FIRE hot springs! What other reason do you need to visit this place? Hopefully that should be enough, because there is not much else to see besides a natural gas fire and a hot spring. It's name Chinese literally means water and fire coming from the same source (水火同源). Some have called it one of the seven wonders of Taiwan. This is a place that we have wanted to go for a long time, and the first place that we have checked off of our “secret places” list.
We came south on National Highway 3 from Jiayi and exited near Tainan Baihe district. If you do not have a vehicle, Water and Fire hot spring can also be reached via Xinying Bus (新營客運) or tour bus.
After we drove into Baihe, we made our way past a few Buddhist temples, and then the road got really steep. We were stuck behind 7 tour buses, which seem to break the rules of “no oversize vehicles” on the mountain road. They took up both lanes on every switchback. Below the spring, there is a parking lot and bathroom from which you can walk up to the entrance.
The entrance is full of snacks and other “street food” of which we did not partake except ice cream, because looking at fire on a scorching 36 degree autumn day is quite a hot experience.
We noticed that the tour buses were not full of foreign tourists, but rather Taiwan senior citizens. We made our way through the crowds of Taiwanese elderly to the front of spring to take pictures. No one was standing there, probably because it was so hot.
There is a shrine underneath which burns a natural gas fire, and the water beneath bubbles. It reminded me of the natural gas fireplace I had growing up in Seattle. There's not much more to say except that it is a rare natural wonder.
Here is a video of the fire so you can see Water and Fire hot spring in all its glory.
History of Fire and Water Cave:
The Fire and Water Hot Spring and Cave was supposedly discovered by a Fujianese monk from a nearby monetary on the mountain in Baihe. After the Japanese Colonial Period ended in Taiwan, the local people created a shrine here and placed a God atop the spring called “不動明王” “unmoving king.” The natural gas for the fire is supplied from the Liuchong River Fault that runs underneath the ground here. In 1964 there was an earthquake that apparently split the fire apart, whereas before the fire all came from one hole. Nowadays this place is a tourist destination that from which locals can cash in on by selling various snacks and merchandise.
Informative signs next to the spring:
This sign is a series of beautiful poems about the Water and Fire Cave put up by the Tainan County Chairmain.
Some information about the spring's history in Chinese, English, and Japanese.
Legend of the Water and Fire Cave:
According to local Chinese folklore, the Kirin, a mythical Chinese Dragon-Horse creature, is said to have long ago lived in the spot where the fire spring now stands. The spring water is his leftover urine and the fire his breath. This legend comes purely from the sign above.
Another legend from the Taiwan Tourism website says that the legend is actually about two dragons: a fire dragon and a water dragon. They both lost in battle, one became the spring's water and the other the spring's fire. Source: www.siraya-nsa.gov.tw/mainweb/article.aspx?L=2&SNO=04000653
This legend seems to go along with the mural next to the spring which depicts two dragons fighting. I don't understand why they put the above sign which seems to clash with mural next to it.
Now you are ready for your trip to Fire and Water Cave! Be sure to like, share and comment below!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.