Jinguashi is a small village in Ruifang District in New Taipei, famous for its now defunct mines. Here you can explore the Gold Mine Musuem, touch a multi-million dollar gold ingot, see golden waterfalls, go on some of the best hikes in Taiwan, check out the old mining town, see Japanese era historic sites, and explore abandoned mining sites.
In 1890 during the Qing Dynasty, gold was found in the Keelung River during the construction of Taiwan's first railroad, which led to a small gold rush. Gold seams were eventually found in the mountains behind Jiufen around what is today Jinguashi.
The name Jinguashui (金瓜石 Jīnguāshí), literally meaning "Gold Gourd Stone" comes from the shape of the nearby Keelung Mountain, which resembled a Pumpkin "Nánguā 南瓜" to early settlers, and the fact that early gold miners found lots of little gold seams resembling small gourds.
After Taiwan was colonized by the Japanese in 1895, the Japanese quickly took control of the mines at Jinguashi, banning locals from owning mining rights. They quickly found many more copper and gold seams, and Jinguashi became the number one gold mine in the Japanese empire.
During WWI, the mine came upon difficult times, and mining rights were passed to what is now Japan Energy, who built the 13 level complex that sits abandoned today. By 1938 it had become the most profitable gold mine in Asia, and population grew to over 80,000.
During WWII, the mining operations switched from gold to copper, and the area was used as a POW camp.
After the ROC took Taiwan, the mines were used mainly for copper, as the cost of refining gold was too high. The Chalet built for the crown prince of Japan at Jinguashi was later used by Chiang Kai-shek. After worldwide copper prices collapsed in the 1980s, the mine shut down for good in 1987. After that, people moved out of the town, and Jinguashi has a population of just about 2,000 people.
Later mining initiatives have been met with strong criticism from environmentalists.
In 2004, the New Taipei City Gold Mine Museum was completed, using several abandoned mining sites near Jinguashi, making it a popular tourist attraction in the area.
Gold Mine Museum Hours:
9:30 AM to 5 PM, closed Mondays
Gold Mine Museum Price:
80 NT per person (Free for New Taipei Residents)
How to get There:
By Train: Take TRA to Ruifang Station, then transfer to Keelung Bus which goes directly to Jinguashi every few minutes (about a 15 minute ride from Ruifang).
By Bus: Buses directly to Jinguashi leave from Taipei Main Station, Taipei City Hall, and Songshan Station regularly via Keelung Bus.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 to Ruifang and then travel on highway 102 all the way up to Jiufen, then go over the mountain and keep going down to Jinguashi. Parking is scarce, and if you drive a car you need to park at the bottom of the hill and take the bus up to the gold mine museum. There is free scooter parking at the entrance.
You can book a tour with My Taiwan Tour here.
Please see below:
In this blog we will explore:
First off, to give you an idea of the surrounding area, check out the drone footage of Jinshui Road above. If you don't want to waste your internet, you can check out the 3D photo below.
Also you can check out our drone footage of the abandoned 13 levels above. There is also a 3D photo below.
I have been to Jinguashi three times, but have only actually been inside the gold museum once. It is definitely a worthwhile and unique experience, especially to touch a multi-million dollar gold ingot.
Most people coming to Jinguashi come from Jiufen, but the view coming from Shuangxi is pretty amazing too.
Mt Keelung 基隆山
Mt Keelung is a great hike in between Jiufen and Jinguanshi, with great views of the surrounding area all along the trail.
The trail goes right up the side of the mountain and there are pavilions to rest at all along the way.
Closeup of one of the pavilions.
You can also see Keelung Harbor from here.
Closeup on downtown Jinguashi.
On weekends, traffic here can be pretty bad. You might want to consider taking the bus. Many of the roads are only one lane and can get clogged easily.
Tons of rain coming down the mountain after a downpour.
There is no car parking near the gold mine, you have to park down the hill and take the bus up to Jinguashi Bus Station.
Near the bus station are many Japanese era houses left over from the Japanese colonization of Taiwan.
There is also plenty of historical info for each building along the way.
The gold mine museum is up some stairs to the right of the bus station.
There is also a cool "old street" ish feel here, even though it is not an official old street. There is a pedestrian old street down the hill called Qitang Old Street (祈堂老街) which has a rainbow staircase. I'll have to go back and check it out.
Some info about historical buildings in the area, such as Taiyang Mining Company Ruifang Office, Weng Shan-ying's former residence, Jinguashi water diversion system...
...Taiyang Mining company tunnel, Jinguashi crown prince chalet, Jinguashi Shinto Shrine, Shuinandong Smelter (aka thirteen levels), Benshan No.6 Tunnel, and Dormitory of the Director of Jinguashi Mine Office.
Some metal ore coming out of the rock here.
A restaurant near the end of the street.
In front of the restaurant is a cool photo op with some fake gold.
Japanese Era dormitory.
Jinguashi Crown Prince Chalet 金瓜石太子賓館
"Jinguashi Crown Prince Chalet was built in 1922 and is considered one of the finest surviving wooden Japanese buildings in Taiwan. It was uilt by Takana Mining Co. to host the Crown Prince Hirohito (later Emporer Showa) during a planned visit to inspect the mining industry in the Jingushi area. The Crown Prince Chalet is a typical high-class Japanese house built with Taiwan red false-cypress, adopting the configuration as "the form of flying wild geese." It was designated as a monument of New Taipei City on March 14, 2007, and the garden only is open to the public."
So you can't go inside, you can only admire it from the outside. Some say that the crown prince never stayed here. Later it was used as a retreat for Chiang Kai-shek.
Another view of the era Japanese buildings near the gold mine on a rainy day.
There is also a nice courtyard near the gold mine here.
And there are restaurants and tea shops all over.
Another Japanese era building.
Tea shop with no one on a rainy day.
Old mining tracks leading to Benshan Mine No. 5.
The tracks lead directly to the gold mine museum.
Old air compressor on display.
Drawing of the air compressor that supplied power to drills in the mine.
Benshan Mine and the precipitation tank used to refine copper.
The gold mine museum lies in front of the mine.
View of the entrance to Benshan Mine No. 5 (本山五坑), a former gold mine, which is open for tours.
Helmets are required.
View inside Benshan Mine No. 5.
Figurines of miners in the cave.
An actual gold seem visible to the naked eye.
More manikin miners.
After you check out the gold mine, be sure to check out the gold mine museum.
The highlight of the museum is definitely touching this multi million dollar gold ingot, which at the time of the photo was worth 267,884,800 TWD or 8.9 million USD.
There is also more to explore near the mueum...
...such as this other compressor on display.
View of part of the Jinguashi water diversion system, which dates back to the Qing Dynasty.
Statue to the miners who died in the gold mines at Jinguashi.
Another view of Mt. Keeling and Jinguashi.
From near the mine, you can walk up the steps to the Jinguashi Shinto shrine, not featured in this blog.
Near the museum are lots of hikes among the jagged rocks.
Teapot Mountain 茶壺山
The most popular hike in the area is teapot mountain, which is literally shaped like a teapot, and has great view of the surrounding area.
View of Stegosaurus ridge (劍龍稜) and Saw Ridge (鋸齒稜), which are two other awesome and scary hikes higher up.
View of Baoshishan 報時山 Lookout.
There are also some great views from Jingming Pavilion (景明亭).
View from Jingmingting.
Jinshui Road 金水公路
View of Jinshui Road, the winding road that goes from the ocean up to Jinguashi. Even though it is one lane, buses still come up and down this thing constantly.
View from above via drone.
View of the Yinyang Sea "陰陽海," due to impurities in the runoff from the old mines.
Another view of the Yinyang Sea and Jinshui Road.
Golden Waterfalls 黃金瀑布
Another popular sight here is the golden waterfalls, which are colored gold because of the mine and mineral runoff collected as the water moves through old mines.
There is room to stop and take a photo from the side of the road.
Another view of the falls.
13 Levels Ruins十三層遺址
View of the 13 levels from the parking lot near the coast. The best place to see the thirteen levels though is from Changren Park (常仁公園) to the left.
View of the thirteen levels via drone.
The thirteen levels smelter, also known as "Shuinandong Smelter 水南洞選練厰" or Potala Palace of Mountain Mines. The smelter was built in 1933 by the Japanese to smelt copper and gold harvested from the Jinguashi mines. During WWII, POWs were stationed here to work in the mines. It was then taken over by the ROC after WWII, and shut down after mining activity stopped in the1981. Nowadays it is has one of the most popular abandoned sites in Taiwan.
Even the above blog is not a complete version of Jinguashi. Every time I come to this tiny part of Taiwan I discover three more places I want to visit here. Here are some of the places we missed here that we would still like to visit:
And much much more. There are so many abandoned structures, mines, and beautiful hikes and views in the area that Jinguashi is worth exploring for days.
Nearby, there are also tons of other places to explore once you are on the coast, like Bitou Cape (鼻頭角) pictured above.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more blogs on northern Taiwan!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.