Jiufen: Taiwan’s Mysterious Mountain Town & Spirited Away Inspiration – WanderLawyer

Jiufen's Old Street and its Eerie Charm are only a Day Trip away from Taipei
The Ah Mei Teahouse In Jiufen, Taiwan.

Jiufen is a mountain town in Taiwan, often linked to the movie Spirited Away. This former mining town is shrouded in mystery, with a rich history dating back to the Qing Dynasty. Jiufen Old Street food stalls offer local delicacies, while Jiufen hiking trails on Keelung Mountain provide stunning views. Teahouses with historical architecture dot the town, offering a glimpse into its past. Jiufen makes for an excellent day trip from Taipei, with attractions like sky lanterns releasing in Shifen nearby. Fans of Spirited Away often visit Jiufen, drawn by its resemblance to the film’s setting. Explore Jiufen Old Street in Taiwan for a nostalgic atmosphere reminiscent of its prosperous past.

Exploring Jiufen’s Attractions

Visitors to Jiufen can immerse themselves in its unique atmosphere by exploring its various attractions. Whether you’re intrigued by its historical significance or drawn to its eerie charm, there’s something for everyone to discover.

Jiufen Old Street

As the heart of the town, Jiufen Old Street is a must-visit destination for any traveler. The narrow lanes are lined with traditional shops, selling everything from local snacks to handmade crafts. It’s a vibrant hub of activity during the day, but as night falls, the lantern-lit streets take on a more mysterious ambiance, perfect for those seeking an adventure.

What to See and Do:

  • Explore Local Crafts: Visit shops like the famous “Auntie Mei’s Tea House” where you can watch artisans at work.
  • Taste Local Delicacies: Don’t miss trying taro balls from “Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Balls”, a snack beloved by locals and tourists alike.

Recommendations:

  • Best Time to Visit: Late afternoon to evening, to experience the transformation of the street with its lantern lights.

Hiking Trails on Keelung Mountain

For outdoor enthusiasts, Jiufen offers a network of hiking trails that wind through the surrounding mountains. The trails offer breathtaking views of the lush landscape and provide an opportunity to connect with nature. Keelung Mountain, in particular, is a popular choice for hikers, offering challenging routes and rewarding vistas.

What to See and Do:

  • Sunrise Hike: Start early to catch the sunrise from the summit, which offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Jiufen.
  • Explore Historical Sites: Along the trails, find remnants of old mining operations, including tunnels and machinery.

Recommendations:

  • Trail Choices: The “Zhangshuwan Trail” is recommended for its scenic overlooks and manageable difficulty level.

Teahouses with Historical Architecture:

Teahouses with Historical Architecture: Jiufen is also known for its traditional teahouses, which offer a glimpse into the town’s rich history. These atmospheric establishments are housed in beautifully preserved buildings, where visitors can relax and enjoy a cup of tea while soaking in the surroundings. Many teahouses boast stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making them the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring.

What to See and Do:

  • Architectural Marvels: Visit the “Shengping Theater”, which now serves as a teahouse and offers a peek into the cinematic past of Jiufen.
  • Tea Tasting: Experience a traditional tea ceremony at “Jiufen Teahouse”, known for its wide selection of local teas.

Recommendations:

  • Must-Visit: The “Wisteria Tea House”, famous for its historical significance and stunning wisteria plants.
  • Best Time for Photos: Visit in the late afternoon when the light is perfect for photography and the ambiance is most tranquil.

Day Trips from Taipei

Thanks to its proximity to Taipei, Jiufen makes for an ideal day trip destination. Travelers can easily reach the town by bus or train, allowing them to explore its many attractions without having to spend the night. Whether you’re interested in sampling local delicacies, learning about the town’s history, or simply soaking in the atmosphere, Jiufen offers plenty of opportunities for a memorable day out.

Transportation Options:

  • By Bus: Take bus 1062 (Jiufen bus) from Taipei City Hall Bus Station directly to Jiufen. The journey typically takes about an hour, depending on traffic.
  • By Train and Bus: Alternatively, catch a train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang Station. From there, transfer to a local bus that heads towards Jiufen.
  • Private Transport: For a more comfortable and flexible option, consider hiring a taxi or booking a private car service from Taipei, which allows you to also stop at other sights along the way, like the coastal town of Keelung.

Recommendations:

  • Travel Tips: Take the early morning bus from Taipei to avoid crowds and maximize your day. Weekdays usually see fewer tourists, making for a smoother trip.

Sky Lantern Releasing in Shifen:

Just a short distance from Jiufen lies the village of Shifen, famous for its sky lantern festival. Here, visitors can participate in the tradition of releasing lanterns into the sky, each one carrying their hopes and wishes. It’s a magical experience that shouldn’t be missed, offering a chance to create lasting memories against the backdrop of the picturesque countryside.

What to See and Do:

  • Participate in Lantern Festivals: Aim for visiting during the Lantern Festival for a group release, enhancing the communal experience.
  • Explore Shifen Waterfall: A short walk from the lantern area, this stunning waterfall is a must-see.

Verdict:

Jiufen is a place steeped in history, mystery, and natural beauty. From its winding streets and historic teahouses to its scenic hiking trails and vibrant atmosphere, there’s something truly special about this mountain town. Whether you’re drawn by its connections to Spirited Away or simply looking for a unique destination to explore, Jiufen is sure to captivate your imagination and leave you with memories to cherish for years to come. Since it’s so close to Tapei, it’s a must-see on our list of locations in Taiwan.

-WL

Authors

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat is a startup attorney and co-founder of WanderLawyer. Anthony believes travel unlocks potential and opens minds. He’s been wandering and lawyering since 2014.