Getting here: Walk about 15 – 20 minutes down Zhongshan Road (中山路) from Xinbeitou (新北投）MRT station，
The walk from the station to the Thermal Valley was a pleasant and well marked. Upon arrival at the Thermal Valley we were greeted with the smell of rotting eggs, unpleasant but tolerable, from the sulphur spring in the Valley. There is only one depression / spring in the Valley and the only thing to do there is to watch the wisps of smoke dancing in the wind.
We therefore combined this with a visit to the Hot Springs Museum before heading to an onsen in the area. The Hot Springs Museum is open from 9am – 5pm and is free to enter. However, visitors need to remove their shoes and exchange these for slippers before they can enter.
The museum was, apparently, established by the Japanese as a bathhouse but was subsequently abandoned after World War II. According to an video that was being screened, the building was restored and converted into a museum after some students in 1994 and successfully petitioned for its rehabilitation. The exhibits inside the museum include a large bath, some smaller baths, and information about hot springs and the architecture / history of the building and Beitou area.
Both the visit to the Thermal Valley and the museum were a good prelude to our onsen visit, as we got to see the purported source of the onsens in the area and learn a bit about the history of the neighborhood. The best part about these attractions was that they were both free and easily accessible.
For the architecturally inclined, the Beitou Public Library is also within walking distance. The library is supposed to be Taiwan’s first eco-friendly / “green” library, and its design is said to have won quite a number of awards. Unfortunately, this was closed and we were not able to explore the interior of the building.