By Azure Lee
Northeast Taiwan's mountains are home to the charming village of Jiufen (also known as Jioufen and Chiufen). During Japanese colonization, it once functioned as a mining town. This was due to the past abundance of gold in Jiufen Village.
But, due to its distinctive architecture, interesting history, and alluring views, this charming seaside town has recently gained popularity as a tourist attraction. Jiufen Village is known for its old structures that take you back in time and its winding staircases adorned with crimson lanterns.
If you love hiking or are interested in history, it might be a terrific weekend getaway. Jiufen is also a foodie's paradise with its countless street food selections and lively Taiwanese markets.
Our Jiufen Village Taiwan travel guide will provide you with the greatest information for planning your trip to this lovely seaside island village.
Northeast Taiwan's mountains are home to the charming village of Jiufen
What Is Jiufen Known For?
Jiufen once was gold city of Asia and called little Shanghai or little Hong Kong. It is situated in Taiwan's northeastern hills. The village faces the sea and is situated adjacent to a mountain.
Jiufen, however, dwindles as gold mining activity wanes. Eventually, several filmmakers made the decision to film here, and the films received praise on a global scale. For instance, the movie "A City of Sorrow" awakened people's memory of Jiufen and earned the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Nowadays, Jiufen boasts numerous distinctive teahouses that serve as must-visit destinations in this mountain village. Additionally, visitors can enjoy the picturesque Keelung outer sea, offering a stunning ocean vista.
Jiufen Old Street stands out as the busiest shopping area, spanning the majority of the village and attracting a multitude of visitors. Lining this bustling street are shops offering Jiufen's renowned delicacies, such as the yam dish, and a variety of local culinary delights. Moreover, you'll find well-preserved historical artifacts and items along the way. A visit to Jiufen promises a delightful and enjoyable experience. The village offers numerous lodging options managed by local residents. If you weren't in a rush, you might wish to choose a lovely inn and stay overnight to enjoy the starry skies and fishing lights.
Where is Jiufen in Spirited Away?
"Spirited Away," the internationally acclaimed Studio Ghibli film, draws inspiration from various locations in Japan and beyond. While Jiufen is not a direct replica of any specific place in the movie, its winding alleys, red lanterns, and teahouses have been likened to the enchanting bathhouse featured in the film. Visiting Jiufen, you may find yourself immersed in the whimsical world of Chihiro and her adventures.
Is Spirited Away Based on Jiufen?
While Jiufen's ambiance bears a resemblance to the whimsical settings of "Spirited Away," the movie is not directly based on the village. Instead, Hayao Miyazaki drew inspiration from various sources, melding them into his fantastical world.
However, for enthusiasts of the immensely popular anime, the sight of the red lanterns adorning Jiufen will appear strikingly familiar. If you haven't had the opportunity to watch the movie yet, don't delay any longer; treat yourself and indulge in it right away!
Jiufen once was gold city of Asia and called little Shanghai or little Hong Kong
Is It Worth Staying In Jiufen?
Is it worth staying in Jiufen? The answer is yes. Jiufen Old Street is popular with tourists and locals alike because it offers the best of Taiwan in a compact package. This includes a rich history, evocative alleyways and teahouses, beautiful views, and uniquely Taiwanese foods at every turn. If you're mapping out a journey to Taiwan, it's highly likely that Jiufen Old Street is already a prominent feature on your travel agenda.
Below are the reasons why Jiufen Village Taiwan is one of the destinations you must visit once in your life.
Things to Do in Jiufen Village
1. Explore Jiufen Old Street
The incredibly atmospheric Jiufen Old Street is the main draw for visitors to Jiufen. By the Jiufen Old Street bus stop, the ancient street starts next to a 7-Eleven and meanders upward with various staircases and passageways branching off of it. Although it would take around 30 minutes to walk from the bottom of the town to the top and back, most visitors stay for at least two hours, doing some shopping, taking pictures, snacking, and stopping for lunch or tea along the route.
Although being quite popular with tourists, the historic street is very charming. Don't overlook the staircase that descends to Amei Teah from the Old Street.
2. Enjoy a Tea Set at Amei Teahouse
The most recognizable structure in Jiufen is the Amei Teahouse, which is also the one that most people associate with Spirited Away. On the stairway leading up to (or down from) it, there are a ton of Spirited Away mementos.
Amei Teahouse is VERY well known. The line to enter could be extremely long if you arrive during the day or in the early evening, especially on weekends. Thus, it is wise to order your tea set in advance online (minimum 1 day in advance).
The most recognizable structure in Jiufen is the Amei Teahouse
3. Make a Trip to YinYang Sea
Jiufen is a 13-minute drive away. The waters of Yinyang are a distinctive teal and gold color. There are also a lot of interesting-looking geological rock formations here. It's a unique sight that geology enthusiasts will like.
4. Visit the Jiufen Gold Mine Museum
The Gold Mine Museum offers a fascinating look into Jiufen's past as a thriving gold mining town. You may observe the old tools and machinery used by miners while learning about the mining process. In addition, you may explore the mine tunnels, pan for gold, enjoy a miner's lunch, and get up close and personal with a massive gold block!
Jiufen Food & Cuisine
1. Taro balls
A well-liked treat in Jiufen is taro balls (known as yuyuan), which consist of a blend of mashed taro, sweet potato, and rice flour. These delectable morsels are typically served in a sweet syrup alongside shaved ice.
2. Peanut ice cream rolls
A unique dish called "peanut ice cream rolls" consists of a thin popiah crepe stuffed with peanut brittle shavings and two scoops of ice cream (often taro ice cream). For a distinctive bite, the top is dusted with a herb, such as coriander or celery.
3. Jiufen-style rice cake
This sweet confection made of glutinous rice can be eaten as a chewy dessert or a salty snack. Pork, sweet red beans, pickled vegetables, taro, radish, and salty mung beans are typical fillings.
4. Mango shaved ice
Freshly shaved ice, sweet mango syrup, and slices of luscious mango are the ingredients for mango shaved ice. In Jiufen, you can buy mango shaved ice in a lot of dessert shops and street vendors. Some restaurants even offer modifications like topping it with ice cream or condensed milk.
Local and tourists are walking and enjoying local food in Jiufen
How To Get To Jiufen Village Taiwan
The distance between Houtong Cat Village and Jiufen (Station) is 3 km.
Train, bus, taxi, or on foot are the 3 methods of transportation from Houtong Cat Village to Jiufen (Station).
1. By Train
Train and line 1062 bus, which cost $1 to $3 and take 31 minutes to travel from Houtong Cat Village to Jiufen (Station), are the quickest and least expensive options.
2. By Taxi
A cab ride, which costs between $7 and $10 and takes 7 minutes, is the quickest way to get from Houtong Cat Village to Jiufen (Station).
Make sure to plan your return journey as well, especially if you're traveling from Jiufen to Houtong Cat Village. You can reverse the directions to get back to Houtong when you're ready to leave Jiufen.
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In conclusion, Jiufen Village Taiwan is an enchanting destination that beckons travelers with its time-honored allure and cinematic charm. As you wander its cobblestone streets, savor local flavors, and explore its connection to "Spirited Away," you'll find that Jiufen is not just a place; it's an enchanting journey that weaves nostalgia and fantasy into the your travels.
And for those eager to explore the wonders of Taiwan, don't forget to plan your visit, travel to this captivating island nation, and apply for a Taiwan eVisa via Taiwan Immigration Services to make your journey as seamless as possible. Taiwan awaits, ready to enchant and inspire your travel dreams.