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Jiaoxi Hot Spring (礁溪溫泉, also spelled Jiaosi Hot Spring) is my favorite hot spring village in all of Taiwan. Jiaoxi is a rural township at the north end of Yilan County in Northeastern Taiwan, making it one of the best day trips from Taipei.
My friends/family and I have been to Jiaoxi as day and overnight trips well over a dozen times. We find it offers the perfect balance of convenience, unique hot springs, quirky eating & drinking options, and outdoor activities. Obviously it’s best to visit when it’s winter in Taiwan (December, January, February, and March), but there are enough things to do in Jiaoxi to justify coming anytime of the year.
In this article I’m going to cover getting from Taipei to Jiaoxi, Jiaoxi hot spring park, the best hot spring spas in Jiaoxi, where to stay in Jiaoxi, best Jiaoxi restaurants, and hiking in Jiaoxi.
For more things to do in the surrounding area, see my article on 40 fun things to do in Yilan.
Why I Love Jiaoxi So Much
To begin with, I’ll tell you what Jiaoxi Hot Spring is not. It is not one of those serene hot springs looking over a stunning valley in a remote natural setting (for that maybe you can try Wenshan Hot Spring in Taroko Gorge, Wulai Hot Spring in New Taipei City, or Tai’an Hot Spring in Miaoli).
Jiaoxi is a small tourist town filled with hot spring resorts and spas. Besides the convenience of being able to get there in an hour or less from Taipei, the town has the largest collection of hot spring facilities within easy reach of Taipei, and with far cheaper prices than at Beitou Hot Springs in Taipei City. If you’re traveling around Taiwan with kids or live in Taipei with kids like we do, Jiaoxi is the perfect place for a fun staycation.
Among Jiaoxi’s many spas, you’ll find two of my favorite in Taiwan (I’ll get to that below), not to mention Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park, where you can soak your feet in hot spring water while enjoying locally produced craft beer. Add to that a few awesome and quirky dining options and some excellent waterfalls and hiking trails just out of town, and you having the makings for an all-around awesome day trip from Taipei.
Getting from Taipei to Jiaoxi
Jiaoxi is the first village that drivers encounter when exiting the 13-kilometer Xueshan Tunnel, one of the longest tunnels in Asia, which cuts through the mountains between Taipei and Yilan County.
This means that taking the bus is the fastest and best way of getting to Jiaoxi. Buses depart from Taipei Bus Station (north of Taipei Main Train Station) or Taipei City Hall MRT (from the MRT, head up the escalators on the west side and enter the bus station on the ground floor). The bus costs around TWD150 and takes just under an hour (may be longer during rush hour). Seats on the bus are guaranteed, and buses leave regularly.
A slower option, and you may not get a seat, is the train. Trains from Taipei Main Station to Jiaoxi Station take 1.5-2 hours and cost TWD100-200, depending on which one you get. You may want to consider the train when traveling at peak traffic hours, though, for example at the start of long weekend when everyone is driving out of Taipei, as the Xueshan Tunnel can get clogged. The same thing applies when returning to Taipei, for example, on a Sunday late afternoon. You can swipe your EasyCard to get on the train, but the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass won’t cover this journey.
The Jiaoxi Train Station is right at the center of town, while buses will drop you just north of the town center on the main road coming into town (labeled “Jiaoxi Transfer Station” on GoogleMaps).
Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park
One of the best parts of visiting Jiaoxi is hanging out in the free outdoor Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park. In fact, there are two hot spring parks in Jiaoxi:
Tangweigou Hot Spring Park
The main hot spring park in Jiaoxi is called Tangweigou Hot Spring Park (湯圍溝溫泉公園). The park stretches between Jiaoxi Street (礁溪路五段) and Deyang Road (德陽路). You can find the entrance on Jiaoxi Street just a few blocks from the train station; just type “Chili Hunter” on GoogleMaps to find it.
A hot spring creek flows through Tangweigou Hot Spring Park, and there are numerous spots where you can soak your feet. There are also several ponds filled with fish that will nibble the dead skin off your feet (it seriously tickles!) for a small fee.
The hot spring park has numerous food stalls, including Yilan’s most famous specialty: green onion cakes (see eating in Jiaoxi section below). There are also several beer halls in the park, mainly serving draft beer from local Yilan brewery Barley Farm Manual Beer (麥田現釀啤酒, the “manual” is a bad translation of 手工 or “hand made” beer, a way to say “craft beer” in Mandarin). The beers include wheat (小麥), barley (大麥), rye (黑麥), and spirulina (green algae or 螺旋藻).
I don’t think we’ve ever gone to Jiaoxi without getting a pitcher of the “Jiaoxi green beer” at some point in our visit! Our favorite drinking spot in the park (pictured above) is the café patio at the back (Deyang Road) side, behind Maison de Chine Hotel.
Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Forest Furo (Bath)
There is a second hot spring park in Jiaoxi that is called “Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Forest Furo (Bath)” (礁溪溫泉公園-森林風呂) on GoogleMaps. You can find it northeast of the town center, across from the Jiaoxi Bus Station. It is a quieter version of the other hot spring park, with wooden paths and foot soaking tubs in a more natural setting, with no food or drink stalls.
There is also a public warm swimming pool and hot spring facility (礁溪鄉公所溫泉游泳池 on GoogleMaps) in the park. It’s not the nicest in town, but entrance is only TWD80 for adults. It’s mainly frequented by elderly locals.
The Best Jiaoxi Hot Spring Resorts
There are a few hot spring spas in Jiaoxi that stand out above the rest (we’ve tried quite a few, but not all, or course), and that we keep going to again and again, every time we go to Jiaoxi.
Jiaoxi Chuan Tang Spring Spa Hotel
Our number one favorite hot spring resort in Jiaoxi is called Chuan Tang Spring Spa Hotel (川湯春天溫泉飯店, spelled “Chuang” Tang on their website). It is located two blocks in front of the train station at #43 Deyang Road (礁溪德陽路43號), with a second, newly renovated second location right beside the train station called 川湯春天旗艦館. We haven’t been to this one yet, but in the pictures, it looks very similar to the old one, but newer and nicer, so definitely worth checking out!
The main reason we love this hot spring is because of the sheer variety of hot spring baths inside. There are around a dozen pools with scented and colored hot spring water, from vibrant yellow sulfur springs and pink rose to purple lavender and brown oolong tea.
They’ve also got a foot-nibbling fish pond, water park for kids, huge massage jet room, and scented steam rooms; the Chinese herbs steam room is my personal fave. You will not find facilities like this or scented/colored waters at any of the hot spring resorts in Beitou.
Entrance to Chuan Tang for non-guests of the hotel is a nominal TWD320 (230 on weekdays), less than half what you’d pay for most hot spring resorts in Taipei. A locker key is included, but you’ll want to bring your own towel and swimming hat, otherwise you’ll have to rent them.
Jiaoxi Art Spa Hotel
Our second choice hot spring resort in Jiaoxi is Art Spa Hotel (中冠礁溪大飯店), which is also on Deyang Road and even closer to Jiaoxi Train Station. Art Spa Hotel’s outdoor spa is most famous for having a super tall hot spring water slide. It also has an even better young children’s section than Chuan Tang.
The reason I rank this one as second is that it doesn’t have as many scented/colored hot spring tubs as Chuan Tang, nor does it have the scented steam room or foot-nibbling fish pond. It’s still a great choice, though.
If you’re looking for a luxurious couple’s soak, upscale Hotel Valletta (中天溫泉渡假飯店) has hot spring terraces with private tubs on the upper floors of the hotel with incredible views. The rooms can be rented for 90 minutes, or you can spent the night in what is one of Jiaoxi’s classiest hotels.
Best Hot Spring Hotels in Jiaoxi
While Chuan Tang and Art Spa are our two tried-and-tested favorite hot spring spas in Jiaoxi, they aren’t necessarily the best places to stay in Jiaoxi. Both the older Chuan Tang and Art Spa Hotel are dated hotels and seem overpriced for the rooms you get.
Virtually all hot hotels in Jiaoxi come with private hot spring tubs in the rooms and/or a communal hot spring facility (often nude and sex segregated).
You can also find some cheaper Jiaoxi accommodation deals by searching for Airbnbs in Jiaoxi. (As an Airbnb associate, I earn a small commission if you book through this link, at no extra cost to you. Join Airbnb here and you’ll get up to $50 off your first stay!)
Best Budget Hotel in Jiaoxi
Besides winning the award for best hotel name in Jiaoxi, we totally loved the love hotel vibes (cheesy more so than creepy) at One Fukun, with purple lights galore, private hot spring tub in the room, and mixed sex hot spring facility in the basement (bathing suits required). This hotel is ideal for couples on a budget, but we also found it perfectly fine with our two young kids. The cover photo of this article was shot at the communal hot spring in the basement of One Fukun.
Best Family-Friendly Hotel in Jiaoxi
Chuang-tang Spring Spa Hotel (川湯春天旗艦館) (read reviews and see prices), which I described above as the newer location of our favorite spa in Jiaoxi, also looks to be an awesome place to stay with kids. They’ve got a whole range of themed rooms for kids, not to mention you get access to one of the best and most kid-friendly hot springs in Jiaoxi.
Best Jiaoxi Minzu (for big groups)
Several times our group of friends in Taipei has gone to Jiaoxi and rented an entire large house on the outskirts of Jiaoxi, called a minzu (民族 or “guesthouse/B&B”). These houses are surrounded by rice parties, and the perfect place to have a barbecue or overnight party. The houses tend to be beautiful and modern, with large yards (a rarity for us Taipei folk), and the price per person if you fill all the rooms is extremely reasonable.
I would personally recommend Fountain B&B (read reviews / see prices), which has the added benefit of free bicycle rentals (see cycling in Jiaoxi section at the end of the article). The photo of my son at the top of this article with Jiaoxi in the background was shot in the backyard or this B&B.
Luxury Jiaoxi Hot Spring Resorts
Yamagata Kaku Hotel & Spa (礁溪山形閣) (read reviews / see prices) is the top-rated Jiaoxi hot spring hotel on both Tripadvisor and booking.com. Zen-inspired rooms come with large hot spring tubs and great views.
Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi (礁溪老爺酒店) (read reviews / see prices) is the most exclusive (and expensive) property in town, with a private golf course and rooms overlooking the rural landscape just out of town. You’ll see it on the way to Wufengqi Waterfall (see below).
What to Eat in Jiaoxi
Besides the usual array of local eateries like quick fries and street food stalls, there are a few special food items that stand out in Jiaoxi. All the major hot spring hotels and resorts in Jiaoxi have their own restaurants as well. I won’t cover them below, but their menus lean predictably toward upscale Japanese and Chinese/Taiwanese fare.
Hot Spring Ramen
An entire cuisine has developed around hot springs in Taiwan, and (no surprises here), it’s mainly focused on Japanese food. In Jiaoxi, there’s a popular two-store chain called Leshan Hot Spring Ramen where you can soak your feet in hot spring water while dining.
We were impressed with the quality of the food on the menu. Besides ramen, don’t miss the excellent sushi, hot spring eggs and hot springs tofu. And FYI, they don’t actually use hot spring water to make any of the food…
Leshan Hot Spring Ramen (樂山溫泉拉麵) is the more popular of the two locations, as it is right by the Jiaoxi Train Station. Expect long lines for a spot, if you can even get in, especially on weekends. For better luck, try their second, quieter location Rakuzan Ramen (樂山溫泉拉麵二店) near Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Forest Furo, but even there can get packed if you come at noon.
Green Onion Cakes
Green onions grow all over Yilan, and Yilan-style green onion cakes (蔥油餅) are popular all over Taiwan. The green onion cakes you’ll find at food stalls in town are usually deep fried, so they are super greasy (read: super delicious). When ordering, you’ll have to answer two vital questions: do you want egg, and do you want it spicy?
There are at least half a dozen green onion cake stalls in town, especially around the train station and entrance to Tangweigou Hot Spring Park. Just type “礁溪蔥餅” into GoogleMaps to find them.
For the most famous green onion cakes in Yilan county, though, you’ll need to drive to the tiny hamlet of Sanxing (三星). See more information in my guide to Yilan County.
Chili Hunter Spicy Ice Cream
Have you ever had spicy ice cream? The ice cream at Chili Hunter ranges from zero (not spicy) to level 7 (it literally burns your tongue). The ice cream shop can be found right at the entrance to Tangweigou Hot Spring Park. You can’t miss the freaky mascot (a chili pepper monster?) out front.
Green Algae Beer in Tangweigou Hot Spring Park
As I mentioned above, no visit to Jiaoxi is complete without having a pint of green beer in Tangweigou Hot Spring Park. See all the details about the other beers available in the “Tangweigou Hot Spring Park” section above if you didn’t already.
Hiking and Other Things to Do in Jiaoxi
Even if you aren’t into hot springs, Jiaoxi is worth visiting for the following outdoor activities in any season of the year.
Wufengqi Waterfall (五峰旗瀑布) is the most famous natural attraction in Jiaoxi. An easy walking trail leads to a series of beautiful waterfalls in a lush natural setting. There are usually a handful of vendors at the entrance selling local Yilan specialties such as peanut brittle ice cream rolls (花生卷冰淇淋) and preserved kumquats (金棗蜜餞).
Wufengqi Waterfall is three kilometers west of town, past Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi. You can walk there in about 45 minutes, take the infrequent Jiaoxi shuttle bus, rent a scooter, or hop in a taxi from Jiaoxi Train Station and get the driver’s number or set a time to pick you up later.
Yuemeikeng Waterfall Hike
Starting from nearly the same spot as Wufengqi, a more difficult and much lesser known hike leads to gorgeous Yuemeikeng Waterfall (月眉坑瀑布). Swimming is possible at the bottom of the 3-tiered curtain waterfall.
The hike to Yuemeikeng takes around two hours return, and involves a few river crossings (very shallow) and climbing down rocks with a rope. To find the trail from Wufengqi waterfall entrance, follow the trail downhill through the forest to Dezikou River Check Dam (得子口溪攔沙壩). Cross the dam over the river to find the trail entrance on the other side.
We walked past a troupe of macaques the last time we did the hike!
Marian Hiking Trail/Shenmu Trail
The Dezikou Riverside is also the start of the Shenmu Trail (聖母登山步道). To begin, a gravel road leads to the beautiful Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Wufengqi (五峰旗聖母朝聖地), which has a beautiful view of the surrounding area.
From there, a walking trail leads through the forest and then steeply up stairs to St. Marian Hut (聖母山莊 or Sacred Mother Hut) at 884 meters, where a statue of the crucifixion of Jesus commands a sweeping view. From the top, there are also trails to surrounding peaks. You should budget a full day for doing this hike. Find more info and photos of the hike here.
Paoma Historic Trail
Yet another hike in the area is Paoma Historic Trail (跑馬古道), which is near the others but closer to Jiaoxi village, making it even easier to walk to from town. This two hour-return hike is an easier option but has no major waterfalls or other features. If you’re looking for a quiet, easy forest hike with nice views over Jiaoxi Village, this one will do. See more info here.
Cycling around Jiaoxi
The rice paddies of the Lanyang Plain surrounding Jiaoxi are quite picturesque, and the best way to explore them is on two wheels. We like the area of rice paddies south and southeast of the town center, between Jiaoxi and the sea. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any bicycle rental shop in Jiaoxi (please let me know if you find one), but some hotels have bicycles available for guests only. These include Just Sleep Jiaoxi, Peace Area Hot Spring Hotel, and Fountain B&B.
Well, I hope you’ve found all the info you need here for visiting Jiaoxi, my personal favorite hot spring village in Taiwan. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you feel I’ve missed anything!