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Travel Guide Asia Taiwan Kaohsiung

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Introduction

Kaohsiung (高雄; Ko-hiông in Minnan, Gāoxióng in Mandarin), with over 2.7 million inhabitants, is the third most populated city in Taiwan after New Taipei and Taichungand is located in the south of the island. Kaohsiung is known for its harbor, although more for commercial than tourism reasons. Hence it is also known as the Harbor Capital (港都) of Taiwan. Its year-round fine weather and the low cost of living makes Kaohsiung the place to visit.

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Sights and Activities

The Cijin District (旗津; Qijin) is a slender island in Kaohsiung harbor which serves as a natural breakwater for the harbor. The district is filled with seafood restaurants selling freshly caught seafood which can be prepared right after you pick it out. Cijin is connected to the rest of Kaohsiung City by underwater tunnels, but the transportation of choice is one of the many ferries that traverse the harbor. Fare for the ferry ride is NT$15 per person. Bikes and scooters can be brought aboard, but the fee is NT$30 with a scooter. There is no extra fee for bringing on a bike. The ferry is easily accessible for wheelchairs, which can share the space with scooters and bikes. The street that goes straight from the ferry has about two blocks of snack stands, as well as seafood restaurants near the end. There is also a plaza with a fountain and a beach at the end of the street. If you rent a bike (either before or after the ferry ride), there is a nice coastal path that goes south along the beach. Going a short ways north will lead you to the lighthouse and the fort, which are located on a hill with great views of the city, the harbor, and the ocean. The area is especially crowded on weekends with many visitors bringing their entire family along. The island is also projected to be an international tourism spot in southern Taiwan by the city government. However, at present it's somewhat run-down.

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Weather

Kaohsiung enjoys a mild tropical climate, comparatively milder and drier than northern Taiwan. The weather however remains hot and sticky in the summer, with June, July and August seeing the most rainfall. Still, the proximity of the sea makes the summer heat much more bearable than in other cities at a similar latitude, such as Hong Kong.

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Getting There

By Plane

Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) offfers flights to/from Kaohsiung. International flights from Asia arrive daily, with regular connections between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Kaohsiung. The airport is on the MRT Red Line and is also easily accessible by scooter, car or taxi.

Kaohsiung is also well-served by domestic flights from Taiwan's outlying islands. However, the popularity of Taiwan High Speed Rail has resulted in the cancellation of all flights to other cities on the island except once daily service to Hualien.

By Train

Zuoying Station is served by high speed trains Zuoying Station (HSR) on Wikipedia Zuoying HSR station (Q3242058) on Wikidata edit

Traveling by train is a viable option for getting to Kaohsiung, as the fastest high speed trains from Taipei cover the distance in just 90 minutes. There are 3 types of tickets: Business Reserved, General Reserved, and Non-Reserved. Reserved are approx. NT$1500 and non-reserved slightly cheaper at NT$1400. Get Designated Seats if you are traveling with luggage, they are less than NT$100 more expensive.

The stations and platforms are wheelchair-friendly and all trains include a wheelchair-accessible car (wider doors, ample space, accessible bathroom). Note that the official English guide for online reservations distinguishes between "senior or disabled tickets" and "handicap-friendly seats"; while it's possible to buy a ticket for the former online ("correct passenger ID" required), a ticket for the latter has to be reserved by calling the ticketing office on the phone.

The HSR terminal is in Zuoying (左營, also Tsoying) on the northern outskirts of town, and you'll need to connect to the city center via the MRT Red Line (approximately NT$20–25), bus, ordinary train, or taxi (approximately NT$250–350). The MRT Red Line now extends to Kaohsiung Main Station (#R11) and the HSR Station (#R16) and beyond. Kaohsiung is also served by the Taiwan Railway Administration's Western Line and Pingtung Line. The city is roughly 4 to 5 hours away from Taipei by normal express train.

By Bus

Buses run the length of the island, with stops in major towns. They feature fully reclining seats, baggage transportation and, on most, video game consoles or televisions for each seat. Prices run around NT$1000 per trip, give or take, depending on the initial and final destination.

Most major bus companies have their office and stops close to the train station. They are located on the same road as the train station, about half a block down the street.

By Boat

Because Kaohsiung is also a harbor, transportation by boat will bring you directly into the city.

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Getting Around

By Car

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. You must have an Alien Residence Card for more than a year to take the license examination (2006).

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.

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 NT$400.

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.

By Public Transport

The long-delayed Kaohsiung MRT has two lines. The Red Line runs from north to south, offering a handy route from 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 23:30 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.

The K-MRT accepts two types of contactless smartcards for payment: iPass and Taipei MRT's EasyCard.

Kaohsiung has a well-developed bus network, with services generally running frequently. Bus fares can be paid with an iPass or an EasyCard, or by cash.

If you want to get to Cijin District:

  • Take bus No.1 at the Kaohsiung Train Station OR take bus NO.31 at the Zhuo Iing Bus Station to the Ferry Pier.
  • Take bus No. 35 at the Ciang Zhen Bus Station to Cijin Peninsula.
  • Take Bus No.12 at the Kaohsiung International Airport to Shiaugang and take Bus No.14 to ChiangZhen Ferry Station.

Or, you may take a ferry:

Gushan ferry terminal (from which one can take the ferry to Cijin island) is an easy 10-minute walk from Sizihwan MRT station (you may have to ask for directions though as the route is not that straightforward, but signboards are pretty clear nowadays)

By Foot

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.

By Bike

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).

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.

  • (Free) Kaohsiung Public Bicycle, toll-free: 0800255995. 24/7. The city operates a bicycle rental service (city bikes - blue bikes). Bicycle renting stations are at MRT stations and bicycles can be dropped off at any station, regardless of where they were rented. You can also give back the bicycle and rent it again right away to extend the free period. OpenStreetMap.org, which many mobile Apps like OsmAnd, MAPS.ME, etc. use, has most renting stations around Kaohsiung listed. Free the first 30 min of each rental, NT$5/30 min thereafter.
  • obike and V bike. Due to Kaohsiung Public Bicycle, other bicycle rental companies began to operate around the city. They use an app to find, book and unlock bikes that can be parked anywhere, though it's best to park in a designated bicycle parking spot. You load onto the app some credit via a credit or debit card. NT$2/15 min.
  • Giant. 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 NT$3,000. Also, see the country article on getting around with bicycles.

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 start at NT$100. A helmet with visor is strongly suggested.

A foreigner-friendly scooter rental company is called Ken's Scooter Leasing, the owner named Ken and Elin operate the business with the language school, speaking fluent English and willing to help people to get around in the city. Rent is reasonable. [1]

555 Scooter Rental, Sales & Repair is located just beside Kaohsiung railway station, has competitive prices for both short- and long-term rentals, and the staff speaks English, Chinese, Japanese and Afrikaans.

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Eat

There are numerous seafood restaurants dotting the main street in Cijin Island, all offering the same fresh seafood for about NT$100-200 per dish. It is a great idea to go in a small group and order a few dishes to try, probably one more dish than the number of people in your group. In the evening, a night bazaar goes into full swing. There are lots of little eats to eat as per Taiwan's night markets, BBQ squid, mochi to name a few are particularly good.

Night markets are a great place to pick up cheap local foods, including stinky tofu, barbecued squid, red bean pancakes and the like.

The Liuhe Night Market (六合夜市) is the most typical tourist night market and offers local dishes such as salty glutinous rice balls (鹹湯圓) stuffed with pork, oyster omelette (蚵仔煎) and tofu pudding (豆花). This market is very popular with Mainland Chinese tourist groups, open pretty much every day after 17:00/18:00 and convienently located at MRT Formosa Boulevard.

A more local, food-oriented night market is Rueifong Night Market (瑞豐夜市), straight outside exit 1 of MRT Kaohsiung Arena. It is open Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, but if you are afraid of crowds you should avoid the weekends. A similar night market is 青年夜市 near MRT Da-Dong.

Lunchboxes are common throughout the city, and a choose-your-order buffet take-out are typically NT$50-100. The food is typically fried, with a mix of vegetables and meats.

The ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores have tea eggs, hot dogs, packaged beverages and junk food. Lunchbox style microwavables are also available, including dumplings, spaghetti and curry rice.

  • Flavor of the Sea Seafood Restaurant, #75 Miao-chien Road, Cijin District, Kaohsiung City., ☎ +886 7-5711861.
  • Wen-Chin Seafood Restaurant, #28 Miao-chien Road , Cijin District, Kaohsiung City., ☎ +886 7-5714568. 11:00-22:30.
  • Man-San Seafood Retaurant, No.179-11, Jhongjhou 2nd Rd., Cijin District, Kaohsiung City 805, Taiwan (R.O.C.), ☎ +886 7-5714191. 11:00-21:00.
  • Riverside Sea Food Restaurant, #68-16, Chong-chou Second Road, Cijin District, Kaohsiung City., ☎ +886 7-5713485.
  • Smokey Joes offers Tex-Mex, including fajitas, tortillas and other Western staples at affordable prices (NT$170 and up). The menu is in English and the staff usually understands some English as well. They offer a 'VIP' card for people who spend over NT$1,000 on 20 separate meals which gives the holder at 10% discount at any store operated by Amy (the owner of Smokey Joes). This includes Mama Mia's, an Italian restaurant located downtown.
  • The Pantheon serves traditional Greek and Mediterranean food at good prices. They are known for their Gyro lunch (around NT$200), qne hey also offer a 20% discount on takeout.
  • Cosplay Cafe, ☎ +886 7 235-0128. daily noon-21:30. Offers a cosplay themed restaurant. 161, ChangMing St, SanMin District.
  • Bull Fighter Restaurant, 79, Wu Fu 3rd Road, Cianjin District (downtown near Love River), ☎ +886 7 241-5530. It mainly serves steaks and grilled seafoods and is suitable for most Western visitors at fair costs (NT$400-500 each, free salad bar included). Or, you can choose pastas (only NT$200, salad bar included).

Escape 41 - a little bit hard to get to without your own transportation (if you are sporty, a bicycle will do, but don't be afraid of uphill-riding, cab might drop you off there as well) though you'll be rewarded. Its located directly on the coastline behind Zhongshan University, far off the cities hustle and bustle. Great at sunsets, big terrace; western food, not cheap but ok. 41-2, CaiShan, Gushan District(07) 525-0058.

  • Michino Diner, serving popular breakfast and brunch. You can choose between burgers, sandwiches, salads, omelettes and real American breakfast and brunch at NT$150-300. Tel:(07) 216-2290 Address: #79 Datong 1st Rd (高雄巿新興區大同一路79號) Hours: Tu-Su 10:00-22:00
  • Sushi Express (near Carrefour and Starbucks, next to McD). Sushi train with good variety including healthy vegetarian options. NT$30 per plate.
  • The Spice Shop, 508 Mingcheng 2nd Road, ☎ +886 7 558-5709. An Indian restaurant serving a-la-carte style meals, with each dish ranging from NT$120-270.

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Drink

Two local beer companies, Tsingtao and Taiwan Beer, are ubiquitous throughout the island and can be purchased by visitors cheaply with little hassle about age restrictions. Most major soft drinks are available, and tea stands on almost every corner offer concoctions of fruit, yogurt, green tea, the Taiwanese specialty "bubble tea," and a variety of other flavors.

While tap water is most certainly not potable, good reverse osmosis filtration will remove bacteria and heavy metals, and is considered safe for consumption. Water dispensers, which resemble gas stations, are present throughout the city. However, they, along with many of the bottled water brands, are suspect. Both have been found, in the past, to simply bottle or distribute tap water. To avoid ingesting non-potable water, only purchase bottles that are sealed with an expiration date clearly printed on the bottle. Often, it is easier to simply purchase green tea at a stand or a convenience store, or a soft drink. Restaurant water is safe, with the exception of some lunchbox eateries and stands on the street.

  • 2 Coins Bar (2 COIN小酒館), 350 Fujian St (½ block from the Lees Hotel at Wu-Fu 1st Road and Fujian). 2 Coins Bar is a small bar down the street from the Lees Hotel. The bar owner is quite nice, but doesn't speak English. Good music and decent prices are standard for this relaxing bar.
  • Green Creek Cafe, #2, Hai-an Rd., Cijin District, Kaohsiung City., ☎ +886 7-5720157. 07:00-23:00.
  • La Mambo Cafe & Dine, 2F., #10, Hai-an Road, Cijin District, Kaohsiung City, ☎ +886 7-5721998. 11:00-23:00.

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Sleep

  • Austria Star Bed & Breakfast. 10 min away from the HSR (free shuttle bus every 30 minutes from 6:15 until 22:45).
  • Backpacker 41 Hostel (背包客四一), No. 39, Lane 261, Siwei 3rd Road (苓雅區四維三路261巷39號), ☎ +886 952 612212, e-mail: service@kaobp41.com. Pretty and clean hostel with large beds and a kitchen. Dorm: NT$410.
  • Cozy Planet Hostel (Cozy Planet), 8F-3. No. 331, Jhonghua 4th Rd., Qianjin Dist. Kaohsiung City, Taiwan (When you see Splendid Field Dental Clinic, enter the door between the clinic and Suzuki Motorbike store. Reception is on the 8th floor.), ☎ +886 921-576-577, toll-free: 0800 668-606, e-mail: service@cozy-planet.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Cozy Planet hostel has both dormitories (2,4 and 6 beds) and private double rooms, free WiFi, AC, hot water, fully equipped kitchen, lounge with satellite TV, guest computers, and lockers. The place is centrally located near metro station, sights and shopping area. Complimentary daily room cleaning, laundry service, bikes, and simple breakfast. Non-smoking and no pets allowed. NT$550-1,600.
  • Hostel Hamasen. Dorm rooms and private suites located 200 metres from Sihziwan MRT and within walking distance of the Cijin Island ferry and Sun Yat Sen University. The owner, TC, is very cool and helpful. This is a budget option, with beds starting at NT$350 a night.
  • Takaobay Hostel, No.33 Dacheng Street, Yancheng District, ☎ +886 983-666-345, e-mail: takaobay33@gmail.com. Newly furnished with a very friendly and helpful proprietor. Close to the Pier-2 Art Center. £10-30.
  • Century Hotel (世紀旅店), No.85-5, Lingya 2nd Rd., Lingya District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan (KMRT Sanduo Shopping District Station, KMRT Central Park Station), ☎ +886 73310111, e-mail: centuryhotel.reception@gmail.com.
  • Hotel Holiday Garden, 279, Liouhe 2nd Road (六合二路279號). Clean and modern tourist guest house. Around 4-star service and rooms. Staff speak English and are very forthcoming in helping you in anyway. All rooms have free highspeed WLAN-connections. Taxi drivers recognize the hotel by the Chinese hotel name "華園飯店". Close to Love River and behind hotel there is a orange-line K-MRT station.
  • Huahou Hotel (華后大飯店), ☎ +886 7 551-8251. Clean hotel near the river. From NT$933.
  • The Kingship Hotel Kaohsiung, #98, Chi-Shen 3rd Road, Yen-Chen District, Kaohsiung City., ☎ +886 7-5313131, fax: +886 2-27152121. edit
  • Moon Lake Shinkuchan Modern Hotel, 348 Minsheng 1st Rd.
  • Nobel Hotel, 146 Sanduo 1st Rd, ☎ +886 7-7151470.
  • T-Hotel (大益飯店), 177 Datong 1st Rd (高雄市新興區大同一路177號) (5 minutes walk from Formosa Boulevard (美麗島) KMRT station), ☎ +886 7 231-2141. Renovated, clean, comfortable and modern. Standard hotel room offers LCD TV, iPod docking sound system and free broadband internet connection. Extra services include laundry, bike rental service and a recreational area. Full buffet breakfast included with accommodation. Rooms from NT$1880.
  • Venus Hotel (高雄昭来大饭店), 311, Cing Nian 1st Road (SE Corner of Jhongshan 2nd Road/Cian Nian 1st Road), ☎ +886 7 333-5111. (青年一路311號). Clean and affordable hotel near the city center and shopping centers (Far Eastern 21 shopping mall, night markets) and minutes from KMRT stations (between R8 and R9 stations)right across the street from Brickyard. Free breakfast is included in room rate with choice of traditional Eastern or Western style faire. The hotel offers free internet and the front staff speaks enough English to get you what you need or to get you where you need to go. Rooms from NT$880 for students; NT$1099 for everyone else.
  • Howard Plaza Hotel Kaohsiung (福華大飯店), 311 Chihsien 1 Road, ☎ +886 7 236-2323.
  • The Lees Hotel Kaohsiung (高雄‧麗尊大酒店), No.105, Wufu 1st Road (Walk 8 minutes from Sinyi Elementary School MRT station). Check-in: 15:00, check-out: noon. (高雄市苓雅區五福一路105號). The staff can all speak English and they are extremely helpful in every way. The hotel is well maintained and in a nice district. NT$3000–4500 per night.
  • The Splendor Kaohsiung (金典酒店), 7-85F, No. 1 Tzu-Chiang 3rd Road, ☎ +886 7 566-8000.
  • Wen Pin Hotel, No.22, Dan-Yeng Rd., ☎ +886 2-25178118, e-mail: service@sinotour.com.

View our map of accommodation in Kaohsiung or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Work

For foreigners, work in Kaohsiung usually falls into two branches. The majority of employment involves English as a Second Language (ESL) work in buxibans (補習班, cram schools), kindergartens and schools (public, private or university). Most of the others are businessmen and women in the employ of multinational corporations here to manage, oversee or deploy production in Taiwan for their home company abroad.

Substitute work is easily available for native English speakers and can be obtained through internet groups such as Taiwan Teaching Jobs or through local postings in expatriate hangouts. More permanent teaching work is also available, especially in the summer and around Chinese New Year. Most buxibans require teachers to sign a 1-year contract and provide a work permit and ARC (Alien Residence Card). ARC holders are also covered under national health insurance. Without the proper paperwork - including a 4-year university degree - you cannot get an ARC and will need to leave the country every 2–4 months to renew your visa. You will also be working illegally, which involves a number of other inconveniences (including lack of phone and Internet access). It is also highly illegal for foreigner to work as teachers in kindergartens few provide work permits.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are plentiful, although you may have to wander around before finding one. Rather, Internet cafes in Taiwan should be called gaming cafes. These are often found on the first or second floor of a building, and equipped with very comfortable chairs and large screens. Each hour of Internet access/game play is cheap, coming in at around $20. For free internet access in big cities, try out the local libraries. In addition, a wireless internet accessing net covering all of Taipei City is available and Kaohsiung City is currently under construction. There is also a common wifi network available at every McDonald's.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international calling code for Taiwan is 886. The emergency numbers include 110 (police) 119 (medical, fire) and the standard GSM emergency number 112 is supported in mobile networks. Numbers starting with 0800 are commercial toll-free numbers. Mobile phone coverage is generally excellent in Taiwan, with the exception of some remote mountainous areas. Among the major providers are Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone and Vibo. Taiwan has both GSM 900/1800 and 3G (UMTS/W-CDMA 2100) networks and roaming might be possible for users of such mobile phones, subject to agreements between operators. If you bring your own cellphone, buy a local SIM-card for the lowest prices and be sure your phone is unlocked.

Post

Chungwa Post is the national postal service of Taiwan. It offers fast and reliable postal services, both domestic and internationally. Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 5:00pm during weekdays, though some keep longer hours or are open on Saturday (morning). Prices for sending postcards or letters (up to 20 grams) start at NT$5 within the country, while postcards by airmail to other countries start at around NT$10-12 per item, and letters are slightly more expensive. There is a wide range in prices regarding international parcel sending, and other companies like DHL, TNT, FedEx and UPS offer similar services.

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Accommodation in Kaohsiung

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Kaohsiung searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Kaohsiung and areas nearby.

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This is version 9. Last edited at 9:45 on Mar 6, 18 by Utrecht. 13 articles link to this page.

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