Hot Springs

Hot springs, the hot tears of the earth, are one of the most precious gifts that the earth has given to us. Ever since ancient times, people have recognized the rejuvenating and therapeutic properties of these natural resources. Taiwan, is ranked among the world's top 15 hot spring sites, harboring a great variety of springs, including hot springs, cold springs, mud springs, and seabed hot springs. The island can proudly regard itself as one of the regions with the highest concentration and greatest variety of hot springs in the world.

Hot springs are formed by natural waters that emerge from the bowels of the earth and that possess therapeutic properties said to have a positive effect on disorders of the nervous and digestive systems, the circulation, and the organs. People have used hot springs to keep in good health for ages. In Taiwan, with its peculiar crustal structure and location on the fault line where the Euro-Asian and Philippine continental plates meet in the Circum-Pacific seismic zone, subterranean heat is spread across the island producing hot springs island-wide. With the exception of Changhua, Yunlin and Penghu counties, almost every city and county in Taiwan is equipped with hot springs, and so it is not strange that by some Taiwan is also called "the Hot Spring Kingdom".

More than one hundred hot springs have been discovered in Taiwan, located in different geological areas including plains, mountains, valleys, and oceans. The highest concentration of hot springs can be found in northern Taiwan, where the Tatun Volcano is located, while along both sides of the central mountain range, covering an area that to the north is bordered by Yilan and to the south by Pingtung, the largest number of hot springs can be found. Hot springs found here make up more than 80% of all hot springs in Taiwan.

As hot springs generally come from deep below the surface of the earth, when they emerge they bring along a high concentration and great variety of minerals that are mostly foreign to the human body and benefit our general health. Specific properties of hot springs vary depending on chemical composition, mineral concentration and water temperature. Taiwan has a great variety of springs, both cold and hot. The Suao cold springs in Yilan County, for example, emit sodium-carbonate bubbles, and can be compared to the cold springs of Sicily in Italy and the recently discovered cold springs in Korea. Taiwan even harbors one of the world's few mud springs (natural mud springs have been discovered only in Guanziling in Tainan County, Taiwan; Hokkaido in Japan; and Sicily in Italy) as well as one of the few seabed hot springs (the only seabed hot springs can be found on Green Island in Taitung, Taiwan; in Kyushu, Japan; and in Northern Italy). Of course, each type of hot spring has its own specific medicinal properties.

Distribution and therapeutic properties of hot springs in Taiwan :
 

Type of hot springs Therapeutic Properties Location
Sodium Carbonate Springs

Water from this type of springs has no color and has a clear appearance, and is known to help treat athlete's foot, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, skin disease, and neuralgia. It also helps lower the blood pressure and reduce stress of the heart. Sodium carbonate springs are the most common type of hot springs in Taiwan, and because of the sodium carbonate bubbles the water can be made into a refreshing beverage. The Suao cold springs are a classic example of sodium carbonate springs which are reputed to relieve constipation and promote diuresis and improve one's appetite as well as gastrointestinal health.

North Taiwan: Renze and Suao in Yilan County, Wulai in Taipei County , Siling in Taoyuan County, Qingguan in Hsinchu County, Taian in Miaoli County. Central Taiwan: Guguan in Taichung County, Dungpu and Lushan in Nantou County.South Taiwan: Dagangshan, Bulao and Baolai in Kaohsiung County, Sichongxi and Xuhai in Pingtung County. East Taiwan: Wenshan and Hongye in Hualien County, Wulu in Taitung County.

Sulfur Springs

Water from these springs appears either yellow-brownish or milky and emits a strong smell of rotten eggs. The minerals in the water have positive therapeutic effects on skin disease, women's diseases, asthma, neuralgia, arteriosclerosis, rheumatism and shoulder, neck and wrist pains; they also have a detoxifying and mucolytic effect . Limited oral intake can improve conditions such as constipation and diabetes; however, a doctor should always be consulted first. These springs are not suitable for inhalation therapy.

North Taiwan: Wanli in Taipei County, Beitou and Yangmingshan in Taipei City.East Taiwan: Green Island "Zhaori" in Taitung County (this spring does not emit a strong sulfuric smell and the skin does not feel sticky after soaking).

Ferrous Springs

Water from these springs contains a high concentration of metallic elements, and its properties include hematopoiesis, which is why it can help treat anaemia, women's diseases, menopause problems, an underdeveloped uterus and chronic eczema. In addition to bathing, the ferrous water is also drinkable and can alleviate anaemia and treat fatigue.

East Taiwan: Ruisui in Hualien County.

Sodium Hydrogencarbonate Springs

The colorless and odorless water from these springs beautifies the skin, accelerates tissue regeneration, and promotes metabolism and blood circulation. It also has positive effects on gastrointestinal disorders, cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder), neuralgia, arthritis, external injury, liver disease, allergies, chronic skin disease, measles, etc.

North Taiwan: Jiaoxi in Yilan County, Wulai in Taipei County.East Taiwan: Zhiben in Taitung County.

Mud Springs (spring water contains alkaline and iodine, is salty and has a light sulfuric smell)

The water from these springs appears gray or even black, and helps treat skin disease, neuralgia, and gastrointestinal disorders. After bathing in these waters, the skin feels soft, thus having earned the name of natural cosmetic. Glacial marine mud is obtained by the cooling of mud from these springs.

South Taiwan: Guanziling in Tainan County.

Salt or Hydrogen Sulfide Springs

The water from these springs has positive effects on skin disease, women's diseases, and problems of intestines and stomach.

East Taiwan: Andong in Hualien County.

The German Quely first discovered the Beitou hot springs in 1894, and when the Japanese occupied Taiwan, they brought with them their rich culture of spring soaking which greatly influenced Taiwan. In March 1896, Hirado Gengo from Osaka, Japan opened Taiwan's first hot spring hotel, called Tenguan. This not only heralded a new era of hot spring bathing in Peitou, but also paved the way for a whole new hot spring culture. The four most famous hot springs during the Japanese occupation were Beitou, Yangmingshan, Guanziling and Sichongxi. However, after 1945 the hot spring culture in Taiwan gradually lost momentum, and only in 1999 did the authorities again started large-scale promotion of Taiwan's hot springs, initiating a comeback of the hot spring culture and setting off a new hot spring fever.

While in the past hot springs mainly had a recreational function, present development and usage of Taiwan's hot springs not only focuses on the traditional aspect of soaking, but also includes health benefits as a major drawing point of hot springs. Modern applications of hot springs include hydrotherapy, spring pools, spring saunas, spring massage pools, health bathing houses, and spring health centers. Many enterprises have invested in the construction or renovation of spring hotels, and have even purchased modern scientific hot spring equipment, transforming the traditional concept of hot spring soaking into the added-value concept of hot spring hydrotherapy. Now, while enjoying the traditional comfort of soaking in a hot spring, people can receive additional health benefits by taking advantage of the physical properties of water using hydro jets that splash columns of water onto the body, ultra-sonic massage equipment, and the water's natural buoyancy, made possible through the installation of modern equipment and the professional assistance of hot spring hydrotherapists.

Next to their therapeutic effects, hot springs can also be used to boil eggs, irrigate crops and grow animals. The Jiaoxi hot springs, for example, are also used to grow water convolvulus (empty-stemmed vegetable) and raise softshell turtles, while hot springs in the Zhiben, Renze, Lushan and Sichongxi areas all have egg-boiling facilities. Because most of Taiwan's hot springs are located in beautiful scenic areas, when going to soak in one of the numerous hot springs you will not only be able to get away from hectic life in the city but will also be given the opportunity to enjoy gorgeous scenery while listening to the voices of nature, thus adding a new dimension to recreation and health. Therefore, coming to Taiwan on a hot spring tour will definitely pay off!

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Information provided by Tourism Bureau, Rep. of China.

 

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