Feel spirited away in this decommissioned gold mining mountain town, originally built by the Japanese and now a maze of lanes and alleyways with rich history and culture.
Founded during the Qing Dynasty, this small town was a relatively isolated village until the discovery of gold during the Japanese occupation in 1893, quickly developing the town due to a gold rush. Many buildings in the town remain unchanged to this day, reflecting the Japanese influence on both architecture and culture on the island. During World War II, the town housed a Japanese prisoner of war camp where captured Allied Force soldiers (mainly British) were forced to work in the gold mines. After the war, gold mining activities declined, and the town today exists mainly as a tourist destination remembering and celebrating Taiwanese history and culture.
From the beginning of the 1990s, Jiufen experienced a tourist boom that has shaped the town into an attraction easily accessible from Taipei City as a nice day trip (around 2 hours away roundtrip by public transit). Today, the town is filled with both retro Chinese and Japanese style cafés, tea houses, and souvenir shops, as well as fantastic views of the ocean.
The majority of attractions are concentrated along the cobblestone steps of Shuqi Road (豎崎路) between Jiufen Elementary School and the Jiufen police precinct. The three roads running perpendicular to Shuqi Road (Jishan St., Qiche Rd., and Qingbian Rd.) each boast a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and cafés.
Besides the main roads, there are numerous small alleys and lanes that snake around the area and sometimes even run beneath buildings. Retro clothing such as a Qipao (旗袍) or Cheongsam for women, men, and children is available for rental.
Explore Jiufen and the surrounding mountain area as part of a tour inclusive of transportation with an English-speaking guide to enjoy your day without having to worry about taking public transportation in and out of Taipei City.
While most visitors come to Jiufen as part of a day trip, many enjoy staying overnight at one of Jiufen's many boutique hotels and B&Bs, called minsu (民宿) in Taiwan. Since there are a limited amount of guesthouses and hotels in Jiufen and it is one of Taiwan's more popular destinations, early reservation is recommended.
Many visitors prefer to visit Keelung and its fantastic Miaokou Night Market (廟口夜市) before returning by local train (區間車) back to Taipei City. To get to Keelung from Jiufen, simply take any city bus bound for Keelung. The bus will arrive at Keelung train station right next to the harbour and night market.
Some nice activities in Jiufen include hiking on Mt. Keelung (基隆山), drinking Chinese tea at the City of Sadness Restaurant (悲情城市小上海茶樓), visiting the Gold Museum (新北市立黃金博物館), visiting the neighbouring Jinguashi (金瓜石), and, of course, beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.
Jiufen is the setting of the Taiwanese film City of Sadness (悲情城市), the first film to discuss the politically controversial 228 Incident, and as a result of the film's success, many new visitors were drawn to visit Jiufen to experience a time gone by.
The unique architecture of Jiufen's downtown area bears resemblance to the Japanese animated film Spirited Away.
Be sure to check out the Shengping Theatre (昇平劇院), a prominent cultural landmark located on Qingbian Road built during the Japanese occupation. Both the theatre and surrounding buildings feature 1930-40s architectural elements, and has more recently been used as the set for commercials and movies, including City of Sadness.
Visit the Jiufen Kite Museum (九份風箏博物館) to see colourful kites of all shapes and sizes from around the world. The museum also offers classes for visitors to make a kite of their own, and is open on weekends.
The Jiufen Torch Festival began when Jiufen was struck by a plague and locals prayed to bring fortune to the town. Every July, residents raise red torch lanterns that join with white street lanterns to create what appears to be a large golden dragon snaking through the alleyways of the town, creating an incredible scene and continuing ancient customs.
English language signage may have Jiufen spelled in a variety of ways, including Jioufen, JiuFen, and Jiu Fen.