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Hot Spring chill out – Chinese style

You’d be forgiven for thinking this looks like a frolicky Chinese Summer scene; even though it’s still freezing outside, according to my temperature gauge anyway ( a brisk Spring variable of 0-14 degrees Celsius) it isn’t exactly the climate for bathing.

These people are making the most of one of Dali’s best assets – an abundance of thermal hot springs; steaming pools of naturally fed sulphurous water, water that makes you forgive the cold weather outside for a while. For a little while anyway.

I headed out of Dali to meet some friends for a day, the dream was all about blissful soaking, sun worshiping and tea sipping, followed by a lazy hike through the surrounding hills.

If you get there early, like we did, you can have the place practically to yourself, until gradually the children equipped with colourful floating devices arrive, and eventually the place fills up with splashing and families ready to gorge on the poolside bbq.

Sound idyllic? Well it kind of is. We felt warm for hours afterwards, but that might have had more to do with the hearty fried rice they are serving right outside the gates.

It might not be the ‘shizz’ compared to other more natural looking hot springs, but if you are stopping in Yunnan Province and feeling the cold, it’s a great way to spend a day. Plus they give you endless hot tea to sip while you soak, and there didn’t seem to be a shortage of friendly locals wanting to try and chat in English.

This is how you get there: From Dali Old Town, get bus number 8 to Xiaguan and get off at the Vegetable Markets. Wait for bus 21 and go all the way until they deposit you outside the first hot spring place that is part of a fancy hotel. Walk on down the road past other hot spring places that look like they also rent rooms by the hour and then wait for a bus heading down through the valley. It’s the last hot spring along the way and they only charge 6 RMB (about $1 AUSD) for entry. Getting back is easier as a bus goes directly all the way to Xiaguan, it takes about half an hour and costs about 50 cents.

It was the perfect way to spend a weekend, especially after stretching the legs hiking up to a Buddhist Temple the day before, some 18 kilometres through the nearby Cangshan Mountains. I’ll let the photos show you how beautiful that place is!


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