Today, January 20th, is dàhán (大寒), “big cold” on the Chinese solar calendar. This is traditionally considered the coldest day of the year, and I won’t argue with that — it’s darn cold. So, on these deep winter days, I thought I’d share with my readers my favorite relief: a trip to a local hot springs. Last year I raved about the Longxi hot springs, but this year I’ve already experienced three others (at over 33% off, thanks to tuangou!), and Longxi is now only #3 on my list. Here’s my update…
Spa #1: Shunjing. The closest spa to Beijing is definitely Shunjing spa (shùnjǐng wēnquán 顺景温泉, www.shunjingwenquan.com, 5827.1888), as it is literally across the highway from Ikea on east 4th ring. Shunjing claims to be the world’s biggest spa, and indeed the place is huge. More importantly, it’s very plush, clean and relaxing. Spread out underneath a series of skylights, the indoor section has quite a few different types of soaking baths, at different temperatures. There are many corners here, and even a fake cave section in back that kids would love. The outdoor spas are a bit small, especially compared to Fengshan spa — but it’s too cold anyway right now.
The food buffet is our favorite of the 4 spas we’ve seen, and at 60RMB extra is a pretty good deal.
All the good spas have important extras like a relaxation room and heated floor mats. Shunjing’s relaxation room is excellent, with dozens of reclining chairs where you can lazily nap for a couple hours. However, it did not have the heated floor mats, which are a big plus at Fengshan and Longxi.
Another good thing about Shunjing is that it is relatively cheap, at ~198RMB for normal price; we only paid 130 per person from tuangou.
Spa #2: Fengshan Hot Springs Resort. I think Fengshan hot springs resort is still my favorite, overall. Fengshan (凤山温泉度假; 6071-1188; www.fsdj.com.cn) is a solid hour north of Beijing, just at the foothills of the Ming Tombs off Badaling highway. Fengshan has two enourmous enclosed sections with dozens of soaking spas — and many of them are fun, including water jets and tropical rain showers. Also, their outdoor saunas are definitely the best of the four, with multiple levels and a lovely view of the mountains in the background.
I was also a big fan of their heated floor section; we fell asleep on them while getting a foot massage and having our faces covered in cucumber slices. Upstairs, they have a large relaxation room and a nice cafeteria with basic foods.
I think their usual price is in the high 200’s, but again we got our tickets first on a tuangou website for at least 40% off.
Spa #3: Jiuhua Hot Springs Resort. Jiuhua, less than an hour away straight north, is an older resort — and it shows. We got a tuangou ticket here for about 98RMB but we would not plan to go back. The indoor section is relatively small, in a dark basement with no skylights. Their outdoor section was larger but not well designed, especially when compared to the next-generation spas nearby.
Revisiting Longxi Hot Springs Resort: Longxi is still a very nice place to relax, as they have a great collection of spas under a large sunroof. Also, their swimming pool by far is the largest I saw. And they have an excellent heated floor section where you can nap. Also, they have unique items like the Turkish flesh-eating fish and a salt scrub area. But their lunch area is smallish and I don’t remember any relaxation room.
My Bottom Line
- Best overall: Fengshan > Shunjing/Longxi >> Jiuhua
- Best food: Shunjing >Fengshan > Longxi/Jiuhua
- Best Indoor Area: Fengshan > Shunjing/Longxi>> Jiuhua
- Best Outdoor Area: Fengshan >> Longxi > Shunjing > Jiuhua
- Best Relation Rooms/Heated Floors: Fengshan > Shunjing/Longxi > Jiuhua
- Best For Weekend Overnight: Fengshan > Longxi
- Best Normal Price: Shunjing; BUT always check first on a tuangou website! You will save at least 1/3 off regular price. Don’t know about tuangou yet? Please read my tuangou article for the details
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