During our brief stay in Kaohsiung, we ventured into the suburban outskirts of the city on the hunt for the Dragon and Tiger temples. These twin pagodas have been popping up on my Instagram feed for some time now and I just had to see if the colours were as vivid as they were made out to be (spoiler: yes, they are the brightest temples I’ve seen!) The temples are on the edge of lotus lake in Zuoying district of Kaohsiung. A stoll around lotus lake offers a lovely walk with MULTIPLE colourful and quirky temples you can visit, making it the perfect way to spend a morning exploring Kaohsiung!
Lotus lake | 蓮池潭
Lotus lake is manmade and, unsurprisingly, gets its name from the lotus flowers that dot its surface. The lake was opened in 1951 and has since attracted the building of a number of different temples around its banks. The two main religions in Taiwan are buddhism and Taoism so there are temples that worship both of these, in addition to confucius temples.
The Temples of Lotus Lake
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas | 龍虎塔
We started our walk around lotus lake at the very temples which drew our attention here: The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas.These twin pagodas rise up 7 stores from lotus lake, and are connected to the shore by a zigzagging bridge. With their vibrant yellow colour and whacky imagery it wasn’t surprise to discover they were only built in 1976.
View this post on Instagram
Rumor has it that you should enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit through the tiger’s mouth, to transform any bad luck you have into good fortune. Here’s hoping!
Cih Ji Palace | 慈濟宮
Across from the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda you will see another bright, though older temple called the Cih Ji Palace. This temple isn’t huge but it’s nice to have a peak inside.
Spring and Autumn Pavilions | 春秋閣
Continuing on your walk around lotus lake, you will come to the Spring and Autumn Pavilions. Similar to the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda, this complex has two twin towers in bright colours, as well as a winding passage connecting them that is depicted as a dragon. Just like at the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda, you are meant to enter the dragons mouth for good fortune. These pavilions must have been some of the first to be built around lotus lake back in the 50s.
These temples are Taoist and are dedicated the the God of War, Kuan Kung. As you enter the complex you’ll see a statue of the Goddess of Mercy riding a dragon. Legend says that this goddess (also called Guanyin) appeared above the clouds, which believers took as a sign to built a statue between the two pavilions.
Five Mile Pavilion | 五里亭
The five mile pavilion sit out in lotus lake. It’s connected to the Spring and Autumn Pavilion complex by a bridge, so you’ll see it as part of these pagodas. Fear not though, it isn’t actually 5 miles to get there ha!
The Qi Ming Tang temple
Across from the Spring and Autumn Pavilions is yet another bright, though older temple called the Qi Ming Tang temple. It is also known as the Temple of Enlightenment and is deity to the ancient Chinese teacher, Confucius. We were starting to feel a little “templed-out” by this point so didn’t stop here and continued onto the next spot instead.
The Beiji Pavilion | 北極亭
Next on your walk you will find the Beiji Pavilion. The Beiji Pavilion is the most recent addition of the temples that surround the lake, reaching completion in 1995. It depicts a huge 72m high statue of the Xuantian God sitting at the end of a long bridge in the lake. He’s quite a force to be reckoned with, yielding a 38.5m sword.
Confucian Temple | 孔廟
At the opposite end of lotus pond from the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas you’ll find the Kaohsiung Confucius Temple. The temple you see today was built in 1977 after the original temple (which was built in this area in the late 1600s by the Qing dynasty) was damaged during the Japanese colonisation. You can see the Chong Sheng Shrine, the only remaining building from the original Confucius Temple, near the Old City Elementary School but we didn’t venture there.
At the entrance is a huge white Lingxing gate which is apparently found at most confucius temples. I really enjoyed this temple, and there were many people relaxing and fishing nearby it. There is also a great (though expensive) coffee shop nearby where you can grab a drink, called Pamma Coffee (泮咖啡), before heading back to the MRT.
Cost: FREE *I donated $100NT ($3.30US) when entering the dragon temple.
Time to explore: 2 hours (or more depending on how fast you walk and if you stop for photos or coffee)
How to get to lotus lake: We used Kaohsiung’s efficient MRT service to get to Zuoying District, where lotus lake and all the temples mentioned here are found. You can take the red MRT line heading to Gangshan South and get off at Zuoying station.
It took us about 1 hour to get here from the centre of the city (that is including time on the train and walking from the train) so set aside travel time when making plans.
Route around the lake:
Our morning exploring the temples around lotus lake comes in as a highlight from our trip to Kaohsiung!
Like this post? Pin it and share it!
For more on Kaohsiung:
- Photo Journal: The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
- Packing Guide: Taiwan in December
- A first timer guide to Kaohsiung