Taiwan’s natural landscape is breathtaking. You can chill on the beach, cycle along gorgeous stretches of coastline, hike in the high mountains, get lost in the deep valleys or breathe in the tranquility of a bamboo forest. The weather is fairly good for most of the year, so it’s a good bet that even the staunchest couch potato will occasionally venture outside.
What really grabbed my attention, was the abundance of hotsprings. A lot of them have been domesticated and turned into resorts, but there are some that still exist in all their natural glory. One such is Xinxing hotsprings in Taoyuan county.
If you live in Taiwan, and are into the great outdoors, Xinxing is a MUST!
One day, a buddy and I decided to go check it out. We figured it was about a 3.5 hr. ride, with stops, on our scooters. So, we loaded up and set off. I won’t bore you with the details, but we got hopelessly lost (mostly due to a minimum amount of proper preparation and our usual amount of mental retardation). Anyway, 6 hrs. and very sore bottoms later (you try riding a scooter for that long a time) we got to within half an hour of the place.
If you want to google map it, 新興溫泉 is the Chinese name
Here are the directions (we went there from Hsinchu). Hopefully you don’t have to suffer like we did.
Most of it is pretty straight forward. One turn to watch for closely is the feeder from the 4 to the 7. I didn’t see any signs for the 7 there, so when you are on the 4, turn RIGHT at ANHE road. This will lead you straight to the 7.
Once you get in to Baling, make sure you take a right at the first fork. You should hit a small bridge very shortly after. If you don’t, turn back.
After the bridge, take your first left. It’s pretty much a U-turn. Then just stick to the main road until you enter a small village (Galahe). Look to your left for what looks like a little parking lot. Right beside it will be what looks like a very steep driveway. That’s the trail that leads down. The drive from the bridge to the parking lot is about 8 kms.
If all else fails, just say “Sheen Sheeng”, and the locals will point you in the right direction.
The ride south on the 7 is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a winding mountain road that offers views like this:
Once you get to the entrance of the hotsprings, it’s about 30 mins down. Take as LITTLE as possible with you. You will thank me on the way back up.
The first leg is paved:
We were full of energy on the way down, but the total opposite on the way back up. It’s so steep that (about halfway down the paved part) there is a sign with a number you can call if you want a scooter sent to take you up the rest of the way:
Also, there are pavilions with seats where you can rest:
Then come the stairs:
Then the trail:
And finally a ladder leading down:
Having made it in one piece, we were rewarded with pristine awesomeness:
The hotspring is a waterfall that pours out of the rocks and mixes with the cold water of the river. The water (abt 8 ft.) around the waterfall is perfect to soak in. The waterfall itself is lukewarm and we took turns sitting under it. There are a few spots where the water is scalding, so be careful. The river current can be pretty strong, and the rocks are slippery, so there is a rope to help get across:
Up the river there are a few mini-falls as well:
As you can see, the whole area was untouched and very beautiful. We soaked away our road weariness for a couple of hours. Since Xinxing is hard to get to, we were the only people there.
Finally, it was time to go. I was NOT looking forward to the climb back. After much groaning, huffing and puffing, we finally made it. We were exhausted, but still elated. Being down in the hotsprings brought about a lasting sense of tranquility. It was an incredibly beautiful and serene experience.
I found out about Xinxing on a blog all about outdoorsy stuff. It has all sorts of great info on hiking, biking, wild springs etc. Great resource for natural adventures in Taiwan. Check it out here.