Ruifang District – Taiwan’s Golden Mountain
The Ruifang District (瑞芳) in New Taipei City is one of Northern Taiwan’s most beautiful spots. Although technically located in New Taipei, Ruifang is located 30-40 km away from the city. This isn’t much of a problem though as it is easily accessed from Taipei City by either train or bus.
Why Visit Ruifang?
There are countless things to see and do in and around Ruifang so you will need to prioritize if you are only planning a short trip. Some of the top attractions are:
- Jiufen Old Street
- Houtong Cat Villiage
- Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
These could potentially be seen in a single day if you are rushed for time – provided you don’t mind rushing around from place to place. Planning a weekend trip (or longer) will give you time to soak up the experience of Ruifang.
First Stop – Ruifang Station
The day started with an early ride to the Taipei Train Station. This central transit hub was packed with hoards of vacationers taking advantage of the 4-day holiday in Taiwan. We were able to pass through the gates without buying a ticket as an EasyCard can also be used in Taiwan’s rail system! Just make sure you enter the gate to the correct platform.
We took the local train from Taipei Station to RuiFang station. The journey took roughly 1-hour, slightly longer than normal due to the holiday. If you are in a rush the express train can cover the distance in 35-minutes or so. The only downside is that express trains run less frequently than the local train. Be sure to check the railway’s website for train timetables before you plan your trip!
2017 Cost of the trip from Taipei Station to Ruifang Station:
Local Train = 49ntd ($1.60) / Express Train = 76ntd ($2.50)
Ruifang Station to The Golden Falls (黃金瀑布)
We planned to rent a scooter when we arrived at Ruifang Train Station and make the short drive to the Golden Falls (also called the Golden Waterfall). However, the rental shops were fresh out of scooters for the day. Just another problem caused by the holiday traffic.
If you’re looking to rent a scooter in Taiwan: Scooter rental in Taiwan typically costs between 500ntd to 600ntd per day – $15 to $20 USD. To rent a scooter you will need to show a copy of your ID/Passport and a drivers license. Daily rentals are for 24-hours (some shops offer 6-hour rentals at a discounted price) and include helmets.
As we were unable to locate a scooter, the next best choice was to take the bus.
Bus 788 runs from Ruifang Station to the Golden Waterfall. The bus trip takes roughly three times as long to wind through the mountain roads as it would by car. However, bus drivers certainly don’t drive slowly. The narrow mountain roads are handled with a degree of speed that can only come from a mixture of familiarity and recklessness. While the ride is not for the faint of heart, it is arguably better to be seated in the bus than share the road with them!
The ride to the waterfall is full of wonderful mountain views, and I recommend sitting on the driver’s side of the bus to enjoy the full view.
The bus stop is located near the Golden Waterfall. When you arrive, you will notice is that the ‘waterfall’ is really just a stream of water running over a small collection of rocks. Its size, or lack thereof, doesn’t stop it from being one of the most photographed spots in Northern Taiwan. The waterfall gets its name from the golden-colored rocks and dirt that make up the area. It creates a stunning photo opportunity as it sits amongst a mountainous, green backdrop. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re on a sightseeing tour around Northern Taiwan!
Things to do around the Golden Waterfall
This area is famous for its history as a gold mining town during the Japanese colonial era. The gold is long gone, but remnants its presence remains. If you hike up the road from the Golden Waterfall you will encounter a number of abandoned buildings. These buildings were used to process mined gold, and to house the families of the workers. Hiking up the road is not only good exercise, it also provides you with good views of the abandoned buildings, and the ocean beyond.
Jiufen Gold Mine Museum / Gold Ecological Park
Our next stop was the Jiufen Gold Mine Museum. To get there we had to hop back on the bus and head to Jiufen City. The Gold Mine Museum is dedicated to the history of gold mining in the area and is quite fascinating. The museum is actually housed in a series of old mining buildings that have been transformed to showcase mining life. The museum complex also aims to preserve the natural environment, which was inevitably damaged by the mass extraction of raw material from the area.
Among the highlights are:
A traditional Japanese home that once housed the head of the mining operations in the area. Be sure to participate in the self-guided tour around the home. The garden outside is also quite beautiful!
A massive brick of gold weighing an astounding 22okg! It is housed on the second floor of the main museum building. You are able to touch it and pose for a photo if you wait in line.
A building with a timeline showcasing the ups and downs of ore mining in Taiwan. This small building may not be a major draw, but I found it to be quite powerful.
The Gold Ecological Park Entrance Fee: As of 2017 entrance to the Gold Ecological Park was 100ntd for visitors, and 80ntd for locals.
Hours of Operation
Monday – Thursday 9:30am to 5:00pm
Friday – Sunday 9:30am to 6:00pm
Services for non-Chinese speakers
Tuesday – Friday 10:00am, 2:00pm, 3:00pm
Weekends (Saturday and Sunday) 10:00am, 11:00am, 2:00pm, 3:00pm
Heading to the Jiufen Homestay
It was already into the evening by the time we finished up at the Gold Museum and Ecological Park. After all the day’s activities, we were feeling a bit exhausted and figured that it would be a good time to head to our hotel. The hotel we stayed at in Jiufen was actually a local house that we found on AirBnB.com. It was actually quite roomy and comfortable. Most importantly, it came with a balcony and ocean views. If you are interested in the place, send a message or leave a comment below and ill link you the details!
Next stop – Juifen Night Market.
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