6 popular hot springs around the world Malaysians can visit


Cascate del Mulino in Italy. — SPENCER DAVIS/Unsplash

A geothermal spring, or more commonly known as a hot spring, is a natural spring that’s heated by geothermal heat, which is heat from the Earth’s interior.

When water in volcanic areas comes into contact with rocks that’s heated by magma, naturally it will get warm and rise back up to the Earth’s surface again, forming a pool. In active volcanic zones, sometimes this water may even get extremely hot – like the ones at Yellowstone National Park in the United States – so it is best to keep your distance from these kinds of hot springs.

ALSO READ: 7 hot springs in Malaysia to soak your worries away

Hot springs that are formed at inactive volcanic zones, meanwhile, are safer as the water temperature would normally be around 35°C to 40°C. If it is any higher than that then you should only stay in the water for a few minutes to avoid getting scalded.

Although soaking or bathing in hot springs is something that has been around for centuries, the term “hot potting” is what one would commonly see today in travel brochures, advertisements, videos and on social media. Hot potting is also a top travel experience, especially in destinations like New Zealand and Iceland. This is because hot potting is touted to have some medical benefits, thanks to the rich mineral content in the water.

However, keep in mind that the temperature of the water and the amount of mineral found vary from one hot spring to another, so these “benefits” may not be same across the board. There is also no hard evidence that tells us how long or often you would need to soak to start seeing any improvements.

In general, though, hot potting can help one feel relaxed and calm, which is always a good thing as it may lead to improvements in physical and mental health. Soaking in warm or hot water can also help ease aching muscles and joints.

And for some people with skin conditions, the minerals in the water may provide relief. A 2019 research paper even suggests that Persian mineral waters may be able to reduce the symptoms of psoriasis.

Meanwhile, a few questionable benefits of hot potting include the ability to prevent one from getting a disease, curing any type of health issues, and the ability to “detoxify” the body (this myth has been debunked time again – one does not need to undergo any type of detoxing, unless one is addicted to a substance like alcohol or drugs).

Blue Lagoon in Iceland. —  VERONICA BOSLEY/PixabayBlue Lagoon in Iceland. — VERONICA BOSLEY/Pixabay

If you want to try hot potting on your next holiday, do find out from your doctor first if it is safe to do so, especially if you have any existing health issues. Also, follow the instructions and rules stipulated by the companies or agencies managing the hot springs. In some places, you would need to get out of the hot water after only a few minutes and cool yourself down before jumping in again.

Here are some of the most popular hot springs around the world, according to a list compiled by Iceland’s flagship airline, Icelandair, which collated data from online travel research platform TripAdvisor. The list named 20 hot springs that received the most number of “excellent” and “very good” ratings on the platform.

BLUE LAGOON, ICELAND

Located in a lava field beside the Svartsengi Geothermal Resource Park in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon – which has 11,275 “excellent” ratings and reviews on TripAdvisor – is known as one of the “25 wonders of the world”, at least according to National Geographic. It isn’t hard to see why, though. A search for #BlueLagoon on Instagram will give you nearly two million results featuring pictures and videos of a beautiful lagoon with steaming turquoise blue waters.

“The beneficial powers of geothermal seawater were first discovered in the early 1980s when local residents began to bathe in the serene blue lagoon .... Some people came to the water for pleasure. Others came for healing. But all who came, left with sensations of profound revitalisation”, says a description on the spa’s website (bluelagoon.com).

The water is usually around 37°C, and the whole place is big enough that no one will invade your personal space. Day visits are recommended, but there are also two hotels at the premises if you decide to stay overnight.

Other hot spring locations in Iceland that made the list include the Secret Lagoon – Gamla Laugin and Myvatn Nature Baths.

Pamukkale Thermal Pools in Turkiye. — KUBILAY BAL/UnsplashPamukkale Thermal Pools in Turkiye. — KUBILAY BAL/Unsplash

PAMUKKALE THERMAL POOLS, TURKIYE

With over 5,000 excellent reviews, the Pamukkale Thermal Pools in southwestern Turkiye is a Unesco World Heritage Site that’s located near an ancient spa town called Hierapolis.

Pamukkale is known for its travertines, which are the white calcareous rock deposited from mineral springs. Unfortunately, water no longer flows through these travertines. It is said that since the population in the surrounding area has grown, the water is now only supplied to the people, rather than directed to the thermal pools.

Don’t worry, though as there are still a few public pools within Pamukkale in which visitors are allowed to swim. One is the public travertine itself, and the other is at the Cleopatra’s Pool. It is said that the water at the very top and bottom pools are the hottest so do keep that in mind before taking a dip.

CASCATE DEL MULINO, ITALY

Translated in English as “Waterfalls of the Mill”, Cascate del Mulino can be found just outside the town of Saturnia in Tuscany, Italy. Saturnia itself is a famous spa town, featuring mostly luxury resorts and wellness centres.

Nearby, there’s a waterfall from which water flows through fields and down the side of an old mill, where it stays in natural pools. Soaking in the sulphuric springs here (apparently it stays at 37°C all year-round) is relaxing mainly because it is far enough from the busy town and city. The place is also free, and therefore open 24 hours a day. You may not want to alone at night, though.

TABACON HOT SPRINGS, COSTA RICA

This hot springs can be found right in the heart of a tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, at the base of the Arenal Volcano near the town of La Fortuna. The mineral waters flow through a river and over waterfalls, cascading into 20 different thermal pools. The water temperature ranges from 25°C to 50°C; there are one hot and two cold rivers that you can jump into if the thermal pools are too crowded.

What makes this place special is that the pools and springs are surrounded by lots of greenery and landscaped gardens.

Hamner Springs Thermal in New Zealand. — GARY WEBBER/UnsplashHamner Springs Thermal in New Zealand. — GARY WEBBER/Unsplash

HANMER SPRINGS THERMAL, NEW ZEALAND

According to the Hanmer Springs Thermal website (https://hanmersprings.co.nz/), the water at the park is 173 years old. The water started off as snow and rain from the nearby mountains all those years ago, and then seeped into the Greywacke basement rock. The water then rested in a reservoir about 2km underground, where it is heated.

Today, the company that manages Hanmer Springs – the pools have been publicly owned since 1883 – draws the water to the surface and placed in 22 outdoor pools at different temperatures.

YUBATAKE, JAPAN

Because of the number of active volcanoes that can be found in Japan, the country is actually one of the best places to go for a hot potting experience. Also known as onsen, hot potting is very popular among locals especially during the colder months. There are plenty of onsen villages to be found around Japan, but Yubatake is perhaps the most internationally famous of all.

The Yubatake is said to be one of the country’s most productive hot spring sources, producing 5,000 litres of hot water per minute. The water is really hot here – 70°C! – but it cools down a little as it passes by Yubatake’s wooden conduits. By the time the water is distributed to the various ryokans and public baths, the water is at a safer temperature.Sulphuric sediment that collects in the wooden conduits is harvest every now and then and sold as bath salts. You can buy these as souvenirs too.

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pamukkale , blue lagoon , iceland , japan , costa rica

   

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