Living on the north-eastern coast of Taiwan, we are lucky to be only a 20 minute train ride from one of Taiwan’s most notable hot spring towns, Jiaoxi.
Jiaoxi has a Hot Springs Park, which a small area set up with foot-pools of varying temperatures. We sat with our feet in a 35 degrees pool quite happily, but there was a high-up stone circl with a water temperature of 47 degrees (above). The man who was sitting there for 10mins came out with raw pink legs up to his knees. Two other men came over to sit there but having scalded their toes on the surface they never even sat down – made the first man look like some kind of superhuman.
In Taiwan, for whole body baths, there are two main categories of hot springs here: the public ones and the private ones. Unlike the public springs I’ve visited in Iceland and New Zealand, the Taiwanese ones operate a little differently – they are gender-divided and naked. Not wanting to be enjoying hot springs separately, as well as me not wanting to be the only Westerner standing out amongst rest of the Taiwanese women, we decided to opt for a private hot spring.
Private hot springs can be found all over Jiaoxi, from budget to pocket-emptying, in hotels, motels and just small complexes. After a recommendation from a friend, we walked a little way up the hill towards the mountains – she said that the hot springs up there are better quality because they are closer to the source. Though we didn’t find the exact one she recommended us, they all started to look pretty similar, so we opted for the neat and clean-looking Rose Gardens hot springs. There was nothing special about the place, but the woman was friendly and patient with our lack of Chinese and complete incomprehension of how to get the hot hot spring tap to turn on, and it was nice and clean.
The rooms are all layed out very similar changing rooms at a swimming pool, just in rows with lockable doors and tiled floors. The rooms are all the same, relatively small, containing a hot and a cold tap and a large empty bathing area. At first we were bemused, but quickly cottoned on that in the private springs you fill up your own bath area with the temperature of spring water that you want. It only took around five minutes to fill up the whole bath, as the taps are massive. What was really nice about the place was that for the two of us, it was only NT$250 (£5.40) with no time limit, which meant we never had to check our watch.
A few weeks later, Luke fancied a short drive back up the hill towards the mountain to try out another hot spring. This one had no English name, but was right across the road from Rose Gardens that we visited the first time. Where the baths in Rose Gardens were self-fill and the rooms were tiled, this place had a more outdoorsy feel with stone baths that were already filled with hot spring water for you. The price was NT $180 (£3.90) for a set 40 minutes. Though certainly not such good value if you want to wile away an afternoon, half hour in hot water is enough for me and I prefered the stone surroundings, a glimpse of the trees through the netting at the top of the room, and the sound of children laughing and splashing around in the bath rooms along from us.
In Jiaoxi, the ground-level hot spring water is crystal-clear and odourless, unlike some other springs, and is said to contain minerals that are theraputic to the skin. It was certainly lovely on the skin, and as we don’t have a bath of any sort in our apartment, quite a luxury to sit in such beautiful hot water after a stressful week at work for as long as we felt like.
How to get there?
For the Hot Springs Park – from Jiaoxi station, go towards the main through road and take a left. Carry along it for about 5 minutes and there will be a brown sign indicating the park on your left.
For the private hot springs we visited, both are on Lane 1, Zhōngxiào Road, Jiaoxi Township. See google maps at the bottom of the post.
In the photo, Rose Gardens in the red sign-boarded building on the right, and the second place is the blue trimmed directly in the middle of the picture.