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Pier-2 Art Center (駁二藝術特區) is my personal favorite of the many things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s largest port city.
The center features several collection of abandoned shipping warehouses on the Kaohsiung Port, near the entrance to the port and opposite the northern end of Qijin Island. Most of the current warehouses date to the 1970s.
After being abandoned, they were converted to an arts district in 2006. Since then, the district keeps getting larger and more awesome every year. Pier-2 is but one of 122 piers in Kaohsiung Port, but since expanding, the area we now call “Pier 2” actually encompasses piers 1 through 10.
Today, the warehouses house hundreds of shops, cafes, artist studios, music venues, bars, and more. The area has some of the best street art not just in Kaohsiung but all of Taiwan.
The addition of the Kaohsiung Light Rail in 2015, which runs along the waterfront, and the gorgeous Kaohsiung Music Center in 2021, have only added to the revitalization efforts.
There is quite a lot to see and do at Pier 2, so it can be hard to even know where to begin. I’ve written this guide to introduce the various sections of Pier 2 and the neighboring piers, which definitely deserve at least half a day in your Kaohsiung itinerary (as does Cijin Island nearby!) The pier is especially atmospheric at night.
Getting to Pier 2 & Where to Stay
If you’re coming from Zuoying High Speed Rail Station or anywhere in central Kaohsiung, hop on the KMRT and get off at Yanchengpu station, from where it is a 5-minute walk to Pier 2. (Note: you can get discounted HSR tickets here on Klook!)
The Kaohsiung Light Rail (LRT) will get you even closer, as it runs right along Pier 2. Dayi Pier 2 Station is at the eastern end, while Penglai Pier 2 Station is at the western end. However, the LRT is rather slow, so it only makes sense to ride it if you’re coming from somewhere near an LRT station.
Beware of LRTs cruising through Pier 2, as there’s no barricade. Crossing the barricade at a non-designated spot can result in a huge fine.
You can also rent a scooter here in Kaohsiung.
If you’d like to stay in the area, I highly recommend KLA B&B (塩晶棧) (see on Booking / TripAdvisor / Agoda). It is a short walk away from Pier 2 and has very private, capsule-like dorm rooms in a quiet neighborhood.
Pier 2 Art Center: Main Section
The section labeled “Pier 2 Arts Center” on GoogleMaps is the original core of Pier 2. It is roughly halfway between Penglai Pier 2 station and Dayi Pier 2 stations on the LRT. The warehouses here are numbered C1-5.
Some of the best murals and art installations can be seen at the main section of Pier 2 (Related: for great street art in Taipei, see my guide to Ximending!)
These artworks include a large transformer robot statue and an impressive mural of Kaohsiung Train Station. Down by the water, there’s a large rainbow with the word “Kaohsiung” painted on the sidewalk, as well as a large art installation made of bright red shipping containers.
Housed in the warehouses, you can find as Eslite Bookstore, Starbucks, and a small cinema (in89駁二電影院).
Love public art? Don’t miss my guide to Rainbow Village in Taichung and 321 Art Alley Settlement in Tainan!
Pier 2 Warehouses
At the eastern end of Pier 2, right next to Dayi Pier 2 LRT station, is another collection of warehouses. They are numbered C6–11.
These warehouses contain some of the coolest smaller/independent shops in the area, covering ceramics, jewelry, arts & crafts, bakeries, cafés, and more. There’s also a children’s playcenter called Wonderful Life.
Some of Pier 2’s best art installations are in this section, including Taiwan Dream (台灣夢), Chair Sheet Music (椅子樂譜), Big Tree Universe (大樹宇宙-愛河森林慢板), Absorbed by Light (手機人生), and Peeing Boy Painting.
One of the best craft beer bars in Kaohsiung, Beer Talk Café & Bar, can be found in C11. It features a huge range of beers, 1 liter-sized mugs, and 2-for-1 deals. A lit up glass mosaic of Jesus & the Disciples presides over the bar.
Live Warehouse, one of the best live music venues in Kaohsiung, is also here in C10. Check their website for the latest concert listings.
If you keep walking east to the end of Pier 2, Kaohsiung Music Center (高雄流行音樂中心/音浪塔) is a gorgeous, sprawling new complex just opened in 2021. It is especially stunning when lit up at night.
If you happen to be in the area on a Saturday, don’t miss the small Yanchengpu Night Market near Pier 2 Art Center! Find more info in my guide to Kaohsiung’s night markets.
Penglai Area and Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway
The collection of warehouses at the western end of Pier 2 is called Penglai Area of Pier 2 Arts Center (駁二蓬萊倉庫群). Here you’ll find warehouses B3–10.
Besides a few murals, statues, and a performing arts theater (駁二正港小劇場), the main reason to visit the Penglai area is the excellent Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway (哈瑪星台灣鐵道館).
The museum is just a few steps away from Hamasan Railway Cultural Park (see below), the former terminus for trains traveling to Kaohsiung Port. To be honest, I didn’t expect much when I first entered this small museum.
The main room of the museum houses the most incredible miniature train model display I’ve ever seen. A variety of trains (HSR, TRA, MRT, etc) travel throughout the room, which traverses Taiwan from Kaohsiung Port in the south to the northern tip of Taiwan.
The scenes of various cities and counties in Taiwan combine elements from 1902 right up to the present. As you gaze upon them, simulated sunsets and sunrises darken and brighten the room, with the scenes coming alive with lights at night.
I’ve never been big on train models, nor do I like spending much time in museums, but I spent nearly an hour observing the display. It is definitely one of Kaohsiung’s hidden gems!
Entrance to the museum is NT149, plus 100 for the kids to take a ride on the small train outside. You can book your tickets online here. Note that the museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Banana Pier, Port Warehouse #2, and HOLO Park
Right on the waterfront facing Qijin island, and just south of Penglai area, is Banana Pier (香蕉碼頭海景宴會館). Watch for the large yellow colored warehouse, which houses several seafood restaurants, ice cream shops, and more.
Across from (west of) the yellow building is yet another huge warehouse called KW2 or Kaohsiung Port Warehouse #2 (棧貳庫KW2). This building houses an artsy department store, leaning towards high-end products, with several restaurants, food stalls, gelato, macaroons, and so on.
For something fun, I recommend Corner Cone (酷礦美式手作霜淇淋), which has wild ice cream designs, although they’re more about the look than taste. For beer, try Zhang Men craft brewery (掌門精釀啤酒餐廳-棧貳庫店).
At the far western end of the building, there’s a white carousel (棧貳庫旋轉木馬) right on the pier.
Walking east from Banana Pier, there’s a small, unexpected garden with a pond and waterfall called Kaohsiung Water Garden (高港水花園).
Behind the garden on Penglai Road is a small, free museum called Kaohsiung Harbor Museum (高雄港港史館). When I visited, there was only a few photographs and model of Kaohsiung on display, but the museum is housed in a handsome 1917 building that used to be used for collecting sugar taxes, and later taxes for the whole port.
Continuing east brings you to the final point of interest at Pier 2, HOLO Park (光禹浮空劇院生活廣場). This was my least favorite area of Pier 2. It seems like a failed attempt to create an old-timey street, complete with fake grass. Another collection of warehouses here (K7–10, called Big Harbor Warehouse 410 or 大港倉410) contain mainly big brand names. It is the most commercialized section of Pier 2.
The picturesque, pedestrian only Kaohsiung Big Port Bridge (高雄港大港橋) connects the warehouses back to Pier 2 Warehouses and Dayi Pier 2 station.
Hamasen Railway Cultural Park & Sky Balcony
Hamasen Railway Cultural Park (鐵道文化園區) is a large park just west of Penglai area of Pier 2, where the Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway is located. I’m including it since it is just a few steps away from Pier 2.
This park used to be the location of Kaohsiung Port Station, the first railway station in Taiwan, where trains would pick up cargo from ships.
Today, the park is a large, open space, with decommissioned railway lines running through it (although the new LRT now passes through). There are a few old trains on display in the park.
Sky Balcony (鐵道園區天空雲台) is at the northern end of the park. It offers and excellent view looking down on the railway lines in both directions.
The park is open 24 hours.
Takao Railway Museum
Takao Railway Museum (舊打狗驛故事館) is housed in the original 1930 wooden train station at Kaohsiung Port Station, right on the edge of Hamasen Railway Cultural Park.
There are just a few, but very interesting, things to see in this small, free museum. First, note the original schedule still written in chalk on the blackboard. It is the timetable from December 20, 2008, the last time a train pulled into the station.
Also check out the 1935 Japanese painting of Taiwan. Not to scale, the painting shows Kaohsiung viewed from the south, with Yu Shan (Jade Mountain, Taiwan’s tallest peak) towering behind it, and Mt. Fuji in the distance.
Last but not least, don’t miss the impressive original timetable charts in the side room, which show the times of every train and station in Taiwan. The stations are listed on the vertical and 24 hour clock on the horizontal. Train spotters used to use such charts to figure out possible meeting points of different trains.
Note that the museum is closed on Mondays.
Well, that brings us to the end of my Pier 2 Art Center guide! Let me know what you think in the comments below.
2 thoughts on “A Guide to Pier 2 Art Center, Kaohsiung’s Coolest Hangout”
Hi! Would you happen to remember the name of the shop or maybe a landmark of where you found that dinosaur ice cream? I showed my family your pictures and now they all want to go get it when we visit Kaoshiung
The name is in the article: Corner Cone (酷礦美式手作霜淇淋). Just copy paste that to GoogleMaps or try this link: https://goo.gl/maps/pP5tLrTpdFyKyjF9A