Taiwan’s most iconic tourist hot spot.
Jiufen is a small village town in the far northeastern district of Ruifang. It’s is a hotbed of Taiwanese culture, most famous of which is its unique Jiufen Old Street market.
Jiufen originally underwent major development when gold was discovered in the 1890’s, at the beginning of the Japanese period. During WWII Jiufen was used as a POW camp for the Japanese. Many British soldiers ended up being held in Jiufen who were captured from Singapore.
Since then, Jiufen has blossomed into one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist destinations. Many tourists visit Jiufen each day for its old street market, as well as for its hiking trails and interesting history. Much of Jiufen’s gold mining past can still be witnessed in Jiufen Old Street’s unique architecture, as well as in two gold mining museums.
After having its image plastered throughout Taiwanese travel brochures during the last two decades, Jiufen Old Street has become one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist hotspots outside of Taipei. Jiufen originally developed as a gold mining town in the 1890’s during the Japanese occupation and has since blossomed into a popular street market while retaining its original structure and charm. In 2001 many speculated that director Hayao Miyazaki used Jiufen Old Street as inspiration for his anime film Spirited Away.
Walking the streets of Jiufen Old Street
Street food is aplenty in Jiufen. One of the best ways to enjoy Jiufen is by snacking on the tasty street food while strolling the many streets and alleys.
Among the most popular local delights are the deep-fried seafood, fish & meat balls and Taiwanese sausages. For something sweet, try the infamous Taiwanese ice cream spring roll, the coffee nougat biscuit or the ice cream puff.
A good respite from walking around the market alleys is a stop in one of Jiufen’s many teahouses. These teahouses are most famous for the amazing views they offer over Keelung Mountain.
After spending the day walking, you’ll be glad to take a moment to sit-down and relax while savouring the views the Jiufen has to offer. The most popular of which are A-Mei Tea House, Skyline Teahouse and Jiufen Teahouse.
Not to be confused with the larger Jinguashi Gold Mine Museum nearby, the Jiufen Goldore Museum is a quaint little museum walking distance from Jiufen Old Street. Setup in tribute to Jiufen’s gold mining heritage by a former gold miner, today it is still a family owned and operated museum.
Here you can learn all about Jiufen’s gold mining history including the old equipment used for the gold extracting and refining processes. Jiufen Goldore Museum is walking distance from the Old Street and tickets come with a complementary guided tour, so expect to be well-informed during your visit.
Much of Jiufen is blessed with stunning views from Keelung Mountain. Looking over the north eastern tip of Taiwan, Keelung Mountain is filled with various hiking trails.
For those not looking for a tireless hike, an easy path is available near the entrance to the Jiufen Old Street market. This trail works well in-conjunction with those whose primary purpose is visiting the market. The full distance will take around 40 minutes, with a 20 minute half-way respite. Both offer spectacular views of the northern shore of Taiwan.
Getting to Jiufen is easy with Taipei’s public transport system. Getting to Ruifang Station or Jiufen Old Street are the usually the first stops for visitors.
To get to Jiufen Old Street from Taipei, take the Chu-Kang Express (TRA) from Taipei Main Station, Platform 4 to Ruifang Station.
From Ruifang Station, take the Exit 1 (West) and walk 250 meters to the bus stop next to the police station. Catch either the 788 or 827 route buses for the remaining journey to Jiufen Old Street.
Remember, left side is the best side!
Catching the bus from Taipei takes approximately 90 minutes and is a scenic journey almost as beautiful as Jiufen itself.
The 1062 route bus (Keelung Bus) leaves from MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station. To get there take the MRT Brown Line, or from Taipei Main Station you can take the MRT Blue Line or the Fuxing Shuttle Bus. The 788 route bus will also get you to Jiufen Old Street from MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station.
Jiufen’s popularity means peak periods can often lead to uncomfortable congestion in its narrow streets. If possible, avoid weekends and holidays to escape the busy crowds.