view of jiufen at night beautiful colors of the teahouses

Shifen to Jiufen: How to See 2 of Taiwan’s Best Towns in A Day

While there is so much to do in Taipei itself, one of the best things about traveling to Taipei is the sheer abundance of day trip possibilities there are in the region.

The small town of Shifen with a train track running straight through it is one of the best-loved day trips from Taipei!

It’s especially easy because the gorgeous Shifen Waterfall is just a short walk or electric scooter ride from the train stop.

The lovely town of Jiufen is also a hugely popular day trip, especially in the evening.

As the night falls, the orange lanterns come to life and you can watch the sunset from one of the magical teahouses on the hill!

Lanterns in the city of Jiufen seen at night
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While you can go to both towns in one day on a guided tour, you can also go from Shifen to Jiufen independently to give yourself more flexibility to explore and photograph at your leisure.

Public transportation in Taiwan is very affordable and reliable, although signage can sometimes be a bit difficult due to the written language barrier.

However, I never really found the language barrier to be that much of an issue.

I found that Taiwanese people were always willing to go above and beyond to help, no matter what their proficiency in English was.

That said, if you don’t want to stress getting there with public transportation, there are convenient day tours of Shifen and Jiufen together that allow you to see both towns easily.

  • This tour includes not only Shifen and Jiufen, but also Yehliu Geopark, and also throws in a Taiwanese pastry class to boot!
  • This tour includes Heping Island and its beautiful geological formations, as well as visits to Shifen and Jiufen
  • These organized private shuttles will let you get between Shifen and Jiufen at your leisure, without needing to deal with public transportation.

How to Get to Shifen from Taipei via Ruifang

A train on a track in shifen with the mountains covered in greenery behind it

In case you’re not in Shifen yet, here’s how I recommend going independently on public transport from Taipei.

Start at Taipei Main Station, which is accessible on both the Red and Blue MRT lines.

Walk towards the train section of the station. You can buy your ticket at one of the machines or from a staff member.

Tip: If using a machine, have cash rather than use a card, as many foreign credit cards don’t work properly in Taiwan

We chose the Tze-chiang class, which is a limited express train, and it took about 45 minutes to get to Ruifang. The cost was 76 Taiwanese dollars, which is about $2.50 USD

From Taipei Main Station, you’ll need to take a train to Ruifang (in Chinese: 瑞芳站). Basically, you can take any northbound train that is not headed towards Keelung.

Trains Traveling at Pingxi Line in , New Taipei City, Taiwan

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from locals when finding your train, as it can be a bit confusing to find the right train, as only the ending destinations are listed.

Just ask people for Ruifang and perhaps have the Chinese translation saved in your phone notes so you can show people.

Locals will be glad to point you in the direction of the right train.

From Ruifang, you can easily transfer to the Pingxi line.

Buy a one day pass from the stand; it’s the best option and it costs only 80 Taiwanese dollars (about $2 USD).

Ride the train from Ruifang to the end of the line at Shifen– easy!

view of shifen waterfall framed by green foliage

When you’re in Shifen, be sure to see the Shifen Waterfall and Old Street, the suspension bridge, and watch the people setting off lanterns on the train tracks!

Optionally, you can stop at Houtong Cat Village on the way from Shifen to Jiufen, as it’s located on the Pingxi line as well.

I didn’t have a chance to visit (I slept in too late that day, as I am likely to do!) but it would have been as easy as getting off the train, checking out the town for a bit, and getting back on when I was finished.

How to Get from Shifen to Jiufen Independently

Shifen Old Street - the train goes through the center

If you’re already in Shifen, luckily it’s pretty easy to get to Jiufen from there.

Using your one-day train ticket on the Pingxi Small Railway line, you’ll want to ride the train back to the terminus at Ruifang.

You won’t have to pay again as you will have already bought the one-day pass.

Once you get back from Ruifang, you’ll need to exit the train station and head to the bus stop. After exiting the train station, walk to the main street, then turn left.

Walk about two blocks. (You can find the exact location of the bus stop by inputting Jiufen as your destination in your Google Maps).

There are three different buses which will bring you to Jiufen, the #788, #827, or #1062.

I don’t recall the exact cost of the bus, but it was quite cheap (carry cash!).

There is signage on the bus stop that is translated into English as well, making it easy to figure out which bus route to take.

It’ll take about 25-30 minutes to go from Ruifang to Jiufen. Don’t let yourself get lost in your phone: the views on the way to Jiufen are simply incredible.

Temple detail with coastline in the distance with setting sun light

It’ll let you off right by a temple that looks like this.

Not a bad view, eh?

Walk up the street past the temple and you’ll see the start of the Jiufen Old Street area!

Keep walking up, passing the food stalls, until you reach the iconic teahouses everyone visits Shifen for.

The famous teahouses of Jiufen with Mount Keelung in the distance and the beautiful coastline of Taiwan

It’s especially stunning right around sunset — just look at that landscape overlooking the sea, with Mount Keelung in the distance.

Now you can see why everyone loves it!

Just be prepared for the massive crowds that descend on Jiufen virtually every night.

It was packed with tourists when we visited on a random weekday in January, which is pretty much low season!

Getting Back to Taipei from Jiufen

Returning from Jiufen going down the stairs of a narrow old street

This part can be a real pain in the neck, because Jiufen is such a popular nighttime destinations and the buses only run about once every 30 minutes.

We waited at the bus stop for a while, only to find every bus going back to Taipei (#1062) completely full.

Another option would be to take the #788 to Keelung Station and then take the 4107 shuttle to Songshan Station.

Instead, we were really tired, so we opted for a collective taxi, which cost 300 Taiwanese dollars per person (approximately ~$10 USD).

For a comfortable and convenient ride back to Taipei minus all the waiting, it was well worth the extra price.

You could also book a private shuttle from Jiufen back to Taipei if you wanted a smooth return trip home without needing to share a cab.

12 Comments

  1. Dear Allison,
    Thank you for this elaborate post on how to do Jiufen/Shifen in a day!
    I would like to ask though, what day did you do this trip on (Weekend or weekday?). A few friends and I are planning to visit Jiufen on a Sunday some time in Jan ’19 and we’re wondering whether there are buses and trains running on the weekend? Additionally, would you recommend to go on a weekday instead, or is there no difference.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Matthew! Thanks, I’m glad this was useful! TBH I don’t remember if I did it on a weekend or weekday but I think it would be fine on a Sunday. If you’re concerned about timing on a weekend, taking a Taipei-Shifen-Jiufen-Taipei shuttle bus inexpensive and a little easier than figuring out public transportation. I’ve updated a post with a link to the shuttle bus you can book on Klook. Here’s the link (affiliate): https://www.klook.com/activity/2093-jiufen-shuttle-bus-ximen-taipei/?aid=4731

    1. Hi Lisa! I just walked over the taxi area near the bus stop after I noticed how full the buses were, and they were arranging collective taxis. I didn’t book it in advance 🙂

  2. Hi Allison,
    I will be traveling with my father who is 80 years old for Shifen & Jiugen day trip from Taipei next spring time. Would you recommend early morning departure or mid day departure for the day trip. We would love to see Jiufen with lantern lights
    My farther walks 3-4 kilometers so he is fit enough for individual day trip.

    1. Hi Cindy, I think I was able to buy the ticket on board the bus, or maybe I used an MRT card? This trip was in 2019 so if I don’t have it documented here I’m not sure I remember, sorry. The shuttle is probably the easiest way to go about it if you’re not certain about public transit, as the public transit was quite busy and we couldn’t take the bus back from Jiufen to Taipei (had to do a shared private taxi).

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