Travel Guide to Jiufen (Jioufen)
in Northern Taiwan
Chinese temple in Jiufen
Travel information About Jiufen
Jiufen is a really cool town just a few kilometers away from Jinguashi (in Taipei County), whose unique character has served as the inspiration for two of Asia's greatest modern films. Iconic Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien filmed City of Sadness, his account of dictatorial crackdown against anti-government entities here.
Stay at the best hotel in the area without spending all your money! It's in Keelung, not too far away from Jiufen.
Along different lines, Hayao Miyazaki, arguably the world's most famous anime director, used the town as a model for the magical mountain village in his Oscar-winning Spirited Away.
View of Jinguashi Valley from Jiufen
Jiufen, like Jinguashi, was once a mining town, but has been transformed into a mostly tourist economy. Its demeanor is probably one of the places in the world that truly feels like taking a step back in time to about early 19th century China or Taiwan. The winding mountain streets have a magical and whimsical feel.
Most Taiwanese tourists come to Jiufen for shopping and eating; lots of traditional wares that are hard to come by elsewhere are readily available here. Jiufen also has great views of mountains and the ocean meeting, as it is built into the hills.
Jiufen is also spelled "Jioufen" in many guidebooks.
Jiufen Old Street
This is almost definitely the most important and most popular of things to do in Jiufen. The old street is a time capsule of Chinese vending, with traditional foods, teas and sundries that have been forgotten about elsewhere. The winding, narrow streets bring with them local artists, boutique shops, calligraphers and more. It will be a hard place to miss - just follow the crowds. Be sure also to take note of the early 20th century architecture, one of the most distinctive qualities of the street.
Now closed down and taken over by flora, the Shengping Theater keeps with Jiufen's cinema theme. It is said to be the first modern theater even built in Taiwan, constructed around 1914 by the Japanese. It's a very photogenic location and is famous amongst the Taiwanese as the location of many famous scenes in Taiwan's rich film history. It lies just down the hill from the main commercial street.
Jiufen on a beautiful sunny day
Taiyan Corporation Historic Office Buildings
If you're interested in the period of Japanese occupation of Taiwan, you can check out the office buildings built and used by the mining corporation from 1937. Though gold mining has since stopped in Jiufen, the office buildings serve as a mini museum to the period, with some of the area's various mineral specimens, the equipment used during the mining days and more. However, if mining is your thing, you might be better off heading to Jinguashi.
Hiking Keelung Mountain
Jiufen is in the mountains, and walking up and down its streets will most likely already feel like a bit of a hike. If that's not enough for you, though, you can venture up to the top of Keelung Mountain, which separates Jiufen and Jinguashan and has great views. The mountain is steep and can be a challenge for the never-hiked-before-traveler, but it is worth it if you're willing to put in the effort.
Getting Around Jiufen
Walking is going to be your main mode of transportation. The narrow, hilly streets make anything else nearly impossible. The more adventurous might look for an exhilarating hike up to the top of Keelung Mountain.
Eating in Jiufen / Restaurants
Jiufen is chock-full of edibles (and drinkables, mostly tea), so make sure you go hungry and ready for a huge sampling of new tastes.
City of Sadness Restaurant
An uncreative (and rather depressing) name, this restaurant is nonetheless an institution in Jiufen. It is named after the famous film which featured it oh so many years ago. It's right next to Shengping Theater.
No. 35 Shuchi Rd.
Ah Gan Yee Yuyuan
Jiufen is famous for its taro balls, and this is a great place to get them. If you are on the old street and walk up and up and up, eventually you'll find this place, serving up taro with all kinds of beans. The elevation brings its rewards - Ah Gan Yee has huge windows with great views of the mountains and the ocean.
Your nose will compel you to indulge in some or all of the street food options regularly sold on Jiufen Old Street. Besides the taro balls mentioned above, you can sample beef noodles, wild boar sausage, dumplings, fishball soup, and more. Again, go hungry or regret it.
A Chinese cemetary along a hillside near Keelung Mountain
Sleeping in Jiufen / Accommodation
Spend a night at the best hotel in the area!
Like Jinguashi, most people don't stay overnight in Jiufen, and prefer day trips from nearby cities like Keelung or Taipei. If you must, some bed and breakfasts or small guest houses are around for the weary to lay their heads.
Chiu Chunt Dint Inn
Cozy rooms at a decent price (starting around NT$1,800). Tea, food, beds, all of the Taiwanese customary hospitalities are available here.
No. 29 Chiufen Chishan St.
Jiufen Lao She (Jiufen Old House)
Keeping with the "am I in 1930?" theme of Jiufen, the Old House is mostly brick and wood, and serves as a great bed and breakfast in the town. It's quaint and small, and has good views from the rooms.
No. 20 Jieding Lane
Jiufen at night
Travel to Jiufen / Transportation
From Taipei or Keelung, taking a bus will probably be the best route. Hop on the Keelung Bus company's No. 1062 near Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station. Another, less efficient option, is to take a train to Ruifang station, then from there a Keelung Transit bus to Jiufen.
Links about Transportation in Taiwan:
Taiwan Train Travel - Bus Travel in Taiwan - High Speed Rail (HSR)
More pictures of my trips to Jiufen, Taiwan
Ruby and I, having a cup of coffee by the Pacific Ocean
One of Taiwan's many "mobile cafes"
Other Destinations in North / East Taiwan
Fulong - Hualien - Jinguashi - Taroko Gorge - Taipei - Taoyuan -Danshui - Ilan - Sanxia - Beitou Hot Springs - Wulai - Yingge
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