Get ready to walk up and down the red lanterned stairways in this beautiful village with a stunning view of the coastline.
It was a weekday afternoon when I reached the Jiufen old street.
Once you get off the bus, without a doubt this place is crowded and touristy as taxicab and coaches lined up the hills loading and unloading people. I wouldn’t complain about that. Just broaden your horizon and enjoy the adventure. Wherever you will go, some of these things are inescapable.
Because the town is small, clustered and steep, you will notice the crowd move up and down like snails in narrow alleys. However, this shouldn’t stop you from visiting this place. The town, a former Japanese mining town is charming with so many local foods, handicrafts, a small museum, tea houses, and gift shops. Rejoice if you’re a foodie lover! Also, be prepared to have an assault of your smelling senses. From aromatic coffee and teas up to the stinky “smelly feet” tofus are smelled from afar. At some point, you go further down and encounter a beautiful teahouse which is actually one of the main tourist spots in this town. I tried my luck looking for a chair at coffee and tea houses, but unfortunately, long queues everywhere. In the end, I ended up with flavorsome street food, taro balls, and bubble tea.
Interesting Things To Do In Jiufen Old Street
Ghost Mask Museum by Mr. Wu
With over 1,500 face mask in this small museum, Mr. Wu Jyh Chyang single-handedly created all the bizarre and strange looking mask. His creations of clay mask showed extreme emotions, some are half human half animals and others are downright grotesque. The masks are a representation of what a persons ghost or spirit would look like in his dreams. Although, some mask represents some famous celebrities, politics, and locals.
The museum opens daily. From 9am to 5pm.
A Mei Tea House
A-Mei Teahouse is one of the most popular teahouses in Jiufen and all over Taiwan. The history, red lanterns, and architecture is an iconic structure. The hundred-year-old teahouse gained popularity after the release of the Japanese animation movie “Spirited Away” (2001) by famed director Hayao Miyazaki. It’s been rumored that this teahouse and the village is the inspiration and setting of the movie. I heard about this movie after it won an Oscars for Best Animation (2003) and since then it’s a favorite. Sadly, Miyazaki has denied that Jiufen influenced the design.
Amazing Street Foods
There are lots of foods/snacks in this old street, from yummy to smelly. I have eaten some of them at night markets in Taipei City and in Shifen. So here are some foods I did find interesting.
Get lost in exploring this narrow alleyway. Luckily, the weather was great and the atmosphere at night is magical as the lanterns are lit. By the way, if you happen to be here whilst it’s raining, good luck!
All in all, this place is a tourist trap. If your the type, who like to struggle and go with the flow with the crowds while eating a street snack and a bubble tea (like me), then go check this place. If you can’t stand narrow alleys with a sea of bodies, then this is a nightmare for you. Better skip this.
How To Get Here
Direct Bus 965 to Jiufen: From New Taipei City Center (NT$90 one way) Take bus at Fuzhong Station at Fuzhong Road. Operation Hours: 0700-2100 daily. For Map Click here.