Jiufen Old Street is just a daytrip away from central Taipei. Those who make the trip from downtown Taipei are rewarded with not only the sight of a picturesque mountain village and panoramic coastal views, but also with delicious treats.
The village of Jiufen [Jioufen] was founded by nine families during the Qing Dynasty. When gold was discovered here at the end of the 19th century, the ensuing gold rush turned it into a thriving village.
Visitors love the wooden houses with their lanterns and rows of small windows from the days of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. In 2001 the Old Street became the inspiration for the movie Spirited Away by the Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and the town has been overrun by fans ever since.
Jiufen Old Street refers to Jiufenjishan (or simply Jishan) Street and is nicknamed “Dark Street” because it’s so cramped that the sun’s rays rarely hit its surface. Shuffle along its cobblestones as you follow the crowds past its old merchant stores and inns. Steep, narrow staircases connect the Old Street to the village’s other streets higher up the mountain.
The century-old A Mei Tea House with its carved masks and scenic wooden balcony is a local icon. Order a Chinese tea with pineapple cake and enjoy the views.
Tour the town’s small Gold Museum to discover its mining history. The historic Shengping Theatre and the Jiufen Kite Museum are also fascinating to visit.
Having lunch in Jiufen may turn out to be the highlight of your Taiwan vacation. Local specialties include rice cakes, meat dumplings, fish ball soup and peanut ice cream rolls.
If you happen to visit Taiwan in July, don’t miss the atmospheric Jiufen Torch Festival.
Jiufen Old Street is in the Ruifang District of New Taipei City. It’s part of many guided tours and a commercial shuttle bus service leaves every morning from Ximen station in Taipei City to Jiufen. Many tours and shuttles will first drop you off for an hour at the Shifen Old Street, a former coal mining town closer to Taipei.