Some of them invite to the bubbling pleasures of idle soaking, others had better not be approached too daringly. Whatever the case might be, the world's most incredible hot springs are virtually a feast for the senses, even if you only get to look at them from a distance. They tempt with scintillating colors, caress with steam and embrace with infinity. Here's 8 to fall in head over heels... literally or not.
Pamukkale - Turkey
Pamukkale blues. By ©haddock
Pamukkale just couldn't have been named more aptly. Meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, this UNESCO protected wonder does look like cascading royal terraces floating in the infinite sea of strikingly white fluff. The site has been formed by limestone-laden thermal springs which let the calcium deposits grow into potholes, stalactites and cataracts, and the best part is that you can take a dive into the curing waters. Legends are told about Pamukkale's beautifying powers – you may believe them or not – but its medicinal properties to the ills of asthma and rheumatism are quite tangible. The bath itself is all the more exciting that it can be enjoyed amidst the dignified remains of ancient Hierapolis.
Jigokudani - Nagano Prefecture, Japan
There's nothing like a relaxing bath. By chris-lh
Hostile forests, treacherous cliffs and boiling water that bubbles out of almost invisible cracks in the frozen ground have earned it the name “Hell's Valley”. But it's not so much the springs themselves that attract hordes of visitors to the park as the wild Japanese Macaques that descend to the valley during the winter months to thaw their bones in the steamy pools. Watch them cuddle together and play in deep snow. So hilarious! Of course, Jigokudani is not all about monkeys. Skiing routes abound and so do opportunities to take massages, visit temples, participate in authentic tea ceremonies, try Japanese archery or cook soba noodles. All in all, a stay full of genuine relaxation and fun.
Huanglong - Sichuan, China
Calcite deposites of Huanglong. By Lao Wu Zei
Thousands of years of geological evolution have shaped this solitary land into a wonder beyond measure. It's not much of a surprise that Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. As you enter the valley, you'll immediately be awed by images of snow-clad peaks, thick virgin forest and clusters of outstandingly beautiful ponds that sparkle with a wide range of colors from orange and yellow to green and blue. Blooming flowers, swift waterfalls, bottomless caves, butterflies fluttering their wings above your head and a number of endangered animals add to the overall splendor of this “Fairyland on Earth.”
Champagne Pool - New Zealand
Champagne Pool. By Chmehl
There's a geothermal haven to be explored within the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, just 20 minutes drive south of Rotorua. There, in a natural bush setting and among bubbling mud pools, you will find a few prominent examples of world's most amazing geothermal features. Walk across the Artist's Palette via a wooden walkway, watch Lady Knox Geyser erupt to heights of up to 20 meters and above all, be left agape at the colorful splendor of 65 m-deep Champagne Pool. CO2 bubbles truly make this unusual spring look like a pond of Dom Pérignon, except that the vibrant hues make it so much more exquisite. What a visual treat!
Travertine Hot Springs - Bridgeport, CA, USA
Doesn't this rock remind you something? By renefulcrum
Located south of Bridgeport, along the eastern front of the Sierra, Travertine Hot Springs is an enjoyable stop on the way from Yosemite … for those who know of its existence. There are no markers along the highway and the place is largely a secret so it basically remains as natural as it gets. Clothing is optional so be prepared for nudity around. Probably the best thing to do is just strip it all off and let yourself go. And they say there's nothing like going on a night with a full moon high in the sky.
Grand Prismatic - Yellowstone, WY, USA
Ring of fire - Grand Prismatic. By Tyler McCall
Nothing describes this star attraction of Yellowstone's Midway Geyser Basin as accurately as its very name. It's grand - approximately 370 feet (112.8 m) in diameter and over 121 feet (37 m) deep – and prismatic – with a mesmerizing rainbow of colors representing variations on the temperature of the water. But words can give you but a mere idea of what Grand Prismatic really is like. A cyclop's dreadful eye, a ring of fire, the gate to hell – people have described it in a variety of ways, but the experience is always one-of-a-kind. If there's one thing that you – as a tourist – should ever splash out on, it's a helicopter ride that shows you all of this splendor from up high.
Blue Lagoon - Grindavik, Iceland
Approaching the Blue Lagoon. By Stuck in Customs
“Energy for life through forces of nature” - so goes the motto found on Blue Lagoon's website. 50 kilometers off Reykjavik there sits Iceland’s most popular geothermal spa and one of the most recognized wellbeing retreats worldwide. Six million liters of milky-white seawater and open views across the lava fields make it not only serene but also quite surreal an experience. Of course, the self-applied treatments in steaming waters and semolina-like silica mud pools come with the package of soothing massages and splendid accommodation to give you the kind of pampering you'll hardly find elsewhere in the world.
Mammoth Hot Springs - Yellowstone, WY, USA
Geothermal infinity. By cannedkitty
Welcome to the world's greatest natural chemical laboratory, where heat and water have molded a complex system of outstanding travertine terraces, which constantly change shape and color. Located near the northern entrance to Yellowstone and accessible the year round, Mammoth Hot Springs make for an ideal day-trip attraction and one of the most astonishing sights in the whole park. Both the Lower Terrace Trail and the Upper Terrace Loop give you access to convenient overlooks that allow unobstructed views of the area and reveal the multicolored splendor in all its glory.
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