On our third day in Taipei, we decided to do a day trip to the Ruifang District of New Taipei City. Our destination included Jiufen (九份) and Shifen (十分). They literally translate to nine portions and ten portions. Our first stop would be to Jiufen. To get here, you can either take the train to Ruifang Station and then take a Keelung Transit Bus. However, we chose the cheaper version which is to take only the bus. Take the MRT to Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station and take Exit 1. From there, make a u-turn and take the first left. You’ll find the bus stop for 1062. Beware of these marketers standing at the station who will try to sell you that the bus is just straight ahead. They are trying to sell you their own bus service that takes you to Jiufen but costs more. The public transit bus will cost only NT$102 but will take a little over an hour. The bus is sort of like a coach though so the seats are pretty comfy and you’re guaranteed a seat.
Jiufen is a mountainous area and therefore the roads are very curvy and steep. I was quite scared on the ride as there were points where I thought we would drive off, but I guess these bus drivers are super skilled! Almost everyone will get off at Jiufen, so just follow along.
Once you get off, there is a beautiful viewing point. From here, you can see a temple and mountains. Does this not look like Spirited Away or what? This is actually the town that the writer visited and drew inspiration from!
Follow the other tourists and you’ll find yourself in Jiufen Old Street (九份老街 ) which are both pedestrian streets with cute shops. Jiufen actually used to be a prosperous gold mining town, but when mining was discontinued, the streets and tea houses were saved so it has become a popular tourist spot to relive scenes from the past.
There is so much food here for all you foodies out there! Taro Balls are the most famous here. Look for Grandma Lai’s YuYuan as they are the most famous.
I highly recommend trying A-Jou Peanut Ice Cream Roll (阿珠雪在燒) which you’ll find a line up for.
These rolls feature peanut brittle shavings and two scoops of taro ice cream.
These were the bomb! I could eat this all day…
Moving along we found many stalls selling Pork Sausages.
That smell drew us in and we had to get one for ourselves. Not sure how clean the food is, but street food is a must in Taiwan!
One of my favourites were the Grilled Cuttlefish Balls. So satisfying!
You’ll find so many of these mochi ball shops where they are rolling them by hand. You can purchase them to bring home.
We decided to try this stall and got the cold version of the Mochi Ball Dessert Soup since it was so hot! NT$45.
They give you a mix of different types of mochi and beans. I really liked the mochi balls but the dessert soup was underwhelming.
Near the end of the street, you’ll find another beautiful viewing point of the countryside. By the way, the name Jiufen comes from the story that the village housed nine families back in the day.
We somehow wandered into this beautiful street and again it reminded me of Spirited Away. Oh, and there are tons of steps and uphill walking here, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes as walking is the way to get around here.
After snacking in Jiufen, I wanted to see Shifen. We hopped onto a bus back to Ruifang train station and checked out the railway route. We would be taking the Pingxi Line which runs through Ruifang and Pingxi districts.
It’s extremely important to go into the service center and take a picture of the train schedule because they come at one hour intervals. Missing a train means you’ll be waiting a while… The Pingxi district is a rural area in eastern New Taipei City. It was an important coal mining town back in the day.
Luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long for the train. You can tap your EasyCard before entering to use the train or purchase actual train tickets at the booths.
The railway line stops at multiple stops, all of which are coal mining towns. The railway track was actually used to transport coal back in the day. Many tourists visit all the stops since there’s something different about each one, but we weren’t sure about how much time we had, so we headed to Shifen, the one I wanted to see most.
When you get off at Shifen station, the most bizarre thing is that you cross the track by going in front of the train. So the train literally stops there until everyone has moved onto the other side…
There are so many tourists here!
Shifen Old Street (十分老街) is filled with sky lantern and souvenir shops as well as food vendors.
Of course we had to get something to snack on!
We got these delicious fried cuttlefish sticks. Mmm chewy and delicious!
This little town is just so charming! It’s like you’re taken back in time. Great place for photos!
Shifen is famous for sky lanterns, so you will find many visitors writing their wishes and setting them off.
An attraction I wanted to see was the Shifen Waterfall (十分大瀑布). This is the broadest waterfall in Taiwan and was very beautiful. I don’t think it can compare to the one we have in Niagara Falls back in Canada, but it’s pretty nice too. This was a bit of a trek and we got lost along the way but was well worth it. Around a 20 minute walk by foot or you can rent mopeds or take a taxi.
After the waterfall, we headed back to Shifen Old Street and decided to set the lantern as well. There are many stores selling the lanterns and I honestly think they’re priced around the same, so any stall is fine. This is the one we chose. I think we paid around NT$150 for a single colour. Each colour has a different meaning. We wanted to wish for a good career, so we chose blue.
The vendors will help you set the paper lantern on a rack with pins. Paintbrushes and paint and provided so you can paint your wishes. You can fill four sides with wishes, so perfect to share with four friends.
The funny thing about Shifen is that visitors are allowed to walk on the tracks pretty much whenever they want. But when a train starts coming, they ring a bell and tell everyone to get off. While we were writing, the train came and we had to run off. It’s pretty old school and I have no idea how safe this is considered…
Finally, we set our lanterns into the sky. Most of the vendors are super nice too and included in the price is photography. They can help you take videos or photos on your phone.
Hope all our wishes came true! A fun activity for a small price. Plus it’s beautiful watching all the lanterns go up.
After setting our lanterns up, we did some photo shoots along the railway track since it is pretty beautiful. Along the way, we also got some Taiwanese beer. Love that we can just drink on the streets here!
The famous Jing An Suspension Bridge (靜安吊橋) is located just across the train Station. It connects Shifen to Nanshan, another village.
The bridge was also used to transport coal back in the day. Today, it is a pedestrian bridge.
You can catch the sunset as well as lanterns taking off here. Beautiful. Overall, I highly recommend checking out Jiufen and Shifen. I was worried at first whether S would enjoy it since he’s a city boy, but I think he really appreciated the charming countryside in these districts. The views in these areas are breathtaking.
We took the Pingxi Line back to Ruifang station and were hoping to catch the bus back to Taipei City. However, we could not figure where we were and our wifi and battery was dead. We ended up catching the train back to Taipei Main Station. I think you’re supposed to purchase seats at the booths, but because we used our EasyCards, we did not get assigned seating and ended up having to stand…Not fun. Our train made a stop at Songshan, so I suggested we get off and check out Raohe Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市). Take Exit 5 when you get off.
This is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei and is pretty big! Tons of food, shops, and even games.
There are also some stalls that offer seating. People eat and go, so the wait isn’t long to get a seat.
I swear S was on a mission to eat all the Fried Chicken Steak in Taipei, so of course, he couldn’t leave the night market without one.
Mmmm so crispy and the piece was the size of our face. You can also choose different flavoured seasoning. I found this one to be a top contender! You can have it whole or have it cut up.
We decided to sit at this stall for some snacks.
And I got the Fried Oyster Omelette. Taiwanese oyster omelettes are always so glutinous with that gooey binding. A must try in Taiwan.
With all the food, we needed to get some drinks so of course we had bubble tea! We checked out this stall called Dragon Beads.
We got the Chocolate Milk Tea, thinking it would be chocolate flavoured bubble tea, but we were wrong! These tapioca balls were filled with chocolate! Something I’ve never seen before. No wonder the pearls were so big. It was pretty interesting, but I think I still like the normal pearls!
We checked out some other vendors and then headed back to the hotel after a long day.
Jiufen: Take MRT to Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station and take Exit 1. From there, make a u-turn and take the first left. Take bus #1062 towards Jiufen
Shifen: From Ruifang Train Station, take Pingxi Line to Shifen station.
Raohe Night Market: Take MRT to Songshan MRT station and take Exit 5: Raohe St, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105