Adventures in East Asia

Beitou Part 1 - The Public Hot Springs

With our previous hot springs experience in Wulai given a double thumbs up, our expectations for the hot springs of Beitou were high. We were especially looking forward to experiencing the different kinds of hot springs (green acidic, white sulfurous and ferrous sulfur) that the area purported to have.


Beitou's hot springs valley was originally developed by the Japanese during the 1905 Russo-Japanese war, as the hot springs were believed to have health benefits, useful to treat Japan's wounded.


Today, located in the north of Taiwan closer to Taipei City than Wulai, Beitou is easily reachable on the MRT, and is undoubtedly the epicentre of hot springs activity in Taipei.


Beitou's proximity renders the area more suburbian than the greener Wulai, and so didn't initially offer us the promise of equally stunning scenery when soaking.

Upon leaving Xinbeitou MRT station, we made our way uphill along Guangming Road, which runs alongside a stream and after some initial confusion and exploration we ended up at the public Millenium Hot Spring bath house.


When we first arrived, there was a waiting crowd of tourists and locals, since the facility was closed for a short period for cleaning, but soon opened up for a two and a half hour session. We saw that this hot spring opens and closes several times a day to facilitate the cleaning. With such rigorous management, it wasn't surprising to find that there was an entrance fee, although this was only NT$40 (75p).


The Millenium Hot Spring consisted of five smooth-stoned pools and a number of lockers and shower cubicles that were unsurprisingly a little more refined than the facilities at Wulai.


On one side of the facility, three of the pools were cascading upon the lower, with the top pool sporting the hottest spring water at over forty degrees. Some hardcore Taiwanese bathers were soaking in this pool periodically at several minutes each time.


When we approached and tentatively dipped in, the hot springs attendant, a friendly but stern-looking older Taiwanese guy, *ordered* us in to sit for thirty seconds before coming out again! Bearable, but very hot! The bathers on this side were at least sheltered from the baking sun's rays with a cover spanning all three pools.

We spent more time in the two lower pools which were only marginally cooler, dipping in to make sure we gave our whole bodies a complete heat soak.

The remaining two pools, were on the opposite side of the facility and contained much cooler water. I did wonder whether the liquid originated from a hot spring at all, but at some point just enjoyed wallowing in and cooling down from all the heat.

Out of all the tourists, there was a group of Americans who spent the whole time in one of the cool pools. Kind of defeated the point I thought but each to their own. The day was pretty hot after all.

We left the Millenium Hot Spring after an hour or so - much quicker than in Wulai, since the experience at Beitou felt more like a functional visit. In Wulai, we felt there was a kind of community spirit, which together with the scenery, encouraged us to relax and take our time.

More photos of Beitou on Flickr.

Read the post on the Wulai Hot Springs for some tips on hot spring etiquette.

This entry posted in : Attractions. Culture. Taiwan. Tourism.

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