Personally, I would think that visitors who come to Taipei had really need to make a trip out of the city to Jiufen. Jiufen Old Street is all about food stalls and tea houses. But be here and you could strongly feel a sense of nostalgia from the moment you walked into the narrow lanes. Believe me, in Jiufen, we are at the very best of Taipei attractions! It’s just as good as Shifen and Yeliu. So much so that I visited all of them twice in 4 months!
And for those who did make the one hour trip from Taipei to Jiufen, they had only one regret: Why didn’t I come here earlier in the day? That was exactly how I felt after visiting the place
Most of the shops here are concentrated along the 300 meters of cobblestone steps. Camera, Action! That’s exactly what visitors did the moment they enter the busy street. Shutterbugs were busy with their camera, while others had their stomach filled with the many mouth-watering snacks.
So many food stalls selling typical Taiwanese snacks, ranging from the springing fishballs ( above picture) to mochi (gelatinous deserts), along with another dozens of shops retailing Chinese tea, paintings and souvenirs.
That’s Cha Ye Dan, or Egg Boiled With Tea Leaves, cost less than NT$30, and it’s really tasty. Eat it while it’s still hot…not warm!
Jiufen was the 3rd day of our Taipei tour, prior to being here, we had been to many night markets including the famous Ximengting, but it was here that we discovered that souvenir shops in Jiufen Old Street were retailing many things you could not find elsewhere. So if you come across anything you like, just grab it, for once you leave this place it’s ‘game over’- you won’t be able to get the souvenir elsewhere.
If you had missed out on getting that iconic Sky Lantern at Shifen, get it now at Jiufen Old Street, there are plenty here!
Word of advice: Keep your stomach near empty before coming to Jiufen Old Street. With more than a hundred eateries, you could actually pick-up any snack you like along the way and continue with another, which was what we did. The snack here doesn’t cost much, averaging NT$50 or USD$1.60 each. All in all, we spent NT$1,200 on just the snacks alone. Mind you, Taipei was known to be famous for its night market snacks, but somehow I found those in Jiufen Old Street had a higher quality and much more tasty!
There was a shop which food was so good that even current Taiwanese President Ma Ying Jiu had visited before. The queue was ‘extra-ordinary’ long, we were curious about it, so…… we joined the queue.
After 20 minutes of queuing, we finally got our serving. Not sure what went into it, but the wow……the taste was really good, no wonder the long queue. You have to try this! Easy to eat, easy to swallow and easy to digest, that seems to be the main criteria of Jiufen Old Street food. Where Taipei food and snack is concerned, just eat it if you think you like it, never even bother to ask what’s that?
Jiufen was actually a very much unknown town at the far end of Taiwan until gold was discovered in 1893. The gold had since depleted in the early 1970’s. What was left today was a very much touristy site.
Perhaps, the most interesting part of Jiufen Old Street was the many narrow lanes which snake around. Take away the lovely snacks and tea, the place would be left with no tourist. We visited it on a weekend and was rather surprised to see most visitors were Taiwanese themselves, mainland Chinese and the Koreans. There were very few Caucasians around.
The only problem with Jiufen Old Street was the steep and narrow lanes, with many down slopes and stairs to climb. If you had come with some seniors, toddler or the physically impaired, it could be a very challenging trip, you might want to leave them at the entrance, which many did, while the adults and children dashes around the shops and lanes like a schoolboy going into a candy shop.
Walk straight since entering the lanes would lead you to the observation post. This was one of the main attractions of Jiufen Old Street. Out of a sudden, the majestic view of Jiufen was unfolded right in front of you. Many were stunned by the view, though it was still quite cloudy, considered that typhoon was still around the corner.
Juifen Old Street has so many stairs and slopes up down the hill, but without a doubt, there was one which attracts all visitors and shutterbugs. There is a long stair leading down to the famous A Mei Tea House. That was the most famous staircase in Jiufen.
This was the 2nd time on the same day that I saw newly wed taking pictures at A Mei Tea House.
It’s a must too to have a drink at A Mei Tea House. I love this Jiufen so much that a few months later, I came back again to stay overnight at one of the authentic hotels in this hilltop. Staying Overnight At Jiufen
For more about A Mei Tea House, do read my other follow-up post. Jiufen A Mei Teahouse
This staircase is the most iconic and popular photography hotspot of Jiufen Old Street, it’s a must to take a picture here.
Above picture: The historical Shenping Theatre. There were numbers of teahouses around here, get into one if you were tired. I hate this blue colored lorry, it parked there loading goods for a very long period and totally disfigured the view.
It was already near 2 pm, we had spent almost 2 hours just in this Jiufen Old Street, yet there were so many more places to go. We were told that there was a route leading to the bus stop not far away from the Shengping Theatre. But after following the directions and walked 5 minutes through some narrow lanes, we were exhausted, so we turned back to the Shengping Theatre and walked all the way back to the entrance of Jiufen Old Street. At Jiufen Old Street, the entrance and exit is the same location.
Having reached the entrance of Jiufen Old Street, we decided to proceed to Jinguashi– a former gold and copper mining area and the famous Golden Waterfall.
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