Tianliao Stone Temple

Top choice in Kaohsiung

Tianliao Stone Temple is a fantastical, Gaudi-esque interpretation of a Taoist temple by Southeast Asian migrant workers. The 500 men had been hired to build a highway in the area, but the contractor went out of business and they were stranded with no means. A temple took them in, after trying in vain to negotiate with the labour authorities. In return for free food and lodging, the men were asked to build a temple, which they did in the early 1990s with seashells, corals, stones and loads of imagination.

Tianliao Stone Temple worships a number of Taoist gods, but the main deity here is the Cundi Bodhisattva (準提菩薩). You'll see her and a plethora of other gold-faced Taoist deities lined up along colonnaded corridors.

The temple puts out a delicious vegetarian buffet daily for devotees. Make a donation, grab a bowl and chopsticks, and join in.

Take bus 8013 from Gangshan (崗山) to Tianliao (田寮) and get off 30 minutes later at the 20th stop, Niulu Wan (牛路灣), which is the road outside the temple compound. There are only three buses a day, departing from Gangshan at 5.40am (7.35am on weekends and holidays), 11.05am and 5.20pm. Buses leave Tianliao daily at 6.15am (8.20am on weekends and public holidays), 11.50am and 6.05pm.

You could also consider taking a cab from Kaohsiung (40 minutes, one-way NT$700-800). It's best to negotiate with the driver to wait for you while you explore, as there are no taxis at the temple and few will drive out to pick you up.

The temple is also known as Cíxuán Shèngtiān Gōng (慈玄聖天宮).