Situated up in a narrow mountain valley that opens onto the plains below, the town of Guanziling is known for its unusual mud hot springs. One of Taiwan’s four best-known hot springs resorts, Guanziling has been famous since the Japanese occupation. The hot springs here are sodium bicarbonate mud springs rich in sulfur and other alkaloid minerals. They are considered to be therapeutic for skin ailments, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, and nerve-related issues. Visitors can check into any of the hot springs hotels in the valley or at the top of the hill near Lingding Park for a soak in the warm waters, which can be clear, milky, or muddy depending on the hotel and your own preference. The mud itself is regarded as a natural beauty treatment, and at some hotels and shops, visitors can buy packaged face cleansers and mud packs made with it, or simply purchase the dried mud powder for use at home.
The hot springs here result from the same geothermal activity that feeds the Fire and Water Grotto on the other side of Pillow Mountain. The spring water emerges from the mountain at two different points in the valley. One of these points is in Baochuan Park, which is reached by crossing a wooden bridge over the river across from the police station. The other, larger source, is located near the lower entrance to the skybridge. You’ll have to look for this one; it’s sandwiched between the backs of a building and the retaining wall of the roadway that snakes up the mountain overhead. There you’ll find the muddy waters boiling up into a large cistern where they are collected for later use by the resorts and hotels in the area.
The spring water is limited in quantity, and is collected during the slower weekdays for use on weekends and holidays, when demand is higher. Operators pay for their allotted share. It is this cooperative system that keeps the hot springs open, since the waters are no longer enough to keep up with increasing demand. Visitors are reminded not to to attempt to bathe in the source springs; the water at the source is scalding and would cause severe burns.