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Jiufen was one of the many things on my list of things to do in Taiwan. It was also one of the first things I did there. It may have actually been the first. Like what would become the norm, it was chilly and a little rainy the day I went. Its also when I started to hate umbrellas. Everyone in Taiwan uses them. Everyone. And I just so happen to be the right height when walking through a sea of them, I have to duck unless I wanted to lose an eye.
Thankfully I made it out with both eyes intact. I also made it out with a new realization that I don’t really like jelly foods, which was unfortunate because they were everywhere. The Jiufen Old Street is a little alley that branches off throughout the hills of the town.
There’s something sort of magical about the hills and the fog and rain, which you will probably encounter if you’re visiting Taiwan in the winter. It’s such a contradiction to what’s happening on the Old Street. Hundreds of people squeezing by each other, trying to get into the shops, and enough selfies to last a lifetime, or at least until tomorrow at the next place.
Despite the crowds, I end up going back three more times for a total of four visits. The drive up is a little terrifying. It was one of the few times I felt like I was on the Knight Bus in Harry Potter. It’s totally worth it, but I would maybe recommend getting a cab back to the Ruifang train station especially if you get carsick or if you have people to split it with. It’s only a couple hundred Taiwan Dollars. Definitely, take some Dramamine before going.
Also, I didn’t know it at the time, but Jiufen is the inspiration for the beginning of Spirited Away. I hadn’t seen it (I won’t lie, I still haven’t after updating this in 2019) but I might have to now. So, if it looks familiar, that might be why.
How to get from Taipei to Jiufen
It’s super easy to get from Taipei to Jiufen. First, you’ll want to get to Taipei Main Station on the MRT from wherever you are. Then, take a train (NT$60) to Ruifang station. The trains to Ruifang leave pretty frequently so you don’t need to book ahead. You can buy the ticket at one of the little ticket stations or at the window from a person. Once you get to Ruifang, go out to the front of the train station, cross the street, turn left, walk a few minutes and wait at the bus stop just past the police station for bus 827, 856, or 788 (NT$20). There are usually quite a few people already waiting there, it’s pretty easy to find. You can ask the driver to make sure it’s going to Jiufen, too. I’ve been finding mixed signals on specific bus numbers. You’ll get off on one of the last stops.
You can also take a bus directly from Taipei to Jiufen. Go to the Zhongxiao Fuxing Station and go out through exit 2. Take Keelung Bus 1062 towards Jinguashi and get out at the Jiufen stop. This will be about NT$100.
What to do in Jiufen
There are plenty of things to do in Jiufen to keep you busy on a day trip from Taipei. These are some of the best things to do in Jiufen.
Visit the Jiufen Old Street
This is what most people come to Jiufen to see. The Jiufen Old Street is a narrow pedestrian street with twisting alleyways branching off in all directions. It’s full of shops, restaurants, and tea houses and can keep you busy all day. You’ll also be rewarded with stellar coastal views, as long as it’s not too rainy.
Enjoy the views from a tea house
I think I’m biased because I went to it twice, but I think the teahouse in the header picture of this post is the best. It’s what you see in the majority of pictures of Jiufen and it’s easy to find and has wonderful views of the coast. This one is Amei Teahouse. Skyline Tea House and Jiufen Tea House are two other great options. You can also just walk around and find them scattered around. Sunset is a great time to visit Amei Tea House.
Try all the snacks
Just pop in and out of the shops to try all the different candies, sweets, noodles, fish balls, noodles, and seafood snacks as you wander. You can also enjoy snacks with your tea.
Visit the temples
There are a few temples in Jiufen that are great to visit. The most well-known temple in Jiufen is Fushan Temple. You can find a few others by walking up the main hill outside of the old street.
This is a great hike to make a combo day trip from Taipei. Before or after Jiufen, spend some time hiking to the waterfall in Shifen. Its one of the most famous waterfalls in Taiwan and, thankfully, it’s easy to get to.
Hike Teapot Mountain
This is a great option as its own day trip from Taipei or in addition to a day trip to Jiufen. Hiking Teapot Mountain in Jinguashi will take a couple of hours and is the perfect way to spend the morning before going to Jiufen. It’s just a short bus ride away. You’ll have awesome views over the coast and cities below. I’d say it’s a moderate hike, but it has a lot of steps which kick my butt. It’s totally worth it though.
If you don’t want to go to Jiufen on your own, you can do a Jiufen and Shifen day trip, too.
Where to stay in Jiufen
There are plenty of options for accommodation in Jiufen. Here are some of the hotels in Jiufen and here are the hostels in Jiufen. You can also stay in Taipei and visit Jiufen as a day trip. I loved Meander Taipei Hostel in Taipei and will definitely stay there again when I go back.
What to eat in Jiufen
I would just recommend walking around and trying all kinds of different things as you go. You can try little dried shrimps, taro ball soup (hot or cold), snacks with your tea, noodles of different sorts, fish soup and fish balls, gluttonous rice cakes, Taiwanese sausages, and tea eggs, just to name a few.
I hope this helps you plan your trip to Jiufen and that you enjoy it! I liked it so much I ended up visiting four times in my month in Taipei. It’s definitely busy, so prepare for that, but definitely, don’t skip it.
Have you been to Jiufen? What did you think of it? Do you want to go?