Best Hot Spring Resorts for Forest Bathing

An outdoor poolside lounging area is surrounded by lush gardens at Hoshinoya Guguan.

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Taiwan has one of the greatest concentrations of geothermal springs in the world.  From hot springs to cold springs, mud springs, and seabed hot springs, Taiwan has it all. With over 100 documented major hot springs and numerous hot spring resort regions, Taiwan is widely recognized as a top destination for accessible wellness escapes.

The majority of these wellness retreats are found primarily in the river valleys of the densely forested Central Mountain Range. Here, streams have carved deep valleys into the landscape and as a result, mineral-rich hot springs have emerged. 

The richness of the surrounding subtropical jungle creates an additional dimension of relaxation when soaking in the beneficial water of these wonderful mountain spas. While Taiwan has dozens of luxury hot spring hotels, and many that offer environments suitable for forest-bathing, here are several exemplary natural getaways that stand out for their innovation and quality of service.

Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort in Wulai District, New Taipei City

Taipei’s Riverside Mountain Retreat

An employee in indigenous attire participates in a lakeside ceremony.
Crystal clear river water can be seen from a covered hot spring pool.
A lakeside balcony with a lounge chair is meters from the water.
An exposed stairwell, slightly obscured by trees, climbs the outside of a building.
A private hot spring room with tub and floor-to-ceiling windows.
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Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort
Address: No. 176, Section 5, Xinwu Rd, Wulai District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 233

Located in the picturesque Wulai District of New Taipei City, Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort is a luxury spa set against the breathtaking natural beauty of the Nanshi River Valley. Built just over the Nanshi River, and surrounded by the area’s lush greenery, this sanctuary of natural tranquility offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life to Taipei’s residents.

The resort offers a range of luxury suites and rooms, as well as daytime bathing facilities and a public hot spring area. Accommodations here offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes and the river below, allowing guests to connect with nature while relaxing in luxury. The resort’s Dasha SPA offers relaxing treatments aimed at balancing the mind and body which incorporate the five elements theory from Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Volando offers a unique experience called “Life Rituals”, which injects the invigorating power of art into the hotel’s arsenal of healing. On the principle of “doing a simple thing when the moment is right”, events are planned throughout the day which guests may attend and observe. For example, at 8:45 AM and 3:30 PM, a performance takes place where two people sitting on a raft floating in the hotel’s pool use singing bowls to speak and respond to each other. This performance takes place against the backdrop of the Nanshi River. And, when at 9:30 AM, a large copper gong is struck, its vibrations are meant to remind guests to shake the dust off of their minds while relaxing at the hotel.

One of the resort’s restaurants bears the name “Soyan”, the Atayal word for merriment, and sits overlooking the river. Soyan integrates local flavors and fresh seasonal produce into its gustatory approach to fine dining. Diners can savor delicious meals crafted with fresh, seasonal ingredients, accompanied by breathtaking views of the nearby river and mountains.

Fusen Banzhi Trio in Wulai District, New Taipei City

Rustic Luxury Which Incorporate Local Indigenous History

A private bathing area on a balcony looks out over jungle.
Walls of a bathing area are decorated with bunches of dried grass.
Several tables are set up in a spacious dining area.
One of the buildings of Fusen Banzhi Trio, surrounded by bamboo lattice, can be seen in the middle of the jungle.
The walls of a private bathing room with a jungle view are covered in rattan, creating a very natural environment.
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The Fusen Banzhi Trio is a nature retreat and day spa that draws inspiration from local Atayal (indigenous) culture and tradition in both its design and services. The hot spring’s architecture was inspired by Atayal cultural heritage, and emphasizes coexistence with nature rather than overpowering it. Each of the resort’s four structures showcase traditional Atayal bamboo lattice construction, while also using robust materials to create a comfortable space whose existence doesn’t disturb the natural surroundings, but rather blends in.

Fusen Banzhi Trio features 16 bathing spaces scattered throughout its buildings, most of which overlook the steep mountain slope on which the resort has been built. Windows look out onto the neighboring jungle, facing away from the center of the hotel and offering meditative privacy. Rooms furnishings such as baskets and chairs are made from natural materials including rattan and bamboo, while wild grass is used as a decorative element, manifesting the resort’s commitment to integrating nature into the resting experience.

In addition to the hot spring spa, Fusen also features a restaurant which serves Atayal-inspired dishes. Ingredients, such as river shrimp and the indigenous foraged spice “maqaw”, also known as mountain pepper, are locally and sustainably sourced.

HOSHINOYA Guguan in Heping District, Taichung City

International Luxury in Central Taiwan

The gardens outside of HOSHINOYA are gently illuminated as the sun sets over the mountains in the background.
A tub in a private hot spring room is filled with steaming water.
The water in a large indoor bathing pool is perfectly still and the garden can be seen through floor-to-ceiling windows.
A person can be seen floating in a large outdoor pool in the gardens.
Water steams in another outdoor hot spring pool.
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HOSHINOYA Guguan is easily one of Taiwan’s most luxurious retreats and it is the island’s most modern interpretation of a Japanese ryokan—a traditional Japanese inn with public and private baths. The upscale resort stands out for its beautifully landscaped grounds, cleanly and thoughtfully designed interior, impeccable service, and satisfying dining options, which offer a mix of Taiwanese and Japanese fare.

The resort features a selection of elegant guest rooms that boast a minimalist aesthetic, blending traditional Japanese elements with modern touches. Rooms feature a main living chamber that is connected to a private onsen by a set of stairs. The spacious outdoor grounds surrounding the complex are filled with walking paths, ponds, and gardens, and the onsen even has its own private entrance to one of Guguan’s popular day hiking trails, the Shaolai Path.

The resort’s highly regarded dining experience showcases a fusion of Japanese and Taiwanese flavors that are enough to satisfy every palate. There are three options for breakfast: Taiwanese, Japanese or American; a bento-box lunch, and a la carte or kaiseki style dinners.

Onsen Papawaqa in Tai’an Township, Miaoli County

Sustainable Design That Integrates Nature’s Beauty

An infinity pool overlooks jungle on Onsen Papawaqa's balcony.
A woman bathes in the nude in a gender-segregated bathing area.
Multiple pools can be seen in the garden-like outdoor bathing complex of Onsen Papawaqa.
A private indoor hot spring features a view of the river valley below.
A view of the main building of Onsen Papawaqa and its surrounding landscaping.
A man bathes in an outdoor hot spring at night.
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Onsen Papawaqa
Address: No.58, Yuandun, Taian, Miaoli County, 365

Onsen Papawaqa is a modernist resort that takes a novel architectural approach to integrating design with nature. The onsen has been built close to the end of the mountain road that leads into the Wenshui River, the headwaters of which flow down from Shei-pa National Park.

The exposed-concrete walls of the resort’s exterior reflect the natural colors of the cliff rocks on the opposite side of the valley. Inside, the interior decor incorporates wood and stone elements, which mimic the natural elements from the surrounding environment. Many of the wooden structures inside, including bathtubs and bed frames were constructed from Taiwan incense cedar, one of Taiwan’s most prized resources and normally reserved for temple altars, which was harvested from Taiwan’s riverbeds after a typhoon.

Clever application of natural building materials, thoughtful horticulture, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls create a sense of boundlessness and allow even the interior to feel as if it were part of the natural world outside. Outdoor hot spring pools are decorated with local flora, mimicking the experience of soaking in a wild hot spring in the creekbed below. Bathing areas are divided into a mixed-sex area and male and female nude-bathing areas. Unique hot spring bathing experiences include: creekside, under a waterfall, in a grove of trees, and of course, under the night sky.

When undisturbed, the mirror-like pool in the outdoor spa beautifully reflects the natural mountain and river landscapes, creating a stunning visual spectacle. Rocks, trees, water curtains, falls, lights, and torches further enhance the picturesque environment. The outdoor spa is also equipped with underwater lights, allowing guests to enjoy a soak even during nighttime.

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