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Hot springs, the hot tears of the earth, are one of the most precious gifts that the earth has given to us. Ever since the ancient times, people have recognized the rejuvenating and therapeutic properties of these natural resources. Taiwan is ranked among the world's top 15 hot spring sites, harboring a great variety of springs, including hot springs, cold springs, mud springs, and seabed hot springs. The island can proudly regard itself as one of the regions with the highest concentration and greatest variety of hot springs in the world.
Hot springs are formed by natural waters that emerge from the bowels of the earth and that possess therapeutic properties said to have a positive effect on disorders of the nervous and digestive systems, the circulation, and the organs. People have used hot springs to keep in good health for ages. In Taiwan, with its peculiar crustal structure and location on the fault line where the Euro-Asian and Philippine continental plates meet in the Circum-Pacific seismic zone, subterranean heat is spread across the island producing hot springs island-wide. With the exception of Changhua, Yunlin and Penghu counties, almost every city and county in Taiwan can find hot springs, and so it is well to see that by some tourists name Taiwan "the Hot Spring Kingdom".
More than one hundred hot springs have been discovered in Taiwan, located in different geological areas including plains, mountains, valleys, and oceans. The highest concentration of hot springs can be found in the northern Taiwan, where the Datun (Tatun) Volcano is located, while along both sides of the central mountain range, covering an area that to the north is bordered by Yilan and to the south by Pingtung, the largest number of hot springs can be found. Hot springs found here make up more than 80% of all hot springs in Taiwan.
As hot springs generally come from deep below the surface of the earth, when they emerge they bring along a high concentration and great variety of minerals that are mostly foreign to the human body and benefit our general health. Specific properties of hot springs vary depending on chemical composition, mineral concentration and water temperature. Taiwan has a great variety of springs, both cold and hot.
Distribution and therapeutic properties of hot springs in Taiwan:
The German Quely first discovered the Beitou hot springs in 1894, and when the Japanese occupied Taiwan, they brought with them their rich culture of spring soaking which greatly influenced Taiwan. In March 1896, Hirado Gengo from Osaka, Japan opened Taiwan's first hot spring hotel, called Tenguan. This not only heralded a new era of hot spring bathing in Beitou, but also paved the way for a whole new hot spring culture. The four most famous hot springs during the Japanese occupation were Beitou, Yangming Mountain (Yangmingshan), Guanziling and Sichong River. However, after 1945 the hot spring culture in Taiwan gradually lost momentum, and only in 1999 did the authorities again started a large-scale promotion of Taiwan's hot springs, initiating a comeback of the hot spring culture and setting off a new hot spring fever.
While in the past hot springs mainly had a recreational function, present development and usage of Taiwan's hot springs not only focuses on the traditional aspect of soaking, but also includes health benefits as a major drawing point of hot springs. Modern applications of hot springs include hydrotherapy, spring pools, spring saunas, spring massage pools, health bathing houses, and spring health centers. Many enterprises have invested in the construction or renovation of spring hotels, and have even purchased modern scientific hot spring equipments, transforming the traditional concept of hot spring soaking into the added-value concept of hot spring hydrotherapy. Now, while enjoying the traditional comfort of soaking in a hot spring, people can receive additional health benefits by taking advantage of the physical properties of water using hydro jets that splash columns of water onto the body, ultra-sonic massage equipment, and the water's natural buoyancy, made possible through the installation of modern equipment and the professional assistance of hot spring hydro therapists.
Because most of Taiwan's hot springs are located in beautiful scenic areas, when going to soak in one of the numerous hot springs you will not only be able to get away from hectic life in the city but will also be given the opportunity to enjoy gorgeous scenery while listening to the voices of nature, thus adding a new dimension to recreation and health. Therefore, coming to Taiwan on a hot spring tour will definitely pay off!