The vast expanses of Asia are filled with many natural wonders, from scorching deserts to snow-capped mountains to lush jungles and tropical rainforest. The continent is also a haven of hot springs which have had many uses over the course of history.
Namely, locals have enjoyed hot springs as a source of healing and to promote general wellness, thanks to their mineral-rich waters, which are said to improve both mental and physical health.
Today, the hot springs of Asia offer the same benefits to travelers who arrive seeking a relaxing thermal experience.
Several of the most popular hot springs in Asia now exist within resorts and spas, where visitors can soak up their natural benefits and also stay the night for the ultimate rejuvenating getaway.
These are the most adored hot springs in Asia that you need to put on your bucket list.
List of the Most Popular Hot Springs in Asia
- Seorak Waterpia, South Korea
- Shibu Onsen, Japan
- Maquinit Hot Springs, Philippines,
- Pai Hot Springs, Thailand
- Ciater Hot Springs, Java
- Tatopani, Nepal
- Banjar Hot Springs Retreat, Malaysia
- I-Resort Nha Trang, Vietnam
- Guanziling Hot Springs, Taiwan
Where are most of the hot springs in Asia?
You can find hot springs all over Asia, but many of the most popular establishments are located in Southeast Asia countries, such as Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. There are also several hot springs in Japan, where they’re known as onsen.
What is the difference between onsen and sento in Japan?
Onsen refers to natural hot springs, which visitors to Japan can enjoy either indoors or outdoors. On the other hand, sento are simply hot baths. While they may be equally relaxing, they do not come from natural hot springs and therefore lack the mineral-rich water.
Typically, onsen are found in rural areas, while you’ll find sento in cities.
What etiquette rules are there when visiting an onsen?
As onsen play a special role in Japanese culture, it’s important to know the etiquette before you go. In most cases, you’ll need to remove your shoes before entering the change rooms.
While many hot springs internationally have “modest swimsuits” or “clothing optional” as their policies, most establishments in Japan will require you to be completely naked. Not even large towels are usually permitted in the hot spring area, but you may bring a small towel.
Before entering the spring, be sure to rinse yourself off. Some people even bring their own soap to make sure they’re thoroughly clean before entering the communal water.
When you’re in the water, keep talking to a minimum, avoid staring at anyone, and try not to splash anyone. Grooming is also not invited, and it’s customary to leave your phone in your locker. Obviously, pictures and videos are not allowed.
Finally, people with tattoos have traditionally been banned from attending hot springs in Japan. However, the cultural attitude towards this is slowly changing. If you do have tattoos, speak to the staff. It’s possible they will allow you to use the facilities anyway.
Do you have to pay to use a hot spring in Asia?
In most cases, particularly where a hot spring is located within a resort or spa, you will need to pay an entrance fee. However, fees tend to be very small (in Indonesia, the most popular springs are around $1.40, and even in Japan, the nicer onsen establishments cost around $6).
Should you shower after a hot spring?
When you rinse off with regular water after a soak in a hot spring, you are technically rinsing off any additional medicinal components that may be healing your skin.
That said, it may still be a good idea to shower. If your skin is irritated after using a hot spring, or you feel too hot and want to cool off, the best thing to do is shower.
Note that in Japanese onsen, showering is expected before and after entering the water.
Can you drink alcohol at hot springs in Asia?
It is not recommended to drink alcohol at any hot spring, and many establishments in Asia prohibit this practice.
As alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body, this can easily intensify the impact of the hot spring and raise your temperature to an unhealthy level. Additionally, it’s never a good idea to get drunk near a body of water.
Drinking alcohol or bringing glassware is not acceptable in a Japanese onsen. In Asian countries that are Islamic, including Indonesia, there may be strict laws against having alcohol in a public place, so always do your research if you do want to have a drink at a hot spring.
Hot springs make for the ultimate soothing experience, and there’s an abundance of them to choose from in Asia. Whether you’re visiting a Balinese resort or a Japanese onsen, it’s always worth incorporating a visit to a hot spring into your trip to Asia. The relaxation and healing properties are too good to pass up!