4D3N Taiwan East Coast cycling itinerary

We just came back from our Taiwan East Coast cycling adventure in mid October 2019. We cycled from 花蓮 Hualien to 台東 Taitung, also known affectionately as 花東.

Cycling gave us an opportunity to admire Taiwan up close.
Verdict: 台湾真漂亮!

We will be sharing the links to other blog posts at the end of page (eg  Train and bikes booking).

This was our first multi-day cycling trip, catch our 花東 IG story too.

Before Taiwan, our most adventurous ride was NZ Old Coach Road (3hour), Bangkok city tour (slow 4 hour)  and 台中 Taichung (2hour) . There are more biking adventures at this link.

Sharing some statistics below.

-6D5N trip, but 4D3N actual cycling
-We cycled 250km from Hualien to Taitung (detours inclusive). If strictly no detour, 180km possible.

Kids are impressive!
-Day 1- 80km Hualien to Ruisui
-Day 2- 55 km Ruisui to Yuli to Antong
-Day 3- 70km Antong to Dulan
-Day 4- 40km Dulan to Taitung

-Every night a new 民宿 minsu, we quickly learn how to efficiently unload/pack our luggage.

All these dreams were spark by Hualien Taitung map below. Encouraging both Taiwanese and tourists to cycle more, see more.

Below map (Credit Hualien Adventures) gave a good overview and has plenty of riding suggestions, pit stops. It was a Great tool for me to plan either highway 9 or 11 🙂

You can cover Taiwan East Coast cycling in 3D2N, or take your own sweet time to enjoy the detours. We took 4D3N to complete our journey but 5D4N best 🙂

Highway 9 runs along the train line. There is a parallel route 193 ( also known as 花東縱谷)  as you will cycle in the valleys, flank by green or yellow paddy fields! Highway 11 is winding coastal road, with the roaring Pacific Ocean next to you all the way South!

Do visit their Hualien Adventures bike links for research and tips.

We also customised our own fun Hualien to Taitung Google Map (click on link).

Those who are seeking more thrill can try KOM, cycle up 3000m+ 合歡山 HeHuan Shan! The round island 900km 10Days ride is pretty popular too (start at 松山Songshan).

You can download Taiwan Tourism’s bike manual and tips (pdf) here.
Some folks will even WALK around Taiwan 徙步漫遊台灣 Gosh!

0KM Hualien city

Hualien city is a good base to explore North (hint Tarako Gorge). We will visit this famous gorge next time 🙂

You will need minimum one day to appreciate nature’s masterpiece. If you prefer hiking and river-tracing, cater for 1/2 day more. Besides, there are  plenty of nice street food!

Best food Hualien
Best food Hualien

Our biking start point would be Giant Hualien. Google will share multiple train routes from Taipei to Hualien.

But friends told us that Hualien train tickets always sold out! Do book Online 2 weeks in advance!

*Do read our train-booking tips here.

 

捷安特花蓮站 Giant Hualien

If you are worried about renting a bike for multi-day cycling, start with Giant. Their professional rental service will allow you to just enjoy the ride and worry less about logistics.

You can also ask about joining a group, whereby a service/safety van will tag along.

*Read our Giant Bike booking and tips here.

Giant Hualien
Giant Hualien bicycle rental

Bike rental link is on their Facebook Message (Hualien <-> Taitung). Just reserve your bikes and pick up on actual day. the shop is just 5min walk from Hualien station.

3-days rental for Road-bike (racers) and MTB (mountain Bike) are NTD 1500 and NTD 1200 respectively.

Warmup ride with our new bikes. Hualien’s famous 七星潭 Qi Xin beach, and we could hear multiple F16s launching from Hualien airport.

There are only pebbles at this beach, no sands here!

Hualien Qi Xin Tan
Hualien Qi Xin Tan

四八高地 (Four-Eight Highland) offers a panoramic view of the coast and hugging mountain lines! We can find many such spots along highway 11.

Taiwan East Coast cycling
Taiwan East Coast cycling

We only cycle 20km for warmup, and visited 花蓮東大門國際觀光夜市 Dongdamen Night Market for our dinner.

Brought the kids here to enjoy some local snacks before we start our tour the next day.

Hualien night market
Hualien night market

You must visit 蔣家官財板 for the best toast! (do take note there are three coffin snacks in the same market!)

*(A) Our custom Google Map

You may checkout some of the popular Hualien attractions of food on our custom Google Map.

**(B) Our Cycling Itinerary on Google Sheet

Taiwan East Coast cycling itinerary
Taiwan East Coast cycling itinerary

Pair Maps with Google Sheet itinerary (Inclusive GPS, relative locations and our stays)

If you know your average speed, you can then estimate your distance and preferred rest locations. Our average speed was a comfortable 20 to 30km on flat road.

Panniers packing

Packing for Taiwan East Coast cycling
Packing for Taiwan East Coast cycling

-Only bring the essentials
-Ensure easy access for critical stuff, eg first aid, batteries or powerbanks -Balance left and right bags
-Pack essentials on top, for easy access
Waterproof!
-Might not need to pack extra drinks and food as convenience stalls everywhere
Over the next few nights, we got very efficient with packing and unloading.

Each touring bike, be it racers or MTB, will have two side bags (panniers). Racers bags are much bigger and waterproof, I do not understand why MTB bikes are 10l only, and not waterproof?

Photo below. Three fully loaded bikes, fortunately we got extra haversacks to load our stuff. The bikes (and maybe the riders) look very serious haha 🙂

Family Cycling Taiwan
Family Cycling Taiwan

We plan our rest points along scenic spots, ideally with shade, drinks and food.

Day 1 21km 鯉魚潭 Liyu Lake

This is the biggest lake on East side of Taiwan.

Hualien Liyu Lake
Hualien Liyu Lake

For longer distance, you might need to pack own meals and for the adventurous, own camping tents! Our journey was slow and easy, and we stop whenever we see queues or we are hungry.

In any adventure, the journey is more important than the end points. Do look out for interesting murals on the walls (especially for schools).

43km Spotted this delicious (super discreet) bento stall in 鳳林 (Fenglin town).

You will actually see a lot of beef noodle stalls in this town.
M
any bento associate themselves with 池上 Chisang (Taitung).
Some claim the rice in 池上is the best in Taiwan!

Anyway, 悟饕池上飯包. Yummy! (GPS 23.749060, 121.449821)
Regulars keep popping by for the bentos.

Convenience stalls

Taiwan has PLENTY of convenience stores.

Aircon, water, snacks and toilet 🙂
Thank you Family Mart and 7-11 stores.

Taiwan Family Mart
Taiwan Family Mart

Highway 9 definitely has more 7-11 and Family Marts than Highway 11.
Just park our bikes outside and choose the window seats.

(another advantage of highway 9 is tired cyclists can just hop onto a bike-friendly train cabin and skip one or two towns.)

Simple meals. We only had this twice during our trip, too much MSG.

Pocari to recharge! Aircon to enjoy some Pokemon gym.

Their favourite snacks at 7-11. They can have two servings per day!

Taiwan 7-11
Taiwan 7-11

Indulgence. We can justify the calories as we really cycle hard (at Yuli’s 85°C Bakery Cafe) . This is Taiwan’s Starbucks, with 1000 outlets globally.

The only stall which has wider franchise coverage, 檳榔 Bing1 Lang2 :p

62km 大農大富平地森林 Danongdafu Forest Park

Popular forest reserve with Taiwanese. Many Instagramable corners.
Must Visit, we spent almost 45mins here.

Our plan was to cycle South via Highway 9, cross the mountain at Route 30, then proceed South via Highway 11.

We ended Day 1 with 81KM. This was a stretch but glad kids could kept up.

Dinner at 瑞穗 Ruisui. This is their famous milk hotpot, 綠精靈

Ruisui Milk Pot
Ruisui Milk Pot

(Day 2) 86km Police Station 派出所

If you run into trouble, or need assistance with shelter.
Do drop by Police station or Post Office.

WE ARE SERIOUS!

Police station in Taiwan (at least those in Hualien and Taitung) has water refill, and even clean toilets. 谢谢 Thank you !

Taiwan Police Station cyclists
Taiwan Police Station cyclists

Onward with our journey, sharing some of our favourite bike corners. We will share more later.

91km 玉里天堂路

Cycling along route 193, and this Heavenly patch of openness was too inviting!

玉里天堂路
玉里天堂路

Photo below. 感恩, felt so touch by Taiwanese hospitality.

This was somewhere along route 193. One of our targeted cake shops was permanently closed, but a neighbor Auntie came out to serve us persimmon (?)

So sweet and crunchy!

Route 193 actually runs parallel to Highway 9. But this is a trunk road, with fewer cars. Many folks recommend the Southward track between 瑞穗 Ruisui and 玉里 Yuli, also known as 花東縱谷.

I could never get enough of the vast green fields!

Hualien Highway 193

Carry on for 25km South and you will reach Taiwan’s most beautiful bikeway.

108km 玉富自行車道 (Yufu bikeway)

This is a 10 km bike track, built over an old railway track. Two old stations can still be found. No motorbikes no cars, enjoy the breeze.

玉富自行車道
玉富自行車道

Maybe 玉富 is extracted from 玉里 & 富里? Just like 花東 is from 花蓮 & 台東?
Anyway, NICE scenic landscapes! Greens and mountain ranges every corner.

The bridge is also where Eurasian collides with Philippine plates.

Other Yuli sights..

傳統美食玉里麵 (Yuli Mian)

Background is iconic red bridge, 客城鐵橋 Kecheng Iron Bridge. If your timing is right, you can see trains zoom by 🙂

Yuli Red Iron Bridge
Yuli Red Iron Bridge

126KM Antong Hot Spring Hotel

Nothing like Hot spring soak  (and Onsen) to remove tired knots. The facilities are good but do take note of strong sulphur smell.

Everyone slept well that night, maybe too fatigue
(We did leave a complain about bed cleanliness)

Antong Hot Spring
Antong Hot Spring

(Day 3) Toughest 5km #SengkangBabies花東

Although only 5km from Antong hotel to tunnel (GPS 23.268348, 121.360666 ), this steep route force me and Yee (no 3) to walk. Only Boon Wee (no1) could cycle all the way 🙂

Google Map showing brutal elevation. This only applies to casual cyclists like us (tourists). As road can be narrow at some sections, walk if you feel unsafe. There is no shame 🙂

Those hardcore cyclists attempting KOM (登山王 King of Mountain) will treat Antong as warmup.

We were taking route 30 to cross from Highway 9 to Highway 11.
And this is one of the shortest cross-mountain route.

For comparison sake, notice the “Flat” terrain around Ruisui and Yuli, perfect for cycling. There will always be small slopes to climb, plenty after  Cheng Gong (Highway 11).

At the highest point, there is a tunnel, intersecting Hualing and Taitung.

The tunnel ride was refreshing, remember to stop for photo at the exit (Taitung side). You can see the cloud, Pacific Ocean over the horizon.

Ocean views from here onwards all the way to 台東 Taitung (Highway 11).

Taitung Highway 11
Taitung Highway 11

LOVE the Blue views and waves! (石雨傘風景區)

155KM 三仙台跨海步橋 San Xian Tai Arch Bridge

Another famous icon. You can actually spend 3 or 4 hours hiking over the bridge to explore the small island.

We enjoy some delicious treats along the route.
成功豆花, Taiwan Beer (only at night), 東河包子.
(GPS are in our Google Sheet itinerary)

So many cyclists and bikers along the coastal road.

185KM 吃冰 at Dulan 台澢號 Taitung Tea House

都蘭 Du1 Lan2 is a small town in 東河 Donghe.
Do not pronounce as Hokkien expletive :p

We stayed at 哇軋力共 WaGaLiGong for the 3rd night.
(Direct Chinese translation is 我跟你讲 or 我告诉你 :p )

wagaligong Taiwan
Wagaligong Taiwan

Cool surf shop and hostel. This is where we signed up for a rocking 冲浪 Wave Surfing course too! (our fun surfing review here and YouTube link)

(Day 4,5) Kids declared surfing as their best experience in Taiwan!

逗留豆遊 , explored more coffee beans and cakes before we left for Taitung Town.

We are left with the last 30km of cycling, time to GO SLOW and enjoy the ride 🙂

More cycling friends along the way. They are curious about this bunch of Singaporeans touring East Coast #單車環島

Do checkout a popular Taiwanese movie “Island Etude, 單車骑行环岛“. This movie sort of kickstart a cycling frenzy in Taiwan Formosa 🙂

9KM Countdown to Taitung

 

Did you know Taitung is one of the happiest cities in Taiwan? Some say the East Coast resembles Hawaii too.

We know the waves and wind never stopped, we can always spot three different shades of blue in the ocean.

 

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205KM 加路蘭海岸 Jialulan

Scenic Seaside stopover. This is also the best spot to catch the milky way 🙂

220KM Reach Taitung 台東森林公園活水湖

Taitung Flowing Lake
Taitung Flowing Lake

We cycle in a clockwise loop around Taitung town. Enjoying more food and snacks.

客來吃樂 大腸蚵仔麵線

250KM end point 捷安特台東站 Giant

You can actually cycle north from Taitung to Hualien too, but will encounter strong headwinds.

Returning our trusty bikes. Feeling Happy that we complete our Journey and also Sad that our epic adventure has come to an end 🙂

Was really grateful for all the HELP and TIPS we got along the way. Thanks Douglas (he just toured Incheon to Busan ride) and Uncle Soon.

I had a fall near the end of our journey. A blessing in disguise, as we were at the end point, and there was no fracture. This was the only incident we had over our cycling journey. We did not encounter any rain (so lucky!)

I will gladly attempt another Taiwan cycling trip with the kids!

At Sengkang Hospital
At Sengkang Hospital

After returning our bikes, we collected our luggage and pick up the train tickets from Taitung to Kaohsiung.

Non-hassle, very easy for tourists.

Do take note Taitung Train station is 6km from Taitung center.
Taxis are readily available, metered rate should be between NTD200 to NTD 300.

More good FOOD 台東 Taitung !

Taitung famous food
Taitung famous food

If you have time for only one food in Taitung, go for 藍蜻蜓 Blue Dragonfly.
I might not eat KFC anymore after Dragonfly :p

Yummy 哈拉麵 🙂
Super friendly host and nice ambiance.

Ramen taitung
Ramen taitung

More food options are captured in our Google Sheet itinerary.

Checkout our Taitung Eat See Play custom Google Map.
The yellow icons are our cycling path.

I am one PROUD Dad!

Our Taiwan East Coast cycling 花東 took us out of our comfort zone.
We literally had to stretch ourselves, and look out for each other.
I hope the experience will make our family bond stronger.

The kids might not know it, but 250KM is a BIG DEAL.
Hope our Taiwan Cycling experience will leave a big imprint for their future explorations! Go out and explore the WORLD.

This blog post is only a summary of our compressed 4D3N Taiwan East Coast cycling. We will be sharing more photos and stories of our trip.

*Use our Google Sheet Itinerary and GPS for your planning reference (Link).

Meanwhile, if you have any question, do email me at andy@sengkangBabies.com

We hope our experience will encourage more folks to cycle in Taiwan!

*(C) Tips for Taiwan East Coast cycling:

1)No1 tip- Send your luggage from Hualien to Taitung. We only pack minimum for our 4D3N road trip, pack everything else for Taitung pickup

2) Safety

2a) Bike handling
Relatively safe for families to explore Taiwan on wheels. Just ensure kids are confident on bikes (gears, brake, balance). Kids need to be comfortable with speeds maybe up to 40kmh, especially when going downhill.

Reflexes are harder to train(eg to be more steady). No 3 will instinctively swerve-hard inwards when cars horn. This might cause him to lose balance.

2b) General Safety
It would be good if one knows how to fix bicycle chains, or patch a tyre (or change a tube). Some roads can stretch for a few kilometres without bicycle shops or even convenience stores (especially Highway 11). In worse case, broken bike can cab to the next meeting point.

Kids like to cycle near the kerbs, which is not advisable. This is the area where most pebbles and broken glass gather, risking punctures. Besides, you will have less “allowance” to evade or maneuver during an emergency.

I notice the barriers along some bridges are maybe only 1m in height. A fall would be drastic!

No3 Boon Yee was in the center most of the time, as his bike was the smallest and least visible.

*Kids should know which emergency number to dial, in case the adult is hurt. Bring your first aid kit along and know your basic first aid skills.

3) The best time to cycle might be in October and November, with temperatures between 25 to 28 degrees in the day (summer can reach 30+ degrees).  Minimum Typhoon, and paddy harvesting means fields are turning Gold.

4) Appreciate warm Taiwanese hospitality and cycling culture. Bicycle lanes are wide and available on 90% of our route. Cars generally give a wide berth. Singapore has a lot to learn!

We felt safe on the road and passer-bys will SHOUT 加油! We wave to riders on the other side 🙂

5)Use Google Map “Driving” icon to navigate instead of “Walking”.
Walking might bring you to shortcuts, which can be hard to navigate or sometimes non-passable for wheels (especially in the mountains)

I am just curious why Taiwan Google Map does not have Cycling options (unlike New Zealand Mountain-to-Ocean track). Secondly, “Walking” mode cannot go through Tunnel (which is weird).

I need “walking” mode to estimate the elevations and plan my rest points.

 

6) Ensure your accommodation (minsu) allow you to keep your bikes indoors. It is relatively safe in Taiwan, but we just need to be vigilant and prevent theft
.

7) Scooters and Cyclists cannot turn left at main junctions. We have to go into the small box, and wait for green light. (YouTube explanation)

8)We could not cover all the scenic spots during this trip. We will cover them in our next trip:
清水斷崖
太魯閣 Taroko Gorge (need one full day to enjoy)
池上伯朗大道 (Mr Brown, 金城武 and EVA ad wah!)
關山環鎮自行車道
太麻里站
知本溫泉 (hot spring)

*9)Do pop by the following links and resources too:
-Taiwan Tourism cycling manual eBook

https://taiwaneverything.cc (my resource kit)
WhyWendyWrites (hot air balloon, 綠島 Green and 蘭嶼 Orchid islands)
-Many more blogs (1 , 2 , 3 , 4 for IG, *5 , 6 round island!, 7)
I suspect the best blogs are those in Mandarin (but I struggle to read)

TwoWheelCruise 2 parts (heavy rain and nice commentary)
-Another nice video (novice too)
-Additional tips and stories (Cycle Taiwan)
-If in season, fruits picking might be fun too (link)

IG Beautiful corners in Taitung!  Follow @tintinghi

-Weather forecast by township
-Latest Taiwan news (Facebook)
Parks and Forest Reserve list (some are chargeable)
-Taiwan train online booking (blog). App will also notify if there are delays.

One of the best videos (credit @MyTaiwanTour), so cinematic 🙂

10) Essentials. Get the reliable wifi router from Klook. Ensure you have enough powerbanks, batteries and MicroSDs for your journey. I brought a notebook along to backup our daily photos and videos. WATERPROOF everything as rain is frequent.

11)Read up on earthquake and Typhoon precautions. Hualien and Taitung has regular earthquakes!

12) If you are attempting the same route, these two links will answer 30% of your questions, be confident. We are not super fit, nor do we cycle regularly. But if you can cover 30 40km every 3 or 4 hours, you should be ok.

Do cover more grounds (maybe 60/40%) before noon as weather will be hotter in the afternoon.

12a)Giant Hualien booking – https://goo.gl/2Hrv4y
12b)https://hualien-adventures.com/2017/12/03/cycling-east-coast

13)If you are not cycling, you can still self-drive and enjoy the sightings. Scooter rental can be under NTD1000 per day! E-bike rentals are available at many places but will need to recharge every 50km.

-Our family’s Cycling trips -> http://sengkangbabies.com/tag/cycling
** Do pop by our previous 10D9N Taiwan Family Itinerary in 2017

Instagram Hashtag #sengkangBabiesTaiwan
Taiwan Family Itinerary

Stay tune for more adventures and photos.
Do follow our IG Story too #sengkangbabiesTaiwan #SengkangBabies花東

Refer to our Taiwan cycling posts here :
*Google Sheet itinerary

*4D3N Cycling itinerary and summary
-Day 1a-Hualien-Taiwan Railway Online booking
-Day 1b-Hualien-Taiwan Giant bicycle rental and Hualien attractions
… (wip)Day 2-Hualien to Ruisui
… (wip)Day 3-Ruisui to Yuli (So beautiful!)
-Day 4 – Surfing at Dulan

ps.. I got two songs to recommend, which are so Taiwanese, full of love and passion 🙂

蔡依林 台灣的心跳聲
胡夏 那些年

 

Family’s first experience at Yunomori Onsen & Spa

Therapeutic and invigorating, that was our experience at Yunomori Onsen & Spa (Google review). Yes, bucket list untick for family.

We were invited to soak in Yunomori Onsen’s latest bath. When we step into the secluded premise in our Yukata, we were transported into another dimension 🙂

We are still in Singapore, but we got imbued with a bit of Japanese culture and ambience.

Yunomori Onsen

We need to keep our shoes before registering for our session. A wrist tag will be issued for the second locker to keep our clothes and stuff.

The same tag will be used for payment at the cafe too.

I told the kids that Yukata must be wore (right to left, then left over right). Wearing it opposite is considered bad luck as it is meant for dead person!

Happy ootd posing, this is our virgin Onsen trip.

We made our way to the cafe for a sumptuous dinner.

Pretty easy to navigate in Yunomori Onsen & Spa, Onsen one side and everything else on the other side.

Let us enjoy our dinner first. On hindsight, I would have preferred to soak first before eating. Food always taste nicer when we are hungry 🙂

Japanese cuisine to get us into the mood, introducing 2019’s menu.

Nigiri Platter

Plum Rose Sparkle – this will definitely cool everyone down, love the refreshing scent of plum and mint

Chuka Snack – yummy baby octopus and jellyfish

Mentai Gyoza

Salmon Sashimi Don – Refreshing and satisfied my salmon craving

Ume Ochazuke

Yee loves his Ramen.

Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen

Salted Egg Mix Tempura

After a satisfying meal, we are ready to 泡湯 soak.

Everything about Yunomori Onsen and Spa was a novelty for my family:

-Being stark naked with 30 others
-For females, disposable panties and bra are available
-Kids felt weird sitting on stool and scrubbing ourselves clean? But I like the repeated process of scrub rinse and scrub again

-Dipping from pool to pool, different water and temperature (always start from the least hot)
-Told them beforehand that we should not spend more than 15 minutes in pool, let the body cool down before soaking in another pool

-First timers can read up about Onsen etiquette on Yunomori website

I was just curious whether there is a difference to the Onsen experience between tropical Singapore and cool Japan.

Image credit Google Map

A pity our kids are a bit too short, Boon Yee had to squat in the pool and could not sit down on his butt. Otherwise, he was game and joined me in all the pool, except the cold one .

Do not leave your child wandering alone, they might jump into the 42 degrees pool or they might start swimming! Besides, you never know what sort of folks are in an onsen.

He find it more cool to walk stark naked, whereas conservative Dad use towel to cover crotch. I would not be so shy in Japan 🙂

Jacuzzi, jet and the new Yufuin pool. Each pool was a new experience. Onsen pool is hottest but most original, but too hot for kids.

Each pool has a different quality, from joint muscle relief, improving blood circulating, to skin improvements and detoxification.

Finish each “lap” with a dip in the 17 degrees cold bath! The extreme temperature dip between hotand cold will jolt your body and close all the pores (shiver! )

You will definitely feel chilled and rejuvenated.

image credit Yunomori Onsen

Steam room and Sauna proved too hot for kids but Yee was curious to pop in the rooms and experience. He commented “Cannot see anything and the steam irritated his nose whenever he breathes”.

Yufuin bath is the latest addition to Yunomori Onsen & Spa. We heard the district (same name) in Southern Japan is famous for the hot spring water, which is clear or bluish and are known to have a natural moisturizing effect on the skin.

After the bath, we wore our Yukata and headed back to the cafe. I wanted my family to enjoy some fresh milk, but alas all milk sold out!

If you have been to Japanese onsens before, the milk always taste sweetest after a soak 🙂

Image credit Yunomori Onsen & Spa

Some might choose to relax in a comfortable lounge and snooze away.
Nothing like an Onsen to drive away all our stress and fatigue.

One can actually feel tired and dehydrated after an onsen, drink up.

Image credit Google Map

Massage anyone? We heard Yunomori Onsen and Spa’s massage services are highly recommended.  Treat the spouse to an aromatic rub, Thai massage might be too harsh on the joints hee hee.

Till we fly to Japan, Yunomori would be the next best option to enjoy a good Onsen experience.

Thank you Yunomori Onsen for the rejuvenating invite.

Do pop by Yunomori Onsen & Spa website for the other baths details.
There are more photos and videos on Yunomori Facebook.

 

You might be interested in my Sento post too (Tokyo link).

ps.. our Onsen trip was sponsored by Yunomori Onsen & Spa