Kaohsiung is an eccentric city and its quirks are crowned by the Hello Kitty ferris wheel that spins slowly around on the rooftop of Dream Mall, which is the second biggest shopping mall in Asia. Various festivals light up the city at different times of the year, with the Kaohsiung Lantern Festival (March) literally lighting up the streets with hundreds of thousands of handcrafted lanterns and fireworks.
All travelers are well catered to here with very small budget places right through to palatial five-star outfits closer to the center of downtown. Taipei may draw the initial crowds, but visitors tend to spend a little longer than they'd planned in Kaohsiung.
This narrow island juts out into Kaohsiung Harbor. It is a natural harbor breakwater but also a thriving retail and dining strip with dozens of seafood places serving up catches that diners can see being pulled right out of the harbor. Underwater tunnels connect Cijin to the mainland.
Dream Mall is slightly out of the center of town. It is impossible to visit Kaohsiung without making at least one appearance at the Dream since it is so enormous that it can be seen from almost all parts of Kaohsiung and hosts not only hundreds of retails outlets but several extraordinary food courts. Major cultural events happen here too.
There are many night markets in Kaohsiung but the one at Liouho is by far the most esteemed. Locals gather here soon after nightfall and the atmosphere is truly electric. Many budget hotels are located in the Liouho district also.
There is a major rail interchange here as well as Sanduo being the main focus of retail life in Kaohsiung. Major department stores, some embassies and plenty of five-star hotels surround the Sanduo area, which is in the center of downtown. This is a great place to use as a landmark and meeting point for groups and friends.
Modern Kaohsiung races toward its future with unbridled enthusiasm but it holds onto its great heritage with the districts that make up the Old City. Starting with the harbor strip of Cijin, Gushan, Yancheg and Zuoying make up this precinct, which is a walker's and a diner's dream come true.
Several years of beautification and urban renewal have made the banks of the River Ai, which is the main waterway of Kaohsiung, a tourist draw. Plenty of restaurants and hotels now sit very close to the water's edge, but this is such as large harbor that it is split into several districts itself.
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