TAIPEI, Taiwan - Known as the thermal spring kingdom, Taiwan has a variety of springs from north to south, and relaxing in a steamy spring has become a must-try for people who seek a complete stress-free experience.
Especially at this time of the year when temperatures begin to drop, not only the locals but also overseas tourists visit Taiwan specifically for the hot-spring spots. As the eighth Taiwan Hot Spring and Fine-Cuisine Carnival, organised by the Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications, recently kicked off in Hsinchu, many are anticipating the ultimate pleasure of soaking in natural springs while having a bite of fine gourmet food.
Together, hundreds of county and municipal establishments are introducing the scenic beauty of the springs and local cultural landscape as well as special products offered exclusively during the carnival.
Find Your Type of Spring
Several kinds of thermal springs can be found throughout the island due to Taiwan's geographic location, including sodium carbonate springs, sulfur springs, salt or hydrogen sulfide springs, sodium hydrogen carbonate springs and neutral springs.
With relatively lower temperatures than other types of springs, sodium carbonate springs are said to be less risky for those who have heart disease or high blood pressure. Guguang hot springs in Taichung, for instance, are famous for this type of spring. Taipei, Yangmingshan and Beitou are the two most well-known spots for sulfur springs that are milky white in colour and feature a peculiar smell, and they are said to be effective in healing chronic skin diseases.
As for the colorless salt spring waters, they are said to be able to help improve poor blood circulation as well as ease lower back pain. Sodium hydrogen carbonate springs are good for moisturizing, softening skin cuticles and even smoothing scars; they are especially popular among women and can be found in Wulai, Jiaoxi and Zhiben. Last but not least, the neutral springs are colorless and without any smell, making them suitable for the elderly.
Choose Your Next Stop
Most hot spring resorts offer various kinds of facilities and packages. Some provide a public area while others offer complete privacy. You can spend the night or merely a few hours. If you are in Taipei and are looking for an affordable 90 minutes of relaxation, you can consider the Golden Hot Spring Resort.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this newly opened resort is located in a quiet area of Tamsui. Although Tamsui isn't known for its thermal springs, the resort happened to come across a high-quality thermal spring during construction.
According to Michael Li, director of the hotel's Rooms Division, the thermal springs offered at the resort are a mix of salt springs and sodium hydrogen carbonate springs that come from the Datun Mountain range. When discussing how to distinguish whether the spring waters filling your tub are authentic, Li said: "Generally speaking, if it's smooth then it implies that minerals are there and it's not just hot water."
A room without a bed specifically dedicated to thermal spring enjoyment in Golden Hot Spring Resort is just enough for those who are looking for some quick rejuvenation.
Soak yourself in the bubbly healing water and then rest on the tatami for a while; your tense shoulders will be soothed, and that headache that has been haunting you will magically disappear.
South Garden Hotels and Resorts, on the other hand, is a fantastic option for a weekend getaway for locals in Taipei. There, one will not only enjoy the pleasure of a hot spring, but also a huge outdoor area with a picturesque landscape, both family-friendly and romantic for couples.
Children can run around freely outside the hotel and couples can immerse themselves in amorous whispers with the sunset's tender accompaniment.
After a self-indulging dip in the springs, take a walk on the lawns and contemplate the South Garden's unique architecture as you breathe in Zhongli's unpolluted air. Your body and mind will be refreshed and rebooted for the new week to come.