Jiufen Old Street is one of the top attractions in Taiwan. It is located at the seaside mountain area in Ruifang District, which is about an hour’s drive away from downtown Taipei.
This place has become so famous for so many reasons.
First, the place is full of mystery because of its name, Jiufen, which means “nine portions” in Chinese.
Second, a lot of people thought that Jiufen Old Street is the place that inspired the Japanese animation, Spirited Away, but this is a wrong perception. The director, Hayao Miyazaki has denied that the scene in the animation was inspired by the place.
Third, Jiufen is full of great foods. From street foods to cafes, you name it, Jiufen has it. More importantly, Jiufen offers many local Taiwan dishes.
Besides that, Jiufen is located on a hilly side, the view is magnificent and when the sky is clear, you can see the entire sea coast and the mountain is beautiful.
If you plan your trip to Taipei, do remember to include Jiufen into your must-visit list.
Jiufen and The Little Story Behind
I know you don’t like to hear the long history of Jiufen, so let’s quickly talk about how Jiufen got its name.
It was said that during the Qing Dynasty, the isolated village housed nine families. And every time shipments arrive from time, the village would request “nine portions” from it. Hence, the name, Jiufen.
Apart from that, Jiufen was also discovered as land that produced gold. In 1890, workmen discovered flakes of gold while constructing the railway there.
Do you also know that there is a waterfall nearby to Jiufen that was called, “Golden Waterfall”?
Jiufen Attractions and Things to See
There are plenty of things you can do in Jiufen. But most people will just visit the main old street and leave. However, if you are more adventurous, you should also check out a few other attractions nearby Jiufen.
1. Taking a stroll along the Jiufen Old Street
This is the main highlight; the old street is a narrow alleyway lined up with street foods and stalls on both sides.
It will be crowded and full of people, especially during the peak season. You can try out all the local foods here and do some shopping.
Make sure you walk until the end of the street because there is a small observation deck overlooking the open sea and the hill. You can also see a small fishing village by the seaside. The view is beautiful.
2. Relax and enjoy a cup of tea at the famous teahouse
One of the most famous teahouses in Jiufen is none other than A-Mei Teahouse. It is famous because of it’s multi-story and unique architecture. From the outside, you will notice many red lanterns hanging across the building.
Looking from afar, you will quickly notice the teahouse resembles one of the scenes in Spirited Away, the Japanese animation.
A-Mei Teahouse is the most famous teahouse in this area. Hence, go in, relax, and get a cup of tea while enjoying the beautiful view of the place.
3. Check out and travel back in time Shengping Theater
Shengping Theater is like a museum dated back to 1934 when Jiufen was a prosperous small village. It was built with Taiwanese cypress in the imitation for a Baroque style that was very popular in Japan at the time.
You can see old movie posters, an old concession stand, movie projector, etc. The square in front of the Shengping theater was once a busy social center and marketplace in Jiufen.
If you are looking for this theater, it is located on Qingbian Street that is between the main highway and Jiufen Old Street.
4. Shopping at the old street
Although the shops in Jiufen Old Street are aiming at tourists, it is still a great place to shop and buy some unique Taiwanese products and souvenirs.
You can find all sorts of things here, from tea leaves, various cakes, desserts, Spirited Away and Totoro items, cat-related items, postcards, pottery, and many other Taiwan-themed souvenirs.
5. Hike Mount Keelung
On top of Mount Keelung, there is a pavilion where you can enjoy the stunning view of Jiufen and if the sky is clear, you can even see Taipei 101 from afar.
The Keelung Mountain Trail is just about 400m away from the highway from Jiufen Old Street entrance. The hike takes about just an hour both sides, but it is quite steep and tiring, with a lot of stairs.
6. Explore Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Jinguashi Gold Ecological Museum is sometimes also known as New Taipei City Gold Museum or Gold Ecological Park. It is about 10 minutes from Jiufen Old Street.
The park or museum is blended with its natural surroundings, giving it some incredible views. Plus, you can also explore the old mining facilities in the museum, and also enjoy ice-cream topped with gold leaf at the cafe.
All the buses to Jiufen will continue to Jinguashi before turning around and going back downhill.
7. Hike the Teapot Mountain and get to the Shinto Shrine
From Gold Ecological Park, you can take a breathtaking hike to Tea Pot Mountain. The hike is about 1-2 hours, but when you reach the top, you will see one of the most beautiful views of the place.
If you want to go for the hike, just find Tunnel #5, which is an attraction of Gold Ecological Park. Walk past it, take the walking bridge across the river, and in less than an hour, you will reach the summit of Teapot Mountain.
Another highlight here is the Japanese Shinto Shrine. You can see the remains of this Japanese Shrine as you hike up Teapot Mountain.
8. Check out the Golden Waterfall
Another attraction nearby Jiufen is the Golden Waterfall. It is called Golden Waterfall because the riverbed gives a unique “yellowish” and golden color due to the deposition of heavy metals. Hence, the name, Golden Waterfall.
There is another story of how the waterfall gets its name. Some people said that you can find flakes of gold around the waterfall area. Still, remember back in ancient times when Jiufen was famous for gold?
9. Explore the Remains of the 13 Levels
Not too far away from the Golden Waterfall, you can find the abandoned copper-smelting refinery that was used during the gold rush era.
However, the locals believe that The Remains of the 13 Levels is haunted. Still, the place is beautiful, and it is a stunning place for photographers.
10. The Yin Yang Sea
The Yin Yang Sea is located at the foot of the hill, nearby to Golden Waterfall. When you passed by the road, you can see the sea with two different colors.
This is because the river water that flows to the sea is unable to mix with the seawater. Thus, making the spot with two different colors.
What to Eat at Jiufen Old Street
There’s no way we can skip this part, especially at Jiufen Old Street, a place full of Taiwanese street food.
While everyone’s taste is different, you should check out these 5 recommendations below…
As mentioned above, this building gives a similar scene in Spirited Away. The building’s decoration is unique and beautiful.
One of the best things to do in Jiufen is to enjoy the tea. And the teahouse you should try out is none other than A-Mei Teahouse. Upon arrival, you will quickly notice the building.
The teahouse can be packed and full at times. The staff will even demonstrate to you how to brew the tea. Besides tea, you can try out their green bean cakes and sesame crackers.
Peanut ice-cream roll
Another famous street food you should try out is the peanut ice-cream roll. It is a thin crepe filled with ice-cream scoops, and shaved peanuts.
It is special because they will shave the peanut chunk in front of you. Make it seem “fresh” and interesting. The ice-cream gives you a rich nutty taste and a crunchy texture.
Taro balls are famous in Taiwan, especially in Jiufen. This is a traditional dessert that you should really try out.
You can enjoy the taro balls at the seating area over-looking the cliff, giving you an incredible view.
There are plenty of flavors you can choose from. The main ingredient is none other than taro balls. Besides, you can also order the sweet potato balls too.
Traditional fishballs and meatballs
As you walk along the old street, you will notice several stalls selling traditional fishballs and meatballs, and the sizes are huge.
Most of these balls are home-made. They are big, the soup is flavorful, and the fishballs are good. You should really try out their meatballs that are made with pork.
Glutinous rice cake
For most tourists, the glutinous rice cake will be the most interesting food in Jiufen. It’s a Hakka traditional dessert made with salted vegetables, preserved turnip, and sweet red bean.
Not everyone can accept the smell and taste because of the turnip. If this is the first time you try out turnip, you will be surprised by its taste. The most famous stall for this is Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake, with the longest queue.
How to Go to Jiufen from Taipei
There are a couple of ways how you can go to Jiufen from Taipei. The easiest is, of course, to book a private vehicle and get there, depending on the number of people and your budget.
Besides that, you can choose to go to Jiufen by bus or by train.
Going to Jiufen by Bus
The public buses from Taipei Station to Jiufen depart every 20 minutes and it takes about an hour to reach Jiufen. You can take bus number Keelung 1062, from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT terminal pass through, Ruifang Train Station and Jinguashi before terminating at the Old Street in Jiufen.
Going to Jiufen by Train
There is no direct train to Jiufen. What you need to do is to take a train from Taipei Station to Ruifang Railway Station. Once you get there, go to the bus station at Mingdong Road. Trains from Taipei to Ruifang are 50 minutes apart and the buses from Ruifang to Jiufen are about 15 minutes each.
Tips on Visiting Jiufen Old Street
- Jiufen Old Street opens all year long. So you can plan your visit any time around the year.
- If you just want to visit Jiufen Old Street, then you can spend there about half a day. If you follow a tour, usually they only allocate about 2-3 hours in the old street.
- There are plenty of taxis and private tours to Jiufen and Shifen from Taipei every day. The tours usually also include Yehliu Geopark.
- If you plan to hike Keelung Mountain or Teapot Mountain, then you may want to choose to stay for a night at Jiufen.
- Hiking some of the mountains here can be a great experience but remember to be careful and watch your steps. Plus, some locals believe that the back mountain is haunted, especially near that Remains of the 13 Levels.