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[New Taipei] Jiufen – Travel & Food Guide

Jiufen, Taipei County
Streets of Jiufen (九份) town, overlooking Ah Mei Teahouse

Jiufen (九份) is a charming little town situated in the mountainous area to the north-east of Taipei city. Historically, it was a prosperous gold-mining town but declined when mining work ended. The name of the town literally means “nine portions” and apparently was so named when there were nine families living in the town. Hence, nine portions of goods were ordered by the nine families every time new shipments arrived from out-of-town. The area was revived by tourism when the picturesque town was featured in an award winning Taiwanese movie, A City of Sadness (悲情城市). Since then, Jiufen had been the inspiration for several other movies, most notably, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. The place is now famous for its rows of period-designed shophouses selling special snacks such as taro balls and rice cakes.

Getting to Jiufen from Taipei
As we booked a 1-day cab for a day tour of the outskirts of Taipei, Jiufen was one of our stops. More details of our itinerary at a later post. For directions using public transport, refer to Wiki Travel Taipei or Taiwan Tourism Website. A summary of the directions as follows:
Take the TRA rail to Ruifang station and change to the Keelung Transit bus heading towards Jiufen and Jinguashi. Alternatively, you can take the a 1-hour journey Keelung Bus 1062 directly from Songshan station or Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station Exit 1.

Jiufen Old Street
The shophouses lining part of the covered streets. There are many unique souvenirs and specialty snacks to be found here.

Jiufen traditional fish balls

First stop was Chang’s Traditional Fish Balls (九份張記傳統魚丸), an eatery popular for its fish balls and steamed chicken. We ordered the mixed fish ball soup (混合魚丸湯) NT$40 which is the shop’s specialty, drunken chicken (醉雞) NT$160, stir-fried greens (青菜)NT$40 and a bowl of braised pork rice/lu rou fan (傳統魯肉飯) NT$25. Apart from the lu rou fan which we find so-so (pampered by the excellent one at Formosa Chang), the rest are super delicious. The chicken has the jellied-type “collagen” which we like.

Jiufen traditional fish stall
九份張記傳統魚丸  Chang’s Traditional Fish Balls

地址: 新北市瑞芳區基山街25號
Address: 25 Jishan St, Rueifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224

Passion Fruit Drink

After shopping for souvenirs, we stopped by a drink stall for a cup of passionfruit drink with aiyu jelly (愛玉). Yummy, refreshing and thirst-quenching. The jelly, which was made from the seeds of a fig, had a soft yet firm texture and a mild sweetness to it. There were many educational posters about the production of aiyu jelly in the shop.

Gold Mine Aiyu 金礦愛玉
地址: 新北市瑞芳區基山街51號
Address: 51 Jishan St, Rueifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224

JiuFen Ang Zao Meat Ball

A unique snack is the meat ball with red vinasse. The red vinasse, or hongzhao (紅糟), is the same as the one you find in hongzhao chicken dish, such as the one featured by wiffy. This particular stall is vegetarian and therefore uses mock meat. The glutinous paste covering the mock meat was very sticky and lent a special texture to every bite.

Jinzhi’s Vegetarian Meat Ball with Red Vinasse 九份金枝紅糟肉圓
地址:  新北市瑞芳區基山街63號
Address: 63 Jishan St, Rueifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
電話/Telephone: 02-24969265/02-24960240
Note: the non-vegetarian stall is located nearby at 112 Jishan St

Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake, JiuFen
Hakka glutinous rice cakes from Ah Lan come in a variety of flavours. A unique snack only found in Jiufen, they are freshly made and there is always a long queue for them. We bought one of each of the flavour to try.

阿蘭宇粿/草仔粿 Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake
地址: 新北市瑞芳區基山街90號
Address: 90 Jishan St, Rueifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224

Grandma Lai's Taro Balls

Another unique dessert found only in Jiufen, taro balls in sweet soup. Every bowl comes with a variety of taro ball flavours and you have the option of hot or chilled. Very nice texture and delicious. NT$50 a bowl. This is possibly the most famous food in Jiufen, and Grandma Lai is the most popular shop selling it.

賴阿婆芋圓 Grandma Lai’s Yuyuan (Taro Balls)
地址: 新北市瑞芳區基山街143號
Address: 143 Jishan St, Rueifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224

Ah Mei Tea House, JiuFen
There were several teahouses in Jiufen so we decided to try one out at Ah Mei Tea House. The surroundings and decor were very traditional and beautiful. Here, you get to experience the art of making tea: Gongfu tea (功夫茶).

阿妹茶酒館 Ah Mei Tea House
地址: 九份 崇文里 市下巷20號
Address: 20 Zongwenli lower district, Jioufen

Ah Mei Tea House, JiuFen
Top left photo: The menu showing the types of tea leaves to pick from. For a start, you will be shown a demonstration on how to prepare and serve the tea. There were several steps and each require a level of skills and experience to perform. Otherwise, the tea’s temperature or fragrance would not be perfect. A brief summary of the steps to the best of my memory: Push a small amount of tea leaves into the teapot. Use the provided kettle to fill the teapot with hot water. Cap the teapot and pour hot water all over the teapot. Wait for a few minutes. The first round of tea from a fresh batch of leaves is not for consumption so fill the 4 scent cups (聞香杯) (the tall cups) with it and rinse them out by pouring them over the teapot. The scent cups are used for appreciating the aroma of the tea. Fill the teapot again with hot water. Wait for a few minutes. Pour the tea into the scent cups and invert them into the small drinking cups. Remove the inverted scent cup and the small cup of tea is ready to be served.

It was all self service after the demonstration so we all had fun trying out the steps and serving tea. You will receive a large bundle of tea leaves which can refill the teapot around 3 times, and is strong enough for you to make 4 to 5 rounds of tea with each refill. Our 四季香 tea leaves cost NT$400 and a hot water fee of NT$100 is chargeable per pax. There is also a 10% service charge.

Li Yi Cake Shop, JiuFen

Li Yi Cake Shop (李儀餅店) flagship outlet is found here. There is another outlet in Taipei Main Station’s underground mall. This shop specializes in baked confectionery such as sun cakes and pineapple cakes, similar to Chia Te Bakery. The sun cakes here are very famous. For a more comprehensive review of this excellent bakery, refer to this post: Li Yi Cake Shop.

李儀餅店 Li Yi Cake Shop
地址: 新北市瑞芳區汽車路18號
Address: 18 Qiche Rd, Rueifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
電話/Telephone: 02-24965628

Jioufen
Cute doggy and kitties, part of the small number of local residents inhabiting Jiufen town. We spotted only one kitty initially, but as the owner took out a food plate and placed it on the ground, several more kitties emerged suddenly out of every nook and cranny to join in the feast. :)

Jiufen's Scenery
Jiufen’s scenery of mountain and seacoast from Jishan Street is truly very beautiful and unique.

Check out all Taipei food reviews.

This article is written by contributing writer, B.

   

Leave a Comment





20 Responses to “[New Taipei] Jiufen – Travel & Food Guide”

  1. ju — September 2, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

    Hi Wiffy, I am also planning a day trip to Yeliu, Jiufen, Jinguashi. Is your driver gd? Can you send me his contacts via email? Tks.

    Reply

    • wiffy replied: — September 3rd, 2012 @ 10:26 am

      Yes he is good. I’ll be posting the itinerary 2 weeks from now with drivers and hotel contacts. Is it in time for your trip?

      Reply

      • ju replied: — September 4th, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

        I will be traveling to Taiwan during late Oct. However it seems that most of the popular drivers are fully booked. Is jiufen suitable for elderly as I noticed that there are many stairs to climb? Tks.

  2. wiffy — September 5, 2012 @ 9:31 am

    Hi Ju, my driver was Mr Xu Wan Liu 0933920845. You basically hire him for 12 hours – 830am to 830pm. NT$3300 for 4 persons. He was recommended to me by the famous Meeky Yang who was unavailable. Mr Xu was professional, polite and punctual. My family get along well with him. The standard route is all the places you mentioned above (I skipped Yehliu as I have been there before), and Shifen right after Jiufen. If you have not been to Shifen, I highly recommend that you drop by. If you have more time he will bring you other places like some night market which we skipped. I think the steps at Jiufen is still manageable, in fact I think Gold Ecological Park has more walking/steps … however since you hire your own driver, you can do it at your own pace. HTHs, how many days is your vacation and are you travelling out of Taipei?

    Reply

    • ju replied: — September 5th, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

      Tks for the info. I have wrote to Mr Meeky Yang but there has been no reply from him. So dont bear much hope that he is still available for Oct. Yehliu and Shifen, which one is more suitable for elderly in terms of walking, sightseeing? I have not been to both but I know that Yehliu is all about rocks and Shifen for lighting lanterns. Will skip Keelung as I have been there before. I will be staying in Taipei for 6 days and my itinerary will cover the museum, memorial hall, danshui, hualien taroko, jiufen etc. This trip is customized for elderly so it will be slow paced.

      Reply

      • wiffy replied: — September 5th, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

        You can call Meeky at 921915586. He is on whatsapp too. I read that he is active on FB lol, so you can try that too.

        I booked a driver for Hualien who brought us to Tarako and the Zhiqiang Night market. Will be posting about it.

        Since you are booking a driver for one day in Taipei, I think you can go both Yehliu and Shifen. Shifen not much walking, basically you are lighting the kongming lanterns. Yehliu a bit more walking than Shifen but I don’t think it’s very “xiong”. Basically when you are there, you have the flexibility of deciding how much you want to walk and explore the place.

        I just posted about the food in Danshui fyi :)

  3. ju — September 5, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

    Will call/ whatsapp Meeky as he is not responding to email. I did not manage to book the popular Mr Looi Lai Fu as well but he will help to arrange a ‘caring’ driver. So u cover Jiufen/ Shifen/ Jinguashi in a day tour? How much time do u spend at each place? Will there be sufficient time to explore if I include Yehliu? Yr reviews helps a lot. Tks.

    Reply

    • wiffy replied: — September 6th, 2012 @ 9:38 am

      Yep I cover them in a day. Even asked the driver to send me to Chia Te in the morning and Wulai in the evening, and we ended the night at 8pm. I spent most time in Jiufen (like a few hours), as I wanted to enjoy the place fully (lots of shops in addition to eating). I don’t know how much time you will spend on each place as everyone differs, so I’m sure the driver will be able to give you better recommendations :) I will personally check out Yehliu if I have not been there before, because it isn’t too far from Jinguashi, and it’s a hassle to go without a car (I went there via public transport last year and it was a pain!).

      Reply

  4. travelpenchant — September 9, 2012 @ 1:11 am

    Hi Wiffy
    Thanks for such an informative post! Just checking if we oni wanna do Jiufen then return to Wufenpu & Raohe Night Market from late afternoon, do you think it’s beta for us to hire a driver just to go Jiufen?

    NB: We’ll be staying at XMD in the last week of Sep :)

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • wiffy replied: — September 10th, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

      Hi there, I hired my driver for 12 hours, so I personally feel it will be more worth to ask the driver to bring you places not easily accessible via public transport – e.g. Jiufen, Shifen, Yehliu, Gold Ecological Park, Yilan etc. Wufenpu & Raohe can easily take MRT or cab from Taipei city. Unless you hire the cab only to go to and back from Jiufen. Just my personal thoughts :)

      Reply

  5. Lynn — September 23, 2012 @ 1:36 am

    Hi Wiffy,

    If I only want to visit Jiufen, is there really a need to hire a cab driver? I am thinking of just dropping by Jiufen from the morning to late afternoon, then head back to Taipei and drop by Miramar for a while. From some of the other blogs I have read, Jiufen seems easily accessible via public transport (ie. train and then bus). I suppose it is the same way back? Bus and then train back to Tpe.

    Reply

    • wiffy replied: — September 24th, 2012 @ 9:48 am

      Hi Lynn,

      I personally think that if you are only visiting Jiufen, you can opt for public transport. Usually, one book the cab driver for 12 hours, and the driver will bring you to several places. For Jiufen, I did it together with Yehliu/Nanya area, as well as Shifen. You can confirm the bus numbers when you are at the station.

      Reply

  6. Yung — October 5, 2012 @ 10:50 am

    Cant he taxi driver speak English? I’m planning on visiting Chiufen in January and I need a taxi hire for 6 people. can you recommend any? Thank you

    Reply

    • wiffy replied: — October 5th, 2012 @ 11:14 am

      I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t think my driver Mr Xu Wan Liu speaks English. However you can call Mr Meeky Yang at 921-915-586 and he might be able to speak some, or recommend English-speaking drivers.

      Reply

  7. Peter — December 20, 2012 @ 2:59 am

    Hi,

    I just chanced upon your blog, after seeing this post i’m tempted to hire a cab driver to bring my family (me, my wife and my 9 months old daughter) to the outskirt of Taipei.

    Do you think its possible to cover Yehliu-JiuFen-ShiFen in a day? Are the roads leading to these places too windy for a baby?

    Thanks.

    Reply

    • wiffy replied: — December 20th, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

      Hi, I know the cab drivers usually do the Yehliu-Jiufen-Shifen (+ gold ecological park and some random sights) in a one-day tour, unless you spend too much time in one place (you basically book the drivers for 12 hours). The roads ARE windy, especially to Jiufen and Shifen. Those who are prone to motion-sickness are usually advised to take motion-sickness medication. I’m not sure if the route is suitable for baby or not.

      Reply

      • Chloe replied: — May 7th, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

        Hi Noobcook, I love your simple recipe and just realise you have wrote travel posts too. :) May I know if you have do Taichung too? Do you have driver recommended for Taichung? Thanks.

        • B replied: — May 7th, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

          We took the Taiwan HSR (High Speed Rail) to Taichung and did not hire a driver as we only visited the Fengjia Night Market. Will put up a post on Taichung in future. :)

  8. Mandy — January 8, 2013 @ 11:14 am

    we only 2 person want to find the driver who can bring us go around Taipei like Jiufen+Shifen+Yehliu+Wufenpu … etc for 1 day.
    Somebody can recommend the driver contact email to me?

    Reply

  9. Sandy — February 7, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

    Hi Wiffy,

    Does Mr Xu Wan or Meeky Yang have an email address to contact them? I tired to add Meeky to whatsapp but don’t work. I plan to go to Taiwan for 4 days in April and need some help planning out my trip. Thanks!

    Reply