April 12, 2010

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How to experience a Taiwanese onsen

My first experience of Taiwanese hot springs or 如何體驗台灣溫泉


If you ever go to Wulai, it's really a great idea to go to what Japanese call an onsen or typical Taiwanese hot springs called 如何體驗台灣溫泉 (hot springs in Taiwan are called 温泉, pronounced as wēnquán). It was my first time to go to such place. I have been to some hot springs in Slovenia in the past, but that was more like swimming in a big pool with thermal water. I know that Slovenian hot springs really improved in recent years, adding spas, saunas and massages, so they're pretty popular back home. But here in Taiwan visiting an onsen has a much longer tradition. Especially under the Japanese rule (some 100 years ago) the Taiwanese onsen-culture was extensively promoted and enhanced. Taiwan has one of the highest densities and varieties of hot springs in the world with over 100 of them located on this small island (read more about it here). And today many Taiwanese like to go to various hot springs that are found all over the island. Wulai is one of the most famous hot springs resorts in Taiwan and especially in northern Taiwan.

THE PRICE: We went to an onsen named 烏來名湯 (Wulai Ming Tang). My girlfriend booked the tickets before and we paid 400NTD per person for 1h of bathing, which is something like 9€. Since it was on a public holiday, the price was 50NTD higher (same goes for weekends), so during the week, the price is 350NTD (8€).

Let me show you how a Taiwanese onsen looks like from inside:

The main entrance of the 烏來名湯 onsen.

A small pond and a garden near the main entrance.

This onsen is very close to a creek and a mountain. The air is so fresh here.

The lobby. Here's the counter, where you pay first and then you're given a number and a key. We had to take those stairs leading down (on the left). The onsen was outside the building.

Walking straight ahead on a small corridor and then go to that semi open structure. On the left are hotel-like rooms, on the right are the rooms with the bath tubs. You just find your number.

First is a shared restroom, then you walk further and you come to your private room.

And that's how our room looked like.

The bathtub is on the left, a massage bed at the end, a dust bin in the corner and a small shelf with a towel on the left. At the end you have a nice view on the mountains surrounding Wulai.

The shower with a shower gel and shampoo right next to the door. You have to take a shower before and after soaking in the warm water.

A shelf with a towel and a phone. They call you 10min before you have to leave.

The whole room is not soundproof, because the walls only go up to a certain point. Right below the roof everything is open. That's why I call it semi-open. You can hear people talking next to the walls. It feels like you're in private, but still somewhat in public at the same time. It's exciting ;-)

A view out on the beautiful mountains. It really felt great to be there.

Filling up the bath tub with the hot water. It took us a while.

And then we soaked and soaked until we became this. :-P

We really had a great time. The water was warm and made us relax. It was a great experience for both of us, I'm sure we won't forget our time here. And it's really great, that couples are allowed to book a room together. I remember telling my girlfriend, that I think many young couples go to this kind of hot springs and have a little fun and by fun I don't only mean that kind of soaking. I mean, why would they put a bed in there? ;-) Anyway, we had fun.

And that's how our tub looked like after we finished bathing.

We only soaked for about 50min, but also went out of the tub several times to cool off a little. It's not good to soak inside all the time. After you're done, you really feel rejuvenated, your body feels so clean, it's really great for your body and soul. In this onsen you get a free drink after you're done with your 1h of bathing. So we took a drink and soon left back to the central part of Wulai and then soon after that headed home. Free transportation is provided from the Wulai bus station to the onsen and back (in a small van). I must say that the staff was very friendly and helpful. The facilities were all clean and taken good care of. It was really a great day and an unique experience for me. I certainly won't forget my first time enjoying myself in real Taiwanese hot springs. If you wanna go to the same onsen, here's their homepage: www.wulai-spring.com.tw

[My WULAI overview][My TAIWAN page][All photos by MKL, 2010]

14 comments:

  1. I LOVE HOTSPRING! So relaxing. It's a big deal here in SE Asia too, people go to hot spring resorts to just relax for a weekend and such. My favorite is the one in the mountains with private villa and call in masseuse. So after a deep tissue massage, you take a dip. It's amazing!

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  2. oh my shark! i love the hot water bath!!!! you make me wanna quit medicine and marry a very rich billionaire so that i can indulge myself ahah!

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  3. i'm sure you were both very invigorated from your visit, it looks great!

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  4. The photos and your descriptions are so relaxing! I am so jealous, I wanna go there, too!

    I went to a Water Spa last year, but it's nowhere near as quaint as your experience as the spa is inside a biiig building x_x

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  5. OMG! it looks so relax and nice! I wanna go to one too....

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  6. I read that Taiwan onsen require the people to be in swimming attire. Is it true?

    I'm still wondering which onsen I should go to in Taiwan. Yangmingshan? New beitou? Or Wulai?

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  7. WHAT? 350NTD? I just calculated how much that would be in Cad and it's only $11!!! THAT IS DIRT CHEAP! for $11 here you can get 2 Mcdonalds meals. hahaha! Looks very relaxing, especially with a view like that as well! Actually, my family and i are planning to go to the hot springs here too for my bday in the summer... i've never been so i'd love to experience it!

    p.s - yeah, manju says im kym possible which is why i'm everyones target. hahaha!

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  8. Wootz, I've never did it but I wish I could dip in japan's open hot spring! This one reminds me of a sauna.

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  9. LOL - oh I'm sure most couples have more than a bath soak in there - sheesh...I mean, the scenery and bed and the tub looks big enough ;)
    Makes me wanna go to a spa *sigh* I haven't been to an onsen before...a spa yes. Spa packages are pricey (the ones I've had were about $80-$130 CDN) but you can't beat the treatment and there's nothing that gives me the same relaxed feeling at home. It's nice to treat yourself once in awhile.

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  10. Looks very nice, and now you're enjoying Korea! You're so lucky to get to soak up this part of the world :)

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  11. Thanks guys! I'm glad you enjoyed my post :)

    @Shingo: In this one we had our own room and nobody said that we need a swimming attire. It was private :) I think Wulai is quite famous, you would like it. I haven't been in Beitou, but it's famous as well.

    @Kym: Yes, it's cheap :)

    @Karen: Hahah.. yes, I told the same to my girlfriend. And then we... ehm, yes the bed is big enough and the scenery is very inviting, haha :P

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  12. Hi I have a one question!
    - How about your valuables? Is there a locker or something?

    Thanks! Im going Taipei soon. & im checking this hot spring out!

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  13. @SHOPPING HAWKS: I'm sure you can take them with you could leave it at the hotel's counter, where you pay the ticket.

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  14. Ohh. I was unable to enter the site. Do you have the similar problem?

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