Jiufen, also spelled “Jioufen” or “Chiufen”. Jiufen Old Street is amazing and it’s probably one of the best sites I saw in Taipei and Keelung.
It’s in the mountains of the Ruifang District of New Taipei City near Keelung. It’s about a 40 min taxi ride from Taipei and well worth the cab fare. It’s a ride up the whining roads of the mountains. There are a bunch of things you see on your way up like the giant buddha.
There are multiple entrances into Jiufen Old Street. The one we used was next to the 7-11 cause the cab driver pointed to the entrance then proceeded to kick us out of his cab. We didn’t really have a choice. The entrance was very dark, narrow, and grimy. It reminded me of the scene from Bloodsport where Frank Dux had to walk through to get to the tournament.
Anyway, Jiufen Old Street is a bunch of alleys with shops along the way to the view of the mountain side. Some of the shops take credit cards and others are cash only. There are restaurants, snack shops, boba shops, hostels and clothing shops.
Furthermore, we arrived here around 9 PM, so there wasn’t much open and it was empty. However, we did get a chance to try a sweet potato dessert. It was served in a fairly large cup and less than $2 USD. It contained taro, boba, and jelly mixed with ice. The syrup was perfectly sweet and utterly refreshing in the Taiwan’s humidity. It felt perfect as you walk through the alleys of Jiufen.
In my opinion, the most appealing part of Jiufen Old Street is the lanterns hung along the alleyways. Some parts of the alley would be pitch black and the only thing shining would be the lanterns. It gives off a very surreal feel to it when you hear water dripping from the roofs of some of the building and it’s completely quiet. The other parts of the alleyways are well lit.
Once at the top, there are two paths you could take. There is a path to the mountain side to see Keelung and Taipei then there is a path down to the Spirited Away inspired area. To be honest, I can still replay the scene of walking through Jiufen Old Street and it definitely made its lasting impression on me.
Lastly, I would totally recommend Jiufen Old Street when you’re in Taipei. It’s 45 minute cab ride from the city and well worth the trip. I would recommend arriving before 5 PM cause most of the shops closed around 6 PM. There are a bunch of photo-op moments.
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