Jiufen is so well-known that I think there's no need for introduction. Simply do a google search and so much information about the charming town pops out. Instead of writing the same old description and history of this place, I'll just go straight to provide simple guide based on my own experiences.
Whether you go by bus or taxi, you will alight outside of the Jiufen old street entrance. Before going in, take a little walk at the side and admire the amazing scenery.
The entrance is always jam pack as it is kinda narrow, and beside it there's a public restroom which always have a long queue. It's quite challenging to take pictures or videos here. I suggest just squeezing through the crowd first and come back later to explore more when you are leaving.
The best part of traveling is eating! There are quite a few food stalls near the entrance, and probably the most eye-catching is the Fishball Soup place.
Just look at the mountain of fishballs! Their fishball soup is serve with vermicelli, cost about US$2.00 per bowl.
Further down is a shop that sells egg products, such as the Taiwan famous Tiedan (aka iron eggs), century eggs and tea leaf eggs. I recommend at least getting the tea leaf eggs, they are so, so, so much more delicious as compared to those found in convenient stores. They're cheap anyway! About 33 cents per egg if I remembered correctly.
Fresh water snails, anyone? I'm not too sure if they are considered exotic food, but to me they looked really appetitizing.
The shop owner will slice them nicely and serve it in a plate with dipping sauce. The texture kinda special, some parts are chewy and some parts are soft. (It taste somewhat similar to abalone, and I had to order 2 servings because I love it so much.)
Somewhere in the middle there's a colourful ice cream puff shop. They looks good, but I'm not too sure about the taste as I've yet to try it.
There are quite a few stores selling the popular Jiufen Fenyuan aka Taro balls. Besides Taro (yam), other ingredient includes sweet potato, pumpkin, green beans, read beans, grass jelly and serve together with shaved ice.
Huang Mama Jiufen Jelly 黄妈妈
A special shout out to this stall - selling probably the best jelly I ever had in my life. Comes in all kinds of fruity flavours, such as mango, orange, lychee and... many more! Sadly, I didn't managed to snap a nice picture of the stall. Anyway, do visit them, try their samples and you will love it instantly!
Besides eating, there are so much to shop too. One of the most unique shop is the fortune cat house. If you love fortune cat, you will go crazy over this shop. They sells all kinds of design, and even in the form of Doraemon.
If you are a believer in horoscope or zodiac, there's also a gemstones specialty store. The shop assistants there do explain about the gem properties and offer suggestion on what is best for you based on your birth date.
As you hike up the old street, you will eventually reach a open area. It is almost at the top of the mountain, the view is amazing from here. Hint: best spot for photo taking.
Time to leave
Head out via the same entrance that you came in from. If you are still a little hungry, grab some chewy cuttle fish, there's a stall outside the entrance selling them. Then, go to sheltered area beside it, where you can take a sit and enjoy more scenic views while chewing away.
How long to stay
I suggest at least 5 hours to fully explore the place.
How to go
From Taipei TRA, take to Ruifang station. From Ruifang take the Keelung Transit bus to Jiufen. Exit the Ruifang Train Station and turn left staying on the busy street right in front of the train station. Staying on the right hand side of the street keep walking straight until you pass a police station. The bus stop heading to Jiufen and Jinguashi will located a little past the police station. It can be a little confusing, so just keep chanting "Jiufen? Jiufen?" to the bus driver and he will let you know when you have reached.
Take Jiufen bus no. 1062 (bus company is Keelung Bus). Directions from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT: Take MRT exit #2, the bus stop for no. 1062 is just in front of exit #2, below the elevated railway line. Journey is about 1 hour. This is my preferred method as it is more comfortable to just sit in the bus all the way and enjoy beautiful scenery along the way.
Information credits to: https://wikitravel.org/en/Jiufen
Do check out my Taipei itinerary, it will save you from lots of planning troubles!
Experience Taipei in a short span of 3 days is possible. I will help you optimize your budget, at the same time without compromising the fun. The focus of this trip is to mainly experience the lifestyle of this beautiful city, by sampling a range of Taiwanese food, and with many shopping opportunities. Per pax budget estimation is based on 2 person going on this trip.
I can't wait to visit Jiufen again, so that I can try more food and provide more recommendations.
Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions. I will try my best to answer them!