Nantou County in Central Taiwan may not be popular as a beach destination, but it has the coolest hot springs in the country. Nantou is the only Taiwanese county that does not have a coastline: it does not have a beach to offer. The most popular activities are hiking, sightseeing and mountain climbing, while the leading natural wonders are the Sun Moon Lake, Mount Hehuan, Chingjing plateau, a number of traditional villages, and its hot springs. The most popular springs are those in Renai, Aowanda, Dongpu and Atayal.
Located in Renai Township is the Lushan hot springs, one of the largest and most well known hot springs in Taiwan. Lushan is popular for its alkaline carbonic acid and clear potable waters at 75-90°Celsius and with eight to ten pH levels, flowing from the Mahaipu and Taluowan Rivers. Around the hot springs are lovely cherry blossoms that bloom between spring and winter, which was why the place was called “Cherry Hot Springs” by the Japanese during the Japanese Occupation.
Lushan hot springs have two natural pools joined together by a suspension bridge. Situated at an altitude of 400 kilometers, Lushan is one of the highest lying hot springs in Taiwan and also one of the world’s top hot springs. More and more tourists are visiting Lushan every year, and so more and more hotels and facilities are being put up in the area, the most popular of which is the Lushan Garden Resort.
It is easy to reach Lushan. Take a bus bound for Sun Moon Lake, get off at Puli Stop, then take another bus going to Songgang and get off at Lushan Hot Spring Stop. If driving by car, take the Changhua Interchange Exit to Highway No. 3 from the Zhongshan Highway; Exit at the Wufeng Interchange going to Highway No. 6 and then take the Puli Interchange Exit and on to the Provincial Highway No.14.
Other popular hot springs are those found in Aowanda, namely the Aowanda Hot Spring, Wandanan River Hot Spring and Wandapei River Hot Spring. Other attractions in the area are the lush forest, waterfalls, lovely flowers, pine trees and maple trees, which are, in fact, the main attractions in Aowanda. These natural treasures are found within the Aowanda Forest Recreation Area, located in the Renai Township. On its peak days from October to November, this 2,700-hectare recreation center gets around 3,500 visitors every day to see and bathe in the beauty of the hot springs and maple trees. The recreation area is called “Home for Maple Trees”. Visitors also come here for hiking, bird-watching and Nature photography. Recently, the roads leading to the park have been restored after it was severely damaged by the recent typhoon.
Meanwhile the springs in the Atayal area are cool and refreshing. Situated between Beigang River and Guandao Mountains, residents in Nantou who loved the Atayal aboriginal tribe established the Atayal Resort for the primary purpose of promoting and preserving the indigenous culture of the Atayal people. The resort offers rest, recreation and immersion into the Atayal culture.
For sure tourists, backpackers and nature lovers will never run out of exciting things to do in this part of Taiwan. The hot springs in Nantou are just a few of the many attractions and places of rest and recreation. Another hot springs area is found in Dongpu near the Yushan National Park.