We all know about the hot spring hotels in places like Beitou and Jiaoxi, but what if you want a more natural bathing experience? Sure, volcanic hot spring water is natural already, but if your trip to the hot springs also includes a night in a fancy hotel room and a breakfast buffet, you’re not exactly getting in touch with mother earth.
Taiwan is full of natural, wild, outdoor hot springs that can be used by the public and, since it’s winter time and the mercury is dropping, there’s no better time to seek one out and take a dip. Here are five wild hot springs you can find in Taiwan. (Read more: Hot springs, spas and spa hotels around Taiwan)
Yilan: Fanfan River (梵梵溪)
Also known as Punpun River (芃芃溪), this wild spring area in northeast Taiwan’s Yilan has around 40 separate pools, some hot enough to boil an egg in. If you don’t want to get too hot, consider one of the pools closer to the river, as cooler water naturally flows in to take the edge off. An aesthetically pleasing area, surrounded by cliffs and trees, there is no strong sulfur smell, which makes your bathing experience a more relaxing affair as there’s no assault on your sense of smell. Find out more about the hot springs in Yilan at Over the City.
Hsinchu: Taigang River (泰崗溪)
A hiking trail in the hills of Hsinchu, the Taigang hot springs trail is a 3.2km route, passing through bamboo forests, taking around two hours to complete. The springs themselves are a picturesque setting, with several pools dotted around the river. Peaceful and secluded, you can cool down in the river and then warm up again back in the hot springs to your heart’s content. (Read more: Hiking in Taiwan: Into the mountain forests of Hsinchu)
Kaohsiung: Shikeng hot spring (十坑溫泉)
If you find yourself in Kaohsiung, head to the beautiful Shikeng hot springs. Hidden away in the hills, the route to the springs is an accessible 9km hike, but can also be undertaken in an off-road vehicle such as an SUV. The hot spring itself looks like a long and narrow hot spring bathtub emerging from the side of the mountain; it can probably fit 10-12 people. A small warning: if you hiked up to the springs, be sure to leave yourself at least a three-hour window of daylight if you don’t want to be walking in the dark. (See also: 3 More Things to Do on a Day Trip to Kaohsiung)
Pingtung: Hayouxi hot spring (哈尤溪溫泉)
A stunning example of Taiwan’s amazing natural landscape, the hot springs at Hayouxi exist in the forms of mineral-tinted rock formations rather than pools or tubs. Lesser known than many of the country’s other wild springs, Hayouxi hot springs don’t even appear on some of the most up-to-date maps of Taiwan. (Discover more in Pingtung: Hiking in Taiwan: A Seashore Trek along the Alangyi Historic Trail)
The rocks appear in a variety of beautiful colors as a result of their mineral content. Very remote and seldom visited until 2009 due to being hard to reach, the springs can be accessed from the Rukai Aboriginal village of Wutai (霧台), where you’ll head down into the gorge and to another aboriginal settlement, Dawu (大武), which is where you’ll find the only actual hot spring pool along the route that is suitable for bathing. These springs are only accessible during Taiwan’s dry season, so January-April is your best bet for a visit.
Taitung: Lisong hot spring (栗松溫泉)
A gorgeous wild hot spring in Taiwan’s east, Lisong is hidden away in Taitung’s mountains. Surrounded by mineral-rich walls in a variety of colors, you have to hike to get here, taking a trail starting around 168-169km along the southern cross-island highway. The trail is unmarked and you may also encounter the occasional wild dog along the way, so be cautious. The hike there is mostly downhill, but on the way back afterwards it’s all uphill, so make the most of your time down there! The hot springs are juxtaposed by the often-freezing cold river water, so you’ll be able to cool down if things gets too warm for you in the hot spring water. It’s basically a natural sauna. (If you are in Taitung: Six Spots in Taitung Worth Visiting)
More for hot spring lovers
- 5 Fantastic Things to Do in Beitou
- Forest Trails, Hot Springs, and Riding the Rails in Taipingshan
- Four Taipei Hot Spring Getaways