It feels like the answer to a Zen koan asking how to find contentment in this turbulent world. It certainly is the answer to how to stave off the chill on a rainy afternoon in a winter in Taiwan. The Bayan Wild Hot Springs are located in the heart of Yangmingshan, about an hour and a half north of Taipei and are an incredible way to soak away your worries for an afternoon. Watch our video above for a better sense of the experience.
You can get there by car or by the 1717 bus direct from 臺北車站(公園)-Taipei Main (Gongyuan). You’ll want to get off the bus the Yangmingshan Bayan Hot Spring Stop (強薪陽明山水、八煙溫泉). The trail begins just back up the road near Bayan Hot Springs Resort 八煙溫泉會館. You’ll follow a fork down a road a ways and then keep continuing down to till you hit the trail along the river. From there it’s a relatively short (30-40 min) walk going up stream towards the hot springs. Bring good walking shoes as the trail is often slippery. Double check with the latest bus timetable, but the last bus back to Taipei is often around 6 pm so make sure to leave the hot springs by 5pm.
Technically, Bayan Hot Springs are closed to the public on the grounds of the government’s concern about the possibility for uncontrolled temperature fluctuations in the pools, geothermal/seismic activity in the area, and the potential for flash flooding in the valley. You will see signs and a fence barring entry but most people ignore these. On rare occasions police officers do come down to ask people to leave or to impose fines (something to be aware of) but you will still generally find plenty of people using the springs. We recommend a weekday as a way of avoiding most of the weekend crowds.
These outdoor hot water pools speak for themselves. There is something magical about soaking in the middle of the jungle on an Island perched on the wild edge of the Pacific. The flowing water, wind, and rain in concert with the bone warming heat give you a sense of connection to a place that feels like it just could be the long storied, mythical Isle of the Immortals. It’s a type of reset we can all use in our lives. Just don’t stay in too long or you’ll come out looking all pruny!
Taiwan is an Island defined by hot springs and geothermal activity. Human use of the hot springs extends back to prehistory, however, it is Japan who is credited with bringing Onsen culture to Taiwan. In the early 1900’s up through World War II the Japanese built numerous hotels, public baths, and bathing facilities. Although the Japanese left, the hot springs and hot spring culture remained in Taiwan. In the winter months, December – February, especially, it is not uncommon to see multitudes flock to the warmth and sense of renewal that they provide. If rustic river bathing is not your preferred pool, don’t worry, there are a multitude of other hot springs and resorts around the Island for you to check out. Happy soaking.
If you are looking for other ways to cope with the winter chill in Taiwan check out our previous blog post here.