As the sidewalks double as scooter parking areas, caution and awareness are a must when walking through unfamiliar areas off of main streets. Generally, it is best to walk between the scooter parking row and store fronts, rather than between parked scooters and the road. Pedestrians should be especially aware when crossing a road as cars and motorbikes often run red lights. Exploring Kaohsiung on foot is highly recommended, as many of the distances between sites of interest are not far.
The long-delayed Kaohsiung MRT opened in 2008, with two lines. The Red Line runs from north to south, offering a handy route from both the THSR Zuoying station and the airport into the downtown core, while Orange Line runs across the city from the Port of Kaohsiung in the west to eastern suburb of Daliao. The Metro Line is very clean and offers a convenient way to quickly move within the city. However as the metro is rather young the network is yet not very dense and often you have to walk few minutes to the next station. Operation of the MRT stops at about 11:30 p.m. for the orange line and as late as 12:30 for the red line. Ask at the information desk to be sure.
Feeder buses are available to bridge network gaps and provide better access to the metro lines. The MRT stations are all well connected to the city bus lines for further transfers. Stations and trains are wheelchair-friendly, but note that when there are multiple exits from a single station, usually only one of these is equipped with a lift.
Please note that the K-MRT is a completely different system than the Taipei MRT and you will not be able to use an Easy Card to pay your fare like on the Taipei MRT.
The city government has established Taxi English Service to allow travelers to search for English-speaking taxi drivers in chosen areas.
Taxis can be an easy way to get to somewhere unfamiliar, and are fairly common in the city. If you have the business card of a location, or the Chinese characters written down, they can easily get you there far faster than most other means.
It is best to get the price in advance, and, if possible, buckle up. Few taxi drivers speak English, and the majority ignore any and all rules of the road. Do not be surprised if they drive the wrong way, up a hill, through heavy traffic. Typically, going from one end of the city to the other should never be more than 400 NT$.
This behavior of cab-drivers is rarely seen nowadays however may still happen more often on the country side.
Do not be surprised if they open the door and spit what looks like blood. In actuality, the taxi driver is chewing betel nut (binlang). This commercially available product is a mild stimulant and is used by many taxi drivers.
Bikes are also common in Kaohsiung, and the large number of locally produced bikes (often rebranded and sold overseas) means purchasing a new bike will often be cheaper relative to its counterpart in other countries (primarily Europe and America).
The city operates a bicycle rental service. Renting points are located at MRT stations and bicycles can be dropped off at any station, not necessarily the one from which it was hired.
Giant, a well-built, recognized Taiwanese brand, has shops throughout the city, and some of the store managers speak English. Bikes are street legal, even without a helmet, but theft is common for any bike over 3,000 NT$. Until recently, even serious violations of the traffic rules by cyclists were not fined. However, government authorities are planning to change this in the not too distant future.
As Kaohsiung is predominantly flat, a great way to see the city is by bike. There are many bicycle paths across the city, most of which are clearly marked. The city government's website has recommended paths for visitors, together with maps: Cycling in Kaohsiung. Riding along the Love River north towards the Art Museum area offers a pleasant ride and some scenery of the old Kaohsiung that is fast disappearing. Pleasant bike routes can also be found around Sun Yet-Sen university and on the coastal side of Shoushan mountain, but expect a few hills to climb. It is best to avoid this place on the weekends when hoardes of young Kaohsiung couples head to the mountain for some romantic sunset views of the city and ocean at one of the countless coffee shops. Cijin Island also offers some nice riding around the streets at the northern end of the island. However, it is not yet legally possible to bicycle to and from Cijin as the underwater Kaohsiung Harbor Tunnel to and from Cianjhen District is officially closed to bicycles around the clock, even during late nights when ferries stop running.
Scooters are the primary means of transportation within Kaohsiung. With a dedicated two-wheel vehicle lane on most major roads, and with frequent and varied scooter shops around town, renting or purchasing a scooter is very easy; however, see the Taiwan article for legal issues including licenses.
Scooters come in several engine sizes from below 50cc to more than 250cc. Most common in recent years are the 4-stroke 100 and 125cc models, which are also suitable to explore the surroundings of the city. The larger scooters, 150cc and more, often include a greater subset of amenities for a second passenger, including a backrest, wider seat, full windshield and footholds and can rival a motorcycle overall size, weight and fuel consumption. Often, they come with larger wheels as well.
All passengers on a scooter must wear helmets by law. Helmets are sold almost everywhere, and range in price from 100 NT$ to upwards of 2,000 NT$. A helmet with visor is strongly suggested.
Scooters with an engine size of 50cc require a light motorcycle license to drive, and should be insured and registered in the owner's name. If you have a Taiwanese automobile driver's license or a valid International Driving Permit you do not need an additional license for these small scooters. Motorcycles with an engine displacement of 51 to 250cc require a heavy motorcycle driving license. However, foreigners often drive scooters up to 250cc with no license, insurance or registration. Due to a loophole in Taiwanese law, scooters registered to foreigners who have left the country cannot be bought by Taiwanese citizens because the registration cannot change hands, legally. An underground market in "foreigner scooters" allows visitors to purchase scooters without insurance or registration.
City police are often more lenient on foreigners. Short of being towed for parking in a red zone (a stripe of red paint on the edge of a sidewalk or road), foreigners are usually waved through stops, or, at best, ticketed. If the scooter is not registered to you however, its hard to say what exactly happens when the ticket is sent out. Often the best idea is to speak a language other than English or Chinese, play dumb and hope the officer will get flustered and let you go - that is, if you're the type who likes to break laws in foreign countries.
Rentals are available in various locations across town, but obtaining a license within the city can be a problem. It is recommended you call ahead if you have an international drivers license to insure it will allow you to drive. In addition, license laws in Taiwan fluctuate from year to year for foreigners. Currently, as of 2006, you must have an Alien Residence Card for more than a year to take the license examination.
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. However, for travel within the city itself, or only locally, it is recommended you get a scooter.
An inexpensive ferry service connects various areas of Kaohsiung City, including Taiwan's nearest island, Xiao Liuqiu (小琉球) - Little Ryukyu - which is a coral island located just south of Kaohsiung and is reachable by ferry from Dong Gang (東港), which is itself only a 15-minute scooter or taxi ride from Kaohsiung International Airport.
If you want to get to Cijin District:
Or, you may opt to take a ferry:
Haian Rd., Qijin Dist.
No.1 Dayong Rd., Yancheng Dist...
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