Guanziling, also known as Guanzhiling, is a village located in Baihe District of Tainan City, which is southwest of Chiayi City. It is famous for a lot of things, such as old temples and parks, but it is most famous for is the odd colored hot spring, which many people say has a lot of benefits.
The village of Guanziling used to be inhabited by the indigenous group Pingpu. In 1898, the Japanese, who are known for their love for hot springs, discovered the hot spring in the village and started to develop it. As it turned out, this hot spring is one of the four major hot springs in Taiwan, the other three being found in Beitou, Pingtung, and Yangmingshan. However, it is very much unlike the other three.
The hot spring is made up of gray colored water coming out of the rocks on the side of Zhentou Mountain. It looks like gray mud but it is soft and flowing. It is very much like ordinary water except for the color. This unique hot spring can be found only in two other locations – Kagoshima, Japan and Sicily, Italy. The water is said to have therapeutic effects because of its rich mineral content. Some people also say it is good for the skin, which is perhaps the reason why it has been fondly referred to as a natural cosmetic. There is a public pool where you can have a dip and see for yourself if the hot spring indeed has beneficial effects.
Before you do that, though, you should try to get around the village a bit more, as Guanzhiling has many other attractions that are worth visiting. One of these is the Water and Fire Cave, so called because it gives an amazing display of water and fire existing together. Legend has it that long ago, a fight ensued between a water tiger and a fire dragon, and later on the two decided to just coexist. The spring water flows out of the cave along with an abundance of natural gas, which burns as it is released to the surface. As a result, tongues of flame lick the flowing water, which is really an awesome sight.
While you are in Guanziling, you should try to visit some of the temples. The oldest temple in the village is Biyun Temple. Having been in existence for 200 years, Biyun Temple was declared as one of the tier three historical sites of Taiwan. It is the village’s most important temple and the locals are very proud of it. You might be fortunate to witness the performance of a ritual when you visit the temple, but even if you are not, the majestic views of the plains should be more than enough reason to make you feel excited to go to Biyun Temple.
The district of Baihe, which is where Guanziling is found, is known for the beauty of its lotus ponds. If you want to see the lotuses in bloom, the best time to visit Baihe would be between the months of June and August. To reach the village, you can take the train to Sinying Station and take the bus to Nanliao or Guanzhiling. Alternatively, you may take a bus from Chiayi going to Baihe and alight at Guangzhiling.