Hot Springs in Taiwan
…are a wonderful, relaxing, purifying and an “authentic” experience.
I got dropped off up the stairs from the river and was told “all of those are hot springs hotels, just choose one”. And down the stairs I went.
The first spot to the right looked empty and according to the picture they had only one pool, so I turned left and went that way. No one spoke English anywhere and it seemed like a slow day. I went into a second one and the spa itself was closed but using hand gestures they said “number 3” ok so off I go… I walk about a block up the hill (to the left of the staircase) and I see a big sign “1, 2, 3” so the puzzle is piecing together.
I walk inside. There are 2 women at the entrance gate. They don’t speak English but they are very friendly. They show me how much to pay by entering the number on a calculator. I hold out money and they take what they need. One of the ladies walks me inside the spa to the back.
Now, this part I am familiar with. I love spas and partake as much as I can. But, I don’t know this spa and etiquettes might vary so I really appreciate this woman’s directions and the fact that neither of us understand each other is fantastic and hysterical.
I am led to the bathhouse. She points to the shoe rack, I comply by removing my shoes and placing them on the rack (this is standard in Asian spas). She leads me to a locker into which I had to insert some monopoly coin, I held out coins and she took one. They also had towels for rent (it was the size of a hand towel, but it did the job).
She then passed me off to another lady who was just enjoying the spa (they were all very helpful it was such a delightful surprise). Again, standard procedure, you shower before heading to the baths and saunas. This spa is nude and only women allowed.
The spa is comprised of 7 outdoor hot sulfur pools of varying degrees (and they were all divine), plus a steam room/little hut, sauna and a treatment room/little hut for scrubs, etc. The whole outdoor area is covered by a large material that blocks from peepers and sun (a la Seville style). Six pools were hot and 1 cold to lower your temperature. The process is hot, then cold, hot then cold, repeat until you pass out. One pool has the hydrotherapy massage nozzles. The women loved putting me into the positions that would hit the most painful yet beneficial spots (they found it hilarious as I writhed in pain).
Everywhere I looked were smiles and friendliness and this experience was, to me, exactly what I travel for– authentic, local experiences and connections with people that don’t even have to include words, just sharing moments and experiences.
I really loved it. But, I openly acknowledge that this is not for everyone. It is a local standard spa, not shishi. This is all about the hot sulfur waters and their healing properties. Sauna and steam were available too and they offered the scrub for a very reasonable price (compared to my local spot in NJ). It looks no-frills, but to me it was perfection.
P.S. As I was leaving I realized that there were 2 other buildings numbered “2” and “3”. I was told that those are prospectively the men’s spa and the coed spa with a restaurant in the coed one.
P.P.S The pictures are “borrowed” from the web as I couldn’t snap shots in a nude spa for obvious reasons.
- Bring a towel from your hotel if you like a more substantial towel
- Bring coins for the locker and entrance
- Bring clean undies
- Don’t forget your toiletries (they have some stuff there too for you tho)
- If you want a more shishi experience you can go to hotels on the river and rent rooms or cabanas for the day
- You can take the metro to Beitou
- Be open minded
- Nice hotel with spa amenities http://www.tyq.com.tw/en/ hotel
- Another nice hotel on the river http://www.hotelroyal.com.tw/beitou/EN/
- Tapei Hot Springs Association site (please note, English is not native language) http://www.104net.net/taipeisprings/english/index/index.htm
- Yitsun Hotel is a Japanese style springs hotel no direct site (I want to go here!) http://www.104net.net/taipeisprings/english/hotel/yitsunhotel.htm