If you are staying more than a couple of days in Taipei I highly recommend you to spend some time in Jiufen, a nice traditional taiwanese village located two hours away from Taipei.
Although Jiufen was founded during the Quing Dynasty, it became popular when gold was discovered in the area. The gold industry carried this city industry until the 60´s. From the 90´s onwards, this gold mine town became really popular among tourists.
The name Jiufen (Chiufen – EN: nine pieces) comes from an ancient legend. Regarding this legend, nine families used to live in this town. Since going to the market was a huge inconvenient due to the lack of transportation the nine families came to an agreement; whenever one family went to buy groceries at the market, they would have to divide them into nine pieces, each for each family.
Jiufen Old Street
Located within hills, next to the mountains and facing the ocean, Jiufen Old Street is known for its foggy weather and its beautiful views. The street is full of local snack vendors, traditional products and souvenirs stores.
Among the various snack vendors you can find some Jiufen traditional food such as taro balls, fried meat balls and taro cake. In addition, chinese tea houses are really popular among both locals and tourists.
Instead of having lunch on the street surrounded by locals and thousand of tourists – be careful, Jiufen is so trendy that its old street is usually crowded with people in the noon time, especially on the weekends- we decided to stop in a nice cafeteria with natural juices and beautiful views.
Temples in Jiufen
Jiufen is not only a touristic old street. If you are curious enough, I highly recommend you walk up the main road to the top of the hill.
On the way you will find a first temple – which was full of locals praying and some tourists – and at the top of the hill you will find a second one, – to find this temple you may need to get yourself lost among all the tiny Jiufen non-touristic roads. This is quite an adventure! and locals are so nice…! :). Sadly, I don´t know the name of this second temple, however, I still remember the peaceful, good vibes that we could feel up there. In fact, we were alone in the temple, no locals and no tourists. A heaven of peace!
Another interesting – and really well-known – temple is Fushan Temple. This 200 years old temple is dedicated to Tudigong, the God of Earth, and it is an interesting blend of Japanese, Chinese and Western elements.
How to get to Jiufen?
There are two different possibilities to reach Jiufen from Taipei:
Train to Riufang and then bus to Jiufen From Taipei Main Station – Take a train to Riufang – the views during the trip are really interesting. Once you reach Riufang, leave the train station behind you and go straight, cross the main square and turn left. After a 5 minutes walk – you can always stop at a local vendor to buy some tasty tea – you will reach the bus stop. Don´t worry, you won´t get lost! All tourists are walking the same direction 😉 There you will find all the information related to the bus and its schedule.
Direct bus to Jiufen – Apparently there is a direct bus from Taipei to Jiufen. At that time we were recommended to take the train, so we could make other stops if we wanted to.
The bus starts at Zhongxiao Taipei Station and it drives you directly to Jiufen Old Street.
Have you ever been to Jiufen?
This ancient gold-miner town is a once in a lifetime must-see place. Although it is becoming too touristic, this place maintain some ancient charm that makes it special.
I highly recommend you to escape the town bustle to climb the hill, to reach the highest temple of Jiufen and to enjoy a moment of peace staring at the sea. It is a good idea to reconnect with yourself and to recharge some energies while contemplating an amazing view.