Exploring Jiufen, Taiwan – What to Do and Eat

by Viola
jiu travel guide

Jiufen is a beautiful mountain town and one of the top day trips to take from Taipei, Taiwan. It offers picturesque scenery, nostalgic old streets, yummy street snacks, and a lot more. If you are visiting Taipei, heading to Jiufen is a must! Here is a quick guide on this charming town.


Jiufen Introduction

jiu travel guide

Jiufen was a gold mining town back in the day during its era of Japanese occupation. You can still see the Japanese influence in a lot of the architecture in Jiufen. Today, this town is a popular tourist location. This is largely due to the fact that it is credited to be the inspiration behind the famous animation film Spirited Away by Miyazaki Hayao.



How to get to Jiufen

jiu travel guide

There are a couple ways to get to Jiufen. I recommend taking the bus directly from Taipei, which is about a 1.5 hours journey. You can board the Keelung bus 1062 bound for Jiufen from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station, Songshan station, or from the Adventist Hospital bus stop on Bade Road. It is best to get on at Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station as the bus gets packed quickly, so there may be no more room by the time it gets to the other stops. The trip costs 102 NT. Make sure to have exact change!



What to do in Jiufen

Take in the beautiful scenery


As the bus arrives, you are graced with a stunning view of sea and mountain. And it just gets better and better as you visit each scenic lookout. You definitely want to make sure that your camera is fully charged!


The night view is just as gorgeous as the day view.


Visit traditional craft stores

Jiufen old street is an alley of small charming stores. Many of which sell interesting traditional crafts. A great place to pick up some souvenirs.


Hand painted ocarinas. How cute are these?



We bought some traditional calligraphy pens. The owner demonstrated some of her calligraphy skills for us. She was amazing!


Find the tea house that inspired Spirited Away


Jiufen was said to be the inspiration behind the famous animation film Spirited Away by Miyazaki Hayao, There are definitely a lot of similarities. The lanterns, old stone streets, tons of food shops, and a lot of red color themes that also appeared in the film. But the one thing that was said to be a clear inspiration for the film is Jiufen’s Grand Teahouse. The iconic bathhouse where the main character worked in the movie was said to be modeled after this building. It is definitely very beautiful. See if you can find it!


Appreciate beautiful red lanterns


When it gets dark, beautiful red lanterns light up the Jiufen streets. It is a very different vibe from the day time. Enjoy the nostalgic feel as you walk around.


Try all the street foods and snacks!

I saved the best for last. There are many yummy eats in Jiufen. Check them out below.


What to eat in Jiufen

Taro balls


This is Jiufen’s signature traditional snack. Chewy sweet taro balls served in shaved ice. It is really nice after being all hot from the walking. You can find many taro ball shops like this one here.


Grilled Mushrooms


These huge eringi mushrooms are grilled in sauce and cut up into chunks. They are so juicy and delicious.


Peanut ice cream crepe



You will probably spot this shop with a long line in front it. It was featured on TV for their unique peanut ice cream served in a crepe. It is indeed quite a special snack. Crunchy, soft and sweet. A great mixture!


Stinky tofu


Oh yes! This notorious snack can be found in Jiufen. You will notice the pungent smell from stores away. Honestly, it smells very bad but taste pretty decent. Do you dare to try it?


Jiufen Tips

Go to Jiufen in the afternoon

If you go in the late afternoon, you’ll get to experience Jiufen’s day time glorious view and night time romantic feel. As the sun goes down, the vibe in the town is very different. You can even stay overnight in the town. It will give you more time to explore the region. For more adventurous travelers, you can visit Longdong near the coast for some rock climbing the next day.


Be prepared for a crowd

jiufen-teahouseIf you are someone who hates crowds, just keep in mind that Jiufen is a very popular tourist spot. With that mental note, just embrace the people and enjoy this charming town. Go on a weekday rather than weekend and you might get lucky with less traffic.


Find a tea house with a view

When we visited Jiufen, while all the people crowded around the viewing points for pictures, we searched for a quiet tea house and found the perfect one. It had an amazing view of the ocean and guess what? Barely any people. A perfect spot for a picture 😛 There are a couple tea houses like this in Jiufen. So if you want to enjoy the scenery more peacefully, I highly recommend it.


Get to the right bus stop

The point at which the bus drops people off getting to Jiufen is different from where the bus picks up people going back to Taipei. You must go all the way up the hill pass the 7 eleven outside of the entrance to find the Jiufen to Taipei bus stop. The bus gets packed so you want to get to the bus stop and line up quickly. Otherwise, you might have to stand on the bus back, after a long day of sightseeing!


Going to Taiwan soon? Plan your trip in 4 easy steps

Book A Flight: Find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner, my go-to search engine. 
Find A Hotel: Score affordable accommodation on Booking.comReceive $16 off your first booking with my link here
Buy insurance: You never know what may happen on the road. Protect your trip & gear with World Nomad, the best travel insurance company ever. Get a quote here.

Read up on the best advice: Love a good old fashion guide book. Suggested reading: Lonely Planet: Taiwan Travel Guide

Bon voyage!




Read these Taiwan posts next!

7 Cute Cafes and Restaurants in Taiwan You’d Want to Instagram

Two Weeks Taiwan Itinerary

Taipei Taiwan Travel Guide

Exploring Jiufen: What to Do and Eat

Taichung: The Most Underrated City in Taiwan

Sun Moon Lake: A Serene Escape in Taiwan

Alishan: Best Sunrise and Hiking Spot in Taiwan

What to do in Tainan: A Quick Travel Guide


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