Kaohsiung is Taiwan's holiday city. The second-largest city in the country is built around a picturesque harbor, which is the setting that has earned it its nickname, the ‘Harbor Capital'. Around one and a half million people live in Kaohsiung, most of them on the shores of the river with the lovely title, the Love River.
The capital of the Republic of China, Taipei—not to be confused with the capital of the People's Republic of China, Beijing - is Taiwan's most happening city. It is a well developed metropolis and an economic success story.
Taipei is one of the safest Asian capitals for visitors, with little in the way of violent crime and high standards on hotels and hygiene. Transport options in the city and from the airport are excellent, while changing money is a breeze. It is useful to know some basic dos and don'ts, while avoiding the typhoon season is a must.
Kaohsiung is a modern city that shouldn't offer any pitfalls for seasoned travelers or even new arrivals. Though English is not widely spoken, familiarity comes in other forms such as a prevalence of ATMs and shopping malls that proliferate on what seems like every corner of the city. With a pre-booked hotel and English-speaking concierge, the city is easy to absorb.
Eating is one of the main pastimes of the people of Kaohsiung. There is not really an area in town that doesn't offer some kind of fast food outlet, food court or fine dining restaurant and the quality of the food here is absolutely first rate.
Kaohsiung at night is like so many cities in Asia. Endless flashing neon signs advertise karaoke bars and nightclubs and though most real nightlife lovers to Taiwan head for Taipei, there are plenty of night-time options for people staying in Kaohsiung.
Kaohsiung is like the rest of Taiwan if you want it, it is likely for sale here. Electronics and designer clothes are especially good buys here but anyone coming in from Southeast Asia and expecting great bargains will be sorely disappointed. Taiwan is a wealthy country and the Taiwanese love to spend their money, usually in large amounts.
Kaohsiung may not be the sightseeing capital of Asia but there are plenty of attractions in Taiwan's second-largest city to keep most visitors looking about for at least a few days. If nothing else, the approach to skyscraper design should inspire many happy snaps.
Known as the ‘Emporium without End', Taipei has endless shopping options and the best of it located right downtown trading quality products at a pretty price. There is also a good amount of shopping to be had in out of the way boutiques.
Taipei has entertainment options in all areas, from a decent nightlife scene to the arts, nature hikes, and spas. The hinterland is rough and exciting and is wholly accessible from town. It is best enjoyed at the nearby Songshan Nature Reserve, with its established hiking trails.
Taipei has a great range of attractions, from astonishingly beautiful old temples to grandiose skyscrapers and safari park-like zoos. In fact, you'd be hard pushed to find anything better in one city in mainland China. Plus everything is kept spotlessly clean and well maintained.
Taipei's density of restaurants is on par with that of Tokyo, meaning they are literally everywhere, in virtually every street and alley citywide. The quality of the food is extremely good, and you'd be hard pressed to find anything comparable in mainland China. Although Chinese is the main fare, Japanese, Thai, European, and American cuisine is also easy to find.
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