Pictured above: Beiji Xuantian Shangdi

In southwest Taiwan, a thriving city has emerged from what was once a small trading village. Kaohsiung has grown to be a city of epic proportions - quite literally. From massive art installations to imposing religious statues, this city has spectacles at almost every corner.

Nowhere lives up to this reputation better than the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum. More than just a museum, this is the largest Buddhist monastery in the world. Its pièce de résistance is the Golden Buddha Shrine, which is the largest seated Buddha in the world. Originally, it was constructed to enshrine the Buddha’s tooth relic, a symbol of religious reverence. Today, it welcomes visitors to stroll peacefully among the pagodas and learn about Taiwan’s branch of Buddhism.

Golden Buddha Shrine

Golden Buddha Shrine, Big Buddha Terrace, and pagodas

In the Zuoying District, Lotus Lake reflects the light of the sun in the daytime and undulates peacefully in the moonlight. In the Confucious Temple, there are four pavilions dedicated to the God of War, Goddess of Mercy, Spring and Autumn. The last two pavilions are famous for the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas that stand before them. Visitors can enter through the dragon’s throat and exit through the tiger’s mouth, a walk which symbolises turning bad luck to good fortune.

Tiger and Dragon Pagodas

Spring and Autumn Pavilions with Dragon Tiger Pagodas

Leading away from these Pagodas is an eye-catching bridge known affectionately as the Zig Zag Bridge. It’s one of Taiwan’s most-Instagrammed attractions!

Further along Lotus Lake stands the immense Beiji Xuantian Shangdi, the statue of a warrior emperor that was constructed in the 1600s and still towers high today (as seen above). It’s believed that this Taoist deity watches over the people of the region and holds the power to cure illness and ward off evil.

Zig Zag Bridge

Nine-turn Bridge, also known as the Zig Zag Bridge

Kaohsiung’s great architectural feats continue to contemporary constructions. In fact, this city is home to the largest performing arts centre in the world. The National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts is futuristic - in When In Taiwan, Teigan Nash even described it as looking like “a UFO landed in a park”. Its aesthetic was inspired by the canopies of the region’s banyan trees. Inside, it houses five expansive performance spaces. 

National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts

The National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts

When it comes to epic art, there is no comparison to the immensity of Dome Of Light. Hiding in plain sight, this incredible work of art can be found in the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station - that’s right, it’s inside of a public transportation hub! Even more impressive is the fact that it is the largest glass artwork in the world. Each window is magnificent and tells a story unto itself - but all together, the glasswork is a mural that tells a four-part story of birth, growth, glory, and destruction. It took nearly four years to complete and was created by world-renowned artist Narcisuss Quagliata.

Dome of Light

Dome of Light

Of course, no trip to Taiwan would be complete without a trip to a night market. In Kaohsiung, the most popular one is Liuhe Night Market. Despite being only three blocks long, it is the indisputable centre for this quintessentially Taiwanese tradition. Since Kaohsiung is known as Taiwan’s maritime capital, it is only natural to expect to find the best, freshest seafood delights in all of Taiwan right here.

Teigan in Kaohsiung

Click here to learn more about another one of Taiwan’s beautiful cities, Taipei.