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 courses—there 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 spas, with hotel and attraction info to boot. Enjoy!
1. Jiuhua Spa and Resort, Beijing
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 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.
(Note: The hotel is currently closed while undergoing rennovation).
3. Zhongshan Hot Spring Resort