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December 8, 2011

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Relax and unwind at steamy hot springs

SOMETIMES you just feel the need for a good, long soak. Not to worry, there are about 3,000 hot spring pools across China.

Hot springs vary in size and water temperature with some almost scalding hot while others are pleasantly warm.

Balneologists say there are numerous benefits from the dissolved minerals and gases in hot springs.

In general hot baths are hydrothermal therapy with the hot water loosening tight muscles, accelerating blood circulation and treating hypertension.

They aid in pain relief, stress reduction and improve breathing. A good warm bath can reduce fatigue by making for a good night's rest.

It is said that Japanese people once found that injured animals recovered very rapidly after soaking in hot springs, thus they started researching the benefits of hot springs.

In China, it is recorded that Emperor Qin Shihuang soaked in hot springs to cure skin ulcers while Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) and his favorite concubine Yang Yuhuang were fond of taking hot spring baths. They visited the Huaqing Hot Spring, at the foot of Lishan Mountain, every winter. The place is now a popular scenic spot in Shaanxi Province.

Here is a short guide to some of the hot springs in China.


Hailuogou is a magic place for its spectacular landscapes of snow-capped mountains, icefalls, wild forest, sunrise and hot spring.

The hot spring, about 340 kilometers from Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, is in a glacier park, and each day a waterfall sends 8,900 tons of hot water gushing down cliffs in the park's No. 2 camp. The water temperature can reach up to 90 degrees Celsius.

But the pool water is around 35 to 45 degrees, and it is mild, rich in carbonates and drinkable. People brew tea from the water.

The hot water flows down through the cliffs, forming a 10-meter-high and 8-meter-wide waterfall.

There are 15 hot spring pools and a larger and cooler swimming pool, offering good hydrothermal therapy.

Soaking in a steamy outdoor pool after a trek, bathers will have their aches, pains and arthritis eased.


Wuyi in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, is known as the city of hot springs for the large number of spring pools and their good quality. Its water output is about 6,000 tons and water averages between 42 and 45 degrees Celsius.

There are a bunch of different types of spring pools here such as the milk hot spring, lemon spring and medlar spring.

Fresh milk is added into the spring water, which is good for the skin. Lemon juice will help people rejuvenate and stimulate the appetite. Those who feel dizzy frequently and have a blood deficiency can try the medlar spring.

Yellow Mountain

Hot spring is one of the four major attractions of Yellow Mountain, Anhui Province, which is also known for its oddly shaped pine trees, strange rock formations and seas of clouds.

The area contains 15 crystal clear hot springs near Purple Cloud Peak, and their history dates back thousands of years. Legend has it that the Yellow Emperor, who reigned from 2696-2598 BC, had his face and body rejuvenated after bathing in the spring pool.

The water temperature averages 42 degrees Celsius and is drinkable. Bathers will appreciate an enchanting view of pavilions, bridges, mountains and waterfalls, among others when soaking in the spring pools here.

At 650 meters high, hot springs in the area are rich in a number of minerals such as silicic acid, potassium, sodium and magnesium. These waters are good for improving general health.

Some hot springs contain fish that eat dead and dry skin.

Famous hot springs in the area include Zui Spa Resort, which offers more than 60 pools.


The Jinfenghuang Hot Spring Resort in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, has more than 50 hot spring pools.

The water comes from more than 1,200 meters underground and the average temperature is 52 degrees Celsius.

Legend has it that Chinese monk Jianzhen in the early Tang Dynasty once suffered from arthritis and blindness after his fifth attempt to go to Japan to spread Buddhism and Chinese culture failed. He stayed at Yongqing Temple at the foot of Fenghuang Mountain during that time and bathed at the Fenghuang spring. After about six months, his arthritis eased and his vision improved.

The spring water here contains rich minerals, which can help relieve arthritis and neuralgia.


Deqing Hot Spring, about 38 kilometers from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, is known for its picturesque views. It is shrouded in lush greenery with gurgling water and singing birds. Covering about 4 hectares, the resort incorporates hot spring, dining, massage and sports facilities.

The spring water here is turned into spouts with high pressure to stimulate acupoints. This helps boost circulation, relieve fatigue and lubricate skin.

There are different types of hot springs, such as the rice wine hot spring, with different benefits.


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