Asia,  Taiwan

Jiufen Guide: Taiwan’s real-life Spirited Away

Me and my friend decided to take a weekend trip to Taiwan while we were studying abroad in Tokyo, and during our 3 day trip, we wanted to explore outside of Taipei, and to Jiufen, which is known to look like it came right out of Miyazaki’s famous Ghibli movie, Spirited away. Since it is famous for having similarity to the village in Spirited Away, it is quite crowded and full of tourists. The day that we visited, it ended up raining, so we weren’t able to explore the area as much, but we were able to look into stores a lot more and enjoy our time inside and enough to be able to help you with a Jiufen Guide!

Jiufen Guide: Transportation

We wanted to get there using the cheapest way so we took public transportation. The bus takes about 1.5 hours and cost TWD 85 which is about $2.89. We got off of Songshan station and got on bus 1062 to Jiufen Old Street Station. Check the bus 1062 timetable and stops here. The bus took a while to come while we were waiting at the bus terminal. The ride there was also very nice since the ride was going through the mountainous and countryside area of Taiwan.
There are also other ways like taxi and tour bus, and these are more reliable and get you to Jiufen faster, but costs more.

bus ride view to Jiufen
Jiufen guide
The view from the bus ride to Jiufen

Jiufen actually doesn’t actually take too long, and if you have 3-4 hours it should give you enough time. It is perfect for a day trip, but in reality, you can still do things before going in the morning to make your day even more productive. We went to Ximending to walk around the shopping district before going to the bus to Jiufen.

Going back to Taipei from Jiufen is really easy since it’s a popular tourist place. The main road leads to a teahouse and is basically a dead end. To get back, you can take the same path you took to get there. It’s hard to get lost, but even if you do, I found that google maps worked perfect there. The buses apparently run until 9:30pm but we headed back at around 7pm to account the 1 hour and a half bus ride back, and we didn’t want to get back too late. Also most of the shops here are closed around 7PM, so there wasn’t much to do after 7. There are also taxis there past the last bus so if anything, you can use that. Google maps is also helpful to saying what time it should arrive.

Jiufen bus stop
The view from the bus stop the moment we got off

Jiufen Guide: Things to do

Shopping

Jiufen Old Street is one long narrow alleyway and has a lot of small food stalls, souvenir shops, pottery stores, and cafes. Walking up and down the stores and checking out each and every store is entertaining, and can take quite some time (and drain your wallet). Even though this sounds like a nice and peaceful getaway from Taipei, it’s not. Its very tourist-heavy and packed with people. Even though the day we went, it was raining a lot, and we weren’t expecting a lot of people there, the weather doesn’t matter to tourists, there were still so many people. But its fun just to go with the flow and entering and exploring any store that seems interesting to you! We also saw some stray dogs walking around and in shops. So cute!

There are roofs so some parts are protected by the rain
Jiufen Guide
There are roofs so some parts are protected by the rain

A-Mei Teahouse

Most people who go to Jiufen usually go for this building, A-Mei Teahouse. This teahouse is covered in lanterns and resembles the bathhouse from spirited away and is the most famous building in Jiufen. If you want tea from here, it is recommended to book ahead of time. Because we didn’t book in advance, and we weren’t too interested in it, we didn’t go inside and dined, but took pictures of it and admired the building. But if having tea at this iconic spot is your kind of thing, do it! If A-Mei Teahouse is too expensive, there were also many other tea houses around the area that isn’t as expensive.

A-Mei Teahouse
Jiufen Guide
The famous tea house of Jiufen!

 Taiwanese food

Taiwan has so many different food and snacks, and Jiufen has many stalls making and selling different kinds of food for cheap. Some food that is famous to Jiufen is Peanut Ice Cream Roll, Rice Cake, Fishballs, Taro Balls. Be sure to keep an eye out for those while walking down the alley! While we were walking down, we decided to get stinky tofu since we wanted to get it the moment we arrived to Taiwan, but never got the chance too. I personally don’t like tofu that much, but it was actually really tasty! The smell was a different story though… The smell of stinky tofu can be smelt from really far away!

Stinky tofu in Taiwan
Jiufen Guide
Stinky Tofu at Jiufen

Is Jiufen Overrated?

Jiufen is very known and is usually in people’s itinerary when they visit Taiwan. The village is small and narrow and is extremely touristy and crowded and can be hard to walk sometimes. Jiufen it’s self is fairly small so you can be done exploring the hour within 3 hours. Considering it takes 3 hours to get there and come back, it will take about 6 hours in total, so consider this before going.

Dog in jiufen
Dog in a store

Before going its important to check the weather, and note that its very hard to take photos here alone and others will be in your photo. I personallity enjoyed jiufen alot since it was a nice enviroment and I loved the laterns that was hung all throughout the alley. I found so many little stores with cute items and it was fun even just window shopping.

Jiufen actually used to be an old gold mine mountain and even though it’s flocked with tourists, Jiufen feels very old times and it felt as I went back in time a little bit. This was one of my first times going to a mountainous area so I didn’t mind the people too much. The ride there was also very beautiful and seeing the countryside of Taiwan passing by was stunning. I was also very surprised to hear a lot of Japanese while in Jiufen, either coming from stores and the tourist. It sometimes felt as if I never left Japan!

Overall, Juifen is a great spot to go to if you’re a fan of Spirited Away and want to explore an area outside of Taiwan. Plus, it’s only an hour away from Taipei, so it’s not super hard to get to, so why not?


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