Taiwan’s hot spring resorts


A country rich in geothermal springs, Taiwan is a hotbed of warm, health-giving pleasure

By Michele Koh Morollo for Yahoo! travel

Located along the Pacific Rim, between two tectonic plates, Taiwan has a unique environment with plenty of mineral rich springs that offer its users many healing benefits. Hot springs were first mentioned in Taiwan in a 1697 manuscript titled Beihai Jiyou, but they were not developed in the country till 1893, when a German businessman named Ouely opened up the first local spa. During the Japanese rule from 1895 to 1945, the use and promotion of natural hot springs flourished and in 1896, Taiwan's first hot spring hotel, Tenguan was opened, heralding the birth of hot spring culture in the country. Taiwan has more than a hundred sodium, sulfur, ferrous, sodium hydrogen carbonate, mud, salt, hot, cold and seabed springs, so visitors are spoilt for choice. Today major hot spring areas like Beitou, Yangmingshin and Guanziling are home to some of the country's most popular hot spring resorts.

Villa 32, Beitou

With only five exclusive villas, this luxurious resort by Relais & Chateau is the perfect haven for rest and rejuvenation. Located in a geothermal valley in Beitou and tucked away between two majestic mountains, each of the villa's five guest rooms come with their very own natural hot spring tub, so guests can enjoy a long soak in complete privacy. Using stone and plenty of greenery, the resort's owner has created an almost mythical space that melds into the mist-covered mountains. The three European style and two Japanese style suites come with Bang & Olufsen stereos, Hermes cutlery, Boffi bath fixtures and skincare products from L'Occitane and Dermalogica. The resort also has two larger public hot springs, a spa, whirlpool, sauna, hammam and offer activities like golf, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and sailing. Children under 16 are not allowed.

Number 32, Zhongshan Road, 11243 Beitou, Taipei, Taiwan. Tel: +866-2-661-8888, email: villa32@relaischateaux.com, website: www.villa32.com

Landis Resort, Yangmingshan

As the only international standard tourist hotel in Yangminshan National Park, the Landis is the best option at a reasonable price. Its 47 guest rooms follow a clean and simple Zen like design. The bathrooms come with large sitz spa tubs with water pumped in from the natural hot springs, so guests can enjoy the benefits of outdoor springs in their own room. Most rooms come with their own tubs that overlook cherry trees and the hotel's peaceful location makes it ideal for those who want to escape from the crowd. The sulphur hot springs at Yangminshan are famous and are known to alleviate eczema and arthritis, though the strong sulphur smell may be a little unpleasant for some. The hotel also has a spacious outdoor pool and a small restaurant that serves local and western food. Not all staff speak English however, so it might be useful to bring along a Mandarin phrasebook.

237, Ger-Zhi Road, Yangmingshan, Taipei, 111. Tel +886-2-2861-6661, email: rooms@landisresort.com.tw, website: http://yangmingshan.landishotelsresorts.com

Toong Mao Spa Resort, Guanziling

Famous for its hot mud springs, which keep the skin, supple and youthful, this spa resort has 79 scenic suites as well as an outdoor mud spa, essential oil pool, essential oil hydrotherapy, private spa rooms, a pool, as well as an indoor nude spas for men only and an indoor nude spa for women. Some rooms come with private hot springs on the balcony and outdoor showers overlooking pretty mountain views. The resort also educates its guests on hot spring culture with special lobby exhibitions, which explain the history and characteristics of the hot springs of the region. The springs in Guanziling are a rare variety with rich minerals that are easily absorbed by the body. The area is also famous for it's ancient temples and beautiful lotus covered ponds.

No. 25 Guanziling, Baihe Township, Tainan County 732, Taiwan. Email: tmb33@uniongo.com.tw, website: www.toongmao.com.tw/eng/tg.htm