Even though it was still in Taipei, Beitou brought me a feelings of a Japanese countryside town. This was kind of expected since this area was initially developed by the Japanese. Beitou was perfect for a day trip since you could get there easily by taking the MRT to Xin Beitou station and it had a nice atmosphere, very much different from the bustling city centre. Out of the station, just walked along Zhongshan road and you would find yourself in the quiet mountain village as if you was transported elsewhere far away.
While walking down the road, I could see the hot springs ran along the main street. Wooden bridges and sidewalk brought out a peaceful atmosphere and made it a very comfortable walk.
My first stop on the way was Beitou hot springs museum.
This museum was originally a public bathhouse built by the Japanese. From the outside, I couldn’t tell which it was at first and even after I found out it was a museum, I didn’t expect it could be that informative and interesting. Shoes had to be left outside but there were clean sandals prepared by the museum so visitors could change into and had a walk around. There were an original public bath, a few gallery rooms, etc. and definitely worth a visit to learn about the history of the Beitou hot spring area.
And next, a very interesting place to me, Plum Garden.
I went here for its hot spring, but found this hidden gem. Plum Garden was a summer residence of Yu Youren, I only knew of him that he was a famous calligrapher. This house might look very simple but I assumed it was a luxury one at his time. It was a very well preserved house with history to tell. Many of his calligraphy works were on display.
The staffs were very friendly and you could have a sit down and relax, enjoying the tranquility.
Only steps away from Plum Garden, there was Millennium Public bathhouse, a quite old open air public bathhouse. The ticket could be purchased at the ticket vending machine right outside and visitors were required to wear bathing suit (different from most private bathhouse where you would be required to bath naked). It was an interesting experience and of course, who would come to Beitou and didn’t enjoy the hot spring? Too bad taking photo was prohibited so I had no photos to share.
More into the area, there was Puji temple, which clearly showed the strong Japanese influence.
The last but not least, Thermal Valley, the source of all the hot spring in the area. At the end of a nice walk up the road and then a wooden path, there were a steaming pond with a smell of sulfur. It was indeed a nice scene, the mist was all around and the water had a strange shade of green. You could really feel the heat and it wasn’t recommended to stay there for long.
I really enjoyed walking around the town and had my day off the busy city. However, Beitou had a laid back atmosphere and everything seemed dated, and that was not for everyone I presumed.