Jiufen is an old mountain village in Ruifang District of New Taipei City, and has perhaps the best old street in all of Taiwan, with authentic Taiwanese food, sloping steps, traditional Chinese architecture, and great views of Su Ao and Keelung Harbors. There are also multiple historical sights within the town. The entire village is built on a mountain slope, so that you can enjoy views of Taiwan's north coast from basically anywhere in the city.
Jiufen gets its name from the original nine families who settled in the village during the Qing dynasty, who asked for nine portions of shipments every time they arrived (九Jiu=nine 份Fen=portion). The discovery of gold in the area created a gold rush in the town that lasted until the last Japense Era. When gold mining ended in 1971, the town began to decay. After A City of Sadness was filmed there, the town began to see a tourist boom. Also the town began to see many visitors especially from Japan after 2001 due to the resemblance of the town in Spirited Away, even though Miyazaki has said that Jiufen was not inspiration for the movie.
Around 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM
How to get There:
By Train: Take TRA to Ruifang Station, then transfer to Keelung Bus which goes directly to Jiufen every few minutes (about a 15 minute ride from Ruifang).
By Bus: Buses directly to Jiufen leave from Taipei Main Station and Songshan Station regularly.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 to Ruifang and then travel on highway 102 all the way up to Jiufen. Parking is scarce and some of the most expensive in Taiwan. Expect at least 250 NT per day for a car and 50 NT per day for a scooter.
You can book a tour to Jiufen Old Street with My Taiwan Tour here.
Please see below:
Jiufen sits on the side of a mountain near Keelung on the northern edge of Taiwan. On a sunny day, you can see Jiufen sitting on the mountain from Keelung or Su Ao.
I have been to Jiufen three times, once by bus and twice by scooter, and I have never been disappointed.
View of Jiufen as we approach it up the mountain.
The main entrance to Jiufen Old Street is next to the 7-11 at a curve in the road, although you can come at it from any angle.
Jiufen Old Street is actually huge, with long windy streets and alleyways that can take you all day to fully explore.
Characters from Spirited Away shamelessly on display in one of the first shops we walked by.
The main entrance to the old street which features a covered roof.
A fancy Taiwan beef noodle shop right at the entrance.
Jiufen Douhua (豆花，jellied tofu) and red bean/taro ball soup, a Jiufen delicacy.
Dried tofu（Dougan 豆乾）, another Jiufen delicacy.
Laoyouhao Taro Balls (老友號芋圓）
The place I have always gone to when visiting Jiufen is Laoyouhao Taro Balls (老友號芋圓）
Some of the ingredients you can choose for either a sweet soup or sweet ice treat, such as starch balls, jellies, taro, sweet potato, and tapioca among others.
The usually price is 50 NT per bowl, which is a cheap treat for Jiufen.
If there are not a lot of people, you can enjoy an amazing view out back.
Not to mention a delicious taro and sweet potato ball ice, mixed with starch balls and peanuts.
Another view from the restaurant balcony, which many Jiufen restaurants offer.
View looking inside the restaurant.
Full view of the Keeling Harbor and Jiufen from the restaurant.
Some pedestrians walking on the street below.
Inside you can stay out of the rain and enjoy some shopping.
Here you can find Taiwanese traditional malt candy and souvenirs.
Azhu Burning Snow 阿珠雪在燒
You can also try Azhu Burning Snow (阿珠雪在燒) which is like an ice cream burrito with peanut brittle inside.
Every roll is 40 NT, which is a pretty good price for a tourist trap like this one.
Too many treats for one to blog, including multiple sausage restaurants and stalls.
Fried oyster mushrooms that look delicious.
Rain gear on sale for a steal.
Here is where things get out hand. 45 NT for a pork bun? Don't waste your money, even if some sausage is stuffed in there.
Ahlan Herbal Rice Cakes 阿蘭 草仔粿
Ahlan Herbal Rice Cakes 阿蘭草仔粿 are also a must try delicacy. They are traditional Hakka cuisine, and I don't know exactly how to pronounce them in Hakka. At 15 NT per cake, they truly are a must eat 必吃. People that come here line up and buy them by the box full.
Peanut flavored rice cake.
Red bean flavored rice cake. Delicious!
Chinese paintings for sale.
More Spirited Away memorabilia. But Jiufen is not the inspiration you say, well no one cares. The people at Jiufen are still making bank because of that film.
More memorabilia shops, including Star Wars?
Rouyuan (肉圓), another Jiufen delicacy made of gluttonous rice and pork. They somewhat resemble pork buns.
A typical view down one of Jiufen's streets.
View of Jiufen at the end of one of the alleyways. Notice the restaurants set up on the mountainside, all with great views of the scenery below.
People clamoring to get a selfie with the road sign and Keelung Harbor in the background.
People enjoying one of the restaurants with a view.
More people enjoying an afternoon dessert with a great view.
Iconic Jiufen steps and hanging lanterns.
Another traditional Taiwanese candy and novelty shop.
Steamed pork buns for a whopping 30 NT per bun. Not the cheapest.
More steps to the top of the old street.
Jiufen Elementary School 九份國小
I imagine on week days the views from Jiufen Elementary School 九份國小 are amazing. However on weekends the school is closed.
Shengming Temple 聖明宮
Right next to the elementary school is Shengming Temple 聖明宮, which also has an amazing view.
And...free scooter parking! If only I would have known I could have saved 50 NT on scooter parking, which is the most expensive I have ever seen in Taiwan.
Cats hanging out on the roof below the temple.
I guess the cats of Jiufen are a thing.
Looking up a random alley in Jiufen.
Looking down Jiufen's steps.
Another view of Jiufen's steps with the ocean in view.
An exhibition showing Jiufen's coal and gold mining history.
Traditional Chinese restaurant near the middle of the Old Street.
View looking up the main steps.
Shengping Theater 昇平戲院
Another cool place to see in Jiufen is Shengping Theater 昇平戲院, which takes you back in time to the heyday of small movie theaters in Taiwan. I was surprised to see that the most prolific urbex and theater blogger in Taiwan Alexander Synaptic has not covered this one yet. I guess because it is no longer a ruin.
"The Shengping theater was called originally the Shengping Stage set up in the 9th year of Emporer Shiawa (1934). In 1961, the Shengping stage reconstructed once more and the building materials were hollow bricks to build walls. Chinese cypress that the best one as the roof's structure with firs tacked on it, laid asphalt and bushed tar, it covers an area of 660 square meters. Its architecture belongs to the Baroque imitated style which was the most popular during the Japanese occupation time. Inside the theater, there were six-seat style seating can be opened that were put in of U-shape. The cornerstone were hexagonal. The items on the programs included movies, Taiwanese Opera, New Opera, Palmardrama and so on. The theater's front square, called the entrance of stage was surrounded with the shops, commodity supply depots, in a scene of bustle and excitement."
The original ticket booth.
The original projector on display.
The restored movie hall that has free movies playing all day long!
Era treats on display. I guess alcohol and cigarettes were items of choice.
Another view of Su'ao and Keeling from Jiufen.
Mr. Stone Lee's Postcards
For another cool souvenir, you can check out Mr. Lee's hand painted post cards of Taiwan.
Also, there is a gold museum in one of these houses. I didn't go but I thought their advertisements were a bit obnoxious.
Small alley leading back to the main street.
Deep fried ice cream sandwiches! What could be better?
Finally our tour of Jiufen had come to an end. We made our way back through the bottleneck at the entrance.
Down the street near the bus stop there is a pavilion where you can see more great views.
View of Jiufen on a sunny day.
Keelung Mountain 基隆山
Right next to Jiufen is Keelung Mountain, 基隆山, which is a popular hike for Instagrammers. I have not been on the hike yet but hopefully I will go someday.
Last view of Su'Ao and Keelung Harbors before we made our way into the mountains of Jinguashi.
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