Beitou is one of the northernmost neighborhoods of Taipei, nestled into the base of Yangmingshan National Park. most visitors come to Beitou for a soak in their famous hot springs. but if you aren't into relaxing in near-boiling sulfuric water, there are still plenty of other sights to see in the area.
a few weeks ago I met up with a friend to go and explore Beitou for an afternoon. we had a long list of things to see in Beitou that didn't include a dip in a hot spring [though we did try to put our feet in the river- and were foiled since it is currently closed off to the public.]
the Beitou Public libraryeven if you've never heard of Beitou, this building might look familiar. it's been featured and celebrated all over the internet for it's green design. we went inside to explore, though there were giant signs up banning photography. I loved that they had balconies and outdoor seating - something I've never seen in a library before. but my favorite part was how amazing it smelled. everything inside is made from wood - from managed, renewable sources. it feels more like a treehouse than a library.
the thermal valleythis hot spring pool is the source for many of the hot spring hotels nearby where you can take a dip. the water here is too hot for soaking [around 80-100 C] though apparently, visitors used to boil eggs in the water. the day we visited, the steam was so thick we could hardly see across. it was a bit like walking through a sulfur-scented steam room. this area is also known as Jade Spring Valley [due to the color of the water] and Hell Valley [ because of all the steam?]
the hot spring museumright across from the library, you can find the Beitou hot spring museum. this building dates back to the Japanese occupation, when Beitou was first developed as a kind of resort town north of the city. water from the nearby springs were piped down and into the bathhouse. now, there are several nearby establishments where you can visit instead - ranging from open pools to small tubs in private rooms. the museum lets you tour its no-longer-used facilities, and has an interesting exhibit about the Hokutolite rocks that are naturally occurring in the area. these rocks emit low levels of radiation which are said to aid in the healing properties of the waters.
Japanese Puji Templethe Japanese influence of Beitou continues here at this Buddhist Temple. it was a little difficult to find - you follow some stone steps off the side of a narrow road and go through a wooden gate to get here. but the Puji Temple is an interesting sight. the white walls seem so minimalistic compared to most of the brightly colored and dragon-topped temples we normally see in Taiwan.
Liuhuangku and Longfenggu [Longfong] Geothermal Areasconfession: there's going to be another full post on these areas because I have too many pictures. but I thought I would share them here because they are just a short bus ride up the mountain from Beitou. but if you're looking for things to see in the Beitou area, these geothermal valleys are interesting and also less crowded than the central area.
getting to beitouto get to Beitou, take the red MRT line [line 2] north towards Tamsui. transfer at the Beitou station for a short ride on the hot-spring themed train to Xinbeitou station. everything on this list [with the exclusion of the geothermal areas above] is easily walkable from the MRT station.
ps - you might have noticed I have blog design ADD and things are looking a bit different around here. I know I made a huge deal about my last redesign but something about it just wasn't sitting right. I loved the painted/watercolor element thing but the coral and black was too harsh. or messy. or something. this feels better, so hopefully it will last longer than 2 months! I still have a few small tweaks to make, but let me know if you run into any broken links or issues.