Jiufen Old Street is a charming and historic alleyway located in the mountainous region of New Taipei City, Taiwan. Known for its narrow lanes, traditional architecture, and local delicacies, Jiufen Old Street is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
Jiufen (九份 or Jioufen), a mountaintop former gold mining town on the northeast coast of Taiwan. Is one of the most popular day trips from Taipei. Visitors and people who live in Taipei flock to Jiufen Old Street because it encapsulates the best of Taiwan in one small package: rich history, atmospheric lanes and teahouses, breathtaking views, and distinctly Taiwanese snacks at every turn. If you’re planning a trip to the country, chances are you’ve already got Jiufen Old Street on your Taiwan travel itinerary.
In the Qing Dynasty (1636-1911), Jiufen was a tiny, isolated village with nine families who would request jiu fen (九分) or “nine portions” when ships arrived.
Gold was discovered in the area in the 1890s, resulting in a gold rush, and Jiufen developed as a gold boomtown. Jiufen peaked during the Japanese colonial occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945).
The town’s layout was dense, with building practically built on top of one another. Many Japanese inns from that era survive today. During WWII, the town was used as a POW camp. And after the war, the gold industry declined, with the mine closed in 1971.
Nearby, Jinguashi suffered the same fate as Jiufen. Today is the Gold Ecological Park site, commonly visited in combination with Jiufen.
Many sources have claimed Jiufen is the village that inspired Spirited Away. But it was never confirmed whether it has a connection to the movie. Miyazaki has flat-out denied it, saying many places inspired the village. But if you have seen the movie, the red lanterns all over Jiufen will look familiar. And if you haven’t seen the movie – what are you waiting for? Do yourself a favor and watch it now!
From Taipei, Jiufen can be easily reached by many options: public transport, shuttle bus, or by taxi.
1. By Taxi
Taking a taxi from Taipei to Juifen will cost you about TWD 1,200-1,400 (US$38-45) and the ride will take less than an hour. If you are traveling in a group of 4 people, this is the best option. The cost per person is not that much more compared to the bus and it gets you there faster.
Ensure your driver knows where they are going – we got taken to Keelung instead. Although, our driver was very nice about it and drove us to the right place without charging extra. Show this place on google map and make sure to highlight these characters: 九份老街, which means Jiufen Old Street.
2. By Private Car Charter
Booking a Private Car is probably the best and most cost-effective way to go if you are traveling in a group and want to have a driver that can wait for you and your group for the entire day.
- Book a straightforward charter from Taipei to Jiufen – Book a Private charter here.
- If you have a few other spots you want to go to aside from Jiufen, you can book this sightseeing car for 8 hours! You can also ask them to stop at any locations along the way and they have suggested itineraries you can follow too! – Book a Sightseeing Car here
3. By Train and Bus
Taking public transportation will take 1.5 hours and cost TWD 113. Take the MRT blue line to Zhongxiao Fuxing Station Exit 1, then take bus 1062 to Jiufen Old Street Station. Check the bus 1062 timetable here and note the last departure, usually at 18:40.
4. By Shuttle Bus and Tours (includes other places too)
Alternatively, you can book a shuttle bus tour which will take you to other places in Taiwan too – such as Shifen waterfall and Shifen Old Street. If you are keen on visiting Yehliu, you can consider this tour: Yehliu, Jiufen, and Shifen Day Tour (click this link to book). These are great options to save time if you want to see more outside of Taipei. Jiufen Old Street is quite small and can be explored in under 2 hours, so check out other places, too, if you have the time!
How to go back to Taipei from Jiufen
Going back to Taipei from Jiufen is easy since it’s a popular tourist place. You can take the same route as I’ve described above in reverse. If you want to take a taxi back, fret not – plenty of taxis will be waiting to take you back to Taipei.
If you plan to take the bus, check the bus 1062 timetables here and note the last departure time so you are not stranded in Jiufen.
1. Walk along the Jiufen Old Street
The Jiufen Old Street is a narrow alleyway with small food stalls, tea houses, souvenir shops, and pottery stores. Not gonna lie, if you expect an idyllic calm experience you won’t find it in Jiufen. This alley will be jam-packed with people since it’s the main thing to do in Jiufen. But go with the flow and explore any shops that catch your eye.
2. Visit the famous Lantern Tea House and alley
This is the spot you’ve all been waiting for – the richly decorated tea house of Jiufen. The most picturesque one that you is in all photos depicting Jiufen is A-Mei Teahouse. This multi-story tea house is strategically located just a little off the main street, perched atop a hill. From their balcony, you can admire the picturesque view in front of you, Keelung Mountain to the right and the Northern shores of Taiwan on the left.
But if you don’t care to have tea there, skip to my next point!
3. Visit a Tea House and chill out there for awhile
Although the most photographed teahouse is definitely A-Mei Teahouse, we opted to chill out at a quieter teahouse since I didn’t make a reservation. We went to a place (with a very original name) called Jiufen Teahouse. It was right off the main alley and doesn’t look much from the front, but once you get in, you’ll see that it’s very beautiful and it has a nice open balcony in the back.
Happy to say we were one of the few patrons there. We were seated outside on the balcony, so we were able to enjoy the view with our tea. Although it was probably not as good as the view from A-Mei, I still enjoyed my time there very much.
4. Eat all the good Taiwanese food and snacks
What’s a trip to Taiwan without trying local food? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are some dishes you can try in Jiufen:
Braised Pork Rice (Lu Rou Fan) is a very simple but comforting dish, consisting of small cubes of braised pork marinated in thick, dark gravy sauce, served over piping hot steamed rice. (Learn more about Lu Rou Fan in my Taiwanese food post)
Taro Ball Soup is one of the most famous snacks in Jiufen. The taro balls are famous because they are the perfect chewy texture – not too soft and not too hard. You can have it steamed hot or served cold over ice with kidney beans. By the way, this is actually dessert – it’s very common in Asian countries to have beans as part of sweet dishes.
A-zhu Peanut Ice Cream is yet another item you must have in Jiufen. Located on the main old street, you won’t miss it since there would already be a queue forming along this small stall. It is basically a thin crepe-like layer filled with ground peanuts and balanced with two scoops of ice cream. Super delicious! I loved the contrast of the wet ice cream texture and the dry ground peanuts.
5. Jiufen was a Gold mining town
Before finding its status as a tourist attraction, Jiufen was a gold mining town in the world war days. Keep your eyes peeled for the mining tunnels, remnants of the mining days. One is located right next to A-Mei Teahouse and serves as a quaint entrance to Taiwan Sweet Potato Teahouse.
If you want to learn more about Jiufen’s history as a mining town, visit Jiufen Gold Ore Museum.
6. Hike up Mount Teapot
This is a very popular hiking trail close to Jiufen. If you want to do this hike, you’ll want to be dropped off at Quanji Temple. Bus 1062 that I talked about, will take you from Taipei to both Jiufen and Quanji Temple, which is the last stop for the bus.
In conclusion, Jiufen Old Street is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Taiwan. Its rich history, charming architecture, and delicious food offer all visitors a unique and memorable experience.