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Fabulous Day Trip to Jiufen Old Street (九份老街), Taipei

Taipei . 2016 . Nov 21

This post is part of our Kaohsiung / Taipei Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here.

Jiufen is a place that you should ideally allocate one day of your trip to cover it adequately.   Our last trip to Taipei was pretty packed, so we had to cover both Jiufen and Shifen in one day.

This time though, we decided to do Jiufen some justice and dedicate an entire morning and afternoon to cover this charming old street that not only promises great food, but also fabulous shopping and incredible scenery.

How to get to Jiufen from Taipei City?

For detailed directions on how to get to Jiufen from Taipei city, please read our previous article here.

For reasons unknown to us, the train tickets to Ruifang at the timing that we wanted was mysteriously sold out soon after it opened online for sale.  We could only book the 7:30am seats on the Tze-Chiang Limited Express 272 to Ruifang Train Station (that’s why it is important to book your train tickets early instead of buying on the day of the trip itself).

At Ruifang Train Station, we found that the cab fare to go to Jiufen has increased from 180NT (SGD$8) to 205NT (SGD$9) in less than 2 years’ time.

At this early hour of 8:15am, there was already a huge cluster of cabs waiting for their first customers for the day.

If you are interested, these cabs also offer day trip services, based on a package price on a per cab basis - meaning that groups travelling in fours are in luck, because the cost of each cab can be shared amongst you.

The cab ride up to Jiufen took less than 10 mins, with breathtaking scenery along the way.

Jiufen Viewing Platform

Some of the best views at Jiufen are at this viewing platform called 登山觀海亭, literally translated to ‘ocean-viewing platform at the top of the hill’.

According to this map of the coastline, we would be able to see as far out as Keelung and Yehliu on a clear day!

What to eat at Jiufen Old Street (九份老街)?

This little dark alley opening beside 7-11 is the beginning of Jiufen Old Street, the gateway to hours of great food and wonderful shopping.

At 9:00am, we were so early that the majority of the shops were still closed - almost deserted except for the delivery vehicles.

Fortunately, these 2 shops opposite to each other were opened.  Time for some breakfast!

This Ah Po fish soup (阿婆魚羹湯) is one of the signature dish in this Ah Yun traditional noodle shop (阿雲傳統切仔麵店) which is supposedly famous.  According to the stall owner, they open early every day to cater to the Jiufen locals.

The menu.  Ah Po fish soup (阿婆魚羹湯) is priced at NT45 (SGD$2).  We decided to try the assorted fish ball soup (綜合魚丸湯) instead.

Let’s see what’s so special about these fish balls.

The huge ones has got minced meat inside, while the smaller ones are just pure fishballs - not the bouncy and rubbery ones that we are used to in Singapore, but authentically handmade ones.  The uniqueness of this dish lies in its home-made style soup - very much like what my mum would cook for me…

Opposite to Ah Yun traditional noodle store is this dessert shop called Lao You Hao Yu Yuen (老友號芋圓) selling my favorite dessert in the whole wide world - Taro Balls!   In case you do not know yet, Jiufen is famous for its Taro Balls (芋圓),  and there are so many options around!

We were the first customers for the day, and we got to choose to sit outdoors - dessert with a view!

Yummy!  These assorted taro balls comes in either a hot or a cold version (both at the same price) and are all hand-made at the shop.  I have got high expectations for my taro balls but I must say that these exceeds my expectations!  Personally, these are my favourite taro balls at Jiufen Old Street.

Ah-Jou Peanut Ice-Cream Roll (阿珠雪在燒) is just slightly further down the street from Lao You Hao Yu Yuen (老友號芋圓).

Another must-try item at Jiufen Old Street, this ice-cream is wrapped with peanuts and folded into a spring roll.

Easy to eat while shopping along the street.

Fans of our local Ang Gu Kueh should not miss out on Ah Lan Yu Guo (阿蘭芋粿) at Jiufen Old Street.   One of the most popular stores along the street, its hard to ignore the bright orange signboard and the perpetual crowd gathering around.

Business is so brisk that it is hard to get to the front to see the flavours available.

As with most other shops at Jiufen Old Street, these yu guo (芋粿) are freshly hand-made at the store every day.

My Ang Gu Kueh or what they call yu guo (芋粿) here.  Honestly I do not like Ang Gu Kuehs very much, but these really do taste fresh and different.

One of the most famous stores in Jiufen Old Street for taro balls (芋圓) is Lai Ah-Po (賴阿婆).

At only NT45 (SGD$2) per cup, what’s stopping me from having another go at taro balls today!

Between Lai Ah-Po (賴阿婆) and Lao You Hao Yu Yuen (老友號芋圓) which we had in the morning, I really enjoyed Lao You Hao Yu Yuen (老友號芋圓) a whole lot more.  Taste is a rather subjective matter, but I prefer my taro balls bouncy and QQ and that is what I get at Lao You Hao Yu Yuen (老友號芋圓).  The ones at Lai Ah-Po (賴阿婆) is more syrupy and sweeter and I really didn’t like it that way.

Towards the end of Jiufen Old Street, you will find lots of tea houses.  Just like at Maokong, there are great views while sipping away at those piping hot tea for which Taiwan is famous for.   One of the most famous and iconic tea houses in Jiufen must be A Mei Tea House (阿美茶樓), but we didn't visit it although we had been to Jiufen twice!

Personally, we felt this Shan Hai Guan tea house (山海觀茶坊) had the most splendid views.   It also looked as if it had a decent menu with main courses in addition to teas.

What’s more, they also had a hotel/minsu (民宿) at another location, right in Jiufen Old Street itself!

Our choice of teahouse for the day was this Wang Qing Xiao Zhu Tea House (忘情小築茶坊), randomly picked because it was slightly away from the commercial main street and we liked the exterior of this tea house.   It turned out to be an extremely poor choice, because service was so bad that we actually cringed.  Service in Taiwan in general tended to be good, but this one was the worst that we ever encountered.  We would not recommend this teahouse at all cost, there’s plenty of other tea houses around that you can pick at random.

The threadbare menu.  Other than some light pastries/light snacks, there’s actually no main courses served here.  They also enforce a rule that each customer must place at least one order (priced exorbitantly),  a rule that I am sure other tea houses enforce as well.  But the problem here was that there were so little choices, we had difficulties finding something we each liked on the menu. I am ok with paying money for an experience, just not a poor one.

The only consolation we get is to enjoy some excellent views, use the restroom, and avoid the perpetual rain.  Ignore the lousy service and staff.

My rose tea (NT200, about SGD$9.10) and orange juice (NT180, about SGD$8.20).

What to see and buy at Jiufen Old Street (九份老街)?

Get your money ready for Jiufen, folks, because Jiufen happens to be one of the best places to shop in Taipei.

Let's start off with these Japanese-style wooden clogs.   There’s actually 2 shops here that custom-makes these wooden clogs.  Their customisation actually means - try the existing clogs for sizing, choose a cloth, and they will clobber the cloth to a new clog for you on the spot and adjust for you slightly if it doesn't fit you too well.  All in 10 mins time.

I bought one pair of clogs at this shop that had a Japanese name and is closer to the beginning of Jiufen Old Street.

Loving the very oriental cloth designs.  What's more, they are very comfortable and slip-resistent!  At NT490 (about SGD$22.40) per pair,  they are quite a steal.

These are the cloths of the clogs.  There are so many options,  I am sure everyone can find one that they like.

The ones with wooden carvings on the side of the clogs will cost a lot more.

These large clogs are best for the bathroom and very steady and comfortable!  If we ever come to Jiufen again, I will buy them, but I will need to bring more money….

Down the Jiufen Old Street, there’s another similar store called King of Wooden Clogs.

The designs are quite similar and prices are the same as well.

Walk down Jiufen Old Street and you will find lots of shops selling their own brand of ginger tea and health beverages.   In fact, ginger tea is available everywhere in most places in Taipei, even at the commercial malls.  But there’s something about these beverages that are sold in the streets of Jiufen that is so appealing - Sample drinks are available and the stocks of teas and beverages are home-made at the back of the shop itself.

My personal favourite must be the haiyan wo (海燕窩), a beauty drink that contains large amounts of collagen and is said to be beneficial for woman’s health.  Talk about drinking a beauty product.

Ornaments?  No, they are actually ceramic flutes!  They are available at Shi Cheng Tao Di (是誠陶笛), a shop which was easy to locate because they demonstrate the playing of the flutes here.   Each of these flutes are painstakingly hand-crafted and painted at the shop itself.  The smaller ones can cost as little as SGD$4 and comes with a music score!  Perfect as a gift.

You shouldn't miss out on this shop called Guo Feng Xiao Pu(菓風小舖)A Sweet Place for Sweethearts which was actually a candy shop.

It claims to sell the best coal chocolates in the world, whatever coal chocolates was in the first place…

Even if you have no intention of buying chocolates or candies, take the opportunity to browse through the shop for its creative ideas and innovative packaging.

These boxes of candies look like they come from a stationery shop.

Mahjong tiles? Fruit crates?

Looks like products from a chinese medical hall, but they are actually chocolates!

Beautiful packaging that makes great gifts for friends and family back home.

Along Jiufen Old Street, expect to discover exquisitely made or cute stuff that we hardly can find in Singapore.

If you have a furry friend back home, you will love this pet’s clothing shop at the end of Jiufen Old Street, opposite Shan Hai Guan tea house (山海觀茶坊).  Each of  these creations comes in different sizes.

Somewhere near Jiufen Elementary School (yes, there’s still a need to have a school even if this has become a touristy place), there's a museum of ghoulish masks called 泥人吳鬼臉館.

This museum was recommended by our private tour guide at Kaohsiung, but we didn’t pay the entry ticket to go in.  I don’t think I want to be haunted by nightmares of these horrible looking faces.

Around the same vicinity, there’s Fu Fa (福發牌) shoes.  Sounds very prosperous if you read the name in chinese, and so if you buy a pair, you can have prosperity under your feet?

There’s a male and female section.  Each of us bought a pair, which happened to be quite cheap, and extremely comfortable.  Highly recommended!

That concludes our 1-day visit to Jiufen.  We hope you enjoy our post! :)

Special 1-day tour around Yeliu, Jiufen and Shifen by KKday, Our Travel Partner

For those of us who wish to explore Yeliu, Jiufen and Shifen in one day but are lazy to navigate their way around, we are pleased to share with you a travel deal from our Travel Partner KKday! :)

Click on the link below for more information!

Join us next as we share our beauty hoots in Taiwan!

This post is part of our Kaohsiung / Taipei Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here.

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  1. Hi! I enjoyed reading your blog, it's very informative and fun. I'm going to go to Jiufen 2 weeks later. I was wondering, did you take the bus back to Riufang and the train back to Taipei? What time did you leave Jiufen?

  2. Hi Glaiza Mei,

    Thank you for visiting our blog and we are glad that you enjoyed reading our blog.

    We took a cab from Jiufen to Ruifang and then the train back back to Taipei.
    We left Jiufen around 3pm as our train back from Ruifang to Taipei was at 4pm.

    Hope the above information helps! :)


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