A couple of weekends ago a local friend of mine invited me to go to 九份with her. It was awesome. Definitely worth the trip out from Taipei. If you're an exchange student or just visiting, I hope you have the time to make it out to Jiu Fen. Although the weather was cloudy the scenery is still very beautiful and the small alleys hold a lot of character. Sometimes it gets a little jam packed with people going this way, that way and which way and all the street vendors are calling for you to buy their wares, but you can still find tranquil moments of peace amongst all the hubbub.
If you're thinking of going I strongly recommend just going the bus route. You get on the 1062 bus at Exit 1 of Zhong Xiao Fu Xing Station. It's a cheap 90 NT, stress free, easy ride to Jiu Fen. Also it's a whole lot simpler than going by train AND if you ride the train you still have to get on a bus anyway.
Jiu Fen is most famous for it's scenery and special Taiwanese snacks. There's also the mining museum, several great hiking trails, and beautiful scenery. The mining museum is a must see and for the most part free. It details the history of Taiwan's gold mining industry and the history of the mine itself through the Japanese Occupation, World War II, Taiwanese repossession, until present day. The museum really makes an effort to make their exhibitions activity based, so you'll have a lot of fun just messing around with the individual exhibits. The only bit that you have to pay for is going into the coal tunnel itself (you get to wear a hard hat!) and that's around $50 NT.
Unfortunately I was very hungry that day, so I forgot to take pictures of things before I ate them. They just ended up in my stomach, but basically everything over there was delicious. =) Jiu Fen is especially famous for their taro balls, fishball soup, and mochi.
Again if you have the chance I hope you stop by Jiu Fen. From here on all out it's just photos. I hope you enjoy!
Thanks for looking!