Taiwan: Jiufen Real Life Spirited Away

Note: All photos are mine unless otherwise stated                                                                               Disclaimer: I’m not commissioned by any businesses or services mention below

Jiufen is a village sits on the mountain at the northeast side of Taipei, Taiwan. The name Jiufen in Chinese means “Nine Portions”, which comes from back in time when this village was inhabited by nine families, so every time the goods brought back from the market were divided into nine portions. Jiufen was a gold mining town from the late 1800s well into 1970s. I have to make a statement here, although Jiufen resembles the town in Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away a lot, however, contrary to popular beliefs which you see everywhere on the internet, Jiufen did not inspire Miyazaki for his Spirited Away. Miyazaki said it himself in an interview. The streets of Jiufen are filled with restaurants, eateries, hawkers, stores selling unique retail merchandises, and what Jiufen is known for, tea houses.

Jiufen (Photo courtesy of travelandescape.ca)

Jiufen (Photo courtesy of travelandescape.ca)

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Taiwan: Shifen Waterfall & Pingxi Sky Lantern

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Shifen and Pingxi are two historical small towns located in eastern Taipei in the mountains. Both towns are only an hour drive away from Taipei, making them a great day trip. Shifen is best known for the waterfall, Shifen Waterfall. Shifen Waterfall is perhaps the most visited waterfall in Taiwan. Nicknamed Niagara of Taiwan, Shifen Waterfall is 20m high by 40m wide, making it the broadest waterfall in Taiwan.

Shifen Waterfall

Shifen Waterfall

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Taiwan: Night Markets in Taiwan

Note: All photos are mine unless otherwise stated                                                                               Disclaimer: All photos are mine unless otherwise stated

A trip to Taiwan isn’t complete without at least visiting a night market once. Taiwan is known for its vibrant night markets scene. Night markets are filled with restaurants, street foods, cheap snacks (Xiaochi), unique retail gems, and carnival games. There are hundreds of night market big and small throughout Taiwan which usually open every night; you can find one pretty much in every city and every town. Night markets is an excellent way to try local delicacies. Night markets is a fixture embedded in every Taiwanese’s life. The Guardian even named Taiwan the home to best street food, which you can read the article here.

Fengjia Night Market in Taichung, Taiwan

Fengjia Night Market in Taichung, Taiwan

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Taiwan: Tamsui, Fisherman’s Wharf & Fort San Domingo

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Tamsui, located on the northwestern coast of Taipei, is famous for its sunset view. Tamsui, sits at the mouth of Tamsui River, means fresh water in Chinese. Tamsui is readily available from Taipei via MRT. Tamsui old street is filled with restaurants, cafes, shops, carnival games, and hawkers. Tamsui is also filled with many historical relics as Northern Taiwan used to be colonized by Spaniards, then Qing Dynasty and Japanese colonized the entire Taiwan.

Tamsui is famous for its amazing sunset view

Tamsui is famous for its amazing sunset view

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Taiwan: Ximending & Ximen Honglou Red House

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Consider to be the equivalent of Shibuya, often called the Harajuku of Taipei, Ximending is on the west side of Taipei in the historical Wanhua district. Ximending hosts a wide variety of clothing stores, restaurants, and entertainments like karaoke and movie theaters. It is not hard to see why this shopping area is popular among the youth; this is often the meeting place of teenagers in Taipei. Many Taiwanese singers and artists choose to host events here because of the amount of young people who hang around Ximending area.

Ximending in Taipei

Ximending in Taipei (Photo courtesy of travelking.com)

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Taiwan: Luodong Sports Park & Meihua Lake

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Yilan is said to be Taipei’s backyard, the county is very close to Taipei, on the east coast of Taiwan just below Taipei, it is only an hour car ride away from Taipei. Compared to Taipei, Yilan is not as developed, the county, in general, is more lay back with hot springs and lots of natural sceneries. Two of the top destinations in Yilan are Luodong Sports Park and Mei Hua Lake (Palm Flower Lake).

Luodong Sport Park in Yilan, Taiwan

Luodong Sports Park in Yilan, Taiwan

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Taiwan: Houtong Cat Village in Taipei

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Houtong Cat Village, also known as Taiwan’s cat mecca, is a former mining village sits in the mountains of eastern Taipei. Houtong Cat Village is famous for its dozens of friendly street cats roaming around the village; a must go places for cat lovers. Houtong used to be a mining town with rich, well-preserved railway culture and old mines. I’m not sure since when, but this village became a well-known cat village throughout the entire Taiwan.

Welcome to Houtong Cat Village!

Welcome to Houtong Cat Village!

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