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Eastern Taiwan not only offers pleasant scenery but is also rich in hot-spring resources. Among the best known of the hot springs here are at Hongye, Zhiben, Wulu, and Green Island in Taitung County, and at Antong, Ruisui, and Hongye in Hualien County.
The clear, odorless, salty hydrogen sulfide water of the Antong hot springs can be used for bathing. There is an old Japanese-style hot-spring hotel and a new modern hotel for visitors to choose from.
The Wulu hot springs produce colorless, odorless carbonate water, which is also good for bathing. The nearby Wulu Gorge surrounded by dense forests offers what is possibly the most spectacular scenery on the Southern Cross-Island Highway.
The Ruisui hot springs were discovered back in 1919, and public baths were soon built. The Japanese-style hotel that operated at that time is still going, and it has developed an outdoor bathing pool so that travelers can savor the pleasure of hot-spring bathing in the wild. The spring water here is rich in iron and emerges from the ground at a temperature of 48 degrees Celsius; the iron in the water oxidizes when it comes into contact with the air, giving the water a pale brown color and a slightly salty, rusty flavor. This is the only carbonate hot spring area on the entire island. Many new visitors hesitate to bathe in the water, erroneously believing it to be unclean, but Japanese travelers who understand the benefits of the spring water here come especially to bathe in the water with salt crystals floating on its surface. The latest medical research shows that the PH factor of this carbonate spring water is between 6 and 7, making it slightly alkaline.
The hot mineral springs of Hongye produce bicarbonate water that is clear and odorless, and emerges from the ground at a temperature of 47 degrees Celsius. These springs became widely known during the Japanese occupation period (1895-1945), and even today there is still an old Japanese-style inn here that provides baths for travelers looking for a taste of nostalgia.
Besides bathing in the soothing hot-spring waters of Hongye, you can also go to nearby tourist sites for your fill of fun. The Chinan Forest Recreation Area offers dense woods and beautiful mountain vistas, and from the memorial stele pavilion you can get an overview of the scenery of Liyu Lake. The recreation area also has a visitor center, trails through primeval forest, and a children's recreation area.
The Fuyuan National Forest Recreation Area has the largest stand of camphor trees of any such recreation area in Taiwan, and its butterflies, hot springs, and waterfalls are especially well known. Stroll along a trail here and you can enjoy a healthful "green shower." From March to August every year the butterflies swarm and dance in the broadleaf forest, presenting a palette of beautiful colors. The bed of the Fuyuan River, which transects the entire recreation area, is filled with interesting rocks and intermittent hot springs. The scenery is unique. Follow the river upstream and you will come to a gorge where precipitous cliffs have created flying waterfalls that are powerful attractions for tourists.