All-Natural Taitung County

A different way to see the world

By: Claire Bidwell Smith

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The Luminous Hot Springs Resort
features a geothermal pool, a spa
and luxury guestrooms.
Okay, now lie down on your backs,” A Do, owner of A Do’s Bike Tours, Taitung’s bicycle tour company, instructed me and my fellow travelers.

I looked at him in confusion. We were standing in the middle of the road, albeit a desolate country road, but a road all the same.

“You want us to lie down in the middle of the road?” I repeated.

He nodded at me, smiling, and gestured up to the beautiful canopy of trees arching overhead.

We were at the tail end of a relaxing bicycle tour that had led us through the countryside of Taitung County, a region in southeast Taiwan. Farmland stretched for miles around us and the air was thick with humidity and the threat of rain. Butterflies danced through the rows of tea trees before me. I hesitated for a moment longer and then did as instructed, lying down right on the warm asphalt. The world tilted above me, the lush green trees curving against the blue sky.

“A different way to see the world, no?” A Do said, as he began to laugh.

I started to laugh too. Lying there in the middle of a country road in Taiwan, I realized why he’d been so insistent as I thought about how important it is to allow for different perspectives. Taitung County with its lush farmlands and abundant hot springs, had already provided an immediate respite from the hectic pace of Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei. Nestled between the Coastal Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean and lying directly on the junction of the Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates, Taitung is only a 45-minute plane ride from Taipei even though it feels worlds away.

The main reason visitors journey to Taitung is for the natural hot springs. All throughout the region, these geothermal waters gurgle to the surface. Many have hailed the therapeutic benefits of bathing in such high mineral content, and the brand-new Luminous Hot Springs Resort in Taitung even features a hot tub in every room.

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Paragliding is another popular activity in Taitung.
The Luminous Hot Springs Resort also boasts an impressive geothermal swimming pool, a full-service spa and an array of luxurious accommodations ranging from two-story suites to single-occupancy rooms, all of them with their own hot tub framed by glass that looks out onto either the valley or the mountains. There are festive performances nightly and a decadent buffet dinner featuring the best of the surrounding farmland’s organic offerings.

Another aspect that makes Taitung County unique is the influence that the various aboriginal cultures have contributed to the region. The valley is home to several different tribes who work hard to retain their rich history, utilizing original languages and honoring ancient folklore and tradition. While it’s possible to catch an aboriginal performance at the hotel, guests can also spend time visiting the local village.

In particular, the thriving Bunun tribe provides an example of the ability to carry history into the present day. Visitors can tour the village center and even book a simple room in which to stay a night or two. Tribe members gather daily to perform traditional dances before an audience and an extensive gift shop features handicrafts, weavings, wood sculpture and stone carvings.

Also housed in the mountains above Taitung is the Yuan-Sen Botanical Garden. Complementing the healing qualities of the county’s natural hot springs, Yuan-Sen gardens celebrate the region’s limitless flora and fauna. The area contains both subtropical and tropical climates, encouraging an abundant variety of all forms of life.

Facing the Pacific and washed over by the Kuroshio current, Taitung enjoys uncontaminated soil, clean air and unpolluted water. The Yuan-Sen Botanical Garden takes advantage of this by heading up the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) program, which combines biotechnology, agriculture and tourism. Yuan-Sen aims to utilize the native plants of Taitung in products and various facets of everyday life.

The Botanical Gardens encompass not only research and product production but an extensive eco-educational experience for visitors. An enormous garden divides itself into six areas based on plant classification and offers detailed guide services for guests. The Mu Chang Healthy Restaurant proudly uses the medley of organic vegetables grown on the property, offering visitors a chance to truly embody the philosophy of LOHAS. Before leaving Yuan-Sen, visitors are led through Plant Life Hall which showcases the 200 LOHAS products, including Alianthus Prickly Ash, also known as aboriginal Viagra.

Finally, for those looking for a more uplifting recreational experience Taitung has become a popular place for paragliding. The valley lends itself to the kinds of wind necessary to the sport, and standing at the lip of the take-off pad looking down into the basin with its rich green plots of farmland it was easy to understand the impulse to drift out over it all.

Whether you’re paragliding or relaxing in a geothermal hot tub, you’re bound to find yourself slipping into a different pace. The culture and people of Taitung naturally amplify the land’s tranquility, leaving you no choice but to relax.

Lying on the warm asphalt of that country road, my laughs faded into a serene smile. I took a deep breath and as I let it out I promised myself that I would do my best to look at the world a little differently now and then.


Aboriginal Cultural Center
10 Chungshan Road, Taitung

A Do’s Bike Tours

Luminous Hot Springs Resort

Yuan-Sen Botanical Garden