A wondrous hot-spring enclave in northern Taipei
The tourism focus for Beitou District – an enclave in the northwest of Taipei City at the foot of the mighty Yangmingshan mountain – is the hot-spring resort area of New Beitou (Xinbeitou).
The Beitou hot-spring resort area was the first such area in Taiwan. Developed by the Japanese starting in the late 1980’s, it was once accessed from central Taipei by a special railway. The original terminus station, a charming wood-built structure created in 1916, is on display outside the Taipei Metro’s Xinbeitou Station.
Today the expanding city presses in on the long, narrow valley at the base of the Yangmingshan massif where the key resort area is located. A steamy sulfur spring runs through its lower half, emerging from a main attraction, Thermal Valley (also called Hell Valley), which is a large rock-lined depression filled with sulfurous water that bubbles, boils, and mists over.
Beyond the many resorts, which provide accomodations and temporary-use hot-spring bathing facilities in all price ranges, there are numerous historical attractions. The Beitou Hot Spring Museum is housed in a structure purpose-built in 1913 by the Japanese as Taiwan’s first public baths, and was once visited by future Emperor Hirohito. It is focused on the flourishing of the unique Beitou hot-spring culture.
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The enchanting Beitou Museum, which exhibits on early Taiwan life and culture with a Beitou focus, is housed in a former Japanese- hot-spring inn built in Chinese Tang Dynasty style in 1921 where kamikaze pilots once spent their last days.
Next door is another beautifully restored complex, the Marshal Zen Garden, which now is a teahouse/restaurant/hot-spring bathing complex. In the Japanese era it did service as a hot-spring inn, officers;’ club, and short-stay R&R retreat for kamikaze pilots.