Jiufen Old Street 九份老街
Personally I would think that visitors who come to Taipei had really had to make a trip out of the city to Jiufen. Jiufen Old Street is all about foodstalls 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, those who were not already had their mouth filled with the many mouth-watering snacks. Everyone was spoilt for choice, there were just too many delightful 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 TWD$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 and even the famous Ximengting and had seen tons of souvenirs, but here we discovered that souvenir shops in Jiufen Old Street were retailing many things you could not find elsewhere, and even of higher quality. 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, the price is the same.
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 TWD$50 or USD$1.60 each. All in all, we spent TWD$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, most of which was not available in Taipei night markets too.
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 wow……the taste was really good, no wonder the long queue. You had 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 snakes around. Takeaway 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 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 unfold right in front of you. Many were stunt 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. The long stairs leading down even before that famous A Mei Tea House was probably 100 metres long, or more than that. It was not easy to keep still there to have a good picture, the huge crowd going up and down the stairs certainly prevent you from doing so.
It’s a must too to have a drink at A Mei Tea House.
For more about A Mei Tea House, do read my other follow-up post.
This staircase is the most iconic and popular photography hotspot of Jiufen Old Street, it’s a must to be picture here.
Above picture: The historical ShenPing Theatre. There were a numbers of teahouses around here, get into one if you were tired. I hate this blue coloured lorry, it parked there loading goods for a very long period and totally disfigured the scenic view.
It was already near 2pm, 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 Sheng Ping Theatre. But after following the directions and walked 5 minutes through some narrow lanes, we were exhausted, so we turned back to the Sheng Ping Theatre and walked all the way back to the entrance of Jiufen Old Street. So beware, if you had taken a hundred steps down the steep stairs, now it’s pay back time. At Jiufen Old Street, visitors actually exited where they entered.
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.
Check-it-out in the upcoming post!