Thirteen Levels – Abandoned Copper and Gold Smelter In Shuinandong
After almost a year of having seen a picture of this place on Instagram, we decided to make a last-minute trip to Thirteen Levels. So, Saturday afternoon, we geared up (7 cameras between the three of us) and headed out.
About Thirteen Levels
Shuinandong Smelter, or Thirteen Levels, was built during Japanese Colonial Periods to be a huge gold and copper smelter facility, back when mining was profitable and booming. It is now an abandoned structure popular among tourists and photographers. Sitting by the cliff in between Jiufen, Jinguashi, and the Gold Mines, there’s plenty to explore in the neighbourhood. On our trip there we were able to see the Golden Waterfalls, Chen Ji Hall, Yin Yang Sea, and Jiufen.
How We Got There
I’m not sure if it was because of our last-minute planning, or if bus schedules that day were irregular, but finding the bus that would take us to Jiufen took us an hour from Zhongxiao Fuxing. Even though our maps kept suggesting that 3 busses had passed us, we could not see them at all!
When it finally rolled up to our stop, our two-hour journey could finally begin. Our first stop was Quanjitang. We decided to look around Chen Ji Hall temple for a little bit. In it’s courtyard sat a large statue of Guang Kong, the God of War.
From there we could either wait for another bus, or find a cab to take us to Shuinandong. Because it was already late afternoon, and we were not having the best of luck with busses, we found a cab instead that would take us to Shuinandong for 150nt. After a few more minutes of driving around the mountain, we saw the abandoned smelter looming up ahead of us.
The cab dropped us off at the Bus Station, right in between the Yin Yang Sea and Thirteen Levels. You can see it in the image above where the car park is situated. This required a 15 minute walk uphill back to the gate.
Along the way we passed by this ‘golden’ river. The cause of the coloring attributed to natural causes and perhaps the pollution given off by the mines and factories.
Once we found the path leading into the buildings we were greeted with a big square opening. Inside the largest of the buildings we found it was spacious, but empty. Among the walls were some pretty talented graffiti. Looking through the window, we were able to spot some stairs, but did not find it from outside the building.
The second floor seemed inaccessible, but had a few structures still standing
Outside were large patches of grass and more graffiti. Some of the shelters were storing some new equipment.
After seeing as much as we could, we wanted to save the rest of sunlight for the creepier looking building further up the hill. We found it inaccessible from our current location, so up another hike we go.
Along our 15 minute walk up the winding road, we saw photographers by the building we were trying to access. Finally we came upon the gate and found that it was open, with a parking lot and plenty of other photographers in the area.
The building itself was closed off, but the outside of it was open to the public, offering gorgeous views of the Yin Yang Sea and the lit up town of Shuinindong.
The hike back down was a lot faster, and we saw that we had actually been on top of the factory the entire time. Along the way we also saw the famous Jinshui highway.
Still energetic, despite having hiked the equivalent of 30 floors (according to Fitness Tracker) we stopped by Jiufen for some light snacks and to take some more photos before grabbing one of the last busses back to Taipei.
Map to Thirteen Levels Viewpoint
What You Need To Know Before Going
I’d recommend wearing longer pants as there’s a bit of climbing, and lots of tall grass in the area. Go early so you can explore the neighbourhood while you’re there. When it gets to evening, head up to the viewpoint where you can see the boats and little town light up.
The last bus out of Jiufen leaves at around 9:30 so get there early, by the second to last bus, there were no seats and you’ll have to spend the hour long ride back to Taipei standing.
Bus fare is 100nt each way.
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Urban exploring can be dangerous and involves many risks. You’ll find broken glass, random holes, and lots and lots of mosquitoes. There are no paths, maps, or directions helping you get around. Please use your better judgement.
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