Jiufen - a romantic ancient village in Taiwan

Shining brightly under the light of hundreds of red lanterns and the rows of bricks glistening with water when it rains, that is Jiufen (Jiufen), a small village located far from Taipei City (Taiwan, China). ) not far. The romance and purity have made Jiufen the most popular day trip destination in Taipei.

A-Mei Teahouse in Jiufen with its signature red lanterns. Romantic Old Town
A-Mei Teahouse in Jiufen with its signature red lanterns. Romantic Old Town

Founded in the Qing Dynasty, Jiufen is a village relatively isolated from the outside world. Until the late nineteenth century, the Japanese empire occupied Taiwan and discovered gold mines here. Many people flock to Jiufen to dig for gold, which has formed the busy streets along the mountainside. However, after World War II until 1971, the gold mines were gradually closed, and Jiufen became desolate. It was not until 1989, when the film "City of Sadness" by director Hou Hieu Hien, set in Jiufen, was a resounding success, that this place was reborn. Since then, tourists have flocked to, restaurants, eateries, tea rooms, souvenir shops sprang up everywhere. Currently, in Jiufen, there are still many buildings built during the Japanese colonial period. Besides, classic Chinese and Japanese-style cafes, tea houses, and local food restaurants are the highlight of this small mountain town.

Perhaps Jiufen is most romantic in the evening, especially when there are light rains. At that time, the zigzag stone-paved streets were sparkling with water, colorful umbrellas undulating. Under the wide umbrella are tourists, couples huddled together, holding hands and whispering loudly. In the dusty rain, it is interesting to sit by the door of a beautifully decorated cafe or inside a tea shop, next to a pot of tea or a cup of fragrant, evaporating coffee. Go out into the distance to see Keelung Harbor or simply the flow of people walking down the street. You will feel light and peaceful. Jiufen has two very famous old tea shops, Jiufen Teahouse, dating back to 1991. The shop is made of wood, decorated simply but makes visitors feel comfortable and cozy. The second tea shop is A Mei Teahouse with rows of red lanterns and bright romantic windows at night.

Another attraction of Jiufen is the food. Many delicious local dishes are waiting for you to discover such as soft sweet potato soup, pineapple cake, rotten tofu, steamed taro cake, deep fried seafood, peanut ice cream... too greasy, not spicy but just the taste. Jiufen has only a few streets, but it seems that the culinary elite of Taipei are all gathered here, so it can be said that Jiufen is the paradise of street food. You will find yourself needing to stay here for a whole month to enjoy all the delicious food.

Jiufen is a village leaning on the mountain and facing the sea.
Jiufen is a village leaning on the mountain and facing the sea.

Explore nature

In addition to eating, shopping, and relaxing, Jiufen also has spectacular natural scenery. When standing in the ancient village, you can see Jiufen surrounded by mountains and sea. The beauty of Jiufen will be more impressive when you stand on the mountains and capture the majestic beauty of this place. There are two options for tourists who want to go hiking, Jilong Mountain and Teapot Mountain.

The dark blue Jilong mountain rises up in the middle of the sea, only 588m high, so it is not a challenge for professional climbers. Those who do not have experience climbing can completely try. Teapot Mountain has an altitude of 730m above sea level and has a 4.3km walking route, so you can go back and forth during the day. Compared to Jilong, climbing Teapot mountain is a bit more difficult and steep, but there are very clear signposts, the sections to climb have ropes and railings. It only takes 2 hours to half a day to walk and you can stand on the top of the mountain and see the whole city of Taipei, Keelung and Neihu. A whole green of stretching forests is at your feet, Mount Keelung and countless small islands and bays like a dragon bending over the sea. On clear days, you can see the whole Taipei 101 tower - the pride of Taiwan. Note that when going hiking, you should wear loose and sweat-absorbent clothes, bring a wide-brimmed hat and a good pair of sports / trekking shoes with grip soles.

If you have time, give Jiufen at least 2 days to fully experience this place, from the romantic to the majestic, from the spicy dishes to the sweet desserts. You will see a charming, lovely Jiufen and will understand why it is so loved by foreign bloggers.

From Taipei, you can combine your trip to Jiufen with other places on the same route as follows: The shimmering sky lights of Shifen

Jiufen - a romantic ancient village in Taiwan
Jiufen - a romantic ancient village in Taiwan

During the Japanese colonial period, Shifen was located on a coal transport railway. Today Shifen becomes a tourist area and the old railway track is named Pingxi. Tourism in Taiwan is worth learning when the government always knows how to take advantage of the old infrastructure, both to preserve and develop tourism, and to promote culture and history to visitors. Pingxi Old Street is located next to the old railway track, on both sides of the road are lovely cafes and souvenir shops.

In Thap Fen, there is a custom of releasing sky lanterns because people here believe that sky lanterns flying high and shining brightly also mean that prayers will fly far, fly high and come true. Going to Shifen at night, you will see a lot of people from all over the world flocking here, cheerful and radiant faces writing their wishes on the lights and releasing them into the clear sky, creating a magnificent scene.

Shifen's romantic beauty was included in the famous movie "You are the apple of my eye". About a 45-minute walk from the pedestrian street, there is also a 40m-high waterfall and the tranquil Cheng-An Temple for you to explore while in Shifen.

Houtong Cat Village

Houtong Cat Village
Houtong Cat Village

In the early 1900s, Houtong was a prosperous town and the largest coal mining site in the Taiwan area. However, after that, the mining stopped, the population from 6,000 people decreased to only a few hundred people, turning this place into a wasteland.

It wasn't until 2010, when a photography blogger and cat lover started writing about stray cats in the village and posting them on social media, attracting the attention of animal lovers, Houtong has gradually become a hub for cat lovers and a popular tourist destination.

The small village on the mountainside becomes lovely with murals, cat statues, even cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops all have pictures related to cats. There are more than 100 species of cats in Houtong and you can see them anytime, anywhere, in every corner of the village. Note when visiting Houtong: You are not allowed to freely feed the cat with strange food, do not chase the cat, and when taking pictures, the flash must be turned off.

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