At the base of a deep river valley, aeons of mineral deposits have painted a small limestone grotto shades of deep green, white, red and black. Steam rises from the rocks, and hot-spring water bubbles and spits and streams from fissures and cracks in the canyon walls. Stand in the right place and you're in a hot-spring shower. It's as good as it sounds.

Arguably the most beautiful natural hot spring in Taiwan, Lisong is a must-visit for any lover of the sublime in nature who's also up for a challenging hike.

To get to the springs, you need your own vehicle. Exit the Southern Cross-Island Hwy around Km168 (about 8km to 9km from Litao) onto a narrow marked farm road in the village of Motian (摩天; Mótiān). Follow the road for a kilometre or so to the trailhead and then head down. The way is exceptionally steep; be careful not to impale yourself on the 'trail improvements'. When you reach the river, the springs are to the left, and require a couple of crossings. It's best to save this for the dry winter months.