Cheng Ching lake in Kaohsiung is one of the most beautiful parks in Taiwan. Much of the lake is full of traditional Chinese gardens and architecture. Because of its size, it cannot be properly appreciated by only going there for one afternoon; there are simply too many things to see and do there.
People often don’t realize that Kaohisung has a lot to offer to tourists. Many of the places down south aren’t represented as well as sites in Taipei, which is why we want to help everyone realize what a great place it is. I used to live in Kaohsiung and exercise at Cheng Ching Lake daily, and boy do I miss it! There are many lucky elderly Kaohsiung residents that visit the lake daily for free, and I envy them.
How to Get There:
From the Weiwuying MRT station, you can take the 70A bus straight to the main entrance.
100 NT per person, 50 NT for students, 60/100 NT for cars (there is a discount for cars on weekdays), and 30 NT for scooters. If your ARC or National ID has a Kaohsiung address, you can enter the park for free!
Cheng Ching lake is the largest lake in Kaohsiung . Originally it was only a small irrigation pond, but in 1940 the Japanese diverted water here from the Gaoping River to act as a water supply for the surrounding area. During that time it was called Dabei Lake (大埤湖), however Chiang Kai-Shek (the leader of the ROC) renamed it Cheng Ching Lake (澄清湖) in 1963.
The ROC army used the lake as a base shortly after the Chinese Civil War, and built an underground tunnel and bunker to prevent against nuclear attack, which has now been converted into the Cheng Ching Lake Exotic Marine Life Museum. The lake contains a number of memorials to ROC soldiers, such as memorial plaques, mausoleum, and Fuguo island to commemorate soldiers that fled to the island of the same name in Vietnam during the Chinese Civil War.
The lake is meant to resemble Xihu (西湖, west lake) in Hangzhou, China. Chiang Kai-shek built awinter chateau on the lake, one of 30 guests houses that were built for him in Taiwan.
Surrounding the lake are a number of other notable sites including the Kaohsiung Yuanshan Hotel Resort, Cheng Ching lake baseball field, Cheng Ching Golf Club, Kaohsiung number 7 waterworks station, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, and Cheng Ching Lake Youth Activity Center.
Chengqing lake is also a water source for a large area of Kaohsiung. Because of this (as well as risk of drowning), fishing and swimming in the lake are forbidden.
Now let me take you on a virtual tour of the place. As I said, there are too many sights to fit into one blog (look for our Cheng Ching Lake guide coming in the next few weeks). Below are the top seven sights that you should see.
7 Sights You Must See At Cheng Ching Lake:
Please see the map below to see where the following sites are located:
1. Jhongsing Pagoda中興塔
Standing at 43 meters high, the Jhongsing Pagoda is the highest structure around the lake. it provides the best view of the surrounding area, and one of the best views of eastern Kaohsiung. There are winding stairs to the top, and 360 degree views from all 7 levels. The entire tower is very photogenic, inside and out.
Pagodas originated from the Indian Stupa, and the design spread through Asia as a popular building type for religious worship. Chinese pagodas （八角塔） have eight sides, which has to do with good fortune and dispelling evil.
Location: See the map above.
The pagoda is colorful inside and out. Note that those symbols on the wooden beams are not swastikas, they are Buddhist symbols.
There are hexagonal windows on all levels of the tower for unique views of the surrounding landscape.
To the west you can see the skyline of Kaohsiung city, with the 85 Tower in the center and the 55 storey business center to the right.
To the south one can find view of the lake and bell tower.
To the southwest you can see the Kaohsiung Yuan Shan Grand Hotel, along with Chang Gung Memorial hospital, and sprawling apartment buildings in Fengshan.
To the West you can also see the Cheng Ching Lake Golf Course.
To the north you can see the industrial districts of Renwu and Nanzi.
Finally, to the east you can see industrial Niaosong, and the hills in Dashu, including the E-da World Ferris Wheel. I used to live in the apartments sitting on those distant hills.
2. Cheng Ching Lake Exotic Marine Life Museum 澄清湖海洋奇珍園
This museum was originally an anti-nuclear bunker, and later converted into an aquarium. There a quite a few rare species here, so its worth it to check out if you have time. Pictured above is the largest fish in the whole aquarium.
Price: You will have to an additional fee to enter the aquarium. Adults are 200 NT, children 150 NT, and Kaohsiung Residents are 100 NT.
Location: On Southeastern edge of the lake, left of the Cheng Ching Lakeside resort before Chiang Kai-shek’s Chateau (see map above).
Nautilus feeding on some shrimp.
Sea worms bobbing up and down, waiting to feed on passing nutrients.
A pair of giant eels.
Sea tube worms.
There are also quite a few fossils in the aquarium as well.
3. Nine-Turn Bridge 九曲橋
This is a picturesque bridge over the lake connecting the south and north sides. Built in 1960, the bridge is230 meters in length and 2.5 meters wide.
Nine-sided bridges are popular features of Chinese gardens that began during the Song Dynasty, and allow patrons to slowly enjoy many different viewpoints.
If you are lucky, you can see sparrows land on the hand rail posts. Actually I have seen them on the bridge like this every time I have gone.
Take it slow and enjoy the scenery!
4. Kaohsiung Yuan Shan Grand Hotel 高雄澄清湖圓山大飯
Just outside the lake park is the Kaohsiung Yuan Shan Grand Hotel (not actually part of the lake park), a 4 star hotel that is the sister hotel to the Yuanshan Grand Hotel in Taipei, another similarly built hotel with Classical Chinese architecture. The current building was completed in 1971. The hotel can be seen from many parts of Cheng Ching Lake Park, including the nine turn bridge.
It's like a mini Yuanshan hotel. But it's still huge.
5. Chiang Kai Shek’s Residence 蔣中正舊居別墅
Chiang Kai-shek's former residence still stands next to the lake, and has been turned into a museum open for tours.
I assume you can read this sign, so I won't explain the historical background any further.
On the first floor is a museum in honor of Chiang Kai-shek. I wonder when someone will come in here and throw paint over that photo.
There are a series of historical photos of Chiang on the walls.
There are also a few of his personal affects, including his tea set, bible, journal, etc.
On the second floor there is an art exhibit room that switches around every few months. This time the theme was wood.
Madame Chiang's studio.
Mr. Chiang's living room. Notice the state of the art (at the time) air conditioner at the bottom of the photo.
Not to mention the state of the art television.
The old man's desk.
And what would this tour be without a view of the bed! Seems a bit small for two people.
Outside the house you can pretend to be Chiang Kai-shek and take the same picture next to the same tree that he did 50 years ago.
I think I got pretty close this time!
There is also a very pleasant view of the lake behind the house.
6. Fuguo island 富國島
This is a small man-made island connected by a pedestrian suspension bridge that is about 70 meters long. Constructed in1955, this island holds particular historical significance because it was named after the retreat of the R.O.C. to an island of the same name off the coast of Vietnam. On top of the small island is a white marble plaque memorial to these soldiers.
The Siyuan pavilion lies on the east side of the island, with a 3-part bridge connecting it.
7. Bell tower 澄清湖鐘樓
Close to Fuguo island is the Bell Tower, laying on a forested hill directly across the suspension bridge. The tower was built in 1969, and the bell was replaced again in 1980. It is 5 stories high and holds a bell at the highest level. You can climb to the second level, but the upper level and the actual bell are closed off from the public.
That's it for our listicle, but there are plenty of other sights to see around the lake. We will create a follow up blog with an entire guide to everything on the lake. But for now, we have created a list of all other sights below:
The lake is actually divided into 8 scenic areas:
Area 1: Plum Blossoms and the Dawn of Spring 梅隴春曉
-Main entrance 觀光大門
-Old Aquarium 水族館
-Freedom Pavilion 自由亭
- Magpie Bridge
- Chiang Kai Shek’s Residence (above) 蔣公行館-澂清樓
- Chengching Lakeside Resort 水漾會館
- Cheng Ching Lake Exotic Marine Life Museum (above) 澄清湖海洋奇珍園
Area 2: The Nine Turn Bridge Catches the Moon 曲橋釣月
-Nine Turn Bridge九曲橋
-Tao Ran Court陶然閣
-Feng Yuan Court豐原閣
Area 3: The Willow on the Shore Observes the Lotus 柳岸觀蓮
-Industrial Waterworks Memorial 工業水廠紀念碑
-Boat Pond 原划船場
-Renzhi Pavilion 仁智亭
-Tea Area 泡茶區
-Sister Pavilion 姐妹亭
- Tatsuko Takeshi Fountain 辰子飛翔
-Shuanglian Pavilion 雙蓮亭
Area 4: The Tall Hill Looks Toward the Sea 高丘望海
-Clock Tower 鐘樓 (above)
-Suspension Bridge 吊橋
-Fuguo Island 富國島 (above)
-Siyuan Pavilion 思源亭
-Zhongxing Pagota 中興塔
-BBQ area 烤肉區
Area 5: Deep in the Woods Birds Sing 深樹鳴禽
-Thousand trees forest 千樹林
-100 year old tree 百年合歡
-Lanxiu Building 攬秀樓
Area 6: Pristine Air Flows Over Lake and Mountain 湖山佳氣
-Zhongling Tower 忠靈塔
-Zhengqi Pavilion 正氣亭
Area 7: Three Pvilions Support Victory 三亭攬勝
-Youru Pavilion有如亭 other side of lake
Area 8: Peng Island Pouring out Gold 蓬島湧金
-Deyue Building 得月樓
There is simply too much to blog about Cheng Ching Lake, so we are splitting it up into separate blogs. Look forward to our complete guide on Cheng Ching Lake coming soon, and be sure to like follow on our social media for more updates!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working 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.