a full tummy, the next is to shop to one's content~

For all shopaholics, if the stalls along the night markets are unable to satisfy your shopping desire, then this 12-storey shopping centre, Dream Mall, should be able to fulfill your shopping dreams.

The main catch of this mall is actually the Hello Kitty & Sanrio Friends Ferris Wheel. Mmm.. but it is more of a kiddy ride to me. I actually prefer the one in Miramar in Taipei.

There are tons of shops here. We spent a day there. No kidding~

How to get there?
Catch the free shuttle bus (actually it is more of a van :P) from the Kaisyuan MRT Station 凱旋站 Exit 3.



Where to stay?
Finally, the highlight of my Kaohsiung trip. My hotel stay! I simply love Mirador Hotel. I'll definitely return if I am going Kaohsiung for a visit again. Highly recommending to you, too!







I first came across this hotel via TripAdvisor. Seeing that the reviews were not bad, except that the comments about their breakfast (quantity too little).

But when we reached, the breakfast spread has improved a lot, along with its presentation!

Photos of Mirador Hotel Kaosiung, Kaohsiung
This photo of Mirador Hotel Kaosiung is courtesy of TripAdvisor.
Breakfast set (what it used to be) from TripAdvisor, photos shared by fellow travellers.


Breakfast now- Better spread with better presentation.

And the rooms are locked using digital locks. Not a key. Free wifi at the lobby and within the hotel rooms, too. High tech!


My brother showing us how to open our room.


Welcome pack includes the lock number, the wifi password and breakfast vouchers.

They have rooms for 2, 3 or 4.

Here's our family room for 4 :)


I tried to tidy a bit for the photoshoot, as we were too excited about the room and totally forgot to take a picture before plonking ourselves and our stuff on our bed :P


I love the details of the room. The hotel's theme is flowers, and all furniture carries the same theme as well. They must be custom-made.


Amenities for guests. Besides the usual stuff, they included facial wash, too!

And finally, the rooftop garden where we can have breakfast at. Or you can of course choose to start the day in the comfort of the air-con restaurant, located next to the garden.



How to get there?
The nearest MRT station is Central Park Station 中央公園站. Exit from exit 2, and stroll for about 10+ minutes.

How much does it cost?
For our 2-night stay over the Friday and Saturday nights (the peak season), it costs about NT$6000, which is approximately S$300. For a family of 4, that's actually quite economical!

To find out how much the other rooms (for 2 or 3) cost, check out their reservation website. You can also check the availability of the room online immediately.

Payment can be made via credit card or bank transfer. Only deposit (half of the total cost) is paid prior your stay. You can choose to pay the other half in cash on your day of arrival.

And so... that concluded my short 3-day-2-night (though, in actual terms, only 2-day-2-nights, as we spent 1-day in Taichung).

I will miss the R&R atmosphere in Kaohsiung, where residents dressed casually (like Singaporeans, in T-shirts, jeans, berms, slippers, etc), their wide roads (4-lane roads are so common), lots of scooters and how they scoot pass me all the time so swiftly without warning, and the long crossing-the-junction time.

Do you know?
For the same stretch of road, the traffic light in Taipei takes 40s while the traffic light in Kaohsiung blinks for 60s!

Miss ya, Kaohsiung. Next time, I'll explore more in-depth~


Signing off with the cool biker terrier in Kaohsiung, which travelled with its master on the scooter just like that. Cool~

3 comments:

me! said...

came across your blog while doing research for my own taichung trip. love your narratives and awesome photos!

which i could make sense out of all the information i found online...and plan my trip! :)

QQ said...

Thank u! Glad the info is useful to u! :)

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