Guide to Beitou: A day trip from Taipei full of hot springs, scenic retreats, and culture calls, Lifestyle, Travel News

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It’s not difficult to love a country like Taiwan and its capital city, Taipei.

Though you could spend a quiet week up in the lush mountains of Alishan or sunbathing on Kenting’s sunny shores, one of the most geographically diverse regions in Asia isn’t short on outdoor activities even in Taipei.

The district of Beitou – just a 30-minute subway ride north of the city centre – is speckled with hot springs and green pastures. Cooler temperatures between December and February make the period ideal for hot spring visits.

Here’s what you can expect on this day trip:

BEITOU HOT SPRING MUSEUM

Photo: City Nomads

Beitou is home to a deluge of open-air sulfur hot springs of varying temperatures, most of which can be accessed from Beitou Hot Spring Park. Formerly a public bathhouse and constructed with both European and Japanese influences, check out the Beitou Hot Spring Museum for a trove of historic collections that define Beitou’s distinctive local culture. Have your very first introductory bath on the first floor, then head to the tatami lobby to savour a fragrant cup of tea.

Beitou Hot Spring Museum is located at No. 224, Guangming Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City, Beitou 112, p.+ 886 2 2893 9981. Opens Tue-Sun 9am-5pm. The nearest station is Xinbeitou MRT.

MILLENNIUM HOT SPRINGS PUBLIC BATH HOUSE

Photo: City Nomads

Hot-springs play a massive role in tourism in Beitou, and that has resulted in a variety of options for visitors, from luxury spa hotels to more budget-friendly options. Millennium Hot Spring is one of the latter. Just a few minutes west of the Beitou Hot Spring Museum, the public baths are not too different from a public pool so you’re mostly hanging out with locals too. It’s a great option for first-timers or those who’ve found the sulfurous smells of other springs too strong. Entry is NT$40 (S$1.75) per person.

Millennium Hot Spring is located at No. 224, Guangming Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City, Beitou 112, p.+ 886 2 2897 2260. Opening hours vary. The nearest station is Xinbeitou MRT.

THERMAL VALLEY

Photo: City Nomads

Blanketed in a perennial cloak of sulfurous gases, the mysterious quality of Thermal Valley’s basin of bubbling waters is due to their high temperatures (up to 100℃), meaning they can only be viewed from the observation decks. The rare and radioactive ‘Beitou Rocks’ are also found here, and only exist in one other location in the world – Tamagawa, Japan. Beitou itself is a bastardized version of the Ketagalan people’s name for the Valley, ‘Patauw’.

Thermal Valley is located at Wenquan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112. The nearest station is Xinbeitou MRT. Walk along Zhongshan Road until the Hi-Life convenience store, then take a left onto the lane to reach Thermal Valley.

LIUHUANGGU SULPHUR VALLEY GEOTHERMAL AREA

Photo: City Nomads

A lesser-known but just as scenic area of Yangmingshan National Park, the air surrounding Liuhuanggu is thick with minerality from sulphur deposits deep in the hills. Power through the smells and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of a green pond against old mining hills. You’ll likely chance upon the valley while visiting other prominent landmarks on the Beitou-Zhizihu route around Yangmingshan.

From Xinbeitou station, take bus 小9, 小22, or 230 to Mituo Temple.

KETAGALAN CULTURE CENTER

Photo: City Nomads

The Ketagalan are a people indigenous to Taiwan, and both the Aboriginal Culture Library and the Ketagalan Culture Centre celebrates and preserves their aboriginal tradition and art. Wander the halls exhibiting contemporary art, living goods, and religious and spiritual artifacts. The best part? Both museums are free to enter.

Ketagalan Culture Centre is located at No. 3-1, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112. Opens Tue-Sun 9am-5pm. The nearest station is Xinbeitou MRT, and it is opposite the Beitou Hot Spring Museum.

BEITOU PUBLIC LIBRARY

Photo: City Nomads

Books aside, Taiwan’s first green library is an enigma in itself. Fitted with eco-friendly features and built from wood sourced purely from managed forests, large windows bring generous amounts of natural light to substitute interior lighting, and the roof is partly covered in photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity, and rainfall is stored to supply the library’s toilets.

Beitou Public Library is located at No. 251, Guangming Road, Beitou District,Taipei City, Taiwan. Opens Tue-Sat 8.30am-9pm and Sun-Mon 9am-5pm. The nearest station is Xinbeitou MRT.

PENG LAI RESTAURANT

Photo: City Nomads

A humble shop located along Zhonghe Street, Peng Lai serves up authentic Taiwanese fare in a location not 5 minutes away from the nearest train station. Famous for its pork ribs – marinated for 20 hours before being deep-fried to a golden brown crisp while remaining tender on the inside – other must-trys include the Jadeite Tofu and Taro Crisp.

Peng Lai is located at No. 238, Zhonghe Street, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 11252, p.+ 886 2 2891 2778. Opens daily 11.30am-1.30pm and 5pm-8.30pm. The nearest MRT is Xinbeitou Station.

MARSHAL ZEN GARDENS

Photo: City Nomads

The building of Marshal Zen Gardens was constructed during a time when the Japanese still held parts of Taiwan as an entertainment hub for soldiers. Now, the old-time Japanese setting houses a hot spring and upscale restaurant overlooking Guanyinshan and the whole of the Beitou hot spring zone.

Marshal Zen Gardens is located at No.34 Youya Road, Beitou District, Taipei 112, Taiwan, p+ 886 2 2893 5336. Dining opens daily, 12pm-2pm and 6pm-9pm. Take bus 230 to Beitou Museum.

This article was first published in City Nomads.

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