After a long, tiring, jet lag inducing trip to Taiwan, there is nothing better to help you recover than sitting in a natural hot spring all day and eating good food.
Luckily for residents and visitors to Taipei, there is the Beitou Hot Spring area, which is only a short MRT ride away from the city.
It’s not only a fun place to go relax in a natural hot spring, but the area is also filled with an interesting history that dates back to the Japanese occupation of Taiwan and has a huge selection of yummy restaurants to go try out.
Here are things to keep in mind before you go.
- There are 3 different hot spring types in the area, Green Sulfur Springs, Red Iron (Ferrous) Springs, and White Sulfur Springs. Each has different health benefits, which I go into detail below.
- Beitou Hot Spring Dress Code: Millenium Hot Spring is the one public hot spring that is co-ed, which you need to wear swimsuits and swim caps to use. Other than that, the other hot springs have a public hot spring area and private bath unit for couples. The public hot spring area is in the nude and is separated by gender.
- You can use the hot springs at the hot spring hotels even if you are not staying there and most have free transportation to and from the MRT stations. The two MRT stations they usually pick up from are Xinbeitou MRT Station and Beitou MRT Station. You can just call the hotel to check if they pick up from the stations.
- Many hot spring hotels offer combination food + hot spring deals if you want to eat before or after your hot spring session. These deals are usually cheaper, but not 100% of the time, so do your homework before booking.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect from a trip to Beitou, let’s get started!
Today I’m going to cover everything you need to know to have the ultimate hot spring experience in Beitou which includes how to get there, my 3 favorite hot springs in the area, other cool spots to visit, and my favorite food in the area.
How to Get to the Beitou Hot Spring Area
One of the most important things for any successful day trip is knowing how to get to your destination as quickly as possible.
Luckily for visitors and residents of the Taipei metro area, there is the Taipei MRT, which is one of the most efficient, clean, and user-friendly metro systems in the world.
And guess what?
It goes straight to the Beitou Hot Spring area.
This means no taxi ride, no public bus ride, no hitchhiking needed!
All you have to do is take the metro and you are there.
Here’s how you get to the Beitou Hot Spring area.
- Go to any metro station in Taiwan and connect to the red line or stay on the red line if you are already there
- Once you are at a red line metro stop, you want to hop on the metro heading towards Tamsui (淡水) or Beitou (北投).
- After getting on the MRT, get off at Beitou MRT Station (北投).
- You’re not there yet, though, so don’t leave the station!
- You have to transfer one more time to Xinbeitou MRT Station (新北投). Just follow the signs in Beitou MRT Station for the transfer train.
- From Xinbeitou MRT Station (新北投) you can easily walk to or take a quick taxi or shuttle ride to all the cool attractions I’m going to go over next.
Different Types of Hot Springs in the Beitou Area
Before I get into the things to do in and around this area I wanted to spend a little bit of time telling you about the history of the Beitou Hot Spring area.
At least for me, whenever I go to a new place, I not only like to see the sites, but I also like to learn about the history of the place.
I think it leads to a more fulfilling experience.
Plus, it’s kind of cool to know you are standing in the same place as this famous person, or this king, or prince, or queen.
To understand the Taiwanese hot spring culture is to understand the Japanese love for hot springs.
For those of you who have never studied the history of Taiwan, Taiwan has historically been occupied by different countries.
From the period of 1895 – 1945, Taiwan was under Japanese rule, and the Japanese built a foundation of influence which can still be seen today.
One of the influential cultural behaviors was, of course, bathing in hot springs!
It is said that the first hot spring or Onsen in Japan dates back to the year 712.
Like any great culture, there is an abundance of creation myths about how hot springs, in general, came to be in Japan.
Some say the hot springs are a direct gift from God, some say an injured white heron flew to Dogo Onsen (one of the first Onsen in Japan) every day until its injured leg was healed, and many tell the stories of injured samurai who went to the hot springs to heal.
Many of those myths might be true.
What we do know for sure from these myths is that the health benefits of bathing in natural hot springs have been known for quite some time and humans have been using the healing properties of hot springs for as long as they have been around.
In total there are about 10 different types of hot spring waters in the world and each has its distinct health benefits.
You won’t find all 10 types of these hot springs in the Beitou Hot Spring area, but you are going to find these 3!
- Green Sulfur Hot Spring: The green sulfur hot spring is strongly sulfurous, has water the color of jade, and is at the hottest average temperature with a range of 50 – 75 degrees Celsius. This type of hot spring is highly prized as it’s only found in two places in the world; Beitou, Taiwan, and Akita, Japan! This hot spring is believed to cure skin disease, gout, rheumatism, and ease exhaustion.
- Red Iron (Ferrous) Hot Spring: The red iron hot spring is different than the other two types of hot springs as its water is clear. It’s typically found at the middle range in temperature of the three with a range between 40 – 60 degrees Celsius. This hot spring is believed to relieve nerve strain and inflammation.
- White Sulfur Hot Spring: The white sulfur hot spring contains hydrogen sulfide, has a milky, creamy look to it, smells strongly of sulfur (so rotten eggs), and is at the lowest average temperature of all three at around 45 degrees Celsius. This type of hot spring is another prized treasure in the hot spring world and is also only found in two places in the world; Beitou, Taiwan, and Japan’s Kansai Region. This hot spring is believed to treat ulcers, chronic skin diseases, liver diseases, and diabetes.
What to Do in Beitou
There are many many different hot springs to choose from, but I’m going to focus on my 3 favorites.
The reason I chose these 3 is that it covers all the categories of hot springs you can experience in Taiwan.
Like any place in the world, you can make your experience as fancy and modern or as simple and traditional as you want.
Each category of hot spring is its type of experience, so if you have time, you should try all 3!
Categories of Hot Springs in Taiwan
- Public Budget Friendly Hot Spring: these hot spring bathhouses are owned by the city, so the price of entry is very low at around 40 – 50 TWD. Swimwear is usually required so it’s a good place for people who don’t like to bathe naked. Think of these places as your local park, or beach, or playground. Since they’re very accessible, be ready to deal with the crowds especially if you go during peak hours.
- Traditional Privately Owned Hot Spring: these hot springs are privately owned and serve a no-frills, straight forward customer base. Usually, these bathhouses are smaller, have only a couple of hot spring pools in the facility, and is frequented by only locals.
- Modern Luxury Hot Spring: these hot springs are what you can only dream about. Luxurious, modern, state of the art facilities and all the amenities you could expect, then more. If you’re looking to treat yourself, this is the way to go.
Hot Spring Tip: The Millenium Hot Springs does require men and women to wear certain types of swimsuits. For men, they are required to wear a compression style swimsuit and for women, they are required to wear a one-piece suit. This wasn’t strictly enforced when we went, but it is a rule there so keep this in mind if you go.
The Millennium Hot Springs is a public bathhouse like the name suggests and is one of the best options if you’re on a tight budget.
You’ll find every type of person here at the bathhouse; locals, foreigners, young, old, rich, or poor.
It really doesn’t matter.
What is unique about this public bathhouse is that you’re required to wear a swimming suit, swimming cap and it’s co-ed.
Typically, in a more traditional Taiwanese hot spring, you can only bathe naked and men and women are separated into different areas.
I really like this hot spring.
Not only is it super cheap, but it is also easy to get to as it is only a short walk from the MRT station.
I think what made my experience better was that we went at night, so I got to bathe under the stars.
Which I thought was pretty romantic except for the swimming caps we had to wear.
The bathhouse is open-air, with multiple pools, each with different temperatures of water.
The lower level pools held the cooler water and the higher you climbed up the hotter the water temperature got.
What you are supposed to do is switch between the hot and cold pools, which I’m told is good for your body as it stimulates your blood flow.
Even though I knew this, I just couldn’t do it!
The hottest pool was super hot, while the coldest pool seemed like ice water. I just wanted to enjoy myself and relax so I stayed in the warm pool.
Who Should Go Here: You should go here if you’re on a budget, like to meet new people, and you haven’t worked up the courage to bathe naked yet. Like I was saying before, this is one of the only hot springs with a public hot spring area where you can wear a swimming suit. Unless you want to pay for a premium private room, most places you go will require you to bathe naked in the public pools.
Who Should Skip This: You should skip this hot spring if you are looking for a nice, quiet relaxing time at the hot springs. This hot spring is typically busy throughout the day. It’s also not the biggest place so you will most likely be sharing each pool with many people. What do you expect for that price, though?
Hot Spring Category: Public Budget Friendly Hot Spring
Price: NT $40
Hours: The hours at Millenium Hot Springs are different. They open and close based on timeslots as they clean in between bathing times. These timeslots apply to every day of the week:
- 5:30am– 7:30am
- 8:00am – 10:00am
- 10:30am –1:00pm
- 1:30pm – 4:00pm
- 4:30pm – 7:00pm
- 7:30pm –10:00pm
Hot Spring Type: Green Sulfur
The Long Nai Tang Hot Spring holds a special place in many Taiwanese hearts.
It’s the oldest bathhouse in Beitou dating back to the Japanese occupation of Taiwan.
One of the local legends of the area is that in 1923, the Prince of Japan at the time, who later went on to become the Emperor of Japan went to Long Nai Tang to bathe when he visited Taiwan.
I don’t know how true the story is or if it’s just one of those stories passed on from one generation to the next, but what I can tell you is that Tom’s grandpa has been going to this hot spring for years.
His mom still tells the story of how her sisters and brothers used to play in Beitou park while they waited for his grandpa to finish up with his hot spring session.
Now his grandpa rotates between this spot and the hot springs located in Yangmingshan because it’s closer to their house, but Long Nai Tang will always bring back good memories for them.
The other cool thing about this hot spring is that it’s a green sulfur spring, which can only be found here and Akita, Japan!
I do want to warn you, though, that this is not the most glamorous hot spring to go to.
If you’re looking for an Icelandic Blue Lagoon, swim-up juice bar type of experience, you’re in the wrong place.
Long Nai Tang is tiny.
It only has two private baths; one for women and one for men.
The public bath section isn’t much bigger.
For both the men and women’s side, each public bath is indoors and has two hot pools for bathing.
There is no switching between hot and cold tubs or taking a dip beneath the stars here.
If you want that experience just head over to Millennium Hot Springs.
What Long Nai Tang lacks in amenities, though, it makes up with keeping a tradition alive.
This is by far one of the most traditional hot spring experiences you can find in all of Taiwan.
Who Should Go Here: You should go here if you’re a history buff and you want an authentic and fully immersive experience. There are no extras at this hot spring and you won’t get the amenities that you find at a modern luxury hot spring hotel. If you want to fully experience what traditional Taiwanese Hot Spring is all about, I recommend you to get naked and jump into the public bath area with the locals.
Who Should Skip This: You should skip this if you’re looking for a full luxury experience and are too shy to bathe naked with others. Although Long Nai Tang is a little more expensive than Millennium Hot Springs, you will not find any extras here. Sure you can book a private bath here, like most other hot springs, but Long Nai Tang is better experienced in the public bath area.
Hot Spring Category: Traditional Privately Owned Hot Spring
Price: NT $150
Hours: 6:30am – 11pm
Hot Spring Type: Green Sulfur Spring
The Grand View Resort is one of many luxury hot spring hotels in the Beitou Hot Spring area.
I wasn’t able to visit all the luxury hot spring hotels in the area on my short trip, so I’m not able to compare all of them, but the Grand View Resort was one of my favorite travel experiences of all time!
It’s located only a short 15-minute walk from the Xinbeitou MRT station and from the moment you step inside, you know you are in for one heck of a pampering session.
The design of the hotel is breathtaking.
I’d say it is modern, minimalism with a play on popular architecture styles of Asia.
After I got inside, one of the first things I noticed was the rooftop infinity pool connected to their restaurant.
Like most luxury hot spring hotels you get the choice between a private bath or a shared public bath.
Both have pros and cons and will change based on which hotel you are visiting.
At the Grand View Resort, the price of the private and public bathes are the same.
The difference is that in the private bath you have a 90-minute time limit, while you can stay as long as 4 hours in the public bath.
The public bath area has multiple hot and cold tubs, a sauna, steam room, snacks, drinks, and seating areas to relax between soaking sessions.
It even has an elevated heated rock section where many people like to stretch out or take a quick nap.
The private hot spring experience was as nice as I had expected.
Each private bath is more like a private suite with a separate shower, dressing table, and a couch to relax inside and the hot spring tub on the outside.
You get the drinks and desserts as you do in the public bath too, although it’s not unlimited like it is in the public bath area.
I have tried both and I like each experience for different reasons.
It’s hard to beat having the hot spring tub all to yourself and then being able to take a nap inside the suite when you get too hot.
The one negative with the private bath is that your 90-minute time limit goes by fast.
By the time you fill-up the tub and get relaxed, it feels like you don’t have much longer before you have to get out, take a shower, and leave the room.
On the other hand in the public bath, with 4+ hours, you have plenty of time to relax, read a book, and even take a long afternoon nap.
Yes, you have to bathe with other people, but honestly, the public hot spring area never gets too busy especially on weekdays.
Also, because there are so many different sections of the public hot spring, it’s pretty easy to find a place to yourself.
Hot Spring Category: Modern Luxury Hot Spring
- Public Hot Spring: Weekday NT $1,600/per person; Weekend NT $1,800/per person
- Private Hot Spring: Weekday and weekend NT $2,300
Hours: 7:00am – 11:00pm daily. Note: The resort is not available on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month from 7:00 am – 3:00 pm
Hot Spring Type: White Sulfur
Who Should Go Here: You should go here if you want to treat yourself to a luxurious spa experience, want a modern hot spring experience, or like the idea of combining fine dining with your hot spring bath. One tip I have for you is to keep your eye out for combo deals. Many times during the year the Grand View Resort will sell package deals which includes a hot spring pass and dining at their restaurant.
Who Should Skip This: You should skip this if you are on a budget or if you don’t care for the fancy stuff. Hey, the water here comes from the same hot spring source, so if you just want a straight forward hot spring bath, save your money for something else.
Other Fun Things to Do in the Beitou Hot Spring Area
Although the hot springs in the Beitou are obviously the main attraction, there are a ton of other things to do in the area.
From historical sites to lush green parks, and Taiwan’s first green library, there is something to do for everyone.
You can easily spend an entire couple of days exploring the area.
Just remember, the museums are closed on Mondays!
Every one of these sites is located only a short walking distance from Xinbeitou MRT station, so it’s easy to go to many of these places in one day.
The Thermal Valley (Hell Valley)
If you only have time to visit one place after your hot spring experience, you have to visit the Thermal Valley.
This place is not only bathed (I had to throw in this pun) in traditional Taiwanese folklore, but it also has some cool family stories to tell from Tom’s parent’s childhood!
Beitou’s name came from the Taiwanese Aboriginal name of paktaaw, which means ‘witch’.
They gave the area this name because the steam from the Thermal Valley mixed with the smell of Sulphur and made it seem like a witch’s cauldron, slowly brewing up its next potion to give to an unexpected visitor.
The thermal valley itself is a volcanic crater filled with sulfuric hot spring water.
When you first head towards the valley, you’ll notice that it’s fenced off on all sides for safety.
It wasn’t always like this, though.
Back when Tom’s parents were kids they used to take the bus here and cook eggs in the Thermal Valley!
The savvy shop owners in the area even sold eggs in small pouches that you could dip directly into the water for easy boiling.
Back then the pool of boiling hot spring water was a little different.
Instead of one large pool of water, there were tiny little pools all around so you could walk on top of where the large pool is now, find a good spot, and boil your egg.
Over time the small pools joined together to become this big one and the city eventually fenced the area off for safety reasons.
Although you can’t boil an egg for yourself anymore, the place is still definitely worth a visit.
When you’re done just buy some hot spring tea eggs from the local shop and pretend you boiled it in the Thermal Valley.
- Price: Free
- Hours: Tue to Sat 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Yes, yes, I have a public library on my list of things to do. Just hear me out for one second.
This is not the typical library you will find every day and is worth a stop inside or even outside.
The reason why this library is so cool is not just because it is Taiwan’s first green library. It’s also because of the unique, inspiring design which shows you what is possible in green architecture.
The building is made entirely of wood from managed forests, features solar panels on the rooftop, and even conserves water by capturing rainfall for library water use.
How cool is that?
If you’re looking for a place to chill out, or you just want some architectural inspiration, this place is for you.
- Price: Free
- Hours: Tue – Sat 8:30am to 9:00pm; Sun – Mon 9:00am to 5:00pm
If you’re a history buff or if you have extra time, this is a must-see on your visit to the Beitou Hot Spring area.
The building was constructed in 1913 as the Beitou Public Bathhouse.
It was abandoned after WWII and was converted to a museum after a group of teachers and students stumbled upon the decrepitated building and petitioned for it to be conserved.
Because of them, we are now able to get a glimpse into what high society life was like during the early 1900s under Japanese rule.
The building design was inspired by the Mount Izu Hot Spring Bathhouse in Japan and sprawls over 2,300 square feet.
On the first floor of the museum, you’ll be able to check out the largest bath in Southeast Asia during that time.
And on the second floor, you can see the Tatami Lobby where people used to go to relax, drink tea, and chat after their hot spring bath.
My favorite part of the entire museum was the Taiwanese Cinema exhibit. I had no idea Taiwan had a flourishing film industry in the 1960s and 1970s and that Beitou was the go-to destination for film shoots!
- Price: Free
- Hours: Tue – Sun 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
This was one of my favorite cool little stops on the trip to the Beitou Hot Springs area.
This little traditional Japanese wood-framed architectural wonder built in the 1930s was the summer home for the famous calligrapher and political leader Yu You-ren in the 1950s.
What I liked about it most is that you can still see the original doors and windows.
Plus it’s a little building so you can go in and out and snap a few pictures in no time.
- Price: Free
- Hours: Tue to Sun 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
When I first heard the story about the Taiwan Folk Arts Museum I was in awe!
So much history contained in such a small building, but I guess it’s not much different from the other museums in the area.
When this wooden architecture was built in 1921, it was originally the Kazan hotel.
During the Japanese Colonial Period, this hotel was one of the best hot spring hotels in the world.
What’s even crazier is that during World War II this hotel was a hot spot for Japanese Kamikaze pilots to stay before going on their last missions.
It was a place where they could go to relax, chill out, and have one final meal before making the ultimate sacrifice.
- Price: NT $120
- Hours: Tue to Sun 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
A wonder of a little stop if you’re interested in seeing one of the only Japanese Shingon Buddhist temples in Taiwan.
You have to hike up a short staircase to get to the temple, but it’s well worth the extra effort.
Plus, it’s located a little further away from the main tourist area, so it gives you the chance to escape the crowds when it’s busy.
- Price: Free
- Hours: Open every day from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm
Food in the Area
Like I was saying before, not only is Beitou known as one of the best hot spring destinations in Taiwan, it also has a yummy food scene.
Here are 2 of my favorite local food spots that you have to go to when you’re visiting the area!
What could be better than a healthy lunch or dinner after your hot spring soak to complete your experience in Beitou?
We stumbled upon Yummy Vegan Home as we were heading back to the MRT and we were extremely happy we did.
As their name suggests, this is a vegan restaurant, but don’t let the word vegan scare you. The atmosphere and staff are cozy and welcoming and the food items on their menu are delicious.
I’m by no means a vegan and found their pasta and Animal Lover Burger that we ordered to be incredibly good.
The best part about eating here after the hot springs is that not only did I feel like I treated my body from the outside, but also nourished it from the inside.
- Address: No. 735, Daye Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, 112
- Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – 12 pm to 3 pm, 5:30 pm to 9 pm
SheMe to Go is one of my favorite spots to go for afternoon tea in the Beitou area.
It’s a mix between a coffee shop, cafe, chocolatier, and beer house. I haven’t tried the items on their regular food menu, which looks delicious, but their homemade cakes and chocolates are on another level!
The cool thing is that they have won international awards with the chocolate that they make.
During their happy hours, they usually have coffee + cake combos for NT $150.
- Address: No. 10, Quanyuan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, 112
- Hours: 7:30am – 10:30pm
There you have it, my ultimate guide on how to have the best experience in the Beitou Hot Spring area when you’re in Taipei!
Out of all the day trips you can take out of Taipei this is still one of my favorites.
The reason why I like it so much is that everything is located so close to each other and it’s so convenient to get to.
You could easily see all of the spots that we went over, plus have time for a hot spring bath if you started the day early.