Words and photographs by Yi Li
Translated by Cara Steenstra
With the possible exception of a hot summer day, any time of the year can be a good time for hot springs here in Taichung. A visit to a hot spring has become an extremely popular recreational activity in the last few years, as many residents spend their off days at these retreats, from Japanese-style hot springs houses to open-air hot springs pools. If you happen to love hot springs, there is no need to spend time and money to leave the city, as a variety of options can be enjoyed right here in DaKeng.
Situated in Taichung city's DaKeng Scenic Area, these hot springs are different from most other natural hot springs in Taiwan because they were discovered using underground drilling. These sodium bicarbonate springs have a pH value of between 7 and 8 that provides lubricating effects on the skin, and are known to the Japanese as "beauty springs". There are three famous hot springs areas in DaKeng: KyLin Peak Hot Springs, Tung Shan Spa, and Xia Fei Spring. Although all are situated in DaKeng, each has its own unique style.
Kylin Peak Hot Springs is an all-new hot springs house opened after the 9-21 earthquake in 1999. It is a carbonic hot spring, colorless and odorless. To accomodate visitors' needs, there are open-air hot springs, small wooden hot spring houses and a motel. There is also a hot spring egg cooking area--a special attraction, thanks to the effects of the minerals in the water on the eggs. Although the egg yolks are cooked, the egg whites remain translucent with a special flavor that is very popular with tourists.
Tung Shan Spa's major attractions are its public pool and spa pools. These are separated by temperature and include the Chinese Herbal Medicine Pool, Massage Pool and Sea Salt Pool. Apart from hot pools, there are also amusement facilities in the park area and entertainment programs that are very popular with visitors.
Formerly known as Xia Ke Spring, Xia Fei Spring re-opened in December, 2005. Situated on the slopes of the mountain, this wide, spacious facility provides an excellent view of Taichung city, especially at night. There are open-air hot spring pools as well as Japanese-style hot spring houses to choose from, making visitors feel as though they are at a hot spring spa in Japan.
In addition to mountain footpaths, agricultural developments and environmental attractions that have been drawing visitors to DaKeng during holidays, the area's hot springs have also become another popular alternative for many. It's hard to find a better way to pass a cold winter's day than to gather a few good mates and head off to DaKeng for a day of rest and relaxation.