Get on the MRT's Tamsui line at Taipei Main Station and ride north for 20 minutes. Get off at Beitou Station, and you'll forget you're in Taipei City at all. This, Taipei City's northernmost district, is where you go when you want to get away from it all. Located within the scenic Beitou Valley, the Beitou hillsides are home to one of the highest concentrations of hot springs in the world, with tens of resorts and spas populating the area at varying levels of luxury
There are everything from public hot spring pools to establishments offering private rooms rented by the day or by the hour. The minerals found within the hot spring waters are said to soothe a host of conditions, from skin problems to respiratory ailments. It was the Japanese who first built up the area's hot spring culture during their time in Taiwan, and upon setting foot outside Xinbeitou Station, closer to the surrounding hills, you'll immediately notice the small of sulfur in the air. Qinshui Park (otherwise known as Beitou Hot Springs Park) is just across from the station. There you'll find the Beitou Hot Springs Museum, if you fancy brushing up on some hot spring history, as well as an outdoor public hot spring. A short walk away is the Geothermal Valley, also known as Hell Valley, so named for its rampant geothermal activity.
The familiar sulfuric odor, along with the steam rising from the scalding waters of the springs, led the local aboriginals to call the area paktaaw, which means “witch.” Though the name stems from somewhat foreboding origins, you couldn't find a more relaxing area of the city.
Next door to Beitou is the famed Tamsui District. Technically in New Taipei City, the suburban area surrounding Taipei City proper, it's a must see for anyone visiting Taipei. Tamsui Old Street, a night market running along the Tamsui River, is home to all kinds of food stalls and cheap eateries, as well as amusements and games, giving the place a carnival-like feel. There are bike and trike rentals available so tourists can cover as much ground as possible. You can also catch a ferry from Tamsui over to small Bali island, which is a good spot to watch the sun set over the river which empties out into the Taiwan Strait.
Beitou is also one of the gateways into Yangmingshan National Park, a collection of mountain peaks, the highest of which, Mount Qixing, tops out at just over 1,100 meters. There are hiking trails on three of the area's mountains, including Mount Qixing, catering to hikers of all skill levels, as well as tamer pedestrian footpaths. In addition, there are eight different bike path routes through the park. Eco tours are available, as well as planned day trips. For more information, you can check out the park's official site.