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Beitou and XinBeitou Attractions (Taipei, Taiwan)
It might get confusing at times when Beitou and Xin Beitou are interchangeably used at times. For the benefit of those who are just as confused as I was and to the best of my understanding, Beitou is one of the areas in Taiwan known for its hot springs and contains both the old and the new. It is located in the northern part of Taipei (Taiwan). The Beitou district (neighborhood) consists of Beitou, where locals live and work and Xin (New) Beitou, which was developed as a hot spring destination during the Japanese occupation (Wikitravel).
Note: The hot springs at Beitou consists of sulfur, so the smell of sulfur permeates throughout the air.
Old Beitou is more commonly known as Beitou. It is accessible via the Beitou MRT Station, and has attractions such as the Beitou Museum and Beitou Market etc... Beitou contains hotels/spas which are slightly more up-scale than those located in Xin Beitou. According to Wikitravel, (old) Beitou is characterized by it high quality spas, good hotels/resorts (e.g. Grand View Resort Beitou/Villa 32), excellent living accommodation and green and lush environment.
- The Beitou Museum (previously known as Taiwan Folk Arts Museum), a Japanese influenced tea-house that doubles up a museum that was built in 1921 and was the best hot springs hotel during the Japanese occupation. It has on display various works of art by local artists, as well as folk relics and aboriginal art from earlier times. There is also a section for food and beverage, serving tea and food. There are even tea ceremonies lessons and souvenirs for sale.
Xin (New) Beitou
A (MRT) train ride on the red line (Xindian-Danshui/Nanshijiao-Beitou) will get you to Beitou. There is even an information counter at the Beitou MRT Station, which people on standby who can advise you on the attractions and what you can do in the area. The same line will get you to Xin (New) Beitou, where there are more hot springs options and attractions. Along the streets of Xin (New) Beitou, there are affordable hotels for the budget conscious and eateries at every turn.
For the more popular hot springs baths, you might have to trek all the way up to get to your destination, or check to see if there are complimentary shuttle services provided.
Xin (New) Beitou Attractions
The attractions in Xin Beitou are accessible via walking (albeit a slightly steep hill, but it makes for good exercise). The moment you step out from the Xin Beitou MRT Station there are signs to guide you.
Besides its hot springs at Beitou and Xin (New) Beitou, Xin (New) Beitou has many local attractions that you can check out such as:
- Beitou Park: Take a leisure walk in the park and enjoy the park and people watching. There is a water fountain display that activated in the evening.
- Ketagalan Cultural Center - A museum that has on display the traditional costumes, history and culture of the various indigenous tribes of Taiwan. The Ketagalan Cultural Center showcases the traditional costumes, history and culture of the various indigenous tribes of Taiwan. It also has an art gallery, international conference room and classroom areas serving various functions. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday (0900 - 1700) and admission is free.
- Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch - Taiwan's "green" library. From the construction materials to the functions of the library, everything is made to be very Eco-friendly and conserve energy, which is a "green" library. It has balcony coverings and perpendicular wood window latticing reduce the entry of thermal radiation into the interior of the building, which lowers energy consumption and enhances energy-saving efficiency. Rain water is collected and used to water plants and flush toilets, further emphasizing the "greenness" of the library.
- The Beitou Hot Spring Museum (北投溫泉博物館) is Taiwan’s first public bath house and was built by the Japanese in 1913. It was the biggest hot spring bath house in East Asia at the time. The entire building resembles an English country house. It has display historical relics and documents of sulfur mining etc... Admission is free. Before entering the museum, patrons are required to change in to slippers provided by the museum to prevent scratches or damages to the museum’s delicate wooden floor.
- Millennium Hot Spring (千禧汤) - An outdoor public hot spring locates along 6 Zhongshan Road, and is suitable for those looking for a communal hot springs experience and/or on a tight budget as the entrance fee is only NT$40. You have to wear swimwear, so don't forget to bring your own and a towel if you are visiting this place.
Things to note:
- Bring your own swim wear and towel.
- Coin lockers, changing rooms with shower facilities are available.
- Pool water temperature generally ranges from 38 to 42 degree C.
- The spring water in (Xin)Beitou contains sulphur, so there is a pungent smell permeates the air.
- Plum Garden (梅庭) - Summer residence of former Control Yuan President and Yu You-ren, the renowned calligraphy master. The Plum Garden was built during the 1930s and was the summer residence of former Control Yuan President, as well as Yu You-ren, the renowned calligraphy master. This Japanese-styled wooden structure is well preserved and was listed as a historic site by the city government in 2006.
- Thermal Valley (地狱谷) - A famous valley that is also known as Hell's Valley and named because of the sulfurous gases and scalding hot springs in the valley, giving the impression of a witch's cauldron.
- Hot Spring Ramen at BeiTou (满来温泉拉面) - a famous ramen shop right next to the Thermal Valley (地狱谷). Don't forget to try it when you are there! The food is worth the wait. Hot Spring Half-Boiled Eggs, and Hot Spring Toufu, just thinking about them is making me hungry. Of course, not forgetting the ramen. How famous is this shop? Well, they have signs that tell you not to take photos of their food for the privacy of the other guests etc...
The difference between the two and hotsprings
In comparison to Xin Beitou, Beitou is not as crowded or bustling with activity. There is ample of space between buildings in Beitou, whereas the buildings are more closely built next to each other.
For the hot springs experience (which you can find both in Beitou and Xin Beitou, it just depends on your preference and budget), besides the public community hot springs Millennium Hot Spring (千禧汤), some hotels/resorts also have their own public hot springs within their premises (with hot and cold springs pools, saunas and showers). The only catch is that you (might) have to enjoy your hot springs in the buff.
If you are not comfortable being in the buff and/or having to and be gawked at by others, there are hotels and resorts that offer private rooms for you enjoy, while others simply rent out their normal rooms (with ensuite hot springs baths, beds and all) at an hourly rate. There might be ongoing promotions and discounts so it never hurts to ask.