Cijin Island provides a nice city escape from Central and Southern Taiwan. With an old fort, great views, and a sandy beach, it’s worth the day trip out of the city. However, guidebooks aren’t always too clear about how to get there, so here’s a step-by-step guide of getting to Cijin Island and what to do there.
Step 1: Take a train to Kaohsiung.
I took a train from Chiayi to Kaohsiung. The price was about 150 NTD for a one way (about 5 USD). You’ll arrive at the R11 metro stop in Kaohsiung.
Step 2: Take the metro to O2
From R11 to O2, the ticket price is 20-25 NTD. If you want to see the second most beautiful metro stop in the world, get out R10 and check out the Formosa Boulevard Station before transferring to the O2 line. Although keep in mind that this will require paying twice as you’ll be leaving and reentering the metro. It does provide some great photo material though.
Step 3: Rent a bike at O2
Get out at O2 and rent a bike. When you leave the station, start following signs towards the pier. You should pass some rent-a-bikes, which will all be lined up on the right side of the street. Note that if you are taking this trip on a weekend, they may all be rented out. We waited around until some bikes were returned.
Also note that you need a credit card or an Easy Card in order to check out a bike. The first hour is free and after that you start paying in increments of 20 NTD per hour, which I find fairly reasonable.
Step 4: Ride your bike towards Gushan Ferry Pier
Ride your bike in the direction of Pier-2 Art Center, but know that you can’t catch a ferry from here. The ferry actually leaves from Gushan Ferry Pier. This means that you’ll need to turn right and sort of follow the water and what signs there are until you reach Gushan pier. We got a little lost, but I found that a lot of people in Kaohsiung were super friendly and spoke good English, so my advice is to just ask around until you reach the pier, which is easily recognized by the large ferry and line of people waiting to get on.
Step 5: Get on the ferry
There are several lines to get on the ferry. If you’ve got bikes, look for the motorcycle/bike line and then look for the section designated for non-Cijin-Island-residents (or something like that). It’ll cost 35 NTD to get on with your bike, then just find a place to park on the lower deck and see if you can get close to a window for some nice waterside views.
Step 6: Go see the fort
My suggestion once you arrive is to ride your bike off the ferry and take a right, then just follow the coastline towards some signs which’ll point you towards the old fort and lighthouse.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t be put off by the rather icky looking pier-entry to Cijin. When you first get off the ferry, you’ll be greeted by some truly hideous apartment buildings and businesses. I was very disappointed when I first arrived, but some nice nature and great views are just around the corner, so keep riding!
The lighthouse isn’t that impressive (in my opinion) and not really worth the climb. The fort, however, is quite large and I found it fun to climb around on the old buildings and walls. You can also peer into old living quarters and generally just have a nice little explore.
The real reason to check out the fort though is for the views.
Grab some bubble tea before heading up so you can sit in the sunny, breezy spot and watch the ocean or the mountain from up high.
Step 7: Then check out the beach
From the fort you’ll be able to see Cijin beach, which I found to be quite clean, with clear, warm water and lots of pretty shells to pick through. You should be able to see from atop the fort how to get to the beach, so ride your bike over, park anywhere, lock it, and go for a walk on the hot warm sand.
Step 8: Night market time
As a general rule, I’m not a huge fan of Taiwanese night markets. They’re just too crowded and they stress me out, but I found Cijin Night Market (located along the streets off the beach) to be quite calm by night market standards and to have nice seafood.
Cijin has supposedly got some great seafood restaurants, but as I’m still waiting for my first full-time teacher’s paycheck, night market seafood seemed like a cheaper option. These delicious night market squid and a few shrimp filled me up nicely, and at only 100 for three grilled squids I was able to share expenses with my friends for very cheap.
Step 9: Head back towards the ferry
Take your night market food and head back along the coast towards the ferry and pier. I say take your food because there will be a long line for the ferry back (especially if you’re leaving on a weekend evening) and a snack will make the wait more pleasant. Although the ferry ride is only five minutes long and returns very quickly, we were still waiting for about an hour before we could get on. I was a bit peeved at the amount of people who had no problem cutting in line, so just be aware that the line will take a while. Give yourself plenty of time and try not to stress.
Step 10: Head home
If you live in Kaohsiung, awesome, you’ve arrived. If not, drop off your rent-a-bikes (back at O2) and catch the metro back to R11. Be sure to check train schedules ahead of time if you plan on leaving late so you don’t miss your train. On the ride back, flip through your photos of your awesome day and make plans to come back to Cijin island another weekend.
I’m on the lookout for some more city escapes from Central/Southern Taiwan, so if you know some good natural or beautiful places accessible by public transport, then let me know in the comments!