Jiufen Taiwan
CULTURAL TRAVEL,  FEATURES,  Northern Taiwan,  Taiwan

Get Spirited Away by the Village of Jiufen in Taiwan

[Updated 2019]

You only need to visit Jiufen once to see the magic in this place. Jiufen is a small mountain village located in the Ruifang District of New Taipei City.

ACCESSIBILITY: POOR for people with mobility issues.

Since this site is based on the travels of a traveler with mobility issues, please note that Jiufen is not an accessible location for people with mobility issues. There are a lot of stairs and the streets are cobblestone.

The Village of Jiufen

The village was once home to nine families in the Qing Dynasty, and was named Jiufen for the number of shipments that were delivered to the town. (Jiu means the number nine in Chinese, and fen is a measure word for a portion of something.) Nine portions were always requested whenever shipments were delivered to the village, and the name stuck.


Jiufen Toaist Temple

Jiufen Taiwan

In addition to being one of the prettiest towns in Northern Taiwan, Jiufen is special because of its location. The mountain roads leading to Jiufen are narrow, steep, and winding; and the village itself is set atop a mountain and offers stunning views of the ocean.

There is gold hidden in these mountains, and the discovery of it in 1893 lead to Jiufen’s first gold rush. This sparked an interest in its development as a proper town. The gold rush reached its peak during the Japanese rule, and that is why you can still see so many Japanese inns in the area today. Many of the buildings there have remained unchanged.

The mine was closed in 1971 and Juifen started to fade back into obscurity.

Jiufen became famous once again when it became associated with two films

The 1989 film A City of Sadness was filmed in Juifen, and the village experienced a revival owing to the film’s success. In the early 1990s, Jiufen experienced a tourist boom because of how it was portrayed in A City of Sadness, and much of what was built back then to accommodate the tourist industry is still there today.

In 2001, Studio Ghibli released a Japanese animation film called Spirited Away. The movie is about a young girl who moves with her family to a new home and enters a spirit world. And thus, if you have seen this film, this is why you will see so many souvenirs and food items that resemble what can be seen in the movie.

Jiufen is known for its distinctive red lanterns and cobblestone stairways, and its small alleys and lanes that hold untold treasures. It’s also home to lots of cool little retro style Chinese and Japanese teahouses, cafés and restaurants.

Back in the day, these teahouses were very popular with Taiwanese writers and artists, many of which hold articles of historical significance. People come here to purchase beautiful handmade ceramics as well as high quality tea.

Jiufen Puppets

Jiufen Paint Brushes

Jiufen Shopping

Jiufen Old Street 2

Jiufen at NightCan you spot my husband?

My favorite part of Jiufen, other than the architecture and scenery, is the same as it is in every small town in Taiwan: the food.

Food in Jiufen

Fresh deep-fried squid, roasted golden King mushrooms, seafood, chewy taro balls, and fresh tea can be found everywhere. The Food stands on Old Jinshan Street and Shuqi Road serve delectable Taiwanese snacks.

One of the charming things about living in Taiwan is that every city/town/village has its only speciality. Taichung is famous for its sun cakes, Penghu is famous for its cactus ice cream and brown sugar candies, and Jiufen is known for its delightfully chewy taro balls. This is a must-try in Jiufen, and there are plenty of taro ball dessert shops on this street.

The most famous is Grandma Lai’s Taro Ball Shop.

Jiufen Food Stands

Jiufen Chewy Taro BallsJiufen’s chewy taro balls

Jiufen - Deep Fried Squid

Deep fried squidCaleb in Jiufen Taiwan

Grilled Snails

Grilled King Mushrooms in Jiufen TaiwanKing mushrooms

Jiufen Restaurant

Jishan Old Street

Jiufen Old Street snakes through most of the village, and this is where you can find the best shopping. There is a diverse array of local handicrafts and souvenirs on sale here, and there are a number of specialty shops that sell bamboo artwork, wood handicrafts, and children’s toys.

Calligraphy Shop in Jiufen

There are also many shops that sell local snacks and dishes. The fried squid is amazing. Local fishermen bring it in fresh every day, and it practically melts in your mouth. Even Caleb loved it. (This is saying something, since it’s practically unheard of for a 7-year-old North American boy to like squid.)

There are numerous restaurants in the area that offer outdoor patio seating – The perfect place to sit and watch the sun set over the ocean. Once darkness arrives, the village falls under the light of its warm, soft, red lanterns.

Jiufen Teahouse

Caleb enters a kitschy little teahouse to see what kind of view they have from the patio. We approve!

Jiufen View

Shuqi Road

Whenever you see photos of Jiufen, you are likely looking at photos of Shuqi Road. This road consists of a number of stairways with teahouses, curry shops, and art retailers to be found on each side.

People come to Jiufen to walk along this famous street and to take photos.

Shuqi Road in Jiufen

Jiufen's Shuqi Road

Jiufen Underground

Things To Do in Jiufen:

Visitors don’t just go to Jiufen for the atmosphere, shopping, and the food, although shopping on Jiufen Old Street is probably the main reason why people visit Jiufen.

  • You can also go hiking on nearby Mt. Keelung
  • The Jiufen Kite Museum displays beautiful kites from all over the world. Classes are available for visitors that want to try their own hand at kite making
  • Enjoy traditional Taiwanese tea at a local teahouse
  • Visit the Gold Museum and learn about Jiufen’s history as a gold-mining town
  • Spend some time in Jinguashi Park
  • Stay at a local inn and enjoy the evening. Wake up the next morning and have breakfast in view of the ocean

To Get There:

  • Take the train to Reuifang Station on the TRA Yilan Line. From there, you can catch a local bus across the street from the train station. Look for the bus stop next to the Welcome Mart and board the Keelung Transit Bus heading to Jiufen.
  • Buses depart from several points in and around Taipei and from Keelung.
  • Zhongxiao Fuxing Exit 1 – Take bus1062 (Keelung) to Jiufen.
  • Wait in front of the pavilion next to the 7-11 to catch the bus home. The 7-11 is next to the Jishan Street Entrance.
  • The journey takes one and two hours by public transport

I'm a chronically ill Canadian who has been living in Taiwan since 2006. I'm a bit of a jack of all trades! I love art, gardening, flower arranging, reading (that's an understatement if you've seen my GoodReads profile), and snuggling with my cats. Animal videos make me cry. I hate cooking. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my garden bloom! Learning about new cultures and exploring the world has been my thing since I started traveling at age 19. A self-professed autodidact, I can speak comfortably on many different subjects and hold a special place in my heart for science, technology, law, health and medicine, and history. You can find me nerding out at home most of the time due to being chronically ill and housebound. If I'm not engaged in one of the activities listed above, I'm probably building websites. Check my About page under Carrie Kellenberger to learn why I'm taking you on this journey with me through My Several Worlds. I can't wait to get to know you better!

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