The Kaohsiung Lotus Pond was one of the few places in Taiwan that we visited more than once. The first time Jake, Lisa and I went there we were just exploring as a family, looking for a fun place to play safely with our two year old girl. The second time, we were taking an Uber back to our Airbnb from the train station, and we just happened to be in the area, so we decided to stop by and take some evening photos.
Before our trip we’d seen photos of the place – especially the famous Dragon and Tiger Pagodas -, and we were keen to visit. We would have liked to explore and photograph the whole thing a little more thoroughly, but when we went during the day, we got distracted by a really fun street market that had been set up along the shore to celebrate Chinese New Year.
By the way, this article contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help fund our travels and this website. If you’d like to learn more about our efforts and progress monetizing this travel blog, check out our monthly report, Operation Digital Nomad.
The second time we came was at night and a lot of the cool stuff was closed and locked [sad face]. But anyway, we do have pictures, and we did have a lot of fun. We also had quite an experience getting there and back, so read on!
Family Fun at the Kaohsiung, Taiwan Lotus Pond
What is the Kaohsiung, Taiwan Lotus Pond
The Lotus Pond is a little weird to explain from an American point of view, but I think it must make more sense to the Taiwanese (Taiwanese people should feel free to tell me whether it does in the comments). You see, it’s this lake with lovely parks and walkways around it. Also, there are all these huge, colorful statues, pagodas and pavilions at the ends of piers that go out into the water.
I’m not sure why they decided that this man made lake was such a great place for all these temples and other structures, but the result is a place that is family friendly and relaxing. It’s also very affordable because it is free to visit, and there’s not a lot to spend money on, unless you decide to some food or go into one of the temples and make a donation. There is a fair amount of shade to be had in the parks, and kids are certain to be interested in walking up to (and through) each of the giant structures over the water.
How to Get to the Kaohsiung, Taiwan Lotus Pond
Don’t walk to the lotus pond from the Ecological District KMRT Station (Google Maps). I know it looks close, but it just isn’t. That’s what we did, and though there was a nice botanical garden (Google Maps) along the way that we passed through, making it across the expressway forces you to take a very indirect route that involves going over a very long, shadeless pedestrian bridge. Then, once you get to the Lotus pond, you discover that the location Google Maps gives you for the “Scenic Area” is on the boring side of the lake and you still have to walk all the way around.
We were there in February, and the sun on this walk was still brutal. If you visit on a cloudy day, maybe go for it if you want the exercise.
Bus and Train
The public transportation system in Kaohsiung, Taiwan is actually pretty good. All you really have to do is use Google Maps and get transit directions, and it will give you a pretty good route from wherever you are in the city. In Taiwan, unlike in China, all things Google are not blocked, so you don’t have to use a VPN to hope the Great Firewall. But you still might want one for security purposes when you are using wifi (read our review of ExpressVPN for travel).
Tip: Get an EasyCard
EasyCard is awesome. You spend NT100 (about $3.25) as a deposit, then you can put as much money as you want on it. You can buy an EasyCard or add money to one at train stations or 7-11s, and you can use it for public transportation, parking, and even some convenience stores. Using the card gets you a pretty good discount on your fare, and when you are ready to leave Taiwan (it’s good all over the island) you can get refunded for whatever you didn’t spend.
Taxi or Uber
Taxis or Ubers can easily take you where you want to go, including whatever part of the Lotus Pond you feel like visiting. You’re probably familiar with how taxis work, but we’ve never really been a fan of taxis when there is a ride hailing service available. Taxis are usually dirtier, have less storage space, and they are harder to ride. You also have to speak the local language to use one. We like Uber because you can call one so easily, you can select the destination on a map instead of having to pronounce it, they are almost always clean and comfortable, and you have the added security of knowing that there is a record of you getting in and out of the car.
Now, we were told that Uber (get the app) wasn’t allowed to operate in Kaohsiung. But for a place where there’s no Uber, we sure used Uber a lot. That was in February 2017, and if you have tried using Uber in Kaohsiung since then, we’d love to know if you’ve had any luck.
What is There to Do at the Kaohsiung, Taiwan Lotus Pond
To be honest, it’s mostly walking around, looking at things. But there are some pretty cool things to look at at the Lotus Pond! Here are some of the things we enjoyed while we were there.
Even though we really like our travel stroller (read our review of the BabyZen Yoyo), Lisa loves to walk around. She’d been a bit cooped up during our December in Vienna. Xiamen was colder than advertised, and our first stop in Taiwan – Jiufen – was so crowded we didn’t dare put her down, except in the early morning. In Kaohsiung, there were an a abundance of parks and playgrounds for her to run around in, and we could see her mood transforming before our eyes.
There is a thin strip of park that wraps around much of the Lotus Pond. It has trees for shade, and the paths are far enough from the road – especially on the south side – that you don’t have to worry about cars. The views are great.
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas (Google Maps) are a pair of towering pagodas that lie at the end of a winding stone walkway over the Lotus Pond. Lisa and I went through to go explore the insides. Of course, the only way to get in and out is through the gaping maw of a giant Dragon and Tiger. I was a little bit surprised that Lisa (two years old at the time) wasn’t afraid of being eaten, but more power to her.
Inside the dragon’s throat are images of hell and demons, then, when you cross over through a shrine and exit through the tiger, you see images of heaven.
Tzu Chi Palace
Right across from the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda’s is Tzu Chi Palace (Google Maps). It’s a big temple with a colorful entrance that looks especially pretty in the evenings. I think it’s name is a misnomer, since it is most definitely a temple. People go inside to worship or make offerings. Like most temples in Taiwan, it’s cool if you go in and check it out, just be respectful.
The Spring and Autumn Pavilions
The Pring and Autumn Pavilians (Google Maps) are two four story tall octagonal pavilions. In front of the pavilions there is a huge dragon statue with Guanyin riding on top. I tried to look up why they built this statue, and the reason I found on Wikipedia can be summarized as follows: Guangyin appeared riding a dragon and she said ‘build a statue of me riding this dragon’, so they built a statue of Guangyin riding a dragon.
There was a really nice view of the lake at night from next to the Pavilions, but access to the dragon and the pier behind it was gated off while we were there.
Wuliting (Google Maps) is the little pavilion at the end of the pier behind the Spring and Autumn Pavilions. I’ve read reviews by people who said they went out there at night and had a great time, but when we were there just after dark at about 7:00 in February, the gate to the pier was most definitely closed and locked. We took some photos of it anyway because it was still lit up at night and it was really pretty, even from the side.
We happened to visit during the Chinese New Year. And along the sides of the Lotus pond there was what seemed to be about a mile of tents selling street food, drinks, toys and other fun stuff. There were also rides and games for small children, and some carnival games for adults. We found at least one stall that had some vegetarian food – fried mushrooms on a stick that were salty, greasy, and very tasty.
Unfortunately, there was at least one stinky tofu stand. (You can read about stinky tofu in this members only newsletter Jake wrote, but first you’ll have to sign up for our free newsletter to get the super-impossible-to-just-guess password. All of Jake’s newsletters are archived on the newsletter page, so you can check out the kind of content you’ll receive before you sign up)
Definitely make your way to the Lotus Pond while you are in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, especially if you are traveling with family and you need a place to unwind for a while. It’s safe, it’s fun, and it’s free. Plus, you’ll leave with some great photos.
If you found this article useful, don’t forget that we have more content about Taiwan. If you’re visiting other countries in the region (or elsewhere), check out our destinations page for guides, stories, and photos from all over Europe and Asia. And if you have any questions about anything in this article, please ask in the comments section below so that other readers can benefit from the answers. Thanks for reading!