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The Japanese introduced hot-spring baths to the Taiwanese during the former’s 50-year occupation of the island. Both countries sit on the same tectonic plates that have blessed them with geothermal sources. In Taiwan, hot-spring hotels have in-house spas providing treatments for face and body. Here are three of our favourites.
1. Onsen Papawaqa
The smell of cedar permeates the air in this 1,022sqm resort in a forest in Miaoli, 90 minutes from Taipei by train. Nine hundred tonnes of 2,000-year-old cedar trees were used to build this resort. As Miaoli is predominantly Hakka, the main restaurant serves traditional Hakka dishes. The water in the pools and private baths in all 68 rooms and suites contains odourless sodium bicarbonate. The spa uses a lot of natural wood oils in its treatments. Children are welcome here, making the resort particularly attractive to families.
2. Villa 32
This hotel is in Beitou, the first hot-spring area to be developed by the Japanese. The 60,387sqm compound is minimalist with a few outdoor and indoor pools full of sulphur-rich water, five rooms and suites, and an Italian fine-dining restaurant. The wine cellar is well-stocked with champagnes and grand crus from the 1920s. The spa offers treatments including detoxification and Chinese meridian therapy. Beitou is 30 minutes by train from central Taipei.
3. Volando Urai
Just 30 minutes away from central Taipei by train is Wulai, an area rich in Taiwanese aboriginal culture and dense woods engulfed in mist from fumaroles with sodium bicarbonate-rich water. At Volando, guests are treated to an aboriginal drum performance every afternoon. Seasonal oils are blended for use in spa treatments, which focus on cleansing and purifying. The resort’s two restaurants serve French, Taiwanese and fusion cuisine.