If you’re looking for a natural escape from the hustle and bustle of Taipei, Wulai Hot Springs is the perfect destination. Located just an hour’s drive from the city, this idyllic mountain village offers a stunning natural setting, hot springs, and a glimpse into the life of Taiwan’s indigenous Atayal people.
Wulai (烏來, Wūlái) is a small aboriginal village located 27km south of Taipei in northern Taiwan. It’s one of Taipei’s easiest day trips and a great place to spend a day, especially if you like being surrounded by nature. Although many visitors hardly ever make it to Wulai, the town and outer lying area has a lot to offer day visitors.
The journey to Wulai is as much a part of the experience as the destination itself. The winding mountain road is flanked by lush forests and cascading waterfalls, making for a picturesque and exhilarating ride. Once you arrive in the village, you’ll find yourself in a world of serene beauty, with the rushing river and towering cliffs providing a breathtaking backdrop.
The hot springs are the centerpiece of Wulai, and there are several to choose from. Some are privately owned and require an entrance fee, while others are public and free. The hot springs range from small private pools to larger, communal ones, so you can choose the experience that suits you best. The hot water is rich in minerals and believed to have healing properties, making it a popular spot for tourists and locals.
In addition to the hot springs, Wulai offers plenty of other activities to keep you busy. You can take a scenic cable car ride to the top of the mountain, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Or, you can hike along one of the area’s many trails, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging treks. You can also explore the village, where you’ll find traditional Atayal houses, handicrafts, and local delicacies.
One of the highlights of a trip to Wulai is learning about the Atayal people and their way of life. The Atayal are one of Taiwan’s indigenous, and their rich culture is still alive and well in Wulai. You can visit the Atayal Museum to learn about their history and traditions or participate in a cultural performance or workshop.
Wulai is renowned throughout Taiwan for its natural hot springs. Visitors can enjoy the steamy water at one of the many outdoor pools along the Nanshih River or head to a hot spring hotel.
Most Wulai hot spring hotels are near the village’s Old Street (tourist street). Choose to soak in a public pool or private tub, depending on your budget and available free time.
So, what will it cost?
Accommodation types vary from budget hotels and inns to more luxurious spas and resorts. Here are my top choices.
Luxury: Pause Landis Resort Wulai is a beautiful 5-star hot spring resort overlooking the river and mountains. The hotel features clean, stylish rooms with a private hot spring tub.
Mid-range: Full Moon Spa is a great 3-star hotel offering breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The rooms are clean and spacious and feature a private hot spring tub.
Budget: Yufuin Hot Springs is a no frills hotel, but offers good value for money. The rooms are clean and more modern than other budget options you’ll find in Wulai.Wulai Hot Spring TipsPublic pools at hot spring hotels are gender-based, so it’s not uncommon to see locals enjoying a soak au naturel.Be sure to rinse your body before and after using any of the pools.If you suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, or have any open wounds, it’s best to skip the hot springs entirely.At all times, avoid the water covering your chest, especially your heart. Don’t stay in the water longer than 20-30 minutes at a time. Give your body time to cool down before returning to the hot water.Read all the safety instructions displayed at hot spring hotels carefully.
One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Taiwan is Wulai Waterfall. The 80m high is easily reached on foot (1,5km from the village) or by a mini train. Once you get to the base, there are plenty of lookout points and selfie opportunities. Several charming little eateries and coffee shops are also based here. Alternatively, take the gondola up the mountain for beautiful views of the waterfall.
Wulai is an excellent place for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers. The area has a scenic 5km trail running along the river. More serious hikers can also enjoy the 20km Jia Jia Liao Stream trail, which runs between Wulai and Sanxia.
recent years, Taiwan has become a food lovers’ paradise. It has gained so much popularity that it was even dubbed the #1 Food Destination by an online CNN poll. Even though some critics are suspicious of this result, Taiwan still has many exciting and tasty street food options. With its deep-rooted Atayal culture, Wulai is no different and is sure to delight your taste buds.The most accessible place to grab a bite is at the Old Street, where food stalls and restaurants are abundant. Although Westerners are often quite skeptical of Taiwanese foods and drinks, don’t worry too much. It usually tastes better than it looks!