If you’re running out of places to slot in to your Kaohsiung’s itinerary, consider doing a day trip to Cishan and Meinong! These two townships are just next to each other, so it’s often that visitors will do both places in a single trip. Although these 2 towns do not have any luxurious shopping centers or glamorous restaurants, they’re both rich in their own unique culture and history. After a series of typhoons and heavy downpours, I finally got the chance to visit the 2 towns. Here’s a simplified itinerary that you can take as reference!
08:50 a.m. – Bus to Meinong:
With the ever-developing and improving transport system in Kaohsiung, there is now an express bus from Zuoying HSR station that goes directly to Cishan and then to Meinong. From the bus stop in-front of Zuoying HSR station, board on 旗美國道快線 at platform 4. There will be a bus after every 30 mins interval that goes to Cishan, but do note that only some buses at certain timings continue their journey to Meinong. Click here for the bus timetable and the fare breakdown (unfortunately, only in Chinese). The bus ride to Cishan will take about 30 minutes and the journey continues on to Meinong for another 30 minutes.
09:50 a.m. – Exploring around Meinong til noon:
Upon alighting at the Meinong Bus Station, head on to the station office and request to rent a bicycle. The bicycle rentals are free because it is an effort in aim to boost the local tourism. Rentals are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Just knock on the office door, let them know that you’re interested in renting a bicycle, follow through with some admin procedures, hand in any card that has identification purpose (or a deposit of 1500NTD) and you’re good to go!
I’d strongly recommend you to rent a bicycle in Meinong because the places of interest are scattered all over town, and it’s rather impossible to cover most of them on foot in a single day. It’s also a rather refreshing experience to be cycling along the country side with mountain views and paddy fields along the cycling routes. However, do note that there are limited bicycles available. If you really can’t get your hand on a bicycle, you may hire a cab to visit the places of interest. I’m not too sure how much the cabbies will charge but it’s definitely the better option as compared to covering the town on foot.
Originally known as Zhongzheng Lake, the lake was recently renamed to Meinong Lake in August 2016. This lake was often featured in travel guides and blogs so I decided prioritize this place and headed there 1st! UNFORTUNATELY during my visit, the lake was scheduled for a clean up, so they drained all the water away and left nothing but a muddy mess. If there’s water, the lake would have had excellent scenery with mountains lying at the West and crop fields on the other 3 sides!
Meinong Hakka Museum
When you’re done with Meinong Lake, head over to Meinong Hakka Museum which is just beside the lake. The museum took on a the important role of preserving and passing on the Hakka culture and history. I personally liked the exhibits because I find it interesting to learn about the history of the town, from how the Hakka people settled down in Meinong to the development of the cultural town. The entrance fee is 40NTD for adults.
After the museum visit, you may choose to follow the designated bicycle routes or just cycle randomly around town. There are still quite some attractions to see, but nothing really fascinating. I happen to pass by the East Gate Tower but didn’t stayed long after going up the tower to take a few shots. For a complete list of the the places of interest in Meinong, you can head over to their official tourism site to learn more!
When you’re done with all that exploring, it’ll be close to lunch time. You may either stay in Meinong to have authentic Hakka cuisines or you can opt to have your lunch at Cishan. The Hakka village is particularly famous for their rice-flour noodle dish called Bantiao (粄條). The dish is often fried with strips of pork and carrot or boiled and then served either in soup or ‘dry’ topped with a few slices of pork on top.
I went with the second option to have my lunch taken in Cishan (because there’s more variety!). Whichever the case is, before you head back to Cishan, return the bicycle at the bus station and ask for help regarding the bus back to Cishan. The fare for the return trip is 32NTD.
Noon – Exploring around Cishan:
Exploring around Cishan by foot is actually feasible because the main attractions are within walking distance.
Cishan Old Street
Cishan Old Street consist of a rather long stretch of old preserved architectures built during the Japanese occupation period. The houses were modeled on Baroque architecture making it unique sight on an Asian street. The street has now turned into a tourist attraction, with food and souvenir shops spreading along the road. If you’re here for lunch, you’ll be spoiled for choices because there’s just too many delicious-looking food around. One recommendation for you is to try the Danggui duck vermicelli, one of the specialty of the old street. After the meal, end off with a dessert from Ah Q Shaved Ice. Here’s the location for the duck vermicelli.
and the shaved ice store
Besides these 2 recommendations, you should also try the awesome cream puff by 旗山老街波羅泡芙 and the famous banana cake by 吉美旗山香蕉蛋糕. If you’re too full to stuff anything in, just purchase them back as snacks before returning to Kaohsiung city, you won’t regret it!
Cishan Railway Station
At the very start of the street lies Cishan Railway Station. This historical architecture marked the start of the town’s development and it’s built from 1913 to 1915. Though the station is no longer operating, the locals are certainly proud to keep the railway station there and it serves as one of the town’s main attraction.
Cishan Confucius Temple
Cishan Confucius Temple has been the religious center for Cishan people. From the top of the temple, you get to see some amazing views overlooking the town. Walk up and enjoy the quiet and peace, away from the bustling streets of Cishan. This temple can be easily accessed via the stairs that starts from the T-junction of Huazhong Rd and Zhongzheng Rd.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even go for a short hike up Mt. Ciwei. I’ve written a detailed guide on Mt. Ciwei, so for those that are interested, click here to read about it!
Once again, there are still quite a few attractions that I didn’t manage to visit due to time constraints. If you wanna know more about the town, head over to their website and see what other attractions the town have to offer. Once you’re done exploring the town, head back to the bus station and take the same bus (旗美國道快線) back to Zuoying Station! The day trip to Meinong and Cishan was certainly different from the other attractions within Kaohsiung city. It’s a nice place to escape away from the concrete jungle of the city. If you have the time, you should definitely take a look at these 2 towns!
(Date visited: Sep 2016)