If you’re visiting Taipei, then Jiufen and Shifen are two must-visit destinations worth adding to your itinerary for a unique cultural experience.
Located in the Ruifang District of New Taipei City, these two small towns offer stunning views of the ocean, lush mountain scenery and traditional Taiwanese architecture. With their winding alleyways filled with shops selling local crafts and street food, Jiufen and Shifen make for an ideal day trip from Taipei.
Not sure how to go about planning a day trip to Jiufen and Shifen? Follow this itinerary guide so you can worry less about the logistics/planning and more about actually enjoying your day out in the countryside!
This post may contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content. Thanks a lot!
Essential Tips For Visiting Juifen and Shifen
Here are a few tips and things you should be aware of before you head off to Jiufen and Shifen from Taipei:
- If you plan on using the internet for Google Maps, and even random internet searches when there’s no WiFi around, I’d highly recommend picking up a Taiwan prepaid SIM card. I did Taipei without a SIM card (just used T-Mobile’s free international roaming) and while Google Maps worked fine, even basic Google searches would take ages to load.
- You should get a contactless IC card (EasyCard) or a pass that provides unlimited transportation (like the Fun Pass for tourists). These will save you the hassle of needing to purchase individual tickets and with the EasyCard, it’ll even save you money as the fare is discounted when you use an EasyCard.
- Make sure to download Google Maps and Google Translate on your phone. That way, you can check bus/train schedules, access maps, navigate to your stops on foot, and read food menus easily.
- If you want to hike the popular Teapot Mountain Trail first thing in the morning before you explore Jiufen Old Street, pop Jinguashi Gold Ecological Museum into your Google Maps. The Teapot Mountain Trail starts right behind the Gold Museum.
- The weather in Jiufen and Shifen can be quite unpredictable, and rain is not uncommon. Make sure you pack a lightweight travel umbrella when visiting.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes as some parts of Jiufen can be hilly, especially if you want to explore outside of Jiufen Old Street.
- The travel distance to Jiufen will be about 1 hour from Taipei.
- To get to and from Shifen, be aware that the Pingxi train runs just once hourly. You’ll need to be mindful of the time in order to catch the train.
- Don’t forget to bring some cash with you as some of the small vendors don’t take credit card or EasyCard payments.
- Check the weather forecast before you head to Jiufen and Shifen. You’ll want to go on a clear and sunny day. If it’s rainy, chances are the fog will roll in, which will get in the way of all the great scenic views of the area! Plus, it’ll be wet everywhere, even in the little alleyways, which is no fun at all.
How To Get To Jiufen and Shifen
Getting from Taipei to Jiufen is quite straightforward. You can either go with a guided tour, take a bus, ride the MRT, or Uber/taxi there. Your public transportation options include:
- Take the 1062 bus from Taipei to Jiufen – the easiest and most direct way
- Take the 965 bus from Taipei to Jiufen – also easiest, but this bus comes less frequently
- Take a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train to Ruifang and catch a local bus to Jiufen.
The option that’s best for you really depends on where your starting point is in Taipei. In my case, since I was staying in the Ximending area, the most straightforward way for me was to take the 965 bus directly to Jiufen Old Street.
Getting from Jiufen to Shifen gets a bit more complicated. Since there is no direct train/bus from Juifen to Shifen, you’ll need to backtrack to Ruifang Station in order to get to Shifen.
Check out my detailed guide on how to get to Jiufen and Shifen here: How To Get To Jiufen From Taipei: 4 Easy Ways
Don’t want to deal with the logistics of figuring out which train to take? My recommendation is to go on an organized tour to Jiufen as doing this day trip on your own will mean lots of time spent on buses and trains to get to all the destinations listed here.
This is the one I recommend the most:
- Taipei: Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen, Shifen, and Golden Waterfall Day Tour – a full-day tour, should get you back to Taipei by 6 pm.
I highly recommend this guided tour because it allows you to see Jiufen and Shifen both in one day. If you wanted to see both via public transportation, while doable, it does take a lot more coordination (with lots of bus/train transferring) as the two towns are not that well connected.
Nevertheless, if you are more the adventurous type and don’t mind figuring out the transportation piece of it, below are all the stops I recommend checking out on a day trip to Jiufen and Shifen.
Things To Do During Your Jiufen and Shifen Day Trip
Hike the Teapot Mountain Trail
For outdoor enthusiasts, hiking the Teapot Mountain Trail in Jiufen is the perfect start to your morning on the coast. Located near the northeast coast of Taiwan, this stunning mountain peak is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
The 4.2 km (2.6 miles) round-trip hike up to Teapot Mountain offers incredible views over the surrounding landscape and an unforgettable experience.
The hike starts at the Jinguashi Gold Ecological Museum. There is now a fee of NT$80 to visit the museum. You’ll need to pay this fee in order to start the hike at the museum.
Once you’ve taken a look at all the outdoor exhibits, you will then walk towards the back of the museum and up the steps towards the Gold Building. Follow the train tracks to the very far end of the park. There are toilets here which you can use before starting the hike.
From there it is a moderate climb through lush forests before reaching the summit of Teapot Mountain. Along the way, hikers will be treated to spectacular views of nearby towns below, rolling hills, and breathtaking expansive views over the ocean horizon.
All in all, it’ll take you about 1-2 hours to complete. You can basically expect stairs up and down, except the last bit where you’ll have to climb up with the assistance of a few ropes.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to bring water and wear lots of sunscreen as most of the hike is exposed to the sun with little shade. You’ll also want to wear athletic clothes/shoes as there is a bit of scrambling you’ll have to do near the top.
See The Golden Waterfall
One of the most popular attractions in the picturesque town of Jiufen is the Golden Waterfall—a must-see for anyone looking to get off the beaten path and discover something unique.
The Golden Waterfall cascades down from a sheer cliff face near Jinguashi, an old mining village located just outside of Jiufen. This stunning spot offers breathtaking views over the mountainside, with lush greenery framing the rushing waters below—the perfect backdrop for any photo lover or nature enthusiast.
For those that love to walk, you can walk there from Jiufen Old Street (35 minute walk) or the Gold Museum (28-minute walk), or from wherever you are.
The quicker option would be to take the Gold Fulong Shuttle Bus (856) which will drop you off right by the waterfall.
Jiufen Old Street
No trip to Jiufen is complete without a visit to its historic old streets.
Jiufen is renowned for its cobblestone streets lined with colorful shops and eateries that serve up some of Taiwan’s most beloved dishes. Wander through the alleyways of Jiufen Old Street where you can find snacks such as sweet taro balls and peanut ice cream made from locally grown ingredients.
Stop by souvenir stores for beautiful handmade pottery or buy a few trinkets to remember your experience in this charming town!
If you want to experience what a traditional tea house feels like, head to A-MEI Tea House. Albeit a bit pricey (likely due to the tourism here), it can be worth it for travelers who aren’t familiar with traditional tea-drinking ceremonies.
Other notable places to dine include A-Jou Peanut Ice Cream Roll, 賴阿婆芋圓 (Lai Ah Po Taro Balls), and Siidcha (tea house with yummy foods and a great view). And if you’re into all things chewy, keep an eye out for this stand, selling salty yet delicious mochi items!
I got one with green bean and ginger, which was slightly salty and slightly sweet, certainly interesting unlike anything I’d ever tasted before.
Pro Tip: A lot of the shops and eateries in Jiufen open around 10am or after, so it’s best to busy yourself with the natural sights around the area first, or take it slow and have breakfast in Taipei before heading to Jiufen.
After you’ve had your fill of the eating and perusing in Juifen Old Street, it’s time to head to your next destination by bus and train. Head back to the bus station to catch the bus to Houtong Cat Village.
You’ll need to make a transfer at some point to another bus or the train (as there are multiple ways of getting there).
Houtong Cat Village
For cat lovers, a visit to Houtong Cat Village in Taiwan should be top of their list when planning a day trip to the Jiufen/Shifen area.
This small village boasts over 200 cats that freely roam the streets and alleyways! With pet food stores, cafes, souvenir shops and plenty of photo opportunities, this unique village is perfect for cat lovers!
Upon arrival, you’re sure to see at least five cats within the first few minutes there.
Take your time to wander through the streets and take photos with all the furry friends before browsing through the souvenir shops and sitting down for a drink at one of the cafes in town.
You will want to time your visit here, because the local Pingxi train comes just hourly, which is way less frequent than in Taipei. This means if you miss it, you’ll have to wait a whole other hour before you can catch the next one.
At this point, you’ll be taking the Pingxi train to Shifen Old Street. If you’re visiting on the weekend, expect these Pingxi trains to be packed! I recommend trying to visit on a weekday if possible.
Note: If you want to see Houtong Cat Village, you will need to go on your own self-guided tour as most of the guided tours do not make this one of their stops.
Shifen Old Street
Shifen Old Street offers visitors another unqiue experience that almost rivals the charm of Jiufen. The charming street was once used as a railway and today it has been transformed into an open air market full of food stalls, souvenir shops and more.
You can explore the area by walking along its historic tracks or by taking a ride through the sky lantern tunnel.
A lot of tourists tend to purchase their own paper sky lanterns to write wishes for good luck on and send off into the sky. However, as this is not particularly good for the environment, I don’t recommend you partake in this activity. You can just admire from afar and move on!
With plenty of places to eat, shop, and take pictures among many colorful stores, you’ll easily be preoccupied with all the things on Shifen Old Street!
Last but certainly not least is a visit to the Shifen Waterfall. The pathway to the Shifen Waterfall is just a quick 7-minute walk from the start of Shifen Old Street.
If you’ve never heard of this waterfall before, let me tell ya, the waterfall is a breathtaking sight to behold!
In order to reach the waterfalls, visitors will have to cross a long wooden platform surrounded by greenery and climb multiple flights of stairs.
The best way to experience the Shifen Waterfall is by taking a short, 10-minute hike through the lush forest surrounding it. The path will lead travelers up several steps until they reach an observation platform where they can look out over the impressive falls and take in its majestic power.
Jing An Suspension Bridge
While heading back to Shifen Old Street, make a quick stop at the Jing An Suspension Bridge.
Built with traditional materials such as bamboo and steel ropes, the Jing An Suspension Bridge offers a unique way to experience nature up close. Its distinct shape gives visitors plenty of opportunities to take memorable photos and admire magnificent sceneries from different angles as they cross from one side to another.
It’s a quick stop where you can snap some photos before hopping back on the train to head back to Taipei.
How To Get Back From Shifen To Taipei
The easiest way to get back from Shifen to Taipei is via the way you came.
This means taking the Pingxi train back to Ruifang Station, then hopping onto a bus that’ll bring you back to your hotel/accommodation (most likely the 1062 or 965).
I recommend popping your final destination into Google Maps and seeing what the recommended route is. Just know that 2-3 transfers is probably normal as Shifen is more out of the way from Taipei than Jiufen is.
Again, if you don’t want to deal with the logistics of figuring out all the transportation hullabaloo, I recommend going on a guided tour where you’ll have a dedicated bus shuttling you from town to town.
This Jiufen day trip tour is by far the most popular tour offered on Klook, as it provides a ton of flexibility for which destinations you’re interested in visiting. Your options are:
- Shifen and Jiufen
- Shifen and Jiufen at night
- Yehliu, Shifen, Jiufen
- Yehliu, Shifen, Jiufen, plus Golden Waterfall
Example Jiufen/Shifen Day Trip Schedule
Here’s an actual look at the schedule that I plotted out for my very own Jiufen/Shifen day trip from Ximending district. I hope this gives you a sense of the planning you’ll want to do in order to not miss the hourly Pingxi trains!
- 8:52 am – 965 bus to Jiufen, arrive 10 am
- 11:48 or 12:48 pm – bus to Ruifang, then transfer to train to reach Houtong
- 1:07 or 2:07 pm – train to Shifen
- 5:09 pm – bus 846 to 965 to Ximen (or 4:35 pm train to Ruifang Station and catch 965 bus)
Taiwan Travel Insurance
This is a no-brainer. When traveling internationally, be sure to get yourself some travel insurance.
I’ve heard of too many unfortunate experiences where friends and family have had baggage lost/stolen, hotels canceled, or have had unexpected medical emergencies while traveling where they’ve had to cut their trips short.
True story alert — in 2022, my partner even had his shoulder completely dislocated while surfing in Mexico, resulting in a $950 USD emergency room bill that we had to pay out of pocket for! Not fun and not cheap.
Without travel insurance, you would have to pay out of pocket for these mishaps. This is why I get travel insurance for all my international trips now!
One of the best budget-friendly travel insurances for those traveling outside their home country is SafetyWing.
SafetyWing Insurance provides coverage for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs. This means that if you get ill or injured, they will cover the medical expenses.
In addition, it provides emergency travel-related benefits such as emergency medical evacuation (much needed if you like to go hiking / trekking in the wild), travel delay, and lost checked luggage.
Looking for more Taipei travel tips? You may also like: