A location at the meeting point between two tectonic plates, and half a century of Japanese rule, are coincidences that shape Taiwan into one of the world’s top hot-spring destinations. The country has about a hundred hot springs, ranging from natural sulfur springs to one of the world’s rare saltwater springs.

The suburb of Beitou in New Taipei City was one of the largest onsen resorts under Japanese rule. You can learn about its history at the Beitou Hot Spring Museum, a formerly public bathhouse built in 1913. The spas in Beitou are fed by volcanic activity at nearby Yangmingshan National Park. The beautiful, hiker-friendly park has its own bathhouses, as well as Japanese tea salons and vegetarian restaurants.

In the 1920s, Japanese police used to gather for beers and bathing at the Atayal settlement of Tai’an in Miaoli county. Now a cluster of hot spring hotels here invites visitors to relax with a view of the wilderness. Dongpu, a Bunun indigenous village near Yushan National Park, delivers acidic waters in a jungle-like atmosphere. On Green Island, soaking in a rare seawater spring at night can be followed by a dip in the Pacific Ocean.

Lisong natural hot spring is one of the most beautiful in Taiwan. Located in a river valley in Taitung, the spring cascades down an overhanging cliff. Over the years, mineral deposits have painted the limestone black, rust, and bright green, in bold strokes evoking abstract expressionist art.

The Taiwanese believe that geothermally heated, mineral-rich waters have healing properties. Depending on the minerals, soaking can be good for an array of ailments from cuts and burns to arthritis. Regardless, the effects of relaxed muscles, calmed nerves, and improved circulation are universal.