๐Ÿฎ Jiufen Day Trip: Firsthand Review & Tips

A building decorated with lanterns nestled in a mountain.
๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Overall Rating7.8
๐Ÿฆ„ UniquenessAverage
๐Ÿ˜Š EnjoymentHigh
๐Ÿ’ฐ ValueAffordable
๐ŸŽ’ PreparationMinimal
๐ŸŒŸ Book a TourView Price
Overall Rating is based on a weighted average of factors (learn more).

Jiufen, a picturesque small village known for teahouses nestled in a mountain, is one of Taipei’s most popular day trip destinations. Hereโ€™s my honest review and firsthand tips.

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๐Ÿ€ Lukiih’s Overall Rating

7.5
I highly recommend visiting Jiufen โ€“ try to prioritize it.

My overall rating is based on a weighted average of four factors travelers consider important when assessing an experience.

Verdict

I highly recommend visiting Jiufen when in Taipei. It’s an atmospheric place with picturesque mountain views and traditional streets lined with shops and food stalls.

A day trip there is affordable, even after accounting for transportation, food, and entertainment.

Minimal preparation is required, as you need to figure out transportation and potentially get teahouse reservations in advance.

A view of a narrow street with staircase flanked by lantern-decorated buildings.
Jiufen Old Street

Planning a trip? Here’sย what to know about Taiwan.

๐Ÿ† Where Does It Rank?

A day trip in Jiufen ranks as my #2 thing to do in Taiwan. Here’s how it compares to other experiences on my trip:

#ExperienceLocationOverall Rating
1๐ŸฅŸ Din Tai FungTaipei7.8
2๐Ÿฎ Jiufen Day TripNew Taipei City7.8
3๐Ÿฆ‘ Taipei Night MarketTaipei7.2
4๐Ÿž๏ธ Taroko GorgeHualien7.1
5๐ŸŒ… Taipei 101Taipei6.5
6๐ŸŒณ Chiang Kai-shek Memorial HallTaipei6.5
7๐Ÿฎ Lungshan TempleTaipei6.5
8โ™จ๏ธ Beitou Hot SpringsTaipei6.4
9๐Ÿ›๏ธ XimendingTaipei6.2
10๐Ÿ˜ Elephant MountainTaipei5.9
11๐Ÿต Teapot MountainNew Taipei City5.8
12๐Ÿ’ง Golden WaterfallNew Taipei City5.8
Overall Rating is calculated using Lukiih’s rating system.

My Taiwan itinerary features the above experiences.

โœˆ๏ธ About My Trip

For context on my review, here’s what to know about my trip:

  • ๐Ÿ€ย Self-fundedย โ€“ I finance my trips and don’t receive sponsorship, so this review reflects my honest opinions.
  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ 2022 โ€“ This post has updated 2024 information, but I visited Jiufen in 2022.
  • โ˜€๏ธ High season โ€“ My Taiwan trip was in November when it was more crowded and expensive.

๐Ÿฆ„ Uniqueness: Average

The Uniqueness Score is based on how rare and memorable an experience is.

Rarity: Rare

Jiufen is a rare town, as less than about 20 such places exist worldwide.

๐Ÿ’Ž What Makes It Rare?

  • The town offers a unique combination of scenic ocean views and a charming atmosphere with traditional teahouses.
  • It has an interesting layout with narrow labyrinthine staircases lined with shops and vendors selling traditional food.

Many sources claim that Jiufen is the village that inspired Spirited Away, but director Miyazaki has denied this. Nevertheless, it hasnโ€™t stopped Studio Ghibli fans from flocking to this popular tourist destination.

๐ŸŒ What Makes It Less Rare?

  • Comparable places with traditional ambiance and teahouses exist around the world, particularly in Japan and China. Examples include Gion in Kyoto, Japan, and Lijiang Old Town in China.

Memorability: Moderate

Jiufen is one of my many memorable experiences in Taiwan.

๐Ÿ“ธ What Makes It Memorable?

  •  The teahouses with open mountains and ocean views are a highlight if you can get seats.
  • The charming atmosphere decorated with red lanterns is also hard to forget.
A set of windows decorated with green plants and red lanterns.
Jiufen ambiance

๐Ÿ’ค What Makes It Forgettable?

  • Some of the narrow streets lined with shops can feel a lot like any other Taiwanese street market.

๐Ÿ˜Š Enjoyment: High

The Enjoyment Score is based on how much happiness and reward an experience provides.

Happiness: High

I found visiting Jiufen fun and delightful.

๐Ÿ˜ƒ What Makes It Enjoyable?

  • Exploring the seemingly endless maze-like alleyways and streets was highly enjoyable as the main street, Old Street, offers varied shops to entertain visitors for about three to four hours.

See below for attractions in Jiufen.

A woman smiling at the camera with red lanterns and small vendor shops in the background.
Jiufen Old Street

๐Ÿ˜ฅ What Makes It Less Enjoyable?

  • Aside from the teahouses, no attraction or food stall is mind-blowing on its own. It’s primarily a place with a pleasant ambiance.

Reward: Low

Jiufen is not a particularly rewarding experience.

๐ŸŒŸ What Makes It Rewarding?

  • It’s a town with centuries-old history, so admiring the well-preserved architecture can be rewarding.
  • The area also has several nearby hikes if you want to be physically active.

๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ What Makes It Less Rewarding?

  • Unless you put in the effort to proactively seek it out, the typical visitor will not learn much about Taiwan or the town’s history.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Value: Affordable

The Value Score is determined by the price divided by the duration of an experience. All prices mentioned here are in USD.

Cost Estimate: $50 PP

A day trip to Jiufen costs between $25 and $100, depending on how you get there and the number of attractions you visit, as some of them have an entrance fee. At about $50 per person for a full-day trip, I consider this experience affordable.

If you want to plan less, highly-rated private Jiufen tours are available.

Lukiih Spent: $22

I spent $22 in Jiufen, exclusively on a teahouse and purchasing street food. My total cost is lower because a local friend drove me, so I didnโ€™t have to pay for transportation (which would have added only $6 maximum). I also didnโ€™t visit any attractions that had an entrance fee.

See my Taiwan trip expenses.

๐ŸŽ’ Preparation: Very Minimal

The Preparation Score is based on the required skills & fitness, transportation, and bookings & packing. The higher the score, the less preparation is needed.

Skills & Fitness: None

You don’t need any skills or fitness to visit Jiufen. The nearby hikes are not very strenuous.

Transportation: Easy & Short

Jiufen is located 20 miles east of Taipei, in the Ruifang District.

  • ๐Ÿš™ Method โ€“ There are several ways to get there, including public transportation and car.
  • โฐ Duration โ€“ Depending on your transportation method and time of departure, it takes 35 to 90 minutes to travel there from Taipei.

Booking & Packing: None

A day trip to Jiufen doesnโ€™t require any advanced booking or packing. The two things to keep in mind are:

  • ๐Ÿ’ต Cash โ€“ Like other parts of Taiwan, the town primarily operates on cash, so bring at least $1,000 NT (roughly $30) to spend on food vendors, museum entrance tickets, teahouse experiences, and parking fees.
  • ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Comfortable shoes โ€“ If you plan to hike, wear comfortable shoes. You wonโ€™t need hiking shoes, but I recommend sneakers or running shoes.
A view of a coastal town with a mountain in the middle and a shrine on a trail.
Teapot Mountain hike near Jiufen

How To Guide & Tips

Interested in visiting Jiufen after reading my review? Below are practical firsthand tips.

How To Get There

From Taipei, you can get to Jiufen in five different ways:

TransportationJourney DurationTotal Cost
๐ŸšŒ Direct bus65 minutesNT$90 (~$3)
๐Ÿš† Train and bus60โ€“90 minutesNT$100 (~$3)
๐Ÿš• Taxi or Uber35โ€“45 minutes~$80
๐Ÿš— Private driver35โ€“45 minutes~$100
๐Ÿš Organized tour45 minutes$50โ€“$110
  • ๐ŸšŒ Direct bus โ€“ The only direct bus is bus 965. You can catch the 965 bus at MRT Beimen Station, and itโ€™ll take you to a bus station thatโ€™s a seven-minute walk from Old Street.
  • ๐Ÿš† Train and bus โ€“ Several train and bus combinations are available; check Google Maps for the best one based on your departure or arrival time. The TRA train departs from Taipei Main Station; you can check the train schedule here (type โ€œTaipeiโ€ as the departure station and โ€œRuifangโ€ as the arrival station). After the train, you will have to transfer to a bus (e.g., the 1062, the 788) that will drop you off right along Old Street.

During Taiwanโ€™s peak travel season, the 1062 bus can get very full, and you might have to wait up to 30 minutes to get on an available bus.

  • ๐Ÿš• Taxi or Uber โ€“ The easiest way to get there is by car, but itโ€™s not the cheapest. Some organized tours cost about the same as taking a taxi or Uber.

All of the attractions in the town are within walking distance, but the town also has nearby attractions that require a vehicle.

  • ๐Ÿš— Private driver โ€“ You can also hire a private driver.
  • ๐Ÿš Guided tour โ€“ This is one of the most convenient ways to travel. This highly rated private Jiufen tour stops in Old Street and some of the nearby top attractions, such as Yehliu Geopark and Shifen Waterfall.

Top of guide โ†‘

Attractions in Jiufen

Everything on this list is within walking distance once youโ€™re in the town. Activities and attractions that require a drive are listed further below.

๐Ÿฎ Old Street

Jiufenโ€™s main attraction is Old Street (aka Jishan Street), a winding, narrow street surrounded by shops and food stalls.

  • Street food โ€“ Visit the many food vendor stalls to sample Taiwanese snacks.
  • Souvenir shops โ€“ Window shop and stop at vendors that pique your interest (or even scare you a little, like the Ghost Lore Museum).
  • Rent a qipao โ€“ Rent a one-piece Chinese dress to take photos in. As long as you treat the qipao like any other piece of clothing and do not do any mocking behaviors, wearing one is not considered offensive by locals.
  • Theater โ€“ Visit Shengping Theater for free to learn about the town’s history.
A cat resting in front of a store front selling bags.
Shop in Old Street (photo by my friend, Jacob Bleth)

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Old Street doesn’t have an entrance fee, but be ready to spend a few dollars shopping and eating your way through it. I spent about $10 sampling five food stalls.

โฐ Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours. Without including lunch, I spent about an hour walking around Old Street.

๐Ÿซ– Traditional Teahouse

One of the most iconic things to do is to visit a traditional teahouse. The most famous tea houses are A-Mei Teahouse, which has an iconic terrace decorated with red lanterns, and Jiufen Teahouse, which has an ornate interior. Other tea houses include:

  • Artist Teahouse โ€“ an expensive and highly rated teahouse. You can buy their preset tea set, which includes snacks.
  • Skyline Tea House โ€“ has a great view of Amei Teahouse. They also offer a tea set with snacks that can be paid for in advance.
  • Siidcha โ€“ has a more modern take on the teahouses. They offer a Hakka tea set with scoops of ice cream.
A woman holding a small cup of tea sitting next to a view of mountains and red lanterns.
A-Mei Teahouse

The wait at A-Mei Teahouse and Jiufen Teahouse can get very long on the weekends and during the peak travel season. They used to offer a tea set you can buy in advance to guarantee a timed entry, but thatโ€™s no longer available.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: You can expect to spend $10 to $20 on a tea set experience. I spent $19 per person at A-Mei Teahouse, which included a tea set and lunch.

โฐ Suggested Duration: 1 hour. I stayed for almost exactly an hour for lunch and tea.

๐Ÿฅœ Taiwanese Street Food and Snack

Old Street is lined with vendors that sell all sorts of Taiwanese street food, snacks, and desserts. You wonโ€™t be able to find some of these in Taipei. Here are six traditional foods to try:

  • Almond tofu pudding โ€“ A popular dessert thatโ€™s mildly sweet, almond tofu pudding was my favorite snack I tried in Old Street. I decided to get it with boba and brown sugar, but you can get it with fruit toppings instead.
A black bowl contain milky white pudding and sugar-glazed tapioca pearls.
Almond tofu pudding
  • Taiwanese sausage โ€“ These sausages are usually served on a stick and have a chewier texture and sweeter taste than other sausages. Eating Taiwanese sausages was a good break from eating all the other sweet desserts.
  • White radish cake โ€“ These radish or turnip cakes are sliced and served with shallots and sweet soy sauce. I found the texture and taste interesting, but it wasnโ€™t my favorite.
  • Glutinous rice cake โ€“ One of the most unique snacks is glutinous rice cakes, which are little patties with a mochi-like texture and savory or sweet fillings inside. The savory ones were interesting to me but too gingery for my preference.
Someone holding a chewy snack with red bean inside.
Glutinous rice cakes
  • Peanut ice cream roll โ€“ Peanut ice cream rolls, which consist of ice cream scoops served in a crepe and topped with candied peanut shavings, are one of the town’s most popular snacks.
  • Taro ball soup โ€“ Taro balls, small, chewy balls often made of sweet potato, are very famous in this town.

Taiwan is famous for stinky tofu, which is available on Old Street.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Most snacks will cost $30 to $60 NT (about $1 to $3).

๐Ÿฅพ Keelung Mountain Trail

For a view of Jiufen and even Taipei on clear days, you can hike the Keelung Mountain Trail located about a five-minute walk from Old Street. The trail gives you similar views to the Teapot Mountain hike, so I did the latter instead because it has a rock scramble. Keelung Mountain is a better option if you want a shorter and closer hike.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Admission Fee: Free
โฐ Suggested Duration: 1 hour

Top of guide โ†‘

Attractions Near Jiufen

After four hours in Jiufen, you might want to visit nearby attractions outside the small town.

The best way to get to these attractions is by driving. One of my friends walked between Golden Waterfall, Teapot Mountain, and Old Street and said he wouldnโ€™t recommend it because itโ€™s unpleasant and takes too much time for a day trip.

โ›ฐ๏ธ Teapot Mountain

Teapot Mountain has breathtaking coastal views of the surrounding area and a fun, optional rock scramble at the top. Hiking it was a great experience right before my tea and lunch experience at a teahouse.

A woman standing at the edge of a mountain with the ocean in the background.
Teapot Mountain summit

๐Ÿš— Getting There: You can start the Teapot Mountain Trail at its trailhead here or from the Gold Museum.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Admission Fee: Free. The Quan Ji Tang parking lot near the trailhead costs $3 per vehicle.

โฐ Suggested Duration: 2 hours

The parking lot has a vending machine that sells Asian sports drinks for less than $1. I highly recommend FIN or Pocari Sweat, which are refreshing and less sugary than Gatorade.

๐Ÿ’ง Golden Waterfall

The Golden Waterfall is known for its distinct, natural golden coloring, which comes from all the minerals in the water and soil. It’s a nice, quick stop if your transportation is easy or cheap. However, I wouldnโ€™t recommend it if you have to go out of your way to see it.

A short waterfall coming down a set of golden-colored rocks against a lush, green mountain.
Golden Waterfall

๐Ÿš— Getting There: The waterfall is a 10-minute drive from Old Street. Jiufen tours will often include it as a quick stop.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Admission Fee: Free
โฐ Suggested Duration: 10-15 minutes

๐Ÿ”ถ Gold Museum

The Gold Museum is the main attraction of Jinguashi, a former mining town near Jiufen that developed during a gold rush in the Qing Dynasty. At the museum, you can learn about the townโ€™s notable historic mines while surrounded by lush green trees.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: The Gold Museum is a 15-minute drive from Old Street. You can also walk there in a little over 30 minutes.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Admission Fee: $80 NT (about $2.50)
โฐ Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

๐Ÿ’ง Shifen Waterfall

Shifen Waterfall, a scenic ledge waterfall in Pingxi District, is a popular tourist attraction. Once there, you can walk around, buy snacks, look at souvenir shops, and admire the waterfall from a distance. Shifen Waterfall is a 15-minute walk from Shifen Old Street, which has small shops and is known for sky lanterns.

๐Ÿš— Getting ThereShifen Waterfall is a 30-minute drive and a one-hour bus/train ride south of Jiufen. Organized tours, like this highly rated one, will often include a tour of Jiufen, Shifen Waterfall, and Golden Waterfall.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Admission Fee: Free. If you go by car, parking is a little over $1.
โฐ Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

๐Ÿฑ Houtong Cat Village

Houtong Cat Village is a small, quiet village known for its large population of stray cats. Youโ€™ll see a few cats in Old Street, but youโ€™ll be surrounded by them in Houtong Cat Village. Itโ€™s a good place to explore a less touristy side of the Ruifang District.

๐Ÿš— Getting ThereHoutong Cat Village is a 15-minute drive or 30-minute bus/train ride from Jiufen.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Admission Fee: Free
โฐ Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

Top of guide โ†‘

Day Trip Itinerary

Below is a great way to organize a Jiufen day trip if youโ€™re doing it on your own and not through a Jiufen tour. Iโ€™ve included suggested times for each activity based on my firsthand experience.

The Taiwan trip planner below has this itinerary prefilled.

Morning
๐Ÿš—Travel from Taipei to Jiufen9โ€“10 am
๐Ÿ’งVisit Golden Waterfall9:45โ€“9:55 am
๐ŸฅพHike Teapot Mountain10 amโ€“12 pm
Afternoon
๐Ÿ“ Arrive in Jiufen12:30 pm
๐Ÿซ–Enjoy tea at a traditional teahouse1โ€“2 pm
๐ŸฎExplore Old Street2โ€“4 pm
โœจHike Keelung Mountain, visit the Gold Museum, or visit another nearby attraction4โ€“6 pm
Evening
๐Ÿš— Return to Taipei6โ€“7:15 pm

Top of guide โ†‘

Taiwan Trip Planner 2024

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Taiwan trip planner.

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