For those planning to travel to Taiwan and who are big fans of Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away”, Jiufen is a must-visit. This small town facing the Pacific Ocean was one of the story’s inspirations, and it offers travelers good food, beautiful scenery, and a memorable cultural experience.
What is Jiufen?
Jiufen, also known as Chiufen, is a famous town located in northern Taiwan. From the period of Japanese colonization until the 1950s, the town was well-known for its mining activities, but Jiufen’s economy floundered when the mining business in Taiwan lost its fame. Fortunately, due to its location directly facing the Pacific Ocean, Jiufen attracted many travelers, both local and international, and caused a boom in the tourism industry during the 1990s. Nowadays, this former mining town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in northern Taiwan, known for the food, teahouses, and the beautiful landscapes.
Since Jiufen does not look like other cities in Taiwan, it has been featured in a few movies, such as “The City of Sadness”. This same town is also known to be one of Studio Ghibli’s inspirations for “Spirited Away”, with its hanging red lanterns, food stalls, and narrow cobblestone streets.
A town for food lovers
For food lovers, Jiufen Old Street provides a great variety of cuisines to try. The most recommended delicacies to try while in Jiufen are fish ball soup, mochi, and taro ball soup. Grandma Lai’s Yuyuan is one of the most popular places to enjoy taro balls. There are also plenty of teahouses in Jiufen where travelers can enjoy a cup of tea while looking at the view of the Pacific. Cafés and restaurants are also available at Jiufen Old Street.
Get a handmade ocarina
Other items that are very well known from Jiufen are ocarinas, wind musical instruments. Travelers can easily find handmade ocarina shops in Jiufen and purchase one as a travel memoir from this small town while contributing to local talent and small businesses. The price for an ocarina varies according to its size and design, but most start from 100 TWD (approximately 3 - 4 USD).
Getting to and around Jiufen
Although staying in Jiufen is an option, many travelers prefer to stay in Taipei or Keelung and make Jiufen part of a one-day trip itinerary. In order to get to Jiufen, travelers must take a train to Ruifang Train Station. Prices for the train vary depending on the train type, but it usually costs around 60 TWD (approximately 2 USD) for a local train from Taipei Main Station. Public buses are available from Ruifang to Jiufen; it will cost 15 TWD (approximately 0.50 USD) and the ride is only 15 - 20 minutes.
When in Jiufen, travelers prefer to walk since everything is at a walking distance. However, there are plenty of stairs and the road is not flat, so be sure to bring water with you. Hiking the surrounding mountains is a recommended activity, but make sure you research the weather beforehand. Typhoons are bound to happen in Taiwan during the summer, so double check before leaving.
Get spirited away at Jiufen!
Throughout the past years, Jiufen has made quite a name for itself and has attracted numerous travelers from all over the world. It is a perfect place for travelers who want to retreat for a day or two and enjoy a tranquil and relaxing environment surrounded by mountains with the view of the ocean. So, if you are heading to Taiwan, be sure to spare some time to explore Jiufen and be inspired by this small but beautiful town!
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