Gold Ecological Park

Top choice in Northern Taiwan

Jinguashi's big draw is this Japanese-era mining-complex-turned-tourist-park, where hillside paths connect 1930s offices, workshops and dormitories, and you can fondle reputedly the world's largest gold bar at the Gold Museum. The Beishan Fifth Tunnel (extra NT$50, to 4.30pm) offers a walk-through glimpse of working conditions in the old mine, while high above the park, the ruins of a Japanese shinto shrine appear like something out of Greek mythology. The bus from Jiufen stops beside the ticket office.

The Crown Prince Chalet (太子賓館; Tàizǐ Bīngguǎn), a Japanese-style garden mansion with sweeping sea views, is another draw, though unfortunately you can only wander the gardens and peek through the windows. It was built in 1922 by the mining company to allegedly house the Japanese crown prince (the future Emperor Hirohito) on an inspection tour. He never came, and later the chalet became a hotel for high-ranking Kuomintang officials.

It may be interesting to note as you walk around that not all the gold in this area has been collected. Even today there remains a 250-tonne reserve estimated at more than NT$200 billion (US$6 billion) lying underground.

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