Wulai Hot Spring Resort: Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort + More
Wulai (or Urai) is a small village tucked in a mountain near Taipei, best known for Wulai Hot Spring. It is also an indigenous settlement of Atayal tribes. The name Wulai (烏來) comes from the Atayal language – Uraikirofu – literally meaning hot springs.
Besides its natural thermal water, Wulai offers many unique things to do. It is the closest place to experience Taiwan’s aboriginal culture and food from Taipei City. The quaint town is surrounded by pristine nature with Wulai Waterfalls, all-season lush greenery, and cherry blossoms in spring.
All the above are easily accessible within a 40-minute drive away from Taipei. Naturally, Wulai is one of the most popular day trips from Taipei.
In this guide, I will share my experience at Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort, as well as other public and private hot springs in Wulai. I will cover what to do in Wulai, how to get to Wulai from Taipei, where to stay, and what to eat in Wulai.
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>> Whether you are planning for a Taipei trip now or adding on your travel bucket list for the future, be sure to check out my Taiwan Travel Tips and Taipei Travel Guides:
- Taipei in 3 Days
- A Guide to Taipei Old Town
- 6 Historical Places to Visit in Taipei
- Taipei Hotel Review: An Award-winning Design Hotel
- Where to Find the Best Pineapple Cake in Taipei
- Yong Kang Street: A Food Paradise of Taipei
Soak in Hot Spring
Wulai Hot Spring is often called beauty spring (美人湯). Its colorless and odorless water is rich in alkaline sodium bicarbonate, which supposedly improves your skin.
Warning: If you are pregnant or have existing health conditions such as high blood pressure and heart issues, you are advised not to use hot springs for your own safety. If you have any contagious diseases such as skin rashes and respiratory infections, please avoid hot springs. When in doubt, consult your doctor.
Wulai Public Hot Spring (Permanently Closed)
Wulai used to have a riverside public hot spring pool. Following the 2015 typhoon and some safety concerns, the New Taipei City government decided to shut it down in 2017.
Some people have said that there are some wild hot pools along the river. But be aware that this area is prone to flooding, and no one manages the sites. I personally would not recommend it for your safety.
For more affordable options, Wulai has loads of hot spring hotels offering public and private baths (see my recommendations below). And many hotels offer 1-2 hour(s) bath services and overnight stay.
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Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort
Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort is an upscale, serene hot spring resort. The resort has only 45 rooms, but all are facing the Nanshi River with public and private hot springs.
The riverfront hotel fits right in the place in harmony with its surroundings. The entire facility is delicately decorated in Atayal tribe motifs. Volando also offers Taiwan indigenous folklore show at its outdoor pool area for its guests.
As local Taiwanese cannot travel outside of the island due to a global pandemic, rooms are hard to book, even at the highest rate in 2021. During the peak season, the rate can go up to NT$15,000 (USD 500) or even NT$25,000 (USD 850) a night; however, I have seen around USD 200 a night in previous years.
If you can afford the full experience, I still would recommend staying overnight. You would enjoy a much more relaxing time and get a full day of rest.
Volando Wulai Private Hot Spring: Grand View Bathhouse
Rates (2 people, 1 hour): Weekdays NT$1,450 | Weekends & Holidays NT$1,600
I used this Volando Wulai Private Hot Spring promotion. The options for hot spring experience include:
- Public bathhouse (nude, sex-segregated) or Private suite
- No meal, afternoon tea, or dinner
- Shuttle service from Xindian MRT Station is available upon request (NT$50 per person one way)
Instead of staying overnight, I opted for the two-hour private hot spring experience with dinner. It was a steal compared to what might have cost for an overnight stay. And the experience was wonderful. I highly recommend it!
One-hour is not enough time for me to decompress, shower, and dry my long and thick hair. The package allows one hour only, so I put an addendum note to request a one-hour extension. I paid an extra NT$400 at check-in.
I chilled at this beautiful lobby overlooking turquoise river water and lush greenery. The area also has many books to read and complimentary refreshments.
The private suites were lined up in a hallway. After called in, I was escorted into the room. The staff already started running water at the perfect temperature – not too hot to dip yet not too tepid. It might sound too minuscule to mention. But the tub is much larger than you think, so it takes a while to fill up – like 20-30 minutes! It saved me time and effort to adjust the water temperature, too.
The view from a window was priceless! It allowed soaking in the water while appreciating the peaceful landscape. The side window could be left open to breathe fresh air when the room gets too steamy.
Although the room was not big, it had almost everything you need – except a toilet. The tub was large enough for two tall adults to immerse comfortably. There was a shower to wash before and after bathing. You could lie down on a waterproof lounge chair in between soaking. (You should not really be in hot water too long at a time.) A vanity table with a hairdryer and other amenities is sufficient.
By the way, Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort also offers more luxurious experiences as well – Bathhouse Suite and Room Suites (Superior or Grandview).
Following bathing, dinner was served at the restaurant upstairs. The 6-course meal changes each season. While the portions were small, each dish featured seasonal local ingredients and refined flavors.
Volando Wulai private hot spring was a perfect place to unwind. My decompressed body with a full stomach was happily tired that I could not help but falling asleep on the way back home.
Volando Hot Spring Public Bathhouse
Rates (Per person; 4 hrs): Weekdays NT$980 | Weekends & Holidays NT$1,150
Suppose you don’t mind getting naked in public. In that case, a public bath allows you more extended hours and access to indoor and outdoor facilities. Facilities include an outdoor hot spring, hot and cold spring pool, hydrotherapy pool, and steam sauna.
- For couples, a private hot spring might be more suitable as the public bathhouse is sex-segregated.
- Children under age 12 are not allowed in a public bathhouse, whereas children under 130cm get FREE entry to private bathhouses.
Wulai Hot Spring Resort Recommendations
Here are a few other Wulai hot spring resorts that offer overnight stays and hot spring experiences.
Pause Landis Resort Wulai [Book your room: Booking, Agoda] is a posh five-star hot spring resort. Volando pays homage to the local aboriginal culture, whereas Pause Landis is much more modern in design. It even has Tesla charging stations in its parking garage.
The hotel features an Instagram-famous “hot pot” tub, which looks like a giant brass pot from the kitchen. It is only available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the price of NT$2,000 for 1.5 hours. Call them to inquire: 02-2661-8000.
Dailei Resort Wulai
>> Book your relaxing private bathhouse experience with an optional Wulai Day Tour. Shuttle service available upon request at an extra charge.
Wulai Beauty Garden Hotel
Dongfong Hot Spring
Dongfong Hot Spring is a budget-friendly hot spring hotel on Wulai Old Street. You have to call themdirectly (02-2661-7888) to book a room. But you can book a super-affordable hot spring experience here, whether you want public or private bathhouse.
Other Things to Do in Wulai
Eat Aboriginal Food on Wulai Old Street
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街) is a small street filled with restaurants, food stalls, and souvenir shops. I found this street a delightful place to eat snacks and aboriginal food.
#1. Exotic Mountain Vegetables
Wulai Old Street has many restaurants selling mountain vegetables. But this one restaurant caught my eyes with colorful displays of vegetables. I have never seen so many exotic veggies in one restaurant!
This restaurant also has a lovely riverside view from its balcony. Taiwanese usually avoid direct sunlight. So it was not challenging to snag the best view in the house.
Old Street Mountain Ocean Restaurant (老街山海)
Location: [Open Google Map]
Hours: 11 am – 8 pm (Closed Wednesdays)
#2. Wild Boar Sausage
You can find Taiwanese sausage (香腸) everywhere in night markets. But here, you can find the ones made of wild mountain pigs.
I have to say, I’m not a big fan of sausages. I don’t have a stomach, especially for the Taiwanese sausages, due to their unique smell. As I skipped it, I cannot tell you how it tastes different. The only way to find out is for you to try yourself!
#3. Hot Spring Eggs
Wulai’s hot spring eggs (溫泉皮蛋) are boiled in thermal water from the Nanshi River. After chilled, they are rolled in a dried mixture of millet and rice.
#4. Millet Mochi
You probably have seen many mochi desserts around Taiwan. What’s unique about mochi in Wulai is, though, they are made of millet (小米) instead of rice. You can try mochi balls with different fillings or rectangular shapes grilled in a skewer then rolled in nutty or grainy powders.
Wulai Millet Mochi (烏來小米麻吉)
Location: [Open Google Map]
Hours: 9 am – 6 pm
#5. Millet Wine (小米酒)
Taiwan’s millet wine is a traditional aboriginal alcoholic beverage. During the harvest seasons for millet, the community gathers to celebrate the gods and ancestors’ blessings by feasting and drinking millet wines. This tradition has been passed down for more than a thousand years.
Millet wine is a sweet yet strong alcoholic beverage. (I would say its texture and flavor are somewhat similar to Korean Makgeolli.) If you want to buy this affordable drink as a souvenir, Wulai Old Street has many shops.
Visit Wulai Atayal Museum
The Wulai Atayal Museum locates at the entrance of Wulai Old Street. It is a small museum (free entry) operated by volunteers. Make a pit stop to learn about the local indigenous Atayal tribe’s history and culture.
Location: [Open Google Map]
Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm (Closed 6 pm on Sat & Sun)
Admire the Picturesque Scenery on Wulai Scenic Train
The Wulai Scenic Train (also known as Wulai Trolley) runs a 1.6 km railway around the Wulai Scenic Area mountain valley. This mini-train takes you on a scenic ride from Wulai Old Street to Wulai Waterfall.
Enjoy the gorgeous views of the forest and river valley. Shortly you will arrive at the famous waterfall. Although the train ride can be slightly bumpy once in a while, I highly recommend taking the train over hiking up the hill.
Fare: NT$50 one way (Getting the ticket at the station is easy, but sometimes this site offers discounts.)
Go Chasing Wulai Waterfall
Wulai Waterfall (烏來瀑布) is the iconic site of the Wulai village. This 80m waterfall can be seen from the street or a viewing platform.
But the best spot to appreciate this waterfall is Waterfall No.3 Cafe (瀑布3號). This cafe has a three-story facade facing the waterfall directly. You can view the towering waterfall from indoors (first and second floor) or the outdoor patio on top. As there is nothing between the cafe and waterfall, you can get picturesque shots without the crowd.
Location: [Open Google Map]
Hours: 10 am – 6 pm (Closed 7 pm on Sat & Sun or holidays)
Ride a Wulai Cable Car
The Wulai Cable Car connects the Wulai Waterfall area to Yun Hsien Resort. A gondola ride flies over the old trees and river. It also unveils the hidden tiers of Wulai Waterfalls you wouldn’t be able to see from the ground.
It also is the only way to reach Yun Hsien Resort (雲仙樂園) perched high in the mountains of Wulai. Yun Hsien Resort used to be an amusement park and hotel. Now it is removing rundown facilities and converting the entire area as an ecological park. The firefly season (late April to June) is a popular time to visit this area.
When the weather is icky, gondola service can be canceled.
Fare: NT$220 for adults (age 19-65) | NT$150 for age 3-19 | NT$110 for seniors
Location: [Open Google Map]
Hours: 9 am – 5 pm (extended to 10:30 pm during the firefly season)
Welcome Spring with Cherry Blossoms
Wulai is a popular cherry blossom viewing destination for locals. If you are traveling to Wulai in February – March, you might be lucky to catch cherry blossoms.
Where to see cherry blossoms in Wulai? If you are driving from Taipei, you can swing by a residential community called 花園新城 [Open Google Map]. My local friend’s parents, who live near Wulai, recommend this place! Otherwise, you can see cherry blossoms scattered around the town near Wulai Scenic Area to Wulai Old Street to Wulai Waterfalls.
I want to manage your expectation, though. If you think of cherry blossom festivals in Japan or Korea, you would have a major disappointment. It is rare to find mind-blowingly stunning cherry blossom sites in Taiwan; Most of the time, they have some presence along the fence (of someone’s house) or planted with some distance.
↡↡ Can’t get enough hot spring experience?↡↡
Beitou is only a stone’s throw away from Taipei, and it is the only hot spring conveniently connected to the Taipei MRT system. Read my detailed guide here >>
How to Get to Wulai from Taipei
By Bus: Take bus 849 from Xindian MRT Station or Taipei Main Station.
By Taxi: A taxi from Xindian MRT Station would cost about NT$600-800 (USD 20-30) one way.
By Private Charter: Driving a car outside Taipei is convenient. Hiring an experienced driver would be even more comfortable. Have a driver pick you up from anywhere.
By Shuttle: Many hot spring hotels offer shuttle service from Xindian MRT Station at cost. For example, Volando Urai Spring & Resort provides a shuttle service from Starbucks near Xindian MRT Station. Hotel guests enjoy complimentary shuttle service. If you book their spa, you can request a shuttle at NT$50 (USD 2.50) each way. Reservation is required.
Once you get to downtown Wulai, all main attractions are within walking distance. You may also use the Wulai Scenic Train and gondola mentioned above.