Monday, June 14, 2010

Yunnan-ing around

Previously covered in three separate entries (Lijiang, Zhongdian and Nujiang), it seems folly not to cover the rest of the Yunnan province as well. That said many of Yunnan's hot springs have undergone development and are now quite often part of the commercialized and bland 'spa and entertainment' culture with little to choose between them.
In all, it's said that there are 654 centers of hot springs within Yunnan. The provincial government tourism website, Seeyunnan, purports there to be 700.

Hot Spring Culture
Most of these hot springs are to be found in the volcanic region of Tengchong, Baoshan prefecture, Yunnan's southwest.
'Over 80 vapor springs and hot springs are scattered around the volcanoes, making this the second largest vapor field in China. The famous Yihong Hot Lake is one of the biggest hot spring lakes in China, covering a total area of 10 square kilometers. The most magnificent Dagunguo (boiling pan) Hot Spring, 6.12 meters in diameter and 1.5 meters deep, has a water temperature of 96.6 degrees centigrade, and resembles a pan of boiling water, sending steam high into the sky. The Hamazui Fountain, with a water temperature of 95.5 degrees centigrade, looks like two frogs spraying out hot spring water. Pearl Spring is a pool of water with hundreds of spray holes in the bottom sending out pearl-like strings of hot bubbling water.
Other spectacular sights include Huaitaijing, Gumingquan, Xiaogunguo and Yanjingquan springs and waterfalls. Hot springs in the adjacent Longling County are also popular with visitors because of their medicinal effects on the human body'. (Source).
Tengchong however is swiftly becoming part of China tourism trail thanks in part to the new airport. To confirm this there is even a celebration called the Volcano Hot Spring Cultural Tourism Festival of Tengchong. However it seems another spectacular show with little or nothing to do with hot springs nor with soaking culture.
And though viewing the waters from a distance seems to be the number 1 activity, soaking in Tengchong is reasonably priced. See this photo of hot spring bathing in Tengchong.
With over 80 hot springs naming the hot springs can be fun. Brian Powers has photographic documentation on the Cherry Blossoms hot spring. Canyonlovers adds
'This is one of the best trips from TengChong for the nature lover and hiker has rustic accommodations and good food available. This canyon is located in the Gaolingshan Mountain nature reserve and has “many pink wild cherry
blossoms everywhere in the valley…falls gushing from the steeps of the mountainside swiftly drop down like flying dragons…the drips splash in all directions like pearls…” What beautiful local language. The reader can go and judge for themselves if it is all true. Cherry Blossom Valley is about 20km east of TengChong 20km along a cobble stone road'.
Tengchong possesses a number of hot spring hotels, among them Beauty Pool Hot Spring Hotel, Tengchong (tripadvisor).
Nearby Baoshan boasts Bang Na Zhang hot spring (info) and the Fenghuang Hot Spring Resort, Baoshan (tripadvisor).

Around the capital
Though Kunming, Yunnan's provincial capital, is known for it's eternal spring, less information is available concerning soaking. There are though more hot spring hotels located in and around Kunming. These are
- Dianchi Garden Hotel Spa, Kunming (virtual tourist),
- Tianyi Hot Spring Hotel, Kunming (tripadvisor),
- Eshan Hot Spring hotel, Kunming (tripadvisor),
- Brilliant Spa, Kunming (website and short description) and
- Xizhu Spa Country Estate (info).

Nearby Anning, 21 km southwest of Kunming, is noted as it has 11 hot springs to invest in. Jinfang (Golden) Forest Hot Spring is by far the best known, which is listed in China's Top 10 of hot springs. One first hand described visit:
'Although the hot springs at Senlin are shared, there are enough of them (around 20) to allow for relaxing privacy. Other visitors are generally polite. They also don’t want to share a hot spring that’s occupied. On the other hand, they may be repulsed by the prospect of sharing bathwater with a waiguoren, the all-purpose word for anyone non-Chinese'.
Other hot springs in Anning are Kunming Hot Spring View Garden Hotel and Spring Soul Garden Spa & Resort.

Yuxi prefecture, to the south of Kunming contains another high amount of hot springs.
'Yuxi is distributed with spas of various sizes. In adjacency, there are various spas in all scales on Daying Street in Hongta District of Yuxi City. Yingyuetan Spa is one of the famous spas. Far away, there is Zaojie Spa of Jiangchuan County, Luosipu Spa, Dalongtan Spa in Eshan County, Hot Water Pond in Chengjiang County, Warm Water Pond in Tonghai County, Hot Spring in Meiyun Lao’ao Village in Yimen County, Xiangbi Spa of Huaning, etc'.
Holiday Village of Yingyuetan hot spring is one of the many hot springs just 15 min. from Yuxi:
'The nicest of these is Moon Lake, comprised of a series of 12 pools with different herbs, mineral salts, and liquors to soak away a day'.
Then there are the
- Tianziyuan hot spring (
mention and description),
- Xiangbi (or Elephant trunk) Mountain hot spring (website and website) which is 8 km from Huaning county, Yuxi:
'Xiangbi Hot-spring was developed in East Han Dynasty which was about 2,000 years ago. The water temperature remains between 39℃ to 41℃',
Tripadvisor has a short thread on this hot spring
- Tobacco hot spring, Huaning county, Yuxi (tripadvisor) and
- Wana hot spring, Honghegu of Yuanjiang county (info on development needed).

West and South
Further away in Dali autonomous prefecture besides the earlier posted Er Yuan hot spring there is the hot spring located not far out of town of Xiaguan also known under it's commercial name of Phoenix (Fenghuang) Hot Spring Resort.
'The Resort is characterized by natural hot spring development. Dali hot spring comes from 3800 meters deep below the earth's crust, therefore, the water quality is very high'.
Others are in the southeast. Mile (Mi Le) Hot Spring Hotel (tripadvisor, photo on flickr) and another of China's Top 10, Jinping Mengla (near the city of Geiju) which is famous for it's masseuse rocks.

To the south (near Simao) lies Manzhongtian Hot Spring Holiday Village (photo's and description).

Crowning standards for hot springs
New developments have been the development of special provincial assessments of hot spring tourism facilities:
'China Yunnan Tengchong Volcano Atami Tourism Development and Management Corporation, Dianchi Spring Spa, Kunming Spring Soul Garden Spa & Resort , and Kunming Junhao Spa have passed the assessment of the Yunnan Spa and Hot Spring Rating Assessment Committee and have all been awarded five-crown certificates and plates — becoming the first enterprises that have passed the assessment both in Yunnan and in China.
In 2008 Yunnan province published China's first comprehensive set of local hot spring standards, including the Standard for Tourist Hot Spring Sign Usage, Hot Spring Tourism Service Specifications, Hot Spring Tourism Operators Grading and Evaluation, and Spa Operators Grading and Evaluation.
The committee evaluated the business facilities and services, facilities and equipment maintenance, cleaning and service quality, and the management of the four hot spring enterprises'.

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