If you ever hear that Jiaosi (Jiaoxi) has the best hot springs, the most spectacular waterfall, and the best food in Taiwan, don’t believe it! If someone makes that claim, that person’s a liar or was on hard drugs when he went there. If you read that from a book or a magazine, it’s probably outdated. If it’s a recent edition, throw it away, it’s not worth reading. Jiaosi is just another Taiwanese tourist trap!
The weather in Jiaosi is wet and grey 99% of the time. It looks like a nuclear bomb has fallen on the place. I’ve never seen such bad city planning in my life. It’s one of the worst places I’ve visited in Taiwan. And that’s pretty sad because the area has (had) so much potential – there’s beautiful, green mountains on one side, and the ocean on the other. How did they mess it up so badly, I have no idea.
The only reason why it’s so popular these days is because it’s convenient to get there from Taiwan’s capital city. It’s right at the end of the Hsuehshan tunnel – the longest tunnel in Taiwan. One of the longest in the world actually. That’s the big tunnel that opened in 2006, the one that links Taipei to Yilan. Yes, that tunnel that’s always in the news due to crazy accidents.
Jiaosi Attractions – Things to Do
The first question I asked the front desk staff when I got to my hot spring resort was: “What’s special about Jiaosi’s hot spring water?” Listen, there’s always something distinctive about each hot spring in Taiwan and the locals love to brag and say how their water is unique and of the highest quality. One guy at a Beitou hot spring told me the water could treat any kind of cancer. In Guanziling, the water was said to fight baldness.
Well, according to the staff at my hotel and some info available online, the water in Jiaosi seems to have no distinctive attribute, except that it smells nothing. The thing that makes it so special is that there’s nothing special about it. It’s just hot. So don’t travel all the way to this part of Yilan County to cure your chronic illnesses – just take a hot bath at home.
If you still want to give it a try, you won’t have trouble finding one. There are billions of hot spring resorts in the area, which offer both public and private baths. I paid 2000NT for one night at a resort called the Magen David.
Jiaosi’s Wufongci Waterfall
This ridiculously popular waterfall is (kinda) nice, but you have to put up with a frustrating, endless line of tour buses on the way in, tons of annoying snack vendors at the trailhead, and billions of noisy, slowwww, local tourists who block the path to take group pictures at every turn.
The walk to the second waterfall takes about 10 minutes from the road. As you can see, it’s not a hike, it’s not a climb. It’s just a short, 10-minute stroll on a man-made trail. If you’re driving, don’t park your car in the public parking lot. You can park on the road instead, it’s free.
Wufongci Waterfall is 4km west of the train station.
Accommodation in Jiaosi – Hotels
I stayed at a hot spring resort called the Magen David. My room was clean, the AC was working well, the king size bed was comfortable, and the bathtub in the room was huge. The best thing I liked though, was the fact that it was removed from the chaotic main road of Jiaosi Town, so it was more peaceful. We couldn’t hear the traffic and we could enjoy the sweet smell of the mountains that were right behind the hotel.
Magen David Address:
62, Lane 97, Zhong Xiao Rd, Jiaoxi Township, Ilan (Yilan) County
Eating in Jiaoxi – Food
I went for the guy who was supposed to have the best chicken in town. That was not my intention, but that’s what the sing said. The man was selling the biggest plate of chicken I’ve ever seen in my life. When he put it on our table, he proudly said: “Enjoy your half chicken”! There was so much meat on that plate. Huge chunks of white chicken flesh. I gorged myself until I was unable to breathe. At one point I was so bloated, I had to unzip my shorts. It was an excellent meal! That half-chicken cost only 250NT$.
Where’s that restaurant? Sorry, I don’t have the address, but it’s easy to find. If you’re coming by car or bus from Highway 5 (the long tunnel) you will see a statue of a cow with huge boobies (yes, tits) on the left side of the road just as you enter Jiaosi. You’ll see, it’s pretty obvious, you can’t miss it. That’s where the chicken place is.
Otherwise, there are plenty of Chinese restaurants that serve fresh seafood and cold beer in Jiaosi.
Wanna drink, dance, get a date for the night… Well, my friend, you’re not gonna be lucky in Jiaosi! Jump on the next bus or train to Taipei if you want to party cauz it aint happening in this part of Yilan County. If you’re staying at a 5-star resort and you happen to be there on a Friday or Saturday night, you might be lucky enough to enjoy a live band at the hotel lounge.
The other option is to hit the main road (Jiaoxi Rd) to get a cheap Taiwan Beer at one of the seafood restaurants that are tucked between the profusion of 7-11s.
Getting to Jiaosi – Transportation
Easy. From Taipei City, head south on Highway #5. Should take around 45 minutes.
Riding a Scooter
From Taipei, ride south to Sindian (Xindian). From there, take road #9 all the way to Jiaosi. You will pass Pinglin on your way and you should stop there if hungry – the food in this area is some of the best on the island.
Southeast bound trains leave Taipei Main Station all the time and cost pennies. The name of the station you’re heading for is Jiaoxi Station. It’s 2 stops before Yilan Station. It takes about 1 hour to get there by train.