A Day Trip and a Realization: The Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park

And I found myself wondering, “Is euphoria discovered in steaming pools of naked old men?” 

– One writer’s thoughts while relaxing in a pool at Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park on a busy Friday morning. 

We’ve written about hot springs before (check out our post about visiting the Bayan Wild Hot Springs), but it is soaking season in Taiwan and it seemed a shame to let the opportunity for this article to pass us by. We recently pilgrimaged to the town of Jiaoxi, to find some bone-level warmth and much needed TLC. It had been a long time since our last visit. We had forgotten both the temperature and the charms of the place and wanted to share some of the experience with you, dear readers. If you find yourself in Taipei with five hours to spare, or, even better, on the north east coast of Taiwan, Jiaoxi has some world-class hot springs that are ridiculously easy to find.

入乡随俗(rù xiāng suí sú) translates to:

“when in Rome…”

A Day Trip and a Realization: The Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park 1
Photo Credit: https://www.google.com/maps/contrib/117253818816545231158

The Hot Spring Park

Jiaoxi is well known throughout Taiwan and is very much a spa/resort town. It has hundreds of hotels, hot water enterprises, and other soaking options. As a fair warning, it is a popular weekend and holiday destination and you may very well see busloads of visitors piling into multiple well-lit lobbies around town. Most of these hotels and spas are fairly reasonably priced (especially by western standards) and we certainly recommend staying the night. However, and for a day trip, few of options can beat the price and convenience of the two public hot spring parks located within the city.

Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park (礁溪溫泉公園), and Tangweigou Hotsprings Park (湯圍溝溫泉公園) are free and open to the public. You will see tourists and residents alike walking and sitting in these parks along the river with their feet in the warm water (think great afternoon or evening date in the winter time with a warm bubble tea). 

Both of these parks also offer pay-to-use bathing pools. Tangweiguo is cheaper and has the fish that nibble at your feet but we prefer the outdoor, multiple pool and sauna, atmosphere of the Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park. Our latest visit cost 200 NTD (they’ve raised the price recently from 150 NTD) for as long as we could handle the heat and it would have been cheaper if we were a student, teacher, or over 65. 

A Bathing Etiquette Heads Up: 

As you may have heard (or already guessed), the Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park bathing pools are separated by gender and operate on a birthday suit, no bathing suit, policy. For the prudes and younger generations of Americans who were spared the mortifying experience of communal post-gym class showers, this can be a definite hurdle to overcome; especially as in Taiwan foreigners tend to attract more than their fair share of stares anyways. 

If you’re not up for it, we get it. It is fairly easy to find hot spring pools in Taiwan that insist on not only bathing suits but bathing caps as well. Nonetheless, and without advocating voyeurism, there is something to be said for taking part in a cultural experience and learning how to strut your stuff in the buff with twenty to thirty perfect strangers, all also as naked as the day they were born. If you go on a weekday during working hours, it will often be an average age of 50 years or older if that helps. In many ways it can be a gratifying and important life lesson to remember that we all turn a little pink and wrinkled when dipped in hot water. 

As a reminder, it is expected to shower before you hop into the pools. You can bring your own towel or rent on there. 

Getting There

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Photo Credit: Google Maps

Located in Yilan County, on the coast of Taiwan, it takes roughly an hour and a half to reach Jiaoxi from Taipei. 

There are multiple transportation options, however, From the Taipei City Hall Bus Station or Main Station Bus Terminal to Jiaoxi, is often the easiest. These buses depart almost hourly, morning through evening, traveling to the coast via the Hsuehshan Tunnel. Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park is a stop for most of the buses traveling this route. 

Alternatively, the local train passes through Jiaoxi but it is often slower and more expensive.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Hsuehshan Tunnel is the 9th longest tunnel in the world (5th at the time of its construction in 2006). It is an engineering marvel that cuts beneath Taiwan’s second tallest mountain and in instrumental in connecting the east coast with the rest of the Island. 

History and Water Quality Overview

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Photo Credit: Taiwan Tourism

The area of Jiaoxi was inhabited first by people of Kavalan Tribe and later by Han Chinese settlers who gave the place its name translating roughly as, “dry creek.” Although the hot springs were there prior to their arrival, it is the Japanese who are credited with creating the first baths and establishments that has in turn spawned close to a century of tourism to the area. 

The water of Jiaoxi has long been regarded as having healing properties or, at the very least, nutrients that are good for the skin. The water from the spring is close to neutral at 7.5 PH and is often cited as a sodium bicarbonate hot spring with sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and carbonate minerals. Perhaps, the best selling-point for the casual visitor is that the spring is clear, odorless, and leaves you feeling very clean.  

And I found myself in a rather polarizing juxtaposition: warring between the disconcerting awareness that I was butt-naked in front of 30 pairs of eyes and slowly becoming immersed in a luxurious radiating heat that drives from it all of the worries of the world.

— Stepping into a Hot Spring

What Else to Do or See in Jiaoxi

Eat out and see the waterfalls. 

There are more good restaurants in Jiaoxi than can be reviewed and you can easily find plenty of other blog posts out there on them. We often go in search of bubble tea, Lan Jia Gua Baos, or Taiwanese burgers, and taro balls for desert.

Wufengqi Falls are a series of three falls stretching on a well-worn trail that runs about 4km (one hour walk) from the town of Jaioxi. They make for a wonderful and easy hike after or before the hot springs if you have time. 


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