Kaohsiung (高雄) is the second largest city in Taiwan and is at the same time the world's third largest cargo-container seaport. It is located to the southwest of the island.
When in Kaohsiung, do not drink the tap water. This rules applies even after filtering or boiling.
Kaohsiung is Taiwan's second largest city (at 1.5 million inhabitants) and largest port. The city has high concentrations of heavy industry including steel works, shipbuilding, and other exports which have led to Kaohsiung's noticibly higher level of air pollution (though the situation has improved in recent years). Unlike Taipei, Kaohsiung is a planned city with wide streets and slightly less traffic congestion. In recent years the city has made great strides in transforming itself from a primarily industrial city to a modern metropolis with several new city beautification initiatives and new infrastructure. The city is often known as Taiwan's "Harbor Capital" (港都) because of it's close connection and heavy reliance on the ocean and maritime transportation.
Kaohsiung began in the 17th century as a small fishing village named "Takao" (打狗), dervied from the local aboriginal name meaning "bamboo forest". The name was changed to "高雄" (meaning: "high hero") by the Japanese in 1895, also pronounced "Takao" in Japanese, as they found the original name of 打狗 ("beating the dog") to be vulgar. The modern name of "Kaohsiung" is the pronunciation of "高雄" in Mandarin.
The city is divided into eleven adminstrative districts, which can be roughly grouped by character:
Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) is about twenty minutes by taxi, public bus/airline shuttle, or scooter from the city center.
Kaohsiung is served by the Taiwan Railway Administration's Western Line and Pingtung Line. The city is roughly 4 to 5 hours away from Taipei by express train.
The new Kaohsiung Station will be shared with Taiwan High Speed Rail when the latter begins passenger services in late 2005.
Most major bus companies have their office and stops close to the train station (same road, if you get out of the train station main entrance, turn left a one minute walk)
Inexpensive ferry service is available between different parts of Kaohsiung City as well as between the city and the Chijin District which lies on an island in the harbor.
Parking is scarce, but available. The city recognizes this problem, and attempts to make the city more car-friendly by building parking garages and painting designated parking spaces alongside streets.
Many locals prefer to ride scooters for their convenience and ability to park anywhere with little likelihood of citations. As most scooters run two-stroke engines, they are the main culprit for Kaohsiung's traffic-related pollution... another good reason to take public transportation.
Night markets are a great place to pick up cheap and delicious snacks.
The ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores have steamed buns (the ones with a red dot are vegetarian), tea eggs, packaged beverages and junk food.
Bagel Bagel is great for disoriented Westerners in search of familiar food. They offer a variety of tasty sandwiches at reasonable prices (NT$150-200), which you can choose from English-language menus. There are two branches in the city.
An excellent vegetarian buffet-style restaurant is situated in the basement of the Tuntex Sky Tower (the two-legged skyscraper) - around NT$800 for an all-you-can-eat lunch.