I’ve visited Taiwan many times, but I have only visited Yilan once, therefore when I made a holiday trip to Taiwan again this summer, I decided to place more emphasis on Yilan as opposed to Taipei.
As anyone knows, Yilan is known for its hot springs. But because it was so swelteringly hot in summer, I gave the hot spring a miss but opted for the cold spring instead, which happened to be just one of the two natural cold springs in the world!
Given that it is a rare find, I expected Su Ao to feel slightly more touristy, or at the very least, slightly more bustling. It was thus quite disappointing to alight from Su Ao train station to be greeted with a sleepy-looking town.
The cold spring wasn’t exactly very easy to find either. I had to look for road signs and ask for directions, but all in all it was just about 10 minutes from the train station on foot.
The entrance of Su Ao Cold Spring looked quite impressive, unfortunately the interior was not. I guess i was hoping for an onsen experience like that of Japan’s, but this was more ‘local’. It was only after my visit when I realise that there is actually a more upscale cold spring in a hotel nearby, oh well this is what happens when you don’t do your research properly.
When you go in, you can opt for a private room which was what I did. I chose the hot and cold spring combo in a private room whereby you are supposed to inter-switch between the hot and cold pool to get your blood circulation running.
I think the staff did not clear up the water in the hot tub properly before I went in. By right the tub should be empty when you enter, and you are supposed to release the hot spring water from the tap yourself. Unfortunately, I just went into the filled hot tub when I saw it.
And it was only after I looked at the instruction manual on the wall that I realised that the tub is supposed to be empty. So it means I am actually dipping myself in water that had already been used by others!!! OMG.
As for the cold pool, it was indeed freezing cold. It was supposed to be a refreshing dip, but somehow I just kept feeling really cold, even though it was summer. Due to some natural minerals or something, the cold spring is supposed to be bubbly, and it would be quite a fun and interesting experience if not for the fact that I felt quite cold.
Strangely enough, I felt that there was an iron smell from the pool. Initially I wondered if it could be that the natural cold spring water contained iron minerals? After all it was quite plausible. But then no articles I read ever claimed that cold spring water contains iron. So my conclusion was, perhaps the pipes are just rusty?
All in all. I think it is not a fantastic experience. But then again, it is not really expensive, so I guess I shouldn’t expect too much. It is still a rather interesting experience, and also a tick off my bucket list. After all there aren’t so many cold springs in the world for you to try out. So to any first-time visitors to Yilan, I still think it is an activity worth trying out, especially if it is during summer.