If you are fond of watching animated movies, chances are you are well familiar with Studio Ghibli‘s award winning film “Spirited Away”. Well, if you’re not familiar with the movie, then you may want to check it out by clicking HERE. Why am I telling you this? It’s because I’m a personal admirer of the movie AND Jiufen Old street is actually the mold unto which the setting of spirited away is patterned after. So, if you are a fan of Harry Potter, then it’s like treading the streets of diagon alley in Universal Studios Hollywood. Only that the real place is actually based on the movie and not the other way around. Well, you get the idea. So, let’s get started with the list!
1) Being in Jiufen is like being in “Spirited Away”
Of course this would be the first on my list. This is the primary reason why I wanted to check the place out. Some of the spots in Jiufen really gave me that wow-this-actually-looks-like-the-movie-feeling. If you haven’t watched the film, no worries. Seeing Jiufen is still something that would definitely interest you. Take your time in exploring the place- it’s easy to get lost in the maze of souvenir shops and food stalls.
2) Interactive and old-fashioned Museums
Jiufen is a humble town located at the northern part of Taiwan. It is formerly a mining town (though locals say that some still engage in the mining business as a means of livelihood) along with the other towns adjacent to it so, seeing gold mine museums within Jiufen is to be expected. What I love about the museums in Jiufen is that it blends well with the atmosphere of the town- they are maintained in such a way that the structure would not stand out among the other old structures in Jiufen. The hands-on activities on some of the gold mine museums are also fun and educational.
3) Weird souvenir shops and stalls
The most popular thing to do here of course, is to go to the Jiufen Old Street. The street features a confusing network of pathways lined with stores selling all sorts of weird goods. There are shops selling antique items, trinkets, lucky charms, statues, weird keychains, and.. masks? Yep- masks. It sure was fascinating to browse all these shops. I’m pretty sure there are also masks like these in Spirited Away, though I don’t know if the masks here came first or the one at the movie.
4) Cheap, diverse and authentic food.
Food here, like in Taipei, can be seen from one corner to the next. However, make sure to try out the food offered by restaurants and stalls that has been established way earlier than the others. These restaurants have often preserved their own family recipe, giving you a taste of the authentic food of Jiufen. The picture below is a restaurant in Jiufen famous for its steamed buns. Locals from the South even go as far as Jiufen just to have a taste of their treats.
Some tips to those planning to visit Jiufen:
–Consult Accuweather prior to your visit. Make sure to go on a sunny day. Trust me, even the slightest drizzle here can be annoying.
– To all food lovers, come on an empty stomach. There are lot of foods here not available in Taipei. It would be best to at least try a little bit of every dish native to Jiufen.
-Tourist centers are your best friend. After hopping off the bus, make it a priority to visit tourist centers first. Familiarize with the area and its attractions. Don’t worry, its free.
Expenses of Jiufen trip:
-Transportation: 105NT (3.55$)
-Food: 200NT (6.75$)
-Gold Mine Museum: 100NT (3.38$)
How to get there:
- From Taipei main station, take the train north to Ruifang station.
- Take a bus with route 827 or 788 heading toward Jiufen
- From MRT Zhongziao Fuxing, leave from exit 2
- Find and board bus route 1062 bound for Jinguashi
- Alight at Jiufen
Happy traveling guys!