Information About Jinguashi in Taiwan
Jinguashi, which translates to something like “Gold Melon Rock,” is famous for its place in history as a vast gold mine exploited mostly by the Japanese colonists in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, the mines are dried up; the gold rush has ended. However, it remains mostly intact, a stunning image of a bygone era, nominated for the honor of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.
Jinguashi is very near to Jiufen in Northern Taiwan’s Rueifang Township, Taipei County. Its geography offers the obvious mountains that once contained free money, and stunning views of the coast to boot.
Mostly, the site has been turned into the “Gold Ecological Park“, which offers a number of ways to see how the area’s history has been influenced by gold mining, and to get a peek into what life was like in the past. The park also aims to integrate the natural environment with the gold extraction, educating tourists on the geology of Jinguashi, along with its natural flora and so on.
Jinguashi Attractions / Things to do
Museum of Gold
The name “Museum of Gold” makes this place sound like some kind of mythical Arab palace, but in reality the place is quite practical. It discusses the history of gold mining in Jinguashi, how the Japanese pulled it off, and there is even a section dedicated to the Prisoners of War camp for allied prisoners kept by the Japanese during World War II.
One cool feature of the museum is that it is housed in what used to be the Taiwan Metal Mining Corporation’s offices. The starry-eyed traveler will revel in the ability to put his or her hands on a 220kg pure gold brick – not the most common of opportunities. Also part of the Museum of Gold is the Benshan Tunnel, where you can go underground and get a feel for the everyday lives of miners working in the rough conditions.
One of the few Japanese Shinto shrines lying outside of the archipelago itself, this one lies high up in the mountains and is a bit of a hike to get to, but is worth the effort if not just for the views. The shrine itself isn’t all still there – much of it was destroyed after the Second World War. Still, a skeleton remains that gives you a general picture of the place where Japanese workers would go to pray to the “Mountain God”. Make sure to bring your walking shoes.
“Golden Waterfall,” like “museum of gold”, is much more literal than you might hope – the waterfall is laden with remnants of harmful minerals, meaning you should avoid coming in contact with it. Still, a “look, don’t touch” policy will lead to a good experience. The waterfall sources to the Yin-Yang Sea, visible from Jinguashi. A sharp drop in elevation has created the waterfall, check it out as it’s not far from the road.
Remnants of a massive smelter, referred to by Taiwanese as “13-stories”, perhaps for obvious reasons, serve as a big part of the landscape in Jinguashi. The huge plant has been abandoned, but in its day was one of the most efficient and productive on the planet, built into the side of the mountain and once used for all kinds of stages in the process of gold extraction. It is a lush spot for nostalgic photos.
Getting Around Jinguashi
You should be prepared to walk and hike around Jinguashi. Walkways have been developed fairly comprehensively once the push for tourism set in, though some places (such as the Shinto Temple) will still require a good bit of hiking.
Eating Around Jinguashi / Restaurants
Jinguashi is known for gold and mountain views, and food is not widely available. Little cafes are around serving tea, coffee, and snacks, but your best bet is to fill up in surrounding places such as Keelung or Jiufen, both of which are very close by and famous for their edibles.
Check out the best hotel in the area. It is in Keelung, not too far from Jinguashi.
The same generally goes for sleeping as for eating – Jinguashi itself is not going to be the best bet for staying the night, and as everything can be seen in a day there’s no real need to. You’ll either want to stay in one of the few places available in Jiufen, or make a day trip from Taipei or Keelung.
Getting to Jinguashi / Transportation
From Taipei or other more distant places, you’ll have to take a trainor bus to Ruifang. At the Ruifang Station, you can get a bus ticketthat will take you directly to the Gold Ecological Park at Jinguashi. Alternatively, taxis regularly ship tourists from the train station to the park and back, and with shared costs it even ends up being cheaper than the bus.
Buses can be taken to Jinguashi directly from Keelung (at the train station) or Jiufen, so that’s a good option if you happen to be in one of those places as part of a multi-stop trip.
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