Mountain streams & hot springs in Guguan

By Niang Chen Translated by Ann Lee

It is said that many years ago relaxing in hot springs was not a very popular pastime in Taiwan. In the early 1900s, the Heiji Emperor was sight-seeing around Taiwan, visiting the island from Japan. When he came across the hot springs in Guguan, he hopped right in and sat for quite a while. After he returned to his home country, the emperor quickly fathered a son. Many people attributed this luck to the Guguan hot springs and the emperor's story spread like wildfire. Soon the hot springs in Guguan were enjoying unrivaled popularity and success. Even to this day, the water in the area is referred to as "male child springs".

In recent years, the Guguan hot springs area in Taichung county's Heping township has become the most scenic stop on the whole Central Cross-Island Highway. After making it through the 921 earthquake and the 7-2 flood, the springs inevitably lost some of their former luster but, thanks to reconstruction projects and government innovation, the entire area was rebuilt and is ready for a second chance.

Sightseeing in Guguan

Apart from soaking in the hot springs, there are a variety of other sightseeing spots worth checking out in the area. A few of these landmarks are a thousand-year-old pine tree and a "marriage pig" statue that's said to keep lovers united. The thousand-year-old pine tree is big. It stands 36 meters tall--about as tall as a 12-story building; it would take five people with outstretched hands to encircle the massive trunk. It's believed to have started growing around 800-900 A.D. This one-of-a-kind wonder is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia, and is located in the garden area of Shengmugu Holiday Hotel, on the opposite side of Guguan's famous suspension bridge.

a thousand-year-old pine tree  marriage pig "Matchmaker", also called the "Man on the Moon"

Under the great tree sits the Temple of Land deity and the "marriage pig" statue. To maintain a clean and orderly environment while viewing the tree, there's a NT$50 "'viewing fee", payable at the Utopia Holiday Hotel or the Shengmugu Hotel. Some people say that touching the pig's nose is good luck; after some nasal nudging, you'll be lucky in romantic and business affairs. The hotel operator's claim that since they started giving out the "wish card" admission tickets, the marriage pig has united 18 couples. Whether that is true or not may be debatable, but what is perfectly clear is the traffic the pig has enjoyed years--what once was a dark-brown nose is now a finger-polished, shiny white, nose-shaped nubbin.

 Guguan Hot Spring

After squaring your future happiness with the porker, stroll along the suspension bridge then follow the left bank of the Dajia Creek into Hot Springs Alley. If you keep to the right, you'll see an ancient shrine located in the middle of Jingguang Hills and Bali Nature Spa. If you climb a ladder into the shrine, you'll see the "Matchmaker", also called the "Man on the Moon", an efficacious statue often visited by couples.

Located on the main road off of Taiwan Highway's Route 8 (台8線), the Guguan Hot Springs Museum is the first museum on the island to be dedicated to hot springs. With free admission, tourists can browse through a sightseeing map of Guguan and get a deeper understanding of the hot springs history. In the alley near the post office, visitors can find the well-known Shaolai Trail, which was named after a chief from the Atayal Aborigine tribe.

Shaolai Trail Guguan

The Shaolai suspension bridge, located on the trail, is similar to the Guguan suspension bridge in that it is maintained to look as it did when first built. Shaolai Trail is quite short; it only takes about an hour to walk through the mountains to the end, which is at Hot Springs Alley. After the hike, enojy some Thousand-Year-Old Pine Tree Juice (五葉松汁, NT$150) at the Utopia Holiday Hotel. It's refreshing taste will cool you down after your long walk.

For another good place to visit in Guguan, drive towards Lishan on Route 8 until you come to Tai Power Alley, or "The Good Men Hill". This interestingly-named lane is about two kilometers long. If you have the stamina, you can walk the whole thing within a half hour. Both sides of the path are lined with orange and persimmon plants, adding warm colors to Guguan in winter. If you'd rather take a break, head to the lodge-like, "Baka Natural Wind" (巴卡自然風) Cafe. About 100 meters to the right is Ma-lun New Mountain Path. The trail head for this walking path is home to the "Nine Warriors", a group of leafy trees. While walking, the view over the cliffs steep bluffs can be almost overwhelming and sublime.

Guguan Guguan Guguan

orange Baka Natural Wind


Bali Nature Spa

Ku Kuan Hotel

Sin Chuan Sheng Restaurant

Cold White Meat Buns

What to eat?

Trout bred right in the spring waters of Basianshan is one of the local specialties in Guguan. This fish can only be bred in natural, oxidized water-in other words, a pollution-free environment. From this you can imagine that the local trout must be of pretty high quality and tasty. The executive chef at the Ku Kuan Hotel, Mr. Liao, uses trout as the main ingredient for many of his dishes. One dish, the Healthy Trout and Nato (Japanese beans), comes in a set meal with Sashimi Salad, Red Yeast Rice with Spareribs, Scallops with Bean Sprouts, Steamed Trout, Clear Trout Soup, and Nato with Vegetable Rolls and Nato Juice. This bountiful meal serves up to four people for NT$1,600, but you have to make reservations ahead of time.

On the main street among the shops, you can find Sin Chuan Sheng and Yi Yuan, restaurants that serve a la carte dishes like local Dragonfish set meals, White Chop Chicken, Fried Dough with Oysters, and Three Cups Indigenous Chicken.

If you would like to enjoy a nice meal right after soaking in the hot springs, then try the 100-year Egg with Caraway Pot (NT$1,000 +10%) at the Bali Nature Spa. Not only will you get a meat as your main dish, you also get a serving of king crab legs, Canadian scallops, ivory clams, calamari slices, and shrimp. This luxurious seafood selection has enough food to keep everyone at the table satisfied and the prices are very reasonable. Don't forget to try the broth near the bottom of the pot--it is saturated with flavor.

Finally, halfway towards Guguan on Route 8, you will find a place called Cold White Meat Buns (白冷肉包), located across from the Tianlun Power Plant. This little place is very popular among tourists, especially their Handmade Bamboo Pork Buns (手工筍肉包/NT$25), which can be enjoyed as a snack or a main meal.

Information on hotels & other businesses:


Guguan Tourist Service Center
102, DongGuan Rd, Sec 1, Guguan
8:30 am-5:30 pm


Utopia Holiday Hotel Utopia Holiday Hotel
7, Hot Springs Alley, DongGuan Rd, Sec 1, Guguan
Public pool: Adults NT$200, Children NT$100
Private pool lodge NT$800-1,500


Ku Kuan Hotel Ku Kuan Hotel
6, Hot Springs Alley, DongGuan Rd, Guguan
Public pool- Weekdays: Adults NT$200, Children NT$150,
Weekends: Adults NT$300/Children NT$250
Family pool: NT$1,000/2 hours


Bali Nature SpaBali Nature Spa
10, Hot Springs Alley, DongGuan Rd, Sec 1, Guguan
Outdoor Spa Pool: Adults NT$400, Children NT$200-250


Dragon Valley Hotel & Paradise Dragon Valley Hotel & Paradise
138, DongGuan Rd, Sec 1, Guguan
Public pool NT$250, Family pool, Lovers' pool NT$1,500 for 2 hours



Sin Chuan Sheng Restaurant


Sin Chuan Sheng Restaurant
137-1, DongGuan Rd, Sec 1, Guguan
Dragonfish Set Meal NT$1,500, serves two people; self-bred White Chop Chicken NT$250.

Yi Yuan Restaurant
141-1, DongGuan Rd, Sec 1, Guguan
Table dishes NT$300-4,000. A la carte recommendations: Fried Dough with Oysters NT$300, Three Cups Indigenous Chicken NT$400.


Bashian Trout Fishery


Bashian Trout Fishery

Cold White Meat Buns


Cold White Meat Buns
42, DongGuan Rd, Sec 2, Tianlun Village
Location: Along Route 8, stay on left road and do not go on the new road bridge. It is directly across from the power plant. Closed Mondays.
Handmade Bamboo Pork Buns NT$25, Steamed Buns NT$10, and Leaf-packed Rice Dumpling NT$25.