Travelling in the Taipei region is all about day-trips and the one that involves Yehliu 野柳 and Jiufen 九份 is a popular combination amongst many travellers. Likewise, we have tried this route out on our 4th day, which unfortunately didn’t start off well as it was raining pretty heavily.
Yehliu Geopark 野柳地质公园 is often noted for its peculiar rock formations and sea-erosion landscape. However, Tiantian and I felt that it paled so much in comparison than what we thought. The geopark isn’t particularly huge and it can easily be completed within an hour or two. The rock formations aren’t exactly stunning, and the famous ‘Queen’s Head’ has become victim to hordes of tourists queuing to take photos with it.
Moreover, the journey to Yehliu and onward to Jiufen can easily take up 2-3 hours in total. On hindsight, we felt that we should have spent the whole day in Jiufen!
Jiufen 九份, on the other hand, was once a prosperous gold mining town, but is now converted to a popular destination for tea houses and architecture reliving scenes of the past. The centre of attention would be the Old Street 九份旧道, a collection of souvenir stores and eateries, which epitomises the “shop and eat” routine of many tourists. Though this routine isn’t one worth praising, both shopping and eating in Jiufen have their unique points.
Walking along the Old Street, you might occasionally hear tunes that resemble those of flutes. These tunes are actually coming from small porcelain flutes shaped based on various animals and items, which are apparently popular in Jiufen. Moreover, many stores also stock wooden postcards, which can actually be written on and posted out immediately in the postboxes located along the street!
Out of the numerous snacks in Jiufen, those worthy of a mention are the taro balls served in hot sweet soup and large fishballs/meatballs soup. If you’re looking for something cold, there are ice cream wraps with peanut shavings and peppermint leaves – biting it gives a crunchy and refreshing feeling that is really cool! Local Taiwanese delicacies such as mochi or pineapple tarts are also aplenty here, we bought a few from a store recommended by our friends – 阿信的店.
A trip to Jiufen should also include drinking tea at a tea house. Many of the tea houses are perched on the sides of the hill upon which Jiufen is built, so we got in one that had a clear view of the hill and ocean below. We sipped tea in the traditional style from the early evening till the sun set completely, and watched Jiufen turn from one bustling place in the day to a serene town in the night lighted up in orange. Not only was the tea drinking a well-deserved break from the long day for us, we thought that the calming atmosphere of Jiufen in the evening was one worth waiting for.
While doing our research, we realised that the transportation advice to Yehliu and Jiufen are often unclear. So here’s what we did eventually:
- From Taipei Bus Station Block A, we took a bus to Jinshan 金山 (board at platform 8). This bus will stop nearby Yehliu Geopark (~1 hour), and it takes another 10-15mins to walk in.
- From Yehliu to Jiufen, you would have to transfer via Keelung. It’s impossible to get a cab at Yehliu, so we took a bus to Keelung (~1 hour), before taking a taxi to Jiufen (~40 mins). Taking a taxi will be cheaper and faster for groups of 4, otherwise there are buses to Jiufen as well.
- To return to Taipei from Jiufen, we took the bus back to Keelung and the train back to Taipei.
- Don’t worry about the bus service no. or where to stop exactly. You are not only one going to these places – just follow the crowd or ask the friendly bus drivers!