Taipei is a vibrant little city best known as the land of bubble tea, night markets, and Taipei 101. It is also the perfect destination to relax and recharge with its big city allure yet chill vibes. Taiwan's famous tea culture, Zen Buddhist influence, and beautiful natural abundance is not to be missed. Your perfect wellness getaway to Taiwan can begin with a yoga retreat by the sea with us at Origin Yoga & Wellness then end with a few days in Taipei to experience this dynamic city. Here I’m going to reveal 10 of my favorite wellness spots in Taipei that guarantees good vibes and mindful inspirations!
Photo Source: 李麗琴
A 90-year-old house abandoned from the Japanese colonial era. Under a recent government initiative to restore old historical homes, this charming little house was thoughtfully repurposed into a public reading space to promote arts and literature. Finding Chapter is like finding a wonderful oasis in the city. Do know that you can only visit Chapter by making advanced reservation online. Each appointment is two hours in length starting with a short tour, complimentary tea followed by free time for you to browse through a wide array of books and magazine (in multiple languages). During my last visit, I found a colorful encyclopedia of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. I took away one useful remedy of cooking wild red basil (known as “zi su ye” in Chinese) with ginger to boost immune system and cure the common flu.
2. Dharma Drum Mountain Nung Chan Monastery
Photo Source: AIC
Dharma Drum Mountain is one of the most influential spiritual, cultural, and educational Buddhist center in Taiwan founded by the late Master Sheng-Yen. I often like to take my out of town guests to Dharma Drum Mountain, their modern and compassionate approach to sharing zen wisdoms is truly admirable. Now you can visit Nung Chan Monastery, the original place where Master Sheng-Yen started his teachings. Nung Chan Monastery is easily accessible on your own from Taipei by MRT. Guided tour and outdoor meditation classes are offered regularly by the lotus pond in the main courtyard. If you’re in need for some positive affirmations, try getting one of 108 “spiritual prescriptions” through devotional prayers. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out their bookstore and coffee shop for some zen inspirations, delicious herbal tea and homemade cookies. Plan your visit and dress appropriately to cover the shoulders and knees.
3. Six Stars Foot Massage
Photo Source: Six Stars Foot Massage
After a long day of walking around the city, indulge in some much-needed foot reflexology massage that will leave you feeling like you’re walking on clouds! Traditional Chinese medicine place much emphasis on the importance of foot massages as way to maintain good health. It is one of the best way to stimulate the nervous system, heal body pain, reduce stress and promote circulation for our internal organs. Six stars is a clean and spacious establishment well loved by locals, celebrities, and traveller alike for their expert massages, serene environment and late hours of operations. For those eager to learn more about their body, pay extra attention to areas of feet where you feel the most pain and ask your reflexologist shifu (which means “master” in Chinese) the body parts and health symptoms it relates to so you can be more mindful about your health.
4. Peacestreet Community Center
Photo Source: Peacestreet Facebook Page
The yoga scene in Taipei is largely dominated by large enterprise such as Pure Yoga, Space Yoga, and True Yoga. These studios offer state of the art facilities and impressively lineup of classes for members only. If you are not interested long term membership commitment, check out Peacestreet Community Center for their drop-in yoga classes and special events. Class schedules can be found on their Facebook page. Peacestreet Community Center operates as a not for profit dedicated to growing and uplifting positive environment through co-creation. They promote a shared space based on love, health, spirituality, and responsibilities toward the earth. It was through Peacestreet Community Center that I had the opportunity to connect with Carolyn Lu, our guest teacher at Origin Yoga & Wellness, and be meet many other leaders from the Taipei wellness community.
5. Villa 32 Hot Spring Hotel
Photo Source: Villa 32
When Japan occupied Taiwan between 1895-1945, they introduced the hot spring culture and it became an indispensable wellness ritual for many Taiwanese people. From Taipei, you can hop on the MRT and head to Beitou for hot spring. Here you can find affordable public pools to luxurious private suites. Soaking in mineral rich hot spring is good for relieving body tension and nourishes the skin. If you're like me who prefers a more intimate hot spring experience, Villa 32 does not disappoint with its open-air bathing experience combing four natural elements of spring water, wood, greenery, and rocks. Villa 32 is best described as the city’s secret garden. Guests have the choice of bathing in male or female only nude pools or choose one of five private suites. When in the area, take a side trip to Beitou Thermal Valley where you can see the lake which is the source of geothermal spring in this region. Only after seeing this natural wonder with your own eyes can you truly appreciate this rare gift from Mother Nature!
6. Tamsui's Golden River Bike Ride
Photo Source: Fiona
A fun way to explore nature in Taipei is by biking. One very scenic route to take is the Golden River Cycling Path starting from Guandu’s Guanshan Park to Tamsui’s Old Street. Rent a YouBike readily available by Guandu station and ride north along the river towards Tamsui. The entire biking route is approximately 10 km, it is fairly flat and nicely paved with designated bike lanes away from traffic. Along the way you will be rewarded by gorgeous view of Tamsui River, lush mangrove forest, and majestic Guanyin Mountain. Time your adventure so you can arrive in Tamsui just before dusk to enjoy a stunning golden sunset by the river.
7. The SPOT Film House
Photo Source: Taiwan Tourism Board
The SPOT-Taipei Film House is a cozy cinema that screens independent art house films from around the world. Once the residence of U.S. ambassador, this historic two-story building has been converted to 83-seats cinema, coffee shop, lounge, and indie-designer gift shop. Centrally located right by Zhongshan district, the SPOT film house is a unique cultural place for art and film. The last film I watched here was Walk with Me, an enlightening documentary on the journey of mindfulness featuring world-famous teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh.
8. Junjian Yan Hiking Trial
Photo Source: Travel Taipei
What’s the most popular activity to do in Taipei per Tripadvisor? Elephant Mountain sunset hike! While the sunset view takes your breath away, so does the amount of tourists fighting for the a spot on the mountain to see the sunset. Here’s another lessor known spot where you can capture stunning sunsets overlooking the entire city: Junjian Yan Hiking Trial. The name in Chinese translate to “battleship rock” describing the majestic shape of the cliff at the peak of the mountain. Take the MRT to Shipai station and walk uphill towards National Yang-Ming University, walk past the university then you’ll see the entrance to the hiking trial. Similar to Elephant Mountain it’s a fairly easy hike and you can get to the peak within 20 minutes. Now you can enjoy the sunset in peace!
9. Aota 812 Tea House
Photo Source: 洪莉萍
An elegant gallery style tea house hidden in the alley of Daan District. Come here to learn all about Taiwan’s tea culture and find a full collection of tea from the best regions of Taiwan. Order a set of tea and one of the friendly and knowledgeable staff will patiently demonstrate how to prepare, drink, and appreciate tea like a seasoned connoisseur. A small selection of delicious Taiwanese dessert such as pineapple cake and walnut date bars are available to accompany your tea tasting journey. Ask for a window seat by the garden and find solitude while you enjoy this wonderful tea tasting journey.
10. Taipei Botanical Garden
Photo Source: Wikimedia
Take a mindful stroll to visit the botanical garden in Taipei. The botanical garden was first built and designed during Japanese colonial era with historical buildings still preserved. With over 2000 varieties of tropical and subtropical plant species, it is a precious gem in the city that offers a different scenery in every season. If you are visiting in May, head for the most picturesque lotus pond that attracts passionate artist and photographers standing by each year to capture its beauty. The lotus pond is also the perfect back-drop for taking captivating yoga pictures! The garden is free to enter and opening hours is from 5:30AM – 10:00PM. Plan to visit early morning or late evening and you may be lucky to have the whole place to yourself!