Letting off some steam at Beitou

On the northern outskirts of Taipei, after a short Metro journey, you will come to the famous Beitou Hot Springs at Xinbeitou. I had enjoyed all of my stay in the Taiwanese capital, and spent my final day in the country heading out to the hot springs of Beitou.

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The Taipei Metro Red Line will get you to Xinbeitou Station, and from here you can enjoy everything on offer at the nearby YangMingShan National Park, as well as the Geothermal Valley in Beitou (also called Hell Valley), and the Beitou Hot Springs Park proper. Along Quanyuan Road, there are public hot springs in streams within the park in which everybody can dip their feet. These springs and pools are obviously not deep enough in which to swim, but they contain water that is quite hot – perfect in which to warm up on a rainy day!

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At Beitou there is much more in the area than just hot springs and geothermal activity, although it was actually these hot springs that brought me here. As I walked around, I could definitely smell the sulphur. In fact, the etymology of the name “Beitou” comes from the word “Kipatauw”, which literally means “Home of the Witches”, which is presumably down the steam that rises from the lakes here giving off a certain witches cauldron kind of image?

The Thermal Valley at Beitou
The Thermal Valley at Beitou

I found the scenery around the Hot Springs Park very lush and green. It is hard to believe that such a place exists so close to the sprawling concrete jungle that is Taipei. That said, there were many families around Beitou Hot Springs Park who were enjoying the atmosphere and taking a dip in some of the public pools here. The ethnicity of these people seemed to be Taiwanese or Chinese, with at least two generations of their family present, which proves it is a family affair here at Beitou.

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It must be said, however, that many of these people were rude to me, as I was seemingly the only foreigner in the vicinity. I found it hard to keep my feet in the pools, as the Chinese people were acting as though they owned the pools, and I was taking up precious space that their children or grandmothers wanted. Although I didn’t come to Beitou to spend the whole day submerged in the hot springs, I still wanted to have some peace and quiet and enjoy the surroundings. It was not possible, alas, with such rude and aggressive “locals”.

Beef Noodle Soup
Beef Noodle Soup

There are also many food vendors around Beitou, both in town and in the actual park itself. Some were selling snacks like cheese potato (I tried it and it was amazing!), and others were selling fancier items such as oyster omelette and zhu tong fan (bamboo chicken). Despite being in a bit of a bad mood, I purchased the famous Beef Noodle Soup from a nearby restaurant. One thing is for sure: only the finest cuts of beef are tolerated for this dish! The beef was delectable! I am usually not one to drink the broth of the soup, but on this occasion I was enjoying myself so much that I ended up eating the whole bowl – not one little piece of noodle was leftover!

For more information, I thought this blog over at Life to Reset was extremely helpful and resourceful, with some amazing photos, too!

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