It may surprise you that Taiwan can get quite cold in the Winter season, it surprised me too. I first visited Taiwan in December 2019, back then it was around 28 degrees, so I definitely didn’t expect the cold I experienced the next year.
Winter in Taiwan can cool down to 5 degrees in some places, but it is usually somewhere between 5 and 30 degrees, it’s hard to predict. I’m not someone that enjoys cold weather, but Taiwan’s AMAZING activities and foods that help warm you up make it a lot more bearable.
My absolute favorite Winter activity in Taiwan is going to the hot springs, in particular Bayan hot springs (八煙溫泉 bā yān wēnquán). This is one of the most beautiful and magical hidden hot springs in Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園). The spot is popular among locals and foreigners and is a little bit hard to find and get to. But once you know where to go, I promise you will not regret it.
Why you should go
Bayan Springs are located in the heart of Yangmingshan National Park, east of Taipei. The springs are 100% natural and can be found in a sort of valley. Because there are different platforms, the hot water cools down as it makes its way to the river. The hot springs at the highest point are around 42-45 degrees hot, the further down you go, the more the water cools down. If you like hot springs, but you always think the water is just a little too hot for you, you can decide to sit in the springs at the bottom.
Next to the lower platforms you can find a very very cold river. It is incredibly refreshing to take a dive into the cold after having stayed in the hot water for a while, and to change this up a little.
Be careful when you get into the cold river, especially after rainy days the stream is very strong, so don’t go in too far or overestimate your own capabilities ;).
Another part of visiting these hot springs that I absolutely love is the hike to the hot spring, but more about that in a bit.
How to get there
There are two ways to get to the hot springs: by car, or by bus, both of which pretty much drive the same route. This fantastic long trip through the national park gives you a chance to watch the beautiful mountains, valleys and fumaroles and wildlife. Every time I’ve taken this route I’ve spotted whole groups of monkeys sitting in the middle of the road and on the side. You are not allowed to feed them and can be fined, but I would definitely recommend stopping the car for a minute (in a safe location) to take a look.
To get there by bus you can take the 1717 from Shilin station in the direction of Jinshan. Get off at Qiangxi (Yangmingshan Resort Bayan Station) or 強薪(陽明山水、八煙溫泉). This takes a little over an hour. The latest bus goes around 5 or 6, so be sure to keep it in mind for traveling back!
Walk from the bus station to this point and start the hiking route to the hot springs from there. Bayan Parking Lot
If you are driving you will most likely be taking the same route as the bus. Don’t drive all the way to the hot spring hotel, but park here: Bayan Parking Lot
From the parking lot you have to walk for about 30-40 minutes to get to the hot springs. It is not a very challenging or steep hike, it is more of a calm walk with a bit of an incline towards the end.
On the walk you walk past a beautiful waterfall and next to a stunning wild river with bright orange rocks. Be careful when you walk, it can be a little slippery and the path is somewhat narrow in some places. About halfway through your walk, you have to cross a river. Again, this river is a bit wilder after rainy days or if it’s raining when you’re there. The crossing is not hard, you just have to watch your step. A rope is stretched from one side to the other, so that you can hold on to it while crossing. After the crossing the incline starts.
If you just continue straight, you will eventually end up at fence that has a sign on it that says it's prohibited to enter. This sign is there mostly to make sure the Taiwanese government is not responsible for anything that happens to you behind the fence. Every now and then police will check in the morning and fine people, but I haven't heard of this happening in the last year and a half or so.
Bring a plastic bag and umbrella. I’ve learned from the locals to put all your stuff in a big plastic bag and hang it in the tree, covered with an umbrella when it’s raining, so that it doesn’t get wet.
Bring dry socks and shoes. During the hike your feet can get wet, it is a very nasty feeling to have to take the bus or drive home with wet socks and shoes.
Bring water shoes. I don’t do this, but some of my family members do. If you don’t like walking around barefoot in the forest, or if your feet are sensitive, remember to bring water shoes so you can walk around more comfortably in the hot springs.
Put your swimsuit underneath your clothes. This way you only have to get changed once, only after you get out of the water.
Bring snacks and drinks. It is so easy to lose track of time here, at some point you’re bound to get hungry, so be prepared!
Let someone know where you’re going if you’re alone. Though Taiwan is safe, nature remains unpredictable. It is dark before you know it and cell service is unreliable in the mountains. Because of that you should make it a habit to always let someone know if you’re going on an adventure in the mountains by yourself.
Watch my Winter experience down here: