Wulai is picturesque, with a backdrop of mountains rising over a long stream of small waterfalls, and is located just 40 minute from Taipei. The little aboriginal village of Wulai has long been touted as one of the top hot spring resorts in Taiwan. Long ago, it was the prime hunting ground for the Atayal tribe. The town’s name means boiling water in the Atayal language, referring to its abundance of hot springs. Most people come to Wulai to bask in these hot springs, but visitors can also hike, swim, or even picnic along the cool mountain streams. There are spectacular waterfalls in the area and some excellent bird-watching venues. Wulai is also a prime spot to view cherry blossoms when they’re in bloom in the early months of the year.
Here is our guide to navigating your way through this historic and beautiful town.
Visitors looking for hot springs will find endless options – hotels and resorts along the riverbank and on Wulai Old Street. Most places offer private hot springs and have some nice amenities. But if you’re feeling more adventurous, the best way to get a flavor of the original hot spring experience is to bathe for free at the open-air hot spring on the bank of Nanshih Creek. To get there, cross the Lansheng Bridge and turn right.
Photo via New Taipei City
Restaurants and food stalls of all sorts line Wulai Old Street. Find aboriginal delicacies and snacks that fully express the flavors of local ingredients here – bamboo shoots stuffed with rice, handmade rice cakes in different flavors, baked mochi, deep fried river prawns, honey-glazed yams, wild boar kebabs, and wild vegetables and ferns. Surely even the pickiest gourmets will find something to enjoy.
Photo via New Taipei City
Wulai is home to the Atayal, the second largest indigenous tribe in Taiwan. Their unique culture includes various harvest and religious festivities centered around harvesting and memorializing their ancestors. Get a peek into their history and culture at the Atayal Tribal Museum. On display are handcrafted artifacts, traditional clothing, weapons and more. Visit for just NT$50. And not to worry, all exhibit descriptions are in both Chinese and English.
Photo via New Taipei City
Wulai Falls and Gondola
Experience the waterfalls in Wulai from a different perspective – from up in the air! Take a gondola ride up to the top of a nearby mountain. The ride takes about 10 minutes and spans across Nanshi River near Wenquan Street. The waterfall forms a magnificent white belt against the lush mountainside. It was named one of Taiwan’s eight most beautiful attractions during the Japanese colonial period. The cable car ticket will cost you NT$220.
Photo via KingStone
Nestled above the waterfalls is Yunshien Amusement Park takes place. Take the cable car up and let out your inner child here. The park’s attractions are more suitable for youngsters, so if that’s not your thing, you can also rent a canoe for a leisurely ride or just take in the breathtaking views. Entrance to the park will cost you NT$50.
Photo via Travel King
This 1.6 km trail from Wenquan Street to the waterfall area to the south is a pleasant hike across relatively flat terrains. Visitors can get a glimpse of the ancient trails used to transport logs. With few tourists, the trail is quiet and peaceful – expect for the chirping from birds and insects hiding out in the tree-covered area. The misty breeze from the waterfall is a refreshing bonus for hikers.
Photo via 小烏來天空步道
Previously used by the Japanese as a means of transportation to town, the railway is now a humble rail line used to bring tourists from Wulai’s cable car area to an area even further into the mountain where visitors can get up close and personal with the waterfalls. Hop on for a ride, with an old school vibe. The train costs adult NT$50.
Photo via 烏來小火車
Also known as Wa-Wa Valley or Xinshian Waterfall, is known for its beautiful waterfalls and trails. The area is also known for its ion-rich air, making it very attractive to tourists seeking out its supposed health benefits. Walk for about 1 km along a flat path to reach the Neidong Waterfall. Visitors can also hike up the Green Shower Trail where a winding route will take them through the forest above the waterfall. An entrance fee of NT$65 is required to enter, with various pricing for children and residents and for holidays.
Take MRT to Xindian Station (the southernmost stop on the green line) and then take Bus 1601 or 849 to Wulai for NT$40. The bus journey takes about 40 minutes (usually a little longer on weekends).
Wulai is small enough that you should be able to get around on foot without much problem. The cable car and train are good ways to get to other parts of the area to see things like the amusement park or waterfalls. Some travelers might be interested in exploring parts of Wulai slightly further out, where more hiking and natural attractions are available. Taxis are available for hire, or rent a scooter and explore at your own pace.
Feature image via Stephanie Williams Photography.