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Warm up in bubbling hot springs
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Living at lower latitude is a good thing as the weather never turns too cold, and relatively warm weather allows people to spend more time outside.

Shanghai is comparatively warmer than Beijing, and so it offers nice get-aways in the form of hot springs. They have become so popular in Shanghai these days that most hot spring hotels in the suburbs are already fully booked every weekend until after the Spring Festival.

For those who want to have an outdoor hot spring bath, weekdays are the solution. After fresh snow washed the suburban landscape, the experience of an outdoor hot spring bath is more refreshing and pleasant.

Ninghai Hot Spring: outdoor get-away

Located in Tianmingshan National Forest Park, Ninghai hot springs is in a valley surrounded by green mountains on four sides. The secluded location allows hot spring goers the maximum amount of fresh air and privacy.

Visitors to Ninghai can opt between outdoor hot springs and indoor spas. Outdoor hot springs are available both during the day and night.

Dipping into a hot springs bath at night is an exceptional experience. Above your head is the star-studded sky, surrounding your body is hot and soothing spring water, and floating in the air is the smell of fresh soil and the fragrance of wild flowers.

Indoor spas can also be a nice alternative. Clients can get a big wooden bucket of water to add milk, petals and various nutrients. After the bath, a professional masseuse will complement the whole process with an oil back massage, at an additional cost.

How to get there: Take Huhang Expressway, then bypass Hangzhou by taking the expressway surrounding the city Then take the Hangyong Expressway and Yongtaiwen Expressway. At Ninghaibei Exit, go onto Yongtaiwen Expressway Then take No.34 Inter-provincial Road to reach Meilin. Finally get onto No.38 Inter-provincial Road to get to Ninghaitian Mingshan Hot Spring.

Tangshan Yishang Hot Spring: modern and stylish

For those wanting to get away but hesitate about giving up modern comforts, Tangshan Yishang is the choice. Tangshan Yishang boasts 50 hot spring ponds in total. There is a flowery one filled with petals, various tonic ponds filled with traditional Chinese medicines, and the intriguing milk pond and coffee pond. The most impressive one is fulfilled with small nibbling fish. As soon as visitors get into the water, thousands of nibbling fish will surround them to help clean their skin. By keeping warm indoors, people can try different ponds, as many as they like.

Extra services make Tangshan Yishang stand out. After the bath, tourists can have complimentary red tea, fruits and cotton buds as well to help them drain the water from their ears.

How to get there: Take Huning Express Way and get down at Tangshan Exit. Then take 337 Inter-provincial Road to get to Tangshan Township. The hot spring venue is at No. 8 of Tangshan Road.

Xiangquan Yage Hot Spring: resembling Phuket

Once crowned as the No. 1 Hot Spring in China by a princess in ancient times, Xiangquan Yage has a history of over 1,000 years.

Its longevity doesn’t make Xiangquan Yage outdated; instead, the hot spring venue has developed to create an atmosphere similar to that of Phuket in Thailand. The spa room or tent resembles that of Phuket, with four columns supporting a broad roof with no walls on the four sides. Thus sunshine easily enters the room, and so does a soft breeze.

Xiangquan Yage boasts more than 30 hot spring ponds ranging from medicinal, petals, wine to coffee to little nibbling fishes. Yet what’s special about Xiangquan Yage is that it features a hot slate room. In the room, people can lie directly on the slate floor where a hot spring flows underneath. Visitors will feel hot air pass through their bodies from the slate, which is rather comfortable.

How to get there: Take Huning Expressway and then bypass Nanjing by taking the expressway surrounding the city. Go past Nanjing Yangtze Bridge and onto Puwu Road. Keep going past Wujiang to reach Xiangquan Yage.

(China Daily January 21, 2008)

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