Is there a better way to spend an afternoon than soaking in a natural hot spring?
Well, there might be but this is pretty hard to beat. Even before buying a flight ticket to Taipei, I got excited about the hot springs. Because Taiwan is located in the collision zone, Taiwan has evolved a unique environment that produces high-temperature spring with crystal-clear water. You’re visiting Taiwan but don’t have time to travel around the island for hot springs? Don’t worry; there is Beitou.
Beitou is one of the largest concentrations of hot springs in the world. This area is popular for visitors, but it’s also the local’s favorite way to spend an afternoon. From Taipei city center, it takes about 20 minutes by MRT to get to Beitou. There are more than enough spas and resorts for you to choose if you want more private and luxurious experience. If you like experiencing authentic style, like me, I recommend you to visit the Beitou Outdoor Public Hot Springs.
Notice: don’t forget your swimsuit!
The Beitou Outdoor Public Hot Springs is located at the end of the Beitou Park. There’s always a big crowd near the door, so you won’t miss it. There are many hot springs around the area, but this is one of the most popular public baths. From the entrance, purchase a ticket for 40 NT for adults (20 NT for seniors, children, students, and military). Once you enter, you’ll see steamy outdoor pools and well-relaxed crowd. There is a small shop to buy bathing suit if you forgot one. There are shower rooms, coined shower for hot water, and lockers. Taiwan is relatively safe but it would be a good idea to lock your belongings for 10 NT. Now, you’re all set.
There are three hot pools and two cold pools. Temperature varies from 35 to 45 degree celsius. Start with the bottom one (35-42 degrees), and make your way up to the top. The water is hot, clear, and smells of nice mixture of minerals. There’s just right amount of sulphur, so it feels like soaking in the minerals, yet it doesn’t smell like rotten eggs. We spent an afternoon going into a hot pool, taking a cold shower, going into a cold pool, and repeating. It was also a great place to people watch. Some women were wearing a full body suit and a big hat. A few tourists were wearing bikinis that were a bit too small for the environment. One man was extremely burned from the hottest pool; his entire body was the color of raspberry! It was an outing for old couples, families, and school groups. A young local woman was reading something from her phone even when she was in the pool. Brave woman.
I would argue, it was the best 40 NT I’ve ever spent.
The perfect ending of the perfect afternoon; there was a popsicle seller right at the gate. 20 NT! This was like a punctuation mark of a beautiful sentence.
An important thing to remember; there is a time limit for each hot spring session for two hours. When one session is over, everyone must clear out and the next group of bathers to come in.
How to get to Beitou
The MRT Red Line runs to Beitou (from Taipei Main Station, get on the train heading towards Tamsui). You will need to change trains at MRT Beitou Station to the Pink Line, which travels one stop to MRT Xin Beitou Station. Look for the computerized tables in the shape of hot tub barrels inside of the themed train! Once you exit the Xinbeitou station, you’ll see the Beitou Park in front of you. Cross the main road and continue working along the park. The public hot spring is almost at the end of the park.
There are more things to do than visiting the public bath in Beitou. If you have more time, visit Beitou Hot Spring Museum, Plum Garden, Beitou Library (which is one of the prettiest libraries I’ve ever seen), Ketagalan Culture Center, Puji Temple, and Thermal Valley. All the sights are well marked and within walking distance of the station.