Jiufen

Travel Guide Asia Taiwan Jiufen

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Introduction

Jiufen (九份; Jiǔfèn), historically spelled Chiufen and alternately spelled Jioufen, is a small town in Northern Taiwan. It's a must visit for any Studio Ghibli fans who will find many of its streets familiar as it served as the inspiration for the movie Spirited Away.

Jiufen was a prosperous gold mining town until the digging stopped in the 1950s. It then went into sharp decline. However, its quaint streets, tea houses and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean saved it from becoming yet another anonymous mining ghost town. Jiufen is now a popular escape from the capital for those eager to relive scenes from the past. It has provided the setting for several period movies, including Hou Hsiao-hsien's A City of Sadness, which won the Golden Lion award at the 1989 Venice Film Festival.

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Sights and Activities

  • Historic Commercial District. shops open 11:00am - 6:00pm generally. It consists of a series of stores and restaurants running along Jishan and Shuqi Streets, which are built into the side of the coastal hills and considered a must-see site for visitors. The area is known for its collection of shops, eateries, and teahouses, allowing visitors to sample local specialties and purchase handicrafts and other knick-knacks. The area also provides spectacular views of the harbors and the Pacific Ocean below. The most popular entrance is located near the bus station, next to a 7-Eleven shop and the public toilets.
  • Taiyang Co. Ruifang Mining Operation Office (台陽礦業事務所) - This historic building just below Shuqi steps at the bus parking lot. Yen Yun-nian (1882-1923), a Jiufen merchant, got the business authority from Japanese "Itoda Gumi" during the Japanese era. The company was established in 1948 by his brother, quarrying gold since 1914 till 1971. The Bafan Tunnel mine entrance still remains inside the office, but not open to visitors at present.
  • Songde Park (頌德公園) - A small memorial park in Jiufen's east, located on Qinbian Road. There are monuments to praise the great achievement of Yen Yun-nian who founded Jiufen's mining culture. Creative artistic sculptures can easily be seen in the park. Also the early Mining Tunnel can also be found next to the park.
  • Wufan Tunnel (五番坑道) - Next to the park, this tunnel has been excavated in 1927. The coal transported out from the tunnel was smashed in the mine-smashing area and carried by high altitude transporting pipe. There is a light railway passing through the tunnel, which was run by a Japanese company and then contracted by Jiouda Co. when the Japanese left Taiwan in 1945. In 1971, in order to protect the security of the residents and visitors, all mine tunnels were sealed. There is a small community park for people to rest and enjoy the ocean view.

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Events and Festivals

Buddha Bathing Festival

The Buddha bathing festival takes place on April 8 and is a Buddhist religious ceremony celebrating the birth of the Lord Buddha. The faithful bow three times to the Lord Buddha and then pour water and flowers of a statue of the baby Buddha.

Tomb Sweeping Day

Tomb Sweeping Day usually falls in early April and is a public holiday in Taiwan. Taiwanese people pray and tend to the graves of their departed relatives. Willow branches are used to decorate graves and doors in some areas and the flying of kites, carrying of flowers, and burning of incense, paper and joss sticks is common.

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a June public holiday originating from China that is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The day is celebrated in Taiwan with dragon boat races, eating glutinous rice dumplings, drinking wine and writing spells.

Autumn Moon Festival

The Moon Festival talks place in late September or early October, on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival celebrates harvest time and is characterized by giving and eating moon cakes. Dragon dances, floating lanterns, fireworks and burning incense are also common.

Ghost Festival

September is Ghost Month in Taiwan with the gates of the underworld opening on the first day and closing on the last. Throughout the month, both Buddhist and Taoist religious rituals take place that include to offerings of food, drink and burnt paper money appease the dead. Many Taiwanese avoid moving house or getting married during this month.

Double Ten Day

Double Ten Day falls on the tenth of October and is the Republic of China National Day, celebrating the start of the Wuching uprising in 1911 that resulted in the defeat of the Qing Dynasty. Proceedings begin with the raising of the Republic of China flag and singing of the Republic of China national anthem. There is a Taiwanese presidential speech and celebrations include lion dances, drumming, and fireworks.

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Getting There

By Train

From Taipei, take the train north to Ruifang. Buses to Jiufen and Jinguashi leave from a stop a little away from the train station exit: turn left on the busy street in front of the train station, cross to the opposite side of the street and keep walking straight ahead for 200 metres until you pass a police station. The bus stop heading to Jiufen and Jinguashi is located a little past it. Then take the Keelung bus 788 (every 20-30 minutes, NT$15, 15 minute ride) or bus 1062 to Jiufen. On their return journey the buses use the same number, and stop in front of the train station square.

From Taipei, take a train to Keelung, then Keelung bus 788 (every 20-30 minutes, NT$30, 45 minute ride) to Jiufen and Jinguashi. This bus passes through Ruifang. In the weekend bus 788 passes by the National Marine Museum of Science and Technology, the end station for the NMMST-Ruifang-Pingxi tourist train line.

Not all buses show the correct route information or have bilingual signs, or are able to adhere to a strict timetable during peak and off-peak hours. On Saturday and Sunday only public buses and cars can enter Jiufen and Jinguashi. Private tour buses, minibuses, vans must park at designated parking lots, which are served by free shuttle buses.

By Bus

From Taipei, take the Keelung bus 1062 (90 minutes, NT$102), from the Adventist Hospital bus stop on Bade Road, east of the intersection with Fuxing Road.

Alternatively, take the same bus from Songshan station. Make sure to have the exact fare or an Easycard. There are great views of the valleys below on the left hand side of the bus as it ascends from Ruifang to Jiufen. On days when the bus is likely to be crowded, the bus will fill up there and may not accept other passengers at about 20 stops. Alternatively you can board from starting bus stop near intersection of Fuxing N Road/Section 1 Fuxing South Road/Section 2 Bade Road (nearest MRT is Nanjing Fuxing, then walk south 400 metres to intersection). Or board after alight ftom Songshan mrt metro. Or more details use the app "Taiwan Railway Timetable by skystar", where you can check train/bus routes/location and real-time timetables.

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Getting Around

The town of Jiufen is built into the side of the hills slightly inland from the Pacific Ocean coastline. The main area of interest to visitors are the town's historic commercial district which is covered by two pedestrian streets: Jishan Street (基山街), Qingbian road which runs along the ridge line and Shuqi Street (豎崎路), actually steep steps which run up and down the slope of the hill. The area is small enough to cover on foot.

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Eat

There are numerous things to eat in Jiufen. Fishball soup, yuyuan (taro balls), dumplings served hot or cold with sweet red beans, nuts and mochi are all widely available. The sheer number of restaurants can be a little overwhelming though. Grandma Lai's Yuyuan (賴阿婆芋圓) at No.143, Jishan Street, is the most famous one for its taro balls.

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Drink

  • Amei Tea House (阿妹茶樓), 20 Shixia Ln, Shuqi Rd, ☎ +886 2 2496-0833. S-Th 8:30am-midnight, F 8:30am-1:00am, Sa 8:30am-2:00am. Instantly recognizable as the inspiration for the ornate bathhouse in Spirited Away.
  • City Of Sadness Restaurant (悲情城市小上海茶樓), 35 Shuchi Road, ☎ +886 2 2406-2289. Just on the corner of Shuqi and Qingbian Roads. This restaurant was featured in Hou Hsiao-hsien's film A City of Sadness.
  • Jiufen Teahouse, ☎ +886 2 2496-9056. (九份茶坊), 142 Jishan Street. Jiufen Teahouse was once the meeting place for many great Taiwanese writers and artists when it first opened. When you enter from the narrow crowded street, you come into a spacious and calm interior. On the right are steaming iron kettles nestled in a long fiery bank of coals. Bundles of tea and high quality ceramics and tea implements fill the first level. The host will lead you to a quiet table on the lower levels, or you can sit outside on the back terrace in good weather. You can choose your favorite tea and tea snacks from the menu and sit there for as long as you like. Take a break and wander around to look the paintings and other wonderful artwork by local artists. There is also a gallery on the lower level with more beautiful ceramics.

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Sleep

The town does not have any hotels, but there are several small guest houses that are identifiable by characters "住宿" ("lodging"). Most tourists, however, stay in Taipei or Keelung and just visit Jiufen for a day trip.

  • Bafankeng Café (八番坑Café民宿), 100 Wushi Ln, ☎ +886 2 2497-5291, fax: +886 2 2496-9500. Ruifang Township, Taipei County. The proprietor of this guesthouse is very helpful.
  • JiuFen B&B - ShiXiaXiang B&B (九份民宿 - 市下巷民宿), 2 Shi Xia Xiang, Ruifang Township, Taipei County, Mobile: 0925533168. Official Site [1], The host of this B&B is very kind and helpful. We'll make you feel at home.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are plentiful, although you may have to wander around before finding one. Rather, Internet cafes in Taiwan should be called gaming cafes. These are often found on the first or second floor of a building, and equipped with very comfortable chairs and large screens. Each hour of Internet access/game play is cheap, coming in at around $20. For free internet access in big cities, try out the local libraries. In addition, a wireless internet accessing net covering all of Taipei City is available and Kaohsiung City is currently under construction. There is also a common wifi network available at every McDonald's.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international calling code for Taiwan is 886. The emergency numbers include 110 (police) 119 (medical, fire) and the standard GSM emergency number 112 is supported in mobile networks. Numbers starting with 0800 are commercial toll-free numbers. Mobile phone coverage is generally excellent in Taiwan, with the exception of some remote mountainous areas. Among the major providers are Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone and Vibo. Taiwan has both GSM 900/1800 and 3G (UMTS/W-CDMA 2100) networks and roaming might be possible for users of such mobile phones, subject to agreements between operators. If you bring your own cellphone, buy a local SIM-card for the lowest prices and be sure your phone is unlocked.

Post

Chungwa Post is the national postal service of Taiwan. It offers fast and reliable postal services, both domestic and internationally. Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 5:00pm during weekdays, though some keep longer hours or are open on Saturday (morning). Prices for sending postcards or letters (up to 20 grams) start at NT$5 within the country, while postcards by airmail to other countries start at around NT$10-12 per item, and letters are slightly more expensive. There is a wide range in prices regarding international parcel sending, and other companies like DHL, TNT, FedEx and UPS offer similar services.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 15:12 on Mar 11, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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