Taiwan’s second largest city was once a gritty, industrial port town, but in recent years it has undergone a revitalization that makes it a must-see destination for inventive food, endless sun and some of the biggest night markets in Taiwan. The Kaisyuan Night Market—open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday—has 1,000 stalls serving an incredible variety of foods, from fried squid to papaya milk.
From its position at the southern end of the island, Kaohsiung also boasts beautiful year-round weather. Take a ferry ride to Cijin to spend a day at the beach and sample fresh seafood along the waterfront, or opt for a walk or bike ride around Lotus Lake in the Zuoying District of North Kaohsiung, which offers glimpses of eight temples. While there you can visit the Dragon Tiger Pagodas—enter through the dragon’s mouth to explore the pair of towers before leaving through the tiger’s mouth.
Kaohsiung sits on the southwest coast of Taiwan, about 225 miles from Taipei. International flights from around Asia arrive daily at Kaohsiung International Airport, and if you’re coming from Taipei, the Taiwan High Speed Rail line offers fast, 90-minute trips between the cities.