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A Therapeutic Journey to Beitou's Hot Springs

A Therapeutic Journey to Beitou's Hot SpringsBeitou, Taiwan’s most characterful tourist town, has abundant natural resources, history, and culture: so much so that the area has been described as “Steaming Pools of Paradise” by the American New York Times, and as a “Three-star Town” by the Michelin Green Guide. A 30-minute ride on the MRT from the city center will bring you to Beitou, where you can appreciate unique sulfur hot-spring scenery. The Taipei Hot Spring Season, which begins in October, will provide many discounted activities, and is the best time to visit Beitou.

1. Hot Spring Foot-Soaking Pools
There are three free foot-soaking pools in Beitou. Those in Quanyuan Park and Fuxing Park are “green sulfur” pools, known for the delicate, jade-green color of their water, and said to be effective in treating chronic skin diseases, relieving aches in the muscles, and promoting the metabolism. The foot-soaking pool in Sulfur Valley is also known as the “milky spring” for its white color, and is said to be able to ease pains, and also to be quite helpful for arthritis and nerve pain. The foot-soaking pools are open from 08:00 - 18:00 and are closed on Monday. Add: 155, Zhuhai Rd., Taipei City, opposite Yi-Fang Elementary School (Quanyuan Park Hot Spring Bathing Area Foot-Soaking Pool) / Opposite 61, Zhonghe St., Taipei City (Fuxing Park Foot-Soaking Pool) / Diagonolly opposite 77, Quanyuan Rd., Taipei City, inside Sulfur Valley of Yangmingshan National Park (Sulfur Valley Foot- Soaking Pool) Tel: 1999 (for callers outside Taipei city: 02-2720-8889) ext.6609

Beitou Museum/Marshal Zen Garden/Thermal Valley

2. Beitou Museum
Built in 1921, this was originally Taipei’s most exclusive hot spring hotel – the Kazann Inn. It was declared a municipal heritage site in 1998, and is now Taiwan’s last extant 2-storey Japanese structure made entirely of timber. A collection of artefacts is on display inside, and the Museum also provides cultural performances, innovative cuisine and cultural experiences. Until March next year it is also hosting a special exhibition, The Meeting of a Lifetime: the Japanese Tea Ceremony and Culture. Add: 32, Youya Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2891-2318 (Closed on Monday)

3. Marshal Zen Garden
This rare black-tile Japanese structure was the Xingao Hotel in the Japanese era and was made into a guesthouse for kamikaze pilots in the Second World War. The Zhang Xueliang Pavilion is a memorial to the Young Marshal, Zhang Xueliang, who lived here in 1960, under house arrest. After the building was renovated, a heated bathhouse, a foot-washing pool and a buffet restaurant were added. Soaking your feet in the white sulphur spring pool known as the “milky spring” and looking out on Mt. Guanyin is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Add: 34, Youya Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2893-5336

4. Thermal Valley
Considered one of Taiwan’s eight natural wonders and one of its 12 scenic spots during the Japanese era, Thermal Valley is noted for its unique green spring. It is also known as Jade Spring Valley for the color of the water in this mist-wreathed mountain valley. Location: Near end of Zhongshan Rd., on left side of valley

Puji Temple5. Yinguang Lane
The “yin” in the name “Yinguang Lane,” refers to the bank-employee dormitories once found here, while the “guang” is the same as that used in the famous Shanguang Temple, which can be found at the bottom of the lane. The lava formations and jade-green forest stand beside the murmuring creek, and tropical, temperate and cold-zone plants can be found here; it’s also a perfect spot for ferns; and offers both seclusion and beauty. Location: Yinguang Ln., Wenquan Rd, Taipei City

6. Zhaomingjing Temple
Constructed in 1961, the Temple’s external architecture imitates the style of Thai temples, and the main hall is dedicated to the Four-faced Guanyin with 1,000 Hands, to whom one can pray for good fortune in health, marriage and wealth. Add: 51, 53 Chongyang 7th Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2894-1362

7. Puji Temple
Construction began in 1905, but the temple was not completed until employees of the Railways Bureau and local gentry raised funds for its completion in 1915. Because of this, it is also known as the “Tiezhen Yuan” in reference to its connection with the railways. Being Taiwan’s oldest Japanese-style Shingon Temple, it is seen by the people of Beitou as the “temple which protects the hot spring” and it was declared a municipal heritage site in 1988. The bell-shaped windows on both sides of the temple’s front are unique to Japanese Zen temples. Add: 112, Wenquan Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2891-4386

The Plum Garden8. The Plum Garden
Built in the late 1930s, this was the summer retreat of Mr. Yu You-ren, the “cursive calligraphy master of his generation”, and is now a municipal heritage site, preserving its refined Japanese wooden architecture and foliage-shaded courtyard. A permanent exhibition, “Features of Historic Architecture” can be viewed free of charge. Visitors can also use the Cloud Guide System (http://vr.taipeitravel.net) to experience the enchanting scenery of the Beitou Plum Garden through a 3D guided tour. Add: 6, Zhongshan Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2897-2647 (Closed on Monday and national holidays)

9. The Long Nice Hot Spring
Built around 1907, the Long Nice Hot Spring is Beitou’s oldest extant hot spring bath house, and has no catering or accommodation. The first character in the Spring’s Chinese name, 瀧(long), means hot-spring waterfall, which, together with the Japanese architecture and the paths in the courtyard, creates an exceptional atmosphere. Entry to the baths costs just NT$100. Add: 244, Guangming Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2891-2236 (Opening hours 6:30~20:00 )

10. The Beitou Hot Spring Museum
The Beitou Hot Spring Museum, originally Beitou Public Baths, was East Asia’s largest hot spring bathing area when it was established in 1913. Now it displays important relics linked to Taiwan’s hot springs, including Hokutolite or “Beitou stone”. The Roman-style arches and columns in the large baths on the first floor and the Japanese décor in the Tatami Hall on the second floor both have their own distinctive allure, and the outdoor theater hosts occasional performances. Add: 2, Zhongshan Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2893-9981(Closed On Monday and national holidays)

11. Ketagalan Culture Center
Taiwan’s first multifunctional culture center is dedicated to the indigenous Taiwanese, and named in commemoration of the Ketagalan aboriginal people who once lived in Beitou. Permanent exhibitions on the second and third floors are dedicated to the culture of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, while the other floors provide performances, reading rooms, and indigenous language classes. This is a fine place to understand the lives, culture and art of the indigenous Taiwanese. Add: 3-1, Zhongshan Rd., Taipei Tel: (02)2898-6500 (Closed on Monday)

12. Su Family Beef Noodles
Choose from 5 types of noodles, with thick slices of beef and tasty soup. The store frequently wins beef noodle competitions. Add: 2F.-1, No.12, Quanyuan Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2891-7537

13. Beitou Park / The Beitou Garden Spa
Completed at the same time as the Beitou Public Baths in 1913, this was the center of Beitou’s hot springs. Designed to encompass both banks of Beitou Creek, the Park showcases Beitou’s mist-shrouded scenery. The outdoor spring by the river has six pools, and for just NT$40 you can enjoy an outdoor hot spring bath. Add: 2, Zhongshan Rd., Taipei City / 6, Zhongshan Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2883-1879 / (02)2897-2260 (Opening hours 5:30-22:00)

14. Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch (Beitou Library)
Taiwan’s first eco-friendly library, Beitou Library incorporates design features including a green roof, generates solar power, and uses recycled rainwater, saving energy to the greatest extent possible. Its features a warm wooden structure, large windows which provide a view of the mountains, and an environmentally-friendly outdoor reading area; this multi-functional library is both architecturally hi-tech and environmentally friendly. Add: 251, Guangming Rd., Taipei City Tel: (02)2897-7682 (Closed on the first Thursday of each month and national holidays)

crystal bath powder15. Beitou Market
Situated beside MRT Beitou station, Beitou Market is Taiwan’s largest traditional public market, and offers many inexpensive popular treats. Many characterful shops and restaurants can also be found nearby. Add: 30, Xinshi St., Taipei City Tel: (02)2891-0434

16. Beitou’s Unique Gifts
Sulfur Brick Cake: This delicacy is made using Yangmingshan-grown oranges which are boiled, French-style, to make candied fruit, which is used to fill a flaky pastry. The cake imitates the sulfur bricks first produced in Beitou at the seventeenth century. The crumbly pastry has a soft taste, and the cake is a highly popular gift. Add: 43, Ln. 9, Daxing St., Taipei City (Blissfuland Bakery & Café) Tel: (02)2897-2112
Hot Spring crystal products: Crystals forming in hot springs are rich in sulfur, and can purify the skin and maintain health. Products made from them such as “crystal hot spring soap” and “crystal bath powder” retain the composition and smell of Beitou hot spring crystals, and are representative presents. They can be bought at the Beitou Hot Spring Museum and shops in Thermal Valley, or you can look on the I like Taipei hotspring flower website: www.hotspringflower.taipei (Chinese) Tel: 1999 (for callers outside Taipei city: 02-2720-8889) ext.6609

The Beitou Hot Spring Museum Source: Fun Taipei