Hot springs have been cherished for centuries. Not just because they’re beautiful, but also because they have a ton of health benefits.
In this, the ultimate hot spring guide, we’re going to look at everything you need to know. From the benefits of hot springs, to the types of hot springs, and even hot spring etiquette.
Let’s dive right in.
What Is A Hot Spring?
A hot spring is what happens when natural groundwater is heated by forces beneath the Earth’s surface. These springs vary in temperature and size and can be split into either geothermal, volcanic, tectonic, or artificial.
Geothermal Hot Springs
Geothermal hot springs are heated by the Earth’s internal thermal energy, which is normally caused by residual heat from Earth’s formation. They vary a lot in temperature, and can have clear water, or show colourful mineral deposits.
The main benefits of hot springs like this are:
- Stress relief
- Improved circulation
- Skin rejuvenation
Volcanic Hot Springs
These hot springs are linked to volcanic activity. They’re usually found in places with active or dormant volcanoes. The reason is that their water is heated by magma or volcanic rocks. They’re known for having a strong sulfur smell as well.
Volcanic hot springs are known for having the following benefits:
- Easing respiratory issues
- Joint and muscle relief
Tectonic Hot Springs
Tectonic hot springs are born from the movement of tectonic plates. The movement creates fault lines, which allow groundwater to come into contact with hot rocks below the surface. Their specific characteristics vary from place to place, so no two are even remotely the same.
The benefits of tectonic hot springs are:
- Increased mineral absorption
- Relief from arthritis
- Helping with skin conditions
Artificial Hot Springs
These hot springs aren’t naturally formed, but created specifically for the purpose of hot spring travel. The water source could be completely natural, but artificial hot springs are much more controlled as far as temperatures go.
These hot springs often have many of the same benefits of geothermal hot springs.
Choosing The Right Hot Spring
Much like finding the right mud spa, finding the right hot spring is based a lot on personal preference. But, there are a few things you can look out for.
1. Temperature Preference
Some hot springs can be really hot, while others could be a bit cooler. You should look for a hot spring that has a temperature level you’re comfortable with.
2. Mineral Content
Different hot springs have different mineral compositions. You should do some research into the mineral content to identify if any of the minerals address the health concerns you may have.
3. Water Source & Purity
Hot springs with natural, untreated water could be appealing to some travelers looking for a more authentic experience. But others may be looking for hot springs that have filtered or treated water.
Once you’ve found the hot spring that fits your needs, let’s take a look at what you should (and shouldn’t) do.
Hot Spring Etiquette
When it comes to hot spring travel, it’s important to realize that you’re not the only person using the hot spring. Here are a few simple steps you can follow to give yourself (and your fellow travelers) a great experience.
1. Shower First
Before you dip a toe into a hot spring, you should make sure that you take a thorough shower. It’s important to clean any oils, lotions, or other substances from your body which could contaminate the water.
2. No Diving/Splashing
Hot springs are supposed to be calm and serene. So, to stick with that hot spring etiquette, don’t decide to cannonball your way in.
3. No Drinking
Having a drink while you’re in the water may seem like a great way to relax, but hot springs aren’t jacuzzis. Combined with the heat, alcohol can make you dehydrated and dizzy. If you’re thirsty, have some water instead.
4. Keep Your Voice Low
This one ties in with point 2. As part of the serene experience, try to keep any conversations you may have as quiet as possible.
5. Respect Personal Space
Sharing a hot spring with other people means respecting their personal space. Give them room to relax, and they’ll do the same for you.
6. Wear The Right Swimwear
Some hot springs may have specific rules regarding swimwear. In general though, it’s a good idea to avoid any revealing or inappropriate swimwear, so as to respect the cultural history of the hot spring.
Clothing-optional hot springs do exist, so if you are heading to one there, make sure you respect social norms.
7. Limit Your Soaking Time
Spending too much time in the hot spring can mean other people aren’t able to enjoy it as well. You should listen to your body, but it’s recommended to spend no more than 20 – 30 minutes in the hot spring.
8. Leave No Trace
Avoid littering, and throw away any waste you might have before you go to respect the environment and the natural beauty of the hot spring.
9. Remove Your Jewelry
Hot springs are filled with minerals, and some of them can cause damage to jewelry. It’s a good idea to remove any precious metals you have before you get in.
10. Respect The Local Wildlife
Some hot springs are located in natural settings, which means you can see local wildlife. It’s important that you keep a safe distance to maintain the natural ecosystem.
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