Soak, Relax, Unwind Taiwan’s Hot Springs

Information and photos provided by Taiwan Tourism Bureau

If you’re looking for an escape from fall’s cooler temperatures or winter’s cold and snowy weather, why not getaway to Taiwan to experience its refreshing and therapeutic Hot Springs? Hot springs possess therapeutic properties said to have a positive effect on disorders of the nervous and digestive systems, blood circulation, and the organs. Often considered the most precious gifts that the earth has given us, you will discover a great variety of springs in Taiwan; including hot springs, cold springs, mud springs, and seabed hot springs. In almost every city and county in Taiwan you can find hot springs, so it is easy to understand why some tourists have named Taiwan “the Hot Spring Kingdom”.

Since most of Taiwan’s hot springs are found in beautiful scenic areas, when going to experience one of the numerous hot springs, you will not only escape the hectic city life, but also have an opportunity to enjoy gorgeous scenery while listening to the voices of nature. Here are some Hot Spring destinations to choose from when you visit Taiwan.

Ruisui Hot Springs

The Ruisui and Hongye Hot Springs are located in Hongye Village in Wanrong Township, Hualien County, and are not very far from each other. The Japanese built the first public bathhouse in Ruisui 100 years ago in 1919. Some of the Japanese-style inns from that period are still in operation, offering outdoor bathing pools with views of the scenic forest. The Hongye springs were pretty well known by the time the Japanese colonial era had begun. Even today, several Japanese-style hot spring hotels remain from that period, and still preserve a yesteryear bathing ambience.Visitors to the Ruisui and Hongye hot spring areas can choose from a wide selection of hot spring B&Bs and hotels, each offering a unique environment for enjoying a spring bath.

Xinbeitou Hot Springs Area

Beitou, Taipei City’s northernmost district, began its rise as a hot spring destination back in 1896. It was then, that a Japanese businessman, Hirada Gengo, opened the area’s first hot spring hotel, Tenguen. The springs here are fed by water from Dire Valley (Diregu/Hell Valley), and Longfeng Valley near Xingyi Road. It is here where you will find three distinct types of spring: green sulfur, white sulfur, and iron sulfur. Bathing facilities here are both distinctive and varied, with everything from traditional Japanese-style bathhouses, to fashionably modern spas that cater to both the day-trip and overnight visitors.

Convenient transportation links make Xinbeitou a popular destination for Taipei residents who may be looking for a scenic escape combined with delicious cuisines.

Antong Hot Spring Area

Antong is located deep in a secluded mountain area that has plenty of scenic charm. Once called “Antong Zhuonuan”, or “complete peace and rinsing warmth”, Antong never quite attained the fame as Zhiben Hot Springs in Taitung, but its long history and excellent water quality have made this one of favorite spots for hot spring connoisseurs. The exceptionally pure spring water has made this area a popular destination over the past century for those who love hot springs. Over the past several years, a number of hot spring bed & breakfasts have opened up in the Antong Hot Spring area, offering visitors ample choices for a soothing bath while surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and sea.

Zhiben Hot Springs

According to legend, the source of the Zhiben hot springs was discovered by the Puyama people, but not until later during the Japanese colonial period did major development begin. The rise of the local hot spring industry began when the Japanese laid pipelines to channel the hot spring water to sanatoriums and public baths. The hot spring industry in Zhiben began to grow after Taiwan’s retrocession ended, causing an influx of hotels. Many of the hotels have added hydrotherapy, spa facilities, massage pools, and herbal baths for water recreation, sports, and bathing enjoyment.

Jiaoxi Hot Spring Area

Fed by rainwater that has seeped down into subterranean rock, Jiaoxi is one of only a few lowland hot spring sites in Taiwan. Its water is heated by magma remaining from a volcanic eruption on Guishan (Turtle) Island thousands of years ago. Jiaoxi’s hot spring industry dates back to the Japanese colonial era (1895-1945). The hot spring spas here have preserved Jiaoxi’s traditional ambiance, but with a more modern emphasis on health and fitness. Offering visitors a wide range of bathing options, Jiaoxi is a traditional hot spring area with a new face. Irrigated with nutrient-rich spring water, the locally grown vegetables are another great reason to visit Jaioxi. With support from the Jiaoxi Township Farmer’s Association, the local farmers have made hot spring vegetables one of the specialty items of Jiaoxi.

Yangmingshan Hot Spring Area

Most of the springs in Yangmingshan are located in Liuku and Qiku, on the west side of Shamao Mountain, where you will find many bathhouses. The places to take hot spring baths include Yangminshan National Park, Lengshuikeng, Macao and Gengzieng. However, due to frequent volcanic activities, each spring contains different minerals. Consequently, each hot spring is unique in water quality and temperature.

Shamao Mountain Hot Spring Area

Welcoming visitors year-round with a profusion of color, coinciding with a natural landscape, Shamao Mountain offers an environment where one will want to slow down and admire all it has to enjoy. Offering something for body, mind and spirit, Shamao Mountain is a great spot for a hot spring soak along with a feast of wild-grown vegetables. The locally grown vegetables are especially sweet and tasty, a result of the relatively low temperature and fertile soil. In addition to a wide variety of vegetables, restaurants now also offer free-range chickens, seafood and other delicious dishes.

Wulai Hot Springs

The Atayal people discovered hot springs in Wulai over 300 years ago. It is a popular hot spring area in northern Taiwan, enjoying a high quality water which is clear, odorless, and known for its beauty-enhancing effects, including softening cuticles and moisturizing the skin. Visitors can choose from a wide range of upscale spas with hydrotherapy facilities and an inviting ambiance. Settled by Atayal tribes during the late Qing period, the area is consequently known for its Atayal cuisines. Commonly used dipping sauces include fermented shiso and plum juice or honey; and steaming, boiling and roasting are the preferred cooking techniques. Once in Wulai, be sure to experience the culture, cuisine and spirited dancing of the Atayal indigenous people.

Jin Mountain Hot Springs

The Jin Mountain Hot Springs were born as a result of fissures created in the rock stratum of Jin Mountain during the Tongzhi period (1862-1874) of the Qing dynasty. Jin Mountain is also home to one of the few submarine hot springs in the world.

The Yangmingshan-Jin Mountain Highway is a scenic mountain route that links the peaks of Yangming Mountain with the coastal hot springs of Jin Mountain. Jin Mountain is also known for the duck meat. While visiting the hot springs at Jin Mountain, be sure to visit and stroll down Old Street and savor the duck meat. It’s their specialty, and is recognized as perhaps the best duck you’ll ever have. Stir-fry yellow noodles, crispy paper sesame pork jerky and caramelized sweet potato are other top food choices to enjoy in Jin Mountain.

Guanziling Hot Springs

It is said that Japanese troops discovered the Guanziling Hot Springs around the turn of the 19th century. The first hot spring inn opened in 1902 and soon after Guanziling became known for its rare mud springs.

After a period of decline, Guanziling has since regained its prominent place on Taiwan’s hot spring map. Guanziling’s hot springs are fed by turbid mineral-rich water, believed to enhance both beauty and health. In recent years a number of large-scale hot spring spas have opened here, catering to the ever-growing ranks of hot spring bathers. In addition to the springs, visitors should also check out the lotus farms in nearby Baihe District, adding to the allure of this popular destination.

During the midsummer period, Baihe District is blanketed by fields of white, yellow, blue, purple and pink lotus blooms. The main attraction at the annual summer Baihe Lotus Festival are these colorful lotus blooms. The flowers are beautiful, but it is also the delicious lotus cuisine that presents a feast for both the eyes and stomach.

Tai’an Hot Springs

The Tai’an Hot Springs are nestled among three peaks in the Henglong, Niaozuei and Huzi mountains. This peaceful retreat is reached via a narrow winding mountain road lined by steep cliffs on one side, and the murmuring Wenshui River on the other.

The springs were first discovered by the Atayal people in 1909 during a hunting expedition. Tucked away in a secluded mountain area, the Tai’an Hot Springs have preserved their original beauty over the years. The area is also a melting pot of Hakka and Atayal culture – a combination that has produced a distinctive mountain cuisine to complement your soak in Tai’an’s natural embrace.

The Tai-an area is populated mainly by residents of Atayal and Hakka backgrounds. The two cultures have contributed to the distinctive local cuisines with such unique dishes as pickled mustard greens, boar, turtledoves, flying squirrels and Ficus formosana. The Hakka cuisines in Tai’an are lighter and cooked with hot spring water that create exquisite dishes.

Baolai and Bulao Hot Springs

Water from the Baolai and Bulao Valley in the Liugui District feed into the Baolai and Bulao Hot Springs. On the way to the springs, you will pass by cliffs and a truly majestic scenic landscape. Today there are more than 20 hot spring hotels in the Baolai area today. In addition to room and cabin accommodations, most of the establishments here have spa and hydrotherapy facilities, hot spring pools, camping and barbecue areas, and other amenities.

Situated at the western end of the Southern Cross-Island highway, Jiaxian District is home to dozens of shops selling all kinds of taro speciality items, including taro ice, taro biscuits and taro rice cake. Whe heading to Baolai for your hot spring bath, be sure to save time to stop here along the way to sample the local snacks!

Dongpu Hot Spring

Located in the scenic mountains by Yu Mountain, the Dongpu Hot Springs are located on the former site of a police sanatorium. Currently, you will find a number of hot spring hotels have since sprouted up there. Close to the springs are several well-known scenic sites, including the Batongguan Historic Trail and Rainbow Waterfall, offering plenty of options for a healthy walk in the woods before a hot spring soak.

The Dongpu Hot Spring Area is located in Xinli Township, which is Taiwan’s largest plum producing area. Winter bathers will also enjoy the snow-like blossoms in Fonggueidou and Wusonglun. During the plum blossom season, the hillsides of Xinyi Township turn into a sea of blossoms that blanket thet ground and trails and looks like snow. The plum harvests are used in distincitve cuisines and a variety of products, including plum juice, plum vinegar, gummy dried plums, and plum brittle.

Sichong River (Sichongxi) Hot Springs

Located in the scenic mountains of Checheng Township, the Sichong River Hot Springs are fed by steady source of mineral-rich water from the foothills of Shimu Mountain. Bathers here are able to enjoy the view of the Sichong River as it winds through the picturesque landscape…the perfect backdrop for a hot spring soak. A popular retreat during the summer, Sichong River is also known for its red center duck eggs, delicious local cuisine made with organic produce, fresh river fish and shrimp, and hot spring vegetables.

Guguan Hot Spring Area

You will find the hot spring hotels and restaurants in Guguan are mostly clustered along Dongguan Road, along the Dajia River. Most hotels provide bathing facilities and specialize in trout cuisines. Trout is a freshwater fish that is know to be very particular about its “living arrangements”, requiring exceptionally clean water with a very specific temperature range. The river water here meets these conditions, so the area has become known for its fresh and tender trout cuisines. Many long-established spas here have recently been renovated in elegant Japanese style. Cool mountain breezes, steaming hot spring water, and natural beauty come together at Guguan to create one of Taiwan’s premier hot spring areas.

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