The Kaohsiung 85 Sky Tower is the tallest and most recognizable building in southern Taiwan. The tower is shaped like the character "高" (as in 高雄 aka Kaoh siung or gao xiong), to represent the city of Kaohsiung and show Chinese symbolism through architecture. The observatory level open to visitors provides excellent views of the city. The tower can also been seen most anywhere in Kaohsiung, making it truly the symbol of the city.
The 85 was began construction in 1994 and was completed in 1997. It stood as the tallest building in Taiwan at 347 meters (1,140 feet) until 2004 when the Taipei 101 was built. It was also previously known as the T & C Tower and the Tunex Sky Tower. The tower was designed by C.Y. Lee who also designed the Taipei 101. It also featured the world's highest atrium. The tower gets its name because it is 85 stories tall (actually it's only 83, but they rounded up to make it sound better). For more information you can check out the Wikipedia article on the tower here.
In 2020 the main hotel 85 Sky Tower Hotel 君鴻國際酒店 closed its doors, partly due to the effects of the Coronavirus. The 75th story observatory was also closed. Later, the real estate was bought by the HPW comglomerate (海霸王) and the hotel and observatory are currently undergoing rennovations.
How to Get There:
By MRT: Take the Kaohsiung MRT red line to Sanduo Shopping District Station. The tower is right in your face to the west as you come out of exit 4.
By light rail: Take the light rail to Kaohsiung Exhibition Center Station. The tower will be right in your face to the East.
By car/scooter: Take Sanduo 4th Road all the way west, you can't miss it. There is underground parking with the entrance on the south side.
74-75 Floor Observatory Price: 150 NT per person (currently closed for renovations)
74-75 Floor Observatory Hours: 9:00 AM - 12:00 midnight (currently closed for renovations)
Hotels in the 85:
85 Sky Tower Hotel 君鴻國際酒店: 3000-5000 NT per night, floors 37-85 (currently closed to be taken over by a new hotel group soon)
Mingli Hotel 明麗飯店: 1500-3000 NT per night, floors 7-11
Airbnb type rooms: 900-2000 NT per night
Map: Please see below:
The Kaohsiung 85 Tower is one of the most underrated attractions in Taiwan, quickly overshadowed in any online blog by the Taipei 101. But does the 101 sit on two towers with a giant hole in the middle making a Chinese character for the word "tall?" Is the 101 next to the ocean? Is there decent weather in Taipei most of the time? No, no, and no.
View from the 1st floor.
Another view from below. It's hard to fit in one photo!
I have been to the 85 tower countless times, and I've been to the observatory three times. The first time I went in 2011 the weather was perfect, but the skyline has changed a bit since then. Above is the view that you see after you walk out of MRT station Sanduo Shopping District, exit 4.
74-75 Floor Observatory
Once you get to the tower, just walk into the main floor and you will find a bunch of people selling rare red coral jewelry (I didn't know that was even a thing before coming to the 85). Walk past the counters and you will find the elevator to the observatory in the southeast corner of the building behind the 85 Sky Tower Hotel.
View of Kaohsiung Harbor from the observatory level. As mentioned, the first time I went was during the best weather. I think it had just rained so there was no pollution in the air.
View of Gushan District, Shou Mountain, and the Love River.
View of central Kaohsiung and everything northwest of the tower. I think you can even see to Tainan in this one. The other tower in the distance is the 55 story world trade center building in Sanmin District. You can go to the top of that one for free but you should by some coffee because that's the only way to see the view properly. The green space to the top right is Chengqing Lake.
Looking East to the center of Kaohsiung. You can see the city in Pingtung way in the distance.
Looking south toward Fengshan and Xiaogang Airport.
Closeup on Xiaogang and the airport. Those blue buildings are boat factories. There are also a bunch of chemical plants on the top left. Kaohsiung is an industrial hub in Taiwan for boat manufacturing, steel, and petrochemicals.
View of Kaohsiung Harbor to the south, with the China Steel building still under construction on the bottom left.
Another view of Kaohsiung Harbor toward the sun. The outer island on the other side of the water is Qijin Island, which has the best beach close to any major city in Taiwan.
An airplane landing over the harbor. Sorry for the quality, this was 2011.
Looking straight down the side of the 85.
Shiny buildings and the Love River.
The 85's shadow.
Taiwanese cityscape next to the tower.
I also went on a day when it was a little bit more hazy. Haze happens when it doesn't rain in Kaohsiung, it's an industrial center. But the pollution isn't that bad (especially compared to China, and not much worse that Taipei), unless you are in a sensitive group of people. You can still see pretty darn far.
Some art or artifacts on display in the observatory.
Another view of Shou Mountain and the Love River on a more hazy day.
The main intersection in front of Sanduo Shopping District.
Nightscape facing to the north.
Nightscape to the east. You are going to get glare from the windows no matter what.
Blurry Mega Mall. I am not good when it comes to night photos and the 85.
85 tower elevator doors.
Staying at the 85 Mingli Hotel 明麗飯店:
View out of the window of the Mingli Hotel on the 10th floor. So I decided I wanted to stay at the 85 just for kicks after so many years living in Kaohsiung. The Mingli Hotel was pretty good, there was good breakfast and free parking, and the rooms were pretty clean. But the view wasn't the best; the Mingli only has rooms from the 7th-11th floors. If you want a room with a view, go to the 85 Sky Tower Hotel 君鴻國際酒店. Don't even think about getting one of those cheap Airbnb style rooms (you probably won't get any views at all).
View of the China Steel building and apartments in the morning.
View of the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center. There was two windows between us and the view. I'm not sure if the story is the same in the Sky Tower Hotel.
See above for some drone footage near the 85 that I took in late 2018.
Drone looking east. Many of these buildings did not exit in 2011.
More construction going on in front of the 85.
View to the north and Kaohsiung Harbor.
View of the harbor and Qijin Island.
View of the exhibition center and the harbor. This place is perfect for a long stroll.
View of Kaohsiung to the south, with tons of new developments being built.
For another unique view of the city, you can head over to Dongzhaoshan Coffee, which sits on a mountain overlooking the city.
For our full blog about Dongzhaoshan, click here.
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We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.