China's Top 10 Hot Spring Resorts

Culture | by Stephan Larose
Posted: October 7th, 2008 | Updated: August 12th, 2014 | Comments


China's hot spring resorts are one of its best kept secrets. Hot springs in tropical caves, exfoliating fish therapies, Himalayan hot springs and springs next to top-notch golf coursesthere really is no shortage of ways to take a restorative dip while in China. If relaxing in warm, mineral-rich waters by temples and beaches sounds good to you, read on for the lowdown on China's top 10 spas, with hotel and attraction info to boot. Enjoy!

1. Jiuhua Spa and Resort

Formerly the private retreat of emperors, the Jiuhua Spa and Resort is one of the most popular hot spring spa destinations in the country, and it's open to all. Crystal clear pools fed by springs 1,230 meters (4,035 feet) underground emerge at a tension-melting 40°C (104°F). Untainted by the sulfurous odor common to most hot springs, Jiuhua's water has a slight yellowish tint owing to microelements such as strontium, lithium and metasilicic acid, earning it an emperor's epithet as "a basin of golden water." Guests of this elegant four-star resort have a wealth of hot spring pools to choose from. The resort has 40 pools offering 21 distinct therapeutic applications including mud baths, herbal baths, an Egyptian-themed pool, a foot massage pool, a lotus pool and a medical stone sauna. Those with tired muscles after treks along the Great Wall, exploring the nearby Ming Tombs or hiking in nearby Python Mountain National Park will be rewarded with head-to-toe relaxation as well as therapeutic benefits for a host of ailments including rheumatic arthritis, sciatic nerve pain, lumbar muscle strain, eczema and hypertension. The resort also features a host of recreational and therapeutic facilities. Hydrotherapy, salt baths, Thai spas and skin care treatments revitalize and rejuvenate while bowling alleys, bumper cars, swimming pools, satellite TV, archery and nearby attractions entertain and invigorate.

2. Crown Spa Resort Hainan Hainan is a hot springs paradise

Hainan is the place in China for sun-worshippers looking to bronze their bodies. Just 15 minutes after exiting Haikou's Meilan International Airport, you can be strolling along endless stretches of gorgeous private beach or taking a dip in what Guiness World Records describes as the "largest indoor hot spring in the world." Surrounded by lush Thai, Balinese and Caribbean gardens, the Crown Spa Resort Hainan is a European-style leisure palace overlooking the South China Sea and boasting myriad exclusive spa and beauty treatments. After a day frolicking in the waves or taking advantage of the resort's luxury yachts, Jet Skis, windsurfing, parasailing or the nearby golf course, you're bound to need some of the Crown's spa treatments. The luxurious five-story Tea Tree Spa complex is fed by natural mineral hot springs and houses meditation decks, garden pavilions, massage rooms and treatment suites. And you won't want to miss the signature fish therapy—it's the most organic exfoliation there is. Just sit back and let the fish stimulate your nerves and as they nibble your skin. If you can't handle being kissed by fishes, there's always the exercise pool, Jacuzzi hot tubs, steam rooms, Thai massage and aromatherapy to unwind with.
3. Zhongshan Hot Spring Resort 
Probably the best-known hot spring resort in China, the Zhongshan Hot Springs Resort is a four-star resort featuring over 30 hot springs. The resort is also conveniently next to some of the best golf in the country. What better way to justify an extended dip in warm, mineral-rich waters than by spending the day putting for birdies on courses designed by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus? Zhongshan's mountains are dotted by numerous hot springs, one of which feeds the resort's massive 30,000-square-meter (323,000-square-foot) outdoor spa. Once done mollifying muscles, dissolving stress and achieving inner peace, guests can zip over to the seaside resort city of Zhuhai, just a 15-minute drive away, to soak up some rays, or train their newfound Zen-like focus at the resort's shooting range.
Jinshan Hot Springs
4. Jinshan Hot Spring Holiday Resort 
Situated by Naji, Enping County, Guangdong, this sprawling holiday village taps an incredible 300 hot spring sources to bring you some of the most mineral-rich water in China. Endowed with approximately 35 grams of healing microelements per liter (0.04 quarts per gallon), the waters here are renowned for therapeutic benefits that combat everything from rheumatism to skin diseases to cardiovascular afflictions. Luxurious condominiums surrounded by green hills, flowers and elegant gardens guarantee that guests of this leafy oasis get some much-deserved respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The resort's 28 Japanese-style hot spring pools are divided into high, moderate and cool temperatures.
Conch Gully Hot Springs
5. Hailuogou Hot Spring (Conch Gully Hot Spring) 
Western Sichuan's Mount Gongga is the scene for some of the hardiest, most majestic landscapes in China, including Hailuogou National Park, site of China's biggest glacier park. The area is renowned as a place where you can see all four seasons in the same day. If you love rustic, outdoor springs, rugged mountain views and chances to catch snowflakes on your tongue while dipping in hot spring water, Hailuogou is the place for you. Mineral-rich, therapeutic spring waters gush out at toasty temperatures ranging from 50 to 92°C (122 to 198°F) and are said to be effective in combating diabetes, neuralgia and arthritis. And that's not to mention the obvious psychological benefits reaped by lounging in extreme comfort in a gorgeous setting. After a day of hiking the verdant forests on the slopes of Mount Gongga, trekking across icy fields, listening to thunderous avalanches, skipping across the Conch Gully's milky rivers and dipping in the hot springs, the four-star Hailuogou Changzheng Hotel, with its dedication to ethnic Tibetan décor, offers a little comfort, luxury and plenty of atmosphere in which to spend the remains of the day.
6. Lingxiu Hot Spring
Emei Shan's temple-studded peaks and mist-shrouded valleys was memorialized by a old poet who said, of all the mountains in the Shu Kingdom, "Mount Emei stands above them all." A setting for scenes from the legendary Monkey King in "Journey to the West," this magnificent landscape now serves as backdrop for bathers in Lingxiu Hot Spring's pellucid pools. Claims abound of the water's therapeutic benefits with its high concentrations of radon. Sourced 3,000 meters underground, the springs are said to be helpful in combating diseases affecting digestive, neural, respiratory, vasomotor and cardiovascular systems. The five-star Emei Hot Spring Resort is ideally located to take advantage of the hot springs in the area with fine dining and creature comforts. Whether you decide to make the climb to Golden Peak Temple, or run the monkey-ruled trails to other historical and natural points of interest, there'll be no shortage of opportunities to pump those thighs until they're screaming for a little hot spring love.
7. Tibetan Dezong Hot Spring Resort
Want to lounge around in a warm, waterfall-fed pool at the roof of the world? Then look no further than the Tibetan Dezong Hot Spring Resort. Perched at a lofty 4,300 meters (14,100 feet) and nestled in the majestic slopes of the Himalayas, the resort offers visitors an experience that is simply incomparable. Is there anywhere else you can bathe in curative, calcite and tussilago-infused waters while gazing upon the most rugged, photogenic landscapes on the planet? The hot springs are arranged in simple, rustic fashion, divided into a men's pool and a women's pool. Jade-colored spring waters cascade 20 meters (65 feet) into the resort's pools at 40°C (104°F). Other worthy attractions are within reach such as the Zhigongi and Dezong temples and Tianzangtai. Accommodations are somewhat limited, but the five-star Yaluzangbu Hotel features creature comforts and cars for rent for the drive to the springs 170 kilometers (105 miles) away.
Paillong Hot Springs
8. Tibetan Paillong Hot Spring
About 40 kilometers (25 miles) down Highway 318 from the four-star Linzhi Fujian Hotel, Paillong Sulfur Hot Spring, near Pailong Village, flows from the holy Brahmaputra River at a steamy 45 to 60°C (113 to 140°F). Extremely simple, and practically unknown, Paillong consists of just one small stone and brick pool. One of Tibet's best kept secrets, you're not likely to see crowds here. The water issues directly into the pool from the rock; all you need do is let the spring water flow over your body and let your ego dissipate as you gaze down on the verdant river valley below. 
Jinping Mengla Hot Springs
9. Jinping Mengla Hot Spring 
Yunnan's jungle-covered karst towers jut out of tropical forests and stand like unearthly sentinels keeping watch over otherworldly landscapes. Awe-inspiring and often photographed, Yunnan's got something for hot springs lovers too: the Jinping Mengla Hot Spring. Gushing forth from caves in southern Yunnan, 50 to 60°C (122 to 140°F) waters flush with curative elements stream over colorful rocks. Lying in the bubbling baths, visitors will find several "masseuse rocks," naturally kneading muscles while shallow pebble beds provide extra texture and traction. Beauty abounds in these lush forests, with ravines, waterfalls, mirror-like lakes, karst landforms and jutting green mountains. The four-star Century Plaza Gejiu is just 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the hot spring.
10. Guangdong Conghua Hot Spring
Guangdong's Conghua Hot Spring Scenic Area was originally built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Seventy-five kilometers (46.6 miles) from Guangzhou, it is now a nationally renowned tourist attraction and health resort. Warm water enriched with 10 kinds of minerals bubbles to the surface at 12 different springs, ranging between 30 to 71°C (86 to 160°F). A large area replete with historical landmarks such as the Bi Lang Bridge, Di Cui Pavilion and Tao Ran Hall, the springs are surrounded by waterfalls, slow-moving rivers and tranquil forests. Try the Guangdong Hot Spring Hotel, a sprawling property comprising over 40 buildings set lakeside amidst pine forests with hot spring water piped into rooms. You'll find everything from villas to presidential suites, along with squash courts, bowling alleys and a host of mountain trails to keep you busy when you're not lounging in the springs.
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