Monday, November 25, 2013


I went to Jinguashi just a few months ago, but I decided it was worth visiting again to see the golden waterfalls I had missed on my last trip.

Jinguashi (金瓜石) is a quaint mountain town in the Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan. It is known for it's historic gold and copper mines. It is situated on Keelung Mountain (基隆山).  right next to the coastline, which makes for exquisite views. It is known as Kinkaseki in Japanese from the period when it was under Japanese control. It was used as a POW camp from 1942 to 1945.

Arrangement of houses in Jinguashi. The Cyuanji Temple with the Guan gong deity on top is in the top right side
Arrangement of houses in Jinguashi. The Cyuanji Temple with the Guan gong deity on top is in the top right side
I took the Yilan express train to Ruifang (Taipei Padu- Rueifang- Ilan- Suao). The last time I was here with Andy, we took a taxi to Jinguashi, which costs about NT$240. This time I opted for the bus (On these busy narrow mountain roads, taking a taxi doesn't seem to be any faster).  To get to the bus stop, walk out of the station, cross the pavilion, and cross the road. There is a bus stop there. The bus does not stop here on weekends, so if you are there over a weekend, turn left and continue walking to the next bus stop. The sign on the bus will say "Jinguashi (金瓜石)."  There are also buses from both Taipei and Keelung which go to Jinguashi and Jiufen.  I took the bus all the way from Taipei a few years ago on a trip to Jiufen. It was a crazy ride, and I wouldn't recommend this to people with weak stomachs. If you dare, you can go to bus stop by Zhongxiao-Fuxing MRT station, exit 1. The bus will be from the Keelung Bus Company and say "Jinguashi (金瓜石)."

Gold Ecological Park (黃金博物館區)

The bus stops right by the Gold Ecological Park, which is the main attraction for visitors here. The small park preserves and reproduces the town's mining heritage to recreate the atmosphere of 1930s Taiwan. It includes a gold museum and a number of renovated residences from the Japanese Colonial Era. The excellent translations around the park and incredibly helpful information centre make for an extremely tourist-friendly destination.

Entrance to Benshan Tunnel

The first building on the route is the Japanese ‘Four-Joined’ Style Residence, an old typical Japanese-style Residence from when Taiwan was still a Japanese colony. I hear it is interesting inside, but I gave it a miss as there was a long queue outside both times I walked past, and there were many other things I wanted to see.

Further along the route is the Crown Prince Chalet, another traditional Japanese style house once occupied by Emperor Hirohito. The interior of this house is off-limits, but the beautiful garden complete with a small golf course and archery range is worth seeing.

The Museum of Gold (黃金館) is in the former offices of the Taiwan Metal Mining Corporation. The first floor contains numerous artifacts from the town's mining history, including tools, mining transport systems, and cultural artifacts. On the second floor of the Gold Museum you can see various products made of gold and the world's largest gold brick. You can even touch this 220 kilogram pure gold brick!

The Benshan Fifth Tunnel (本山五坑),  is an abandoned mine next to the Gold Museum.  It is an interesting place to learn more about the daily activities of miners. There is a $NT50 entrance fee. Benshan used to be called "Dajingua" (大金瓜), which means "big pumpkin" in Chinese. The discovery of gold here was the catalyst for the prosperous development of Jiufen and Jinguashi. The tunnel is a real life example of what it was like to work below ground.

The area outside the Geological Park is also visitor-friendly, with many scenic walkways, trails for mountain climbing, as well pagodas and benches to take a rest and enjoy the view.

Cyuanji Temple

The Cyuanji Temple was built in 1896. It boasts having the largest statue of Guan Gong (關公)—the God of War—in the world on its roof. The gold and bronze Guan Gong statue weighs more than 25 tons.  

Some of the pagodas offer a wonderful view of the bay below. You can also see the Ying-yang sea.  This is a strange sight  where the sea is a mix of yellow and blue.  It was believed that the sea color was the result of smelting activities from Taiwan Metal Mining Corp. But, the company stopped activity there over 10 years ago and the Yin-yang Sea is still there. Scholars say that the land in Jinguashi has a large amount of pyrite that has formed Fe3+ which does not dissolve easily in water. This forms iron ion particles which float into the sea.

Souvenir steel lunchbox from one of the diners at the Geological Park

After walking around the park, I took a bus down to the Gold waterfall. The waterfall on the golden earth is one of the sources of the Ying-yang sea.  The heavy rain seeps into the mine shafts through cracks in the rocks, and reacts with the pyrite and energite underground, undergoing oxidation reduction to become acidulous water. It is a spectacular sight. It's best to see it after heavy rains for the full effect.

Golden waterfall on a mountain
Gold Waterfall at Jinguashi
© Photographer: Imagesbykenny | Agency:

There are a few other sights around Jinguashi that should be seen. I will return again soon to take photos of these other places. If you decide to take a trip here, don't forget to just spend some time walking around the mountain paths and trails.

For more information about the Gold Ecological Park, visit their website:

To see more photos from around Taiwan, visit my website:

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