Why Visit Jiufen?
Jiufen is a small mountain village in the heart of the Ruìfāng region. When planning our trip to Taiwan, Jiufen was one of the places we were most excited about to visit!
With its narrow alleys full of red lanterns, teahouses, the village perched on the slopes of the mountain, and the ocean on the other side… every elements are there to make Jiufen magical and one of the best places to visit Taiwan!
The only downside… it’s popularity. Don’t expect to have the entire place for you, it will be crowded. That’s why we decided to visit Jiufen Old Street as late as possible in the day, when most tourist buses are heading back to Taipei. More on that later!
Here is a short video about Jiufen Old Street in Taiwan:
From Gold Rush Era…
Jiufen’s story began in the late 19th century. Originally, it was an isolated village inhabited by only nine families. The name “Jiufen,” which means “Nine Portions” in Mandarin, is believed to have originated from this time when the nine families would request “nine portions” of goods to be delivered from the nearest town.
The turning point in Jiufen’s history came with the discovery of gold in the surrounding mountains in 1893. This discovery triggered a gold rush, transforming the sleepy village into a booming mining town. During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945), Jiufen experienced significant development.
To One of the Most Visited Places in Taiwan
After World War II, the mining industry in Jiufen began to decline. By the 1970s, the mines were largely depleted, leading to the closure of most mining operations.
The revival of Jiufen began in the 1990s, thanks largely to its rediscovery by filmmakers and tourists. The town’s unique scenery, historical charm, and well-preserved Japanese-era architecture made it an attractive setting for movies and television shows.
Today, Jiufen is a popular tourist destination, famous for its narrow, winding streets, traditional tea houses, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
10 Best Things to See in Jiufen in Taiwan
1. Jiufen Old Street: the unmissable
Jiufen Old Street is a series of narrow winding streets running along the hill. This is the main point of interest in Jiufen.
The entire area has red lanterns hanging on the side of the road, giving Jiufen this special atmosphere back in time!
Jiufen Old Street is full of shops, restaurants, street food, tea houses, and all sorts of things which you will discover while wandering in its many alleys.
The entrance to Old Street (from the main bus stop) is marked by a pretty sign where the maze of small shops begins.
2. Experience Jiufen’s Tea Houses
Jiufen is a perfect place to discover the tea culture in Taiwan. Indeed, the village is full of tea houses.
Traditionally, tea is served for several people (teapot and cups) accompanied by artisanal pastries, often with red beans.
Here are our favorite tea houses in Jiufen:
A-Mei Tea House
A-Mei Tea House is the most iconic place of Jiufen. Located below a small alley decorated with lanterns, it is a magnificent traditional Japanese building. In the evening, the atmosphere is magical when all the red lanterns light up.
As it’s very popular, you sometimes have to wait for a seat to become available. The first prices start at 300NT per person for a tea service with artisanal pastries.
Jiufen Teahouse is another stunning place in Jiufen! Not far from A-Mei Tea House, right inside Old Street. In case A-Mei Tea House is crowded with a long waiting time, don’t hesitate to check out Jiufen Teahouse.
The building is entirely made of wood and decorated with beautiful old objects. Much less crowded than A-Mei, it is a perfect option for those who want to experience tea culture without the tourists.
3. Climb Mount Keelung
Mount Keelung is more of a stroll than a hike… with its 588m it is a very easy climb! A single path leads to the summit. There is no risk of getting lost.
The view at the top is breathtaking both over the ocean, Jiufen and the town of Keelung.
4. Tea Pot Mountain
Probably the most sporting activity in Jiufen! Tea Pot Mountain is a trail of approximately 5km which offers a breathtaking panorama of the ocean and the entire Taipei region.
At almost 600m high, it is a relatively accessible hike.
Tea Pot Mountain is so named because of its particular shape in the form of a teapot without a handle.
5. Jiufen Qingyun temple
It was a bit by chance that we discovered this place! Located just 1.5km from the Old Street, below Jiufen, this temple is magnificent and lost in the forest. Allow around twenty minutes to reach it along a tiny road.
Qingyun Temple is a Taoist temple dedicated to the god of war and built in 1855.
Its architecture is rich, and colorful and the temple is very well maintained. On the second floor, you will have access to a large terrace offering a magnificent view of the ocean, the forest, and the colorful sculptures of the temple.
6. Jiufen Gold Museum
In the neighboring village of Jinguashi, about 15 minutes by bus from Jiufen, is the Gold Museum. This small museum traces the mining history of the region around gold exploitation.
7. Quanji Temple (Guangong Statue)
Another cool temple to visit in Jiufen is the Quanji Temple.
It is home to a gigantic statue of Guangong, a revered figure in Chinese folklore and religion. The statue is not only a religious icon but also a work of art, reflecting the intricate craftsmanship and artistic traditions of Taiwan.
8. Golden Waterfall
The Golden Waterfall is another must-see in Jiufen!
This area was a major mining site during the gold mining era. The runoff from these mines, rich in minerals like copper and iron, now flows down the hillside, giving the waterfall its characteristic golden-brown color.
The contrast between the lush greenery of the surrounding hills and the golden-brown waters creates a stunning visual effect, especially after rainfall when the flow of the waterfall is at its peak.
9. Shengping Theater (temporarily closed)
Shengping Theater is another major attraction in Jiufen. Unfortunately, it was closed during our visit to Jiufen in late 2023…
Built in the 1930s, Shengping Theater is one of the oldest surviving theaters in Taiwan. It was constructed during the Japanese occupation and served as an entertainment hub for the miners and residents in the area.
Its design is a blend of Japanese and Western architectural styles, which was common in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period.
It is normally possible to visit the interior of the Theater which still houses some of the original equipment.
10. Yinyang Sea
It’s the first time we saw such a natural phenomenon… The sea near Jiufen has 2 very distinct colors, the blue from the sea and the brown from the river. Hence the name: Ying-Yan.
The Yinyang Sea’s unusual coloration is a result of mining activities as well. The surrounding waters are rich in minerals, including pyrite (iron sulfide), which is often referred to as “fool’s gold.” as it creates a yellowish color.
When the river reaches the sea, it creates two distinctive yellow and blue hues, which appear to be swirling together like the Yin and Yang.
The best way to view the Yin Yang Sea is from a distance, where the contrast between the blue and yellow parts of the water is most apparent. There are several viewing platforms and vantage points along the coast that offer excellent views.
Practical information about Jiufen
How to Get to Jiufen from Taipei?
Getting to Jiufen from Taipei is pretty easy and you’ve got a few options to choose from. Jiufen is located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Taipei city, in Taiwan.
By Train and Bus
- First, take a train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang Station. The train ride is about 30-40 minutes.
- Once at Ruifang, exit the station and find the bus stop nearby. Here, you can catch a bus to Jiufen. The bus ride from Ruifang to Jiufen is about 15-20 minutes.
- Buses like the 1062, 788, or 856 can get you from Ruifang to Jiufen.
As we rented our car in Taiwan (via Klook by the way – which was super smooth), it was easy for us to drive from Taipei.
It was a beautiful road trip (despite the rain the entire day…)
Join a tourKlook.com
Our Tips for Your Trip to Jiufen
As said, Jiufen can get really really crowded! This may spoil your visit a bit, as you won’t be able to enjoy it as much…
After reading so many bad comments about the crowd, we decided to spend the night at Jiufen and enjoy the place where most people would start to head back to Taipei (since it’s mostly visited on a day trip).
When we arrived at 5 pm it was still jam-packed. However, the crowd started to leave around 6 pm and by 7 pm it started to be really enjoyable.
The following morning, we also continued our visit which gave us plenty of time to explore Jiufen and its surroundings.
Where to Stay in Jiufen?
Traditional Guesthouses and B&Bs are popular in Jiufen. They offer a more personal and authentic experience. Many are refurbished old homes, giving you a taste of local life. Look for places with good views of the mountains or the sea.
H& Jiufen The Ocean Theory: This guesthouse is praised for its modern facilities and stunning ocean views, providing a luxurious stay experience.
Two Easy Inn: Known for its cozy environment, friendly hosts, and location that makes exploring Jiufen easy and convenient.
Something Easy Inn: This inn is appreciated for its simple yet elegant design, comfortable rooms, and excellent service, making for a relaxing stay.
Best Time to Visit Jiufen?
- Spring (March to May): This is a great time to visit. The weather is mild, and the rainfall is less frequent than in summer. The spring season showcases Jiufen’s natural beauty, making it perfect for exploring the town and nearby hiking trails.
- Fall (September to November): Another excellent time to visit. The weather is cool and comfortable, and the scenery is beautiful as the leaves change color. This is also a period with fewer rain showers compared to the summer months.
- Weekdays: Jiufen can get crowded, especially on weekends and public holidays. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting on a weekday.
- Off-Peak Seasons: Late fall and winter (late November to February) tend to be less crowded. However, keep in mind that it can be cooler and occasionally foggy, which can add a mystical charm to the town but might also obscure views.
- Summer (June to August): This is the rainy season, with typhoons being a possibility. While the town has a unique charm in the rain, outdoor activities might be limited.
- Winter: Winters are generally mild, but it can get quite chilly, especially in the evenings, so pack accordingly.
- Evening Visit: Regardless of the season, consider staying in Jiufen overnight. The town transforms in the evening when the day-trippers leave, and the lanterns light up, offering a more peaceful and enchanting experience.
Jiufen was on our to-do list for a long time when preparing for our trip to Taiwan.
And we are glad we did some research about this place, as it helped us to avoid the crazy crowd…
For us, spending at least one night there is a must to fully appreciate Jiufen’s unique atmosphere.
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