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Of the many hot spring villages in Taiwan, laid-back Tai’an Hot Spring (泰安溫泉) is one of our favorites.
Located in the hills of Miaoli, a Central Taiwanese county known for slow-living, Hakka culture, and off-the-beaten-track attractions like these, Tai’an has a remote, natural vibe yet is easy enough to get to by car.
Sure, you could visit as a day trip from Taichung or even Taipei, but what’s the point if you don’t get to spend the night in one of Tai’an’s numerous excellent hot spring hotels? Even better, make a full weekend of it and also visit nearby Dahu for picking strawberries, but do be warned that both get very busy on weekends in strawberry season, which is winter in Taiwan.
My family and I have been to Taian Hot Spring several times in the 10+ years I’ve been living in Taiwan, and we’ll keep coming back. In this article, I’m going to introduce everything you need to know for your visit, including how to get there, where to eat, and of course the best hot spring spas in Taian.
If you’re traveling around Taiwan with kids like us, you’ll be happy to know that the hot spring hotels in Tai’an are kid-friendly.
History of Tai’an Hot Spring
Tai’an hot spring is a sodium hydrogen carbonate thermal hot spring whose water is said to be good for the skin and sore joints. It is colorless, odorless, and neutral in pH.
Just like Beitou in Taipei and many other hot spring resort towns in Taiwan, Tai’an was first developed by the Japanese during their colonial rule of Taiwan (1895-1945), although local Atayal aboriginals had already been aware of it.
There are actually two hot spring sources in Tai’an. The first is on an island about 9 km into the 11 km drive to from Provincial Highway 3 to Tai’an. The Japanese called it Takeshima Hot Spring (上島溫泉), while today it is known as Hushan Hot Spring (虎山溫泉 or Tiger Mountain Hot Spring).
Hushan Hot Spring Hotel (湯之島虎山溫泉會館) (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) is found there, and it is accessed via Hushan Suspension Bridge on foot only. When Japan’s emperor visited Taiwan in 1941, he even bathed here.
The second hot spring in Tai’an is in what is now Tai’an hot spring village, a collection of mostly hot spring hotels and not much else that is spread out on either side of Wenshui River. The Japanese called this Ueshima Hot Spring and there they built the Tai’an Police Lodge (泰安警光山莊), where they could send officers to take get some R&R on their holidays. The police lodge is still there, at the far east end of town.
After the Japanese left, the Taian hot spring area was mainly known as Hushan Hot Spring until President Chiang Ching-kuo visited and renamed it Tai’an Hot Spring in 1978. Tai’an Hot Spring remained lesser known over the years, but recently it has been making a comeback, with the ultra hip Onsen Papawaqa (泰安觀止溫泉會館) (see on Agoda / TripAdvisor) being the most recent addition and attracting hot spring lovers from afar.
The 5 Best Hot Springs in Tai’an
There are five hot spring hotels in Tai’an that I recommend, but for different reasons. The first four are in Tai’an hot spring village, while the fifth one is a few kilometers west of town, so you pass it first on the way to Tai’an.
If you’re planning to visit during Lunar New Year in Taiwan, you’ll want to book your room early.
1. King’s Resort: Our favorite
Sure, it looks kind of like a standard 3-star hotel from the outside, and the inside is admittedly a little dated as well. But this is a family-run hotel with an extremely friendly owner who is passionate about making guests feel welcome.
When we stayed, he greeted us warmly and even gave us a free bottle of wine at dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, where we enjoyed an enormous, local-style meal.
The hot spring spa at King’s Resort is also excellent. It includes a multi-tiered outdoor facility with many (mostly covered) pools surrounded by lush vegetation and offering mountain views.
On top of that, each group that says at King’s Resort gets a free hour in one of the private hot spring rooms on the roof of the hotel. The finishing touch on our stay was that we could hear the sound of the river as we went to sleep at night.
2. Tangyue Resort: For those without a car
Those who don’t have a vehicle to get to Tai’an can visit Tangyue Hot Spring Resort (泰安湯悅溫泉會館), thanks to this day tour from Taichung City. The package deal includes a meal, Japanese yukata (robe) to wear, and transportation from Taichung.
3. Onsen Papawaqa: The most luxurious soak
Onsen Papawaqa (泰安觀止溫泉會館) (see on Agoda / TripAdvisor) is an ultra hip boutique hot spring hotel and without a doubt the most luxurious place to take a soak in Tai’an. The rooms are pricey, but even if you don’t stay here, I’d strongly recommend stopping in for a soak in their beautifully landscaped outdoor hot spring spa like we did. The mixed sex facility is great, but families will want to double check whether kids are allowed. There’s also a nude, sex-segregated spa.
You can take a virtual tour of the outdoor spa here. We found it especially atmospheric in the evening after the sun went down.
You can also book a private soak + meal package at Onsen Papawaqa here. If you stay in the hotel, they offer free transportation from Miaoli.
4. Tang Zhimei: Local B&B for couples
This may appeal to couples who don’t care for the shared outdoor baths of King’s Resort yet don’t want to pay the high prices of Onsen Papawaqa for a hotel room with a hot spring tub. This is a pretty typical Taiwanese B&B, and there is a nice patio outside for hanging out in the evening.
5. Hu Shan Hot Spring Hotel: A unique island stay
Hu Shan Hot Spring (湯之島虎山溫泉會館) (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) is actually the first hot spring you’ll pass on your drive in to Tai’an, a few kilometers before all the other hot spring hotels at Tai’an village.
It’s located on Hushan Island on the Wenshui river, and you need to park and then walk across Hushan Suspension Bridge to access it. This is the site of one of the first hot spring hotels in Tai’an, but the current hotel is new and surprisingly affordable. See the history section at the beginning of the article for more information about it.
Where to Eat in Taian
There are almost no restaurants in Tai’an. Mainly this is because most of the hot spring hotels in town offer meal packages. Fortunately, there’s now a brand new 7-Eleven in town, which you’ll find right across the bridge from Onsen Papawaqa, so you’ll never starve or run out of beer.
We did try one restaurant in town: Mountain Kiss Hot Spring Restaurant (山吻泉餐廳), which happens to be right next to the 7-Eleven and has a nice river view from its all-glass walls and open patio. The restaurant has a pretty typical combination of Western snacks like waffles and Taiwanese meals like mini hot pots. You can also try 稻草人食坊, a Hakka restaurant near Onsen Papawaqa on the other side of the river.
How to Get to Tai’an Hot Spring
The easiest way to get to Tai’an is by driving. It is 2-hour drive from Taipei or 1-hour drive from Taichung. This means you can easily visit Tai’an as a day trip from Taichung or a day trip from Taipei. I would really recommend spending the night, though.
By public transportation, it is possible to reach Tai’an, but it’s going to take you a while. First, you can following my directions for taking the local bus to Dahu, where you can stop and pick strawberries. From there, the Taian DRTS bus runs to Tai’an, but only five times per day.
Alternatively, you can just hop in a taxi from Miaoli TRA or HSR train stations. It’s a 40-minute drive, so my guess is that it might cost around TWD800-1000. You can get a discount on your HSR ticket if you book it here on Klook (available to non-residents only).
Other Things to Do around Tai’an Hot Spring
While hot springs are really the main reason to come to Tai’an, there are also some hiking trails around town. Head to Shuiyun Suspension Bridge (水雲吊橋), which itself presents a photo op, then follow the river upstream to Dashimen Falls (大石門瀑布) and Shuiyun Falls (水雲瀑布).
There’s also a two-hour trail to the peak of Tiger Mountain (虎山).
From Tai’an, it’s only a 20-minute drive to Dahu, which in winter is the epicenter of strawberry farming in Taiwan. There are U-Pick farms galore, as well as Dahu Wineland Resort.
You can also reach Nanzhuang Old Street and Lion’s Head Mountain, famous for its many temples and walking trails, in about one hour from Tai’an.
If you have any questions about visiting Tai’an Hot Spring or want to share you own experience, please do so in the comments below!