While trips to hot springs are often used to unwind and escape during a weekend getaway, visits might also serve another purpose. Geothermal springs, scattered across the globe, are heated by subterranean-volcanic activity. The pools of water contain healing powers that are used and widely accepted by the European and Japanese cultures as natural treatments for various ailments. Soaking in hot mineral water helps rid the body of unwanted toxins, reduces tension, increases blood circulation and stimulates the immune system. The combination of high temperatures and rich mineral content helps nourish the skin and loosen tense muscles.
Travelers planning their next adventure overseas should consider adjusting their itinerary to include a trip to one of the hot springs listed below. If you don’t make it to an international geothermal spring, be sure to visit one of the 1,661 hot springs located throughout the United States.
1. Blue Lagoon Spa, Iceland
This giant bathtub, which is the most popular tourist attraction in Iceland, is not a natural phenomenon, as most visitors believe it to be. The water at Blue Lagoon Spa results from the runoff of a nearby geothermal plant and contains healing qualities that attract tourists from all parts of the world. The mineral rich water of this thermal spring is reputed to help people with skin diseases such as psoriasis. All globetrotters exploring Iceland should visit the Blue Lagoon Spa, either to take advantage of the healing qualities offered by the thermal spring, or to relax and enjoy the scenic views.
Photo courtesy | Chris Yiu
2. Pamukkale Baths, Turkey
The natural beauty at the Pamukkale Baths in Turkey comes from the travertine, or terrace-like structures, formed from carbonate minerals gathering around the flowing water. While the mineral bath spa is especially famous for its benefits to the eyes and skin, the hot spring’s healing properties also help to alleviate asthma and rheumatism problems. Although the hot springs at Pamukkale can be visited all year long, the ideal time to visit is during the wintertime when tourists can take long, soothing baths.
Photo courtesy | Dennis Jarvis
3. Saturnia Thermal Springs, Italy
The ancient village of Saturnia located south of Tuscany attracts tourists from all parts of the globe because of its thermal baths. The historical roots of this hot spring can be traced as far back as the 18th century when the waters were used to treat skin diseases. Tourists visiting the thermal spring today continue to coat their bodies with the sulfur-rich mud and immerse themselves into the healing water. The drive to Saturnia may seem out of the way, but the experience and the ample health benefits associated with the spa make the extra planning worth it.
Photo courtesy | Eliza Frydrych
4. Yambajan Hot Springs, Tibet
Covering more than 7,000 square meters, the Yambajan Hot Springs feature several types of thermal waters with ranging temperatures. The beauty of the hot spring stems from its location, as the heat melts the snow off the surrounding mountains and creates a lush forest. The water contains a high concentration of hydrogen sulfide and is believed to provide relief for multiple chronic conditions. Guests can explore any of the eight scenic areas with evocative names like Bread Steaming Spring and Noodle Cooking Hot Spring.
Photo courtesy | VisitOurChina.com
5. Kusatsu Onsen, Japan
Locals claim that the hot springs of Kusatsu Onsen have the ability to cure all types of sickness except love sickness. The must-see tourist destination, located northwest of Tokyo, Japan, dates back to the 2nd century. After a doctor teaching at Tokyo University praised the spa for its ample health benefits in the early 1900s, Kusatsu Onsen became an even more popular attraction to visitors. Today, guests continue to frequent the oldest hot spring site in Japan where the water is known to treat bruises, sprains, stiff muscles, burns, and chronic indigestion.
Photo courtesy | C.K. Tse