The day has finally come for us to go from Taipei to Jiufen and Shifen. Travelling from Taipei to Jiufen Old Street is much easier than what we had in mind. Simply go to Taipei Main Station, use your Easycard or purchase a train ticket at the counter and take the TRA train to Ruifang Station.
Chinese translation is available. Kindly click the button on the right column to interchange the language. ( 本栏设有我翻译的中文版，请点击右手边的翻译切换语言。如有失误偏差，请多多指教。)
The main reason for us to go Taipei is a visit to Jiufen and Shifen, any other attractions are secondary.
So what’s so interesting about Jiufen? The famous Jiufen Old Street:
And what about Shifen? The Sky Lantern:
The 3 Types Of Train In Taipei
How to go Jiufen from Taipei?
To Travel from Taipei to Jiufen, first we need to be at Taipei Main Station, catch the TRA to Ruifang Station, and from there take a taxi or bus to Jiufen.
Firstly, get to Taipei Main Station :
Secondly, proceed to the TRA.
Purchase your TRA ticket at the counter or use your Easycard if you already got one. EasyCard is a store-value card which allows commuter to travel between some buses, TRA and HSR just by tapping the card, instead of looking for coins and dollars. It can be purchase through the ticketing machine at any Metro Station or at convenience stores such as Family Mart and 7-11.
Go to the basement of Taipei Main Station, and be shocked by the large crowd over there. We could see that 80% of them were tourists. But noticed that most of them were actually locals who had probably came from other cities. We were told that Ruifang, Jiufen and Shifen were favourite weekend getaway for the locals.
The station has very informative directives, so you will not lost your way. Our train to Ruifang will come at 10.05am.Reading from the train schedule, we noticed that trains to Ruifang comes every 50 minutes, so do not panic to get into one. In Taipei, most signages are in both English and Chinese.
The congested area is made worse when the train arrived. The alighting commuters are eager to head for their destination, while those on the platform are eager to board. We followed the crowd and then did we knew why is there a need to rush into the train as soon as possible: to get a good seat.
Note that seats are not allocated, it is on first-come-first-served basis, it’s better to be seated as the journey to Ruifang station takes about 50 mins.
The seats arrangement is very much like the Taipei Metro, but instead of getting hard plastic seats, you get a comfy sofa-like seat, good for a long train ride.
There is even washroom on the train.
Just in case you have no idea where is Ruifang, here’s a map for you. Ruifang is indicated in red colour on the top right hand corner.
The train runs through 9 stations before arriving at Ruifang. I noticed that most of the train stations are either very small or poorly maintained.
Ruifang Train Station
Finally after a 50 minutes journey, we arrived at Ruifang station. We’re so close to our dreamlands- Jiufen and Shifen.
Remember to picture yourself with the train.Take Note : Visitors who are proceeding to Shifen or Qingtong or Pinxi, alsoneed to alight at this Ruifang Station and proceed to the other platform to change train. By the way, the travelling time to Shifen is about 50 minutes. Or you may exit here and take a taxi to those places. Kindly read my other post on Taipei to Shifen, Jiufen and Qingtong
Picture below: Directions towards Ruifang Old Street, as that’s the place we wanted to go, so we exit from here.Upon exiting the station we were rather surprised that the holding area was so small and narrow.Steps away from the exit is a Tourist Service Booth with lots of informative brochures on Jiufen. We are told that the last train to go back from here (Ruifang) to Taipei is 11.30pm and the last bus to go from here to Shifen is 9.30pm. The counter staffs are very helpful, so go to get whatever information you need. The priority is always to find out the timing of the last bus and train, unless you intend to stay for a night, otherwise you could end up staying overnight here.
Ruifang Old Street
Looking at Ruifang from the entrance/exit of Ruifang Train Station.
This is Ruifang, a very small town. We decided to take a walk to feel the pulse of this ‘cute’ town.
Markets and eateries at Ruifang Old Street.
Jiufen and Shifen tour packages
After 30 mins of walking, we decided to go back to Ruifang train station, where we first arrived. Here, just about 30 metres away is a taxi stands where you can book your tour to your dreamland of Jiufen Old Street or Shifeng and its surrounding attractions. Do not worry about being cheated, as tour packages on itinerary and prices are clearly indicated on the big signage.
As a DIY tourist, or tourists without a tour guide, I love all these clearly indicated tour package charges, they are very useful in guiding me if I’m paying the right price for the right service. The Taiwan Tourist Promotion Board did a great job in that!
Above are tour packages for Jiufen, Shifen and Yeliu, probably the most essential travel guide for anyone who comes on a DIY tour. For the benefits of those who do not understand Chinese, I have literary made a translation on it :
Package A( TWD$1,000): Ruifang Train Station/Nanya Rock Formations/ YinYang Sea/ Remains Of The Thirteen Levels/ Golden Waterfall/ Jiufen Old Street.
Package B ( TWD$1,500): Ruifang Train Station/ Shifen Waterfall/ Shifen Old Street/ Jiufen Old Street.
Package C ( TWD$2,300): Ruifang Train Station/ Jiufen Old Street/ Yeliu/ Back to Taipei
Package D ( TWD$2,500): Ruifang Train Station/ Jiufen Old Street/ Shifen Waterfall/ Shifen Old Street/ Back to Taipei
Package E (TWD$3,000): Ruifang Train Station/ Nanya Rock Formations/ YinYang Sea/ Remains Of The Thirteen Levels/ Golden Waterfall/ Jiufen Old Street/ Shifen Waterfall/ Shifen Old Street/ Back to Taipei.
Currently TWD$1,000 converts to USD$29.80
Take note of the following:
1. YinYang Sea is also known as Bay of Two Colors.
2. Shifen Old Street, is the location where Sky Lantern are found.
3. Jiufen is also known as Chiufen.
Most of the tour packages has a duration of 3 hours, do negotiate with the taxi operator before boarding to avoid any dispute. Many DIY tourists did not notice this place, as a result they either book a tour to Jiufen/Shifen from their hotel or through tour agency, and we all know that these parties charges a price so high that it makes you look stupid and gullible.
Visitors can aslo go to Jiufen or Shifen by taxi or public bus. Bus fare to Jiufen cost TWD$150 or USD$4.50, it makes economical sense to hire a taxi if more than one person is travelling.
The above table on taxi fares clearly indicate the charges to Jiufen, Shifen, Jinhuashi, Shifenliao and Shuangxi. With these tour packages as a guide, do not be scared of being con, just negotiate with the taxi driver and go for your happy holiday.
Bus to Jiufen
Nevertheless, we decided to take a bus to Jiufen Old Street.
As the bus stop right at the front of Ruifang Station has already been moved to another site, we just followed the instructions and head towards the new bus stop location.
Following picture is the new bus stop to Jiufen, it is just 5 minutes walk from Ruifang Train Station.That’s the bus to Jiufen and Jinguoshi. We are told that it comes every 20 mins. The destination of the bus is clearly indicated at the front of the bus.The bus fare is inexpensive, we paid TWD$150 each using Easycard. After a 15 minutes journey going up the beautiful mountain, we finally arrived at the legendary Jiufen! You won’t miss this bus stop, firstly the bus captain shouted the name ‘Jiufen’ loudly. Secondly, 80% of the passengers alighted here. Should you missed this stop, the next one is 200 metres away and thereafter is Jinguashi, cross the road and take the bus back then.We follow the crowd and walk up the hill and there we are, at the entrance of Jiufen Old Street. The entrance of Jiufen Old Street is just beside the 7-Eleven convenience store. That’s how easy it is to travel from Taipei to Jiufen, in a economical and interesting way, totally at your own time, and most importantly, own pace.
Check-it-out on the upcoming post on Jiufen Old Street- 九份老街