For your next trip to eastern and southeastern Asia, be sure to relax and revive at one of its incredible hot springs. Not every country has geothermal activity, and experiencing the best of the ones that do is a lifelong challenge.
While it’s purely subjective, this is a mix of natural springs and commercialized springs that have something unique to offer. They also have high ratings from bathers with first-hand experience.
San Kamphaeng – Thailand
Sitting just outside the popular tourist destination of Chiang Mai, San Kamphaeng, a local favorite, makes an inexpensive and delightful day trip or overnight addition to any vacation in the area. Two natural geysers spew water into the air near the entrance, where you can also purchase eggs in bamboo baskets and soy sauce to cook in the spring.
The source of the hot water can be upwards of 212℉ (100℃) and can quickly cook your snack, but it’s much cooler as you get further away, as seen by the many guests who perch along the side of the streams to enjoy a natural footbath. The common-use pools are divided between men and women, or you can rent your own for a private soak.
Bungalows with spring water piped into private bathtubs, tents, and basic shelters are all available for overnight stays. A restaurant and cafe are there for your gastronomic needs as well as massage and spa services for unwinding fully.
Yufuin Hot Springs Hotel Fukinoya – Japan
For traditional Japanese design built in harmony with the natural world, check out Yufuin Hot Springs Hotel Fukinoya. Check out views of Mt. Yufu from the second floor of the main building and a restaurant with strategically-placed dividers to give the feeling of private dining.
Guests can choose rooms in the main building–some with indoor mineral baths–or one of four cabins with private open-air baths. Rooms and cabins can fit four to 15 people, and both bath types can also be used separately from staying in the associated rooms.
The large, communal pools, separated by sex, are perfect for groups. Or, if you don’t want to fully dunk, the beautiful footbath is a way to relax fully clothed while allowing your feet to soak. Games like chess, Go, and Mahjong are available to rent to add some extra fun to your day.
This Hotel Fukinoya is just one of several hot springs in Yufuin Onsen. So be sure to check out some others while in town.
Maquinit Hot Springs – Philippines
Maquinit Hot Springs is one of a limited number of saltwater hot springs in the world. It’s this unique characteristic that adds some extra floatation to your soak.
On your arrival, you’ll make your way through the mangroves to the two large pools that sit between 99℉ and 104℉ (37-40℃). During the day, you get spectacular views of the mountains of Coron Island across the ocean passage. At night, twinkle lights turn everything into a fairytale.
On-site showers and bathrooms are incredibly convenient–and slightly unexpected. While you’ll need to bring in your own meals, there is a small sari-sari store selling drinks and snacks.
Lisong Hot Springs – Taiwan
Those looking for a secluded option surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes will fall in love with Lisong Hot Springs in Taiwan. The mountains and leafy-green forests full of wildlife bring a sense of peace to all who soak here.
Hot spring water emerges from the ground through the rocky slopes above, forming a waterfall as it flows downward, into a pool in the valley below. It’s like a scene from a storybook with grass-colored stalactites of calcium carbonate protruding on the edge.
Adventurers can reach the springs by an hour-long, moderately-challenging trek down with a bit of a steep grade towards the end. Ropes are in place for extra safety and stability when climbing. Note that you’ll need to cross the river at the bottom to get to the pool, but it’s worth taking on the obstacles you come across.
I-Resort Nha Trang – Vietnam
I-Resort Nha Trang puts Vietnam on this list for the beauty of the natural surroundings and thoughtful features included. Large pools allow for swimming, and multi-tiered soaking pools with water cascading from the top to the bottom add an aural factor to an already relaxing experience.
In one area, water shoots through bamboo pipes and into the pool allowing guests to take advantage of the directed water flow in the form of a natural massage. There are, of course, traditional massages and body scrubs as well as a jacuzzi and mineral mud baths offered. There’s even a colorful waterslide complex for the kids.
Light meals and snacks are available for purchase or can be included with certain packages. Some include exclusive use of a private villa and pool with various spa services. It’s a place with options for any budget
Minera Hot Springs Bình Châu – Vietnam
Two hours from Ho Chi Minh City, Minera Hot Springs Binh Chau is a 30-acre resort and oasis from urban chaos. 30 types of mineral baths inspired from places all over the world have been built including a Japanese-style onsen house, tiered pools modeled after the Pamukkale thermal pools of Western Turkey, and the hot-cold circuits of Nordic countries. Mud baths are also on the menu.
Springs Pool is the largest hot mineral pool in Southeast Asia and has a lagoon vibe with sleek modern tarps hung overhead for shade. Beautiful landscaping and lounge areas line every edge. On land, the path to Minera Forest splits in two directions, one path leading to fields of flowers, ponds, and the crocodile fishing area, and the other into dense green forest.
Dine at Zest, a on-site restaurant with international cuisine, or in a private dining room made for events. You can boil an egg in the area aptly named “82” pool, titled after the temperature–in celsius (180℉)–of the water of the pools they’re cooked in. There’s even a pool bar.
Seorak Waterpia – South Korea
Seorak is a bit different from the others on the list in that it’s Korea’s first water park fully run with hot springs water, making it a playground for all ages all year long. There’s something for everyone here, in the shadow of Mt. Seorak: toddler-appropriate mini-slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, an indoor beach-like pool with palm trees, and more.
Thrilling outdoor water slides are balanced with a relaxing spa zone. The latter of these offers a wide array of different saunas and therapies.
A food court is open for all of your dining needs when hunger strikes. Seorak Waterpia is owned by Hanhwa Resorts, so your best bet for spending the night nearby is Hanhwa Resort Seorak Sorano.
Yamamizuki – Japan
It’s hard to oversell the peaceful symmetry and seamless integration into nature of Yamamizuki. Luxurious but with traditional charm, it’s tucked away next to a bubbling natural mountain spring, and listening to the water rush by from the hot waters of the outdoor pool is not something to be missed.
Two indoor pools, separated by gender, offer views of the wooded land around them, framed by classic Japanese architecture. Outside, there is a pool for women and one shared by both men and women.
Breakfast and dinner are as much works of art as they are local delicacies, and they’re included with the room for overnight guests. Rooms fitted western beds and Japanese design also include private spring-fed tubs. When you need a break from the water, take a short drive to Kuju Flower Park which is filled with fields of colorful blooms.
Banjar Hot Springs (Air Panas Banjar) – Indonesia
Banjar Hot Springs, Air Panas Banjar to the locals, is a Balinese paradise. Any trip to this peaceful island will ease any tension in your life, but the four toasty pools that remain at 100℉ (38℃) year-round are an added bonus.
The pool closest to the open-air restaurant and spa is the largest of the four, and spills down into a second tier. The third is a children’s pool with shallower water, and the last is a piece of history left by the Japanese when they occupied Bali during WWII: a “shower” pool. Three spouts of water pour spring water into the pool from high above, making it a perfect place for a hydromassage.
Nearby, amongst the leafy foliage, is a private jacuzzi rented by the hour. Enjoy the day, and don’t miss the souvenir shop to bring a piece of the island to those you left at home.
Poring Hot Spring – Malaysia (Borneo)
You’ll find Poring Hot Spring inside Kinabalu National Park, a place packed with rich rainforest flora and fauna. Poring offers a peek into a butterfly farm, a canopy walk through the treetops, a bamboo forest, waterfall hikes, a bat cave, and more. There’s a reason it’s a popular spot.
There are hot and cold sulphur-rich pools to choose from, both shared and private–the private tubs are the only ones indoors. Jacuzzi are available as well as a swimming pool with a slide. Overnight stays can be booked through Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.
If you’re lucky–or unlucky, depending on how you look at it–you’ll arrive during the short bloom window of the Rafflesia, or “corpse flowers” researched on the property. Just make sure you stop at the cafe before the smell ruins your appetite.
Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat – Malaysia
Banjar Hot Springs, just two hours from Kuala Lumpur, looks like a hot springs paradise dropped into the middle of 22.7 acres of a lush tropical environment with limestone karsts towering over the foliage and pools. 44 villas are at the center of everything with the top-notch service expected from a five-star hotel.
Each of the villas includes its own plunge pool or whirlpool fed by the springs. A full spa, meditation cave, and fitness facilities are available to guests, and those on a wellness retreat can get tailor-made programs that include meal plans, fitness routines, and spa treatments.
Dining is a memorable experience at Jeff’s Cellar, a restaurant built into a cavern of a 260-million-year-old limestone hill. They have an extensive wine list, and the bar has been named “Top Five Most Magnificent Bars in the World” by CNN Greece.
For those who prefer to dine above ground and within sight of the sky, Pomele offers stunning settings to enjoy. Or, you can hire a private chef to come to cook for you in the privacy of your own villa. No young kids are welcome; it’s 12 and older.
Deokgu Hot Springs Hotel – South Korea
Dukgu Hot Springs Hotel boasts being the only natural hot spring in Korea. The hotel itself is equipped with a wide variety of modern minimalist rooms, many including spring-fed baths. There are multiple dining options and even an on-site art gallery to peruse when you’ve dried off.
You don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy the Spa World. Outside, you’ll find a sun lounge and nature path as well as multiple pools–including a Japanese-style hinoki–with waterfalls and million-dollar views of the forest-covered hills. The water in most of the pools sits at around 108℉ (42.4℃).
Inside, a beautiful space with glass walls, multiple pools, a fountain, and other jets that assist with hydrotherapy are set amongst palm trees for a tropical feel. An acupressure path through the interior is designed to massage the feet, stimulate circulation, and reduce fatigue as you walk on it.
Additional amenities like the infrared pergola sunbed, the cold pool, the kids’ pool with a slide, and the steam room offer other ways to relax and revive your senses.
Tatopani and Paudwar – Nepal
Tatopani and Paudwar are two natural hot springs close enough together that if you go to one, you should definitely hike to the other. They’re very popular with trekkers after a day of climbing, but getting here is best when you have a local guide.
Tatopani is relatively rudimentary but very popular due to its high mineral content, easy access, and sauna rooms. Just to the north, Paudwar has three pools that, like the former, contain both sulphur and salt. Both places have showers and places to change clothes, as well as metal cups to drink the hot spring water.
Tatopani Village is in a picturesque valley between the Himalayas, and despite its size, there are multiple hotels to host your overnight stays that offer private access to the springs as well. Homestays are also popular. Note that neither spring is accessible during the rainy season.
There is geothermal activity across the world, so if you can take the time off, plan a trip to one of the top thermal springs in East and Southeast Asia. Not only will you be able to have a relaxing soak, but you can enjoy some of the most delicious cuisines available and experience new cultures that differ vastly from the West.