An hour drive east of downtown, Tangshan produces some of the best hot springs in China.
Called “soup mountain” in Chinese, the 292-meter hill is a gigantic natural tub for thermal mineral waters. Here is a guide to Tangshan’s top resorts and attractions.
Kayumanis Nanjing Private Villas & Spa
The most luxurious property in town, this resort charges nearly US$700 per night. In return, guests are pampered with private villas, personal hot spring pools and authentic Indonesian cuisine.
The tranquil complex is the only branch of Bali-based resort operator Kayuman is outside Indonesia. It encompasses20 villas, starting from 322.5 square meters in size.
Each house comes with a massive bath tub in the courtyard, large enough for four people to lie down at the same time. Guests can simply turn on the tap to draw the allegedly medicinal thermal water.
An outdoor mini pool, measuring six by four meters or even larger, is also included in the deal.
Kayumanis Nanjing Private Villas & Spa, No.12 Wenquan Road, Sizhuang Village, Tangshan Town, Jiangning District 江宁区汤山镇寺庄村温泉路12号; +86 25 8410 7777; nightly rate from RMB 4,180 (US$672) plus 15 percent for a one-bedroom villa or RMB 5,080 (US$816) plus 15 percent for a two-bedroom villa; free pick-up service at Nanjing Lvkou Airport and Nanjing Train Station; official website [http://www.kayumanis.com].
Regalia Resort and Spa
The only hotel on mid-level Tangshan, this resort brand is China’s answer to Banyan Tree, offering relaxing massages and soothing baths in lush surroundings.
The establishment provides a full-on Thai ambience with spiritual Thai-style interior design, native Thai masseuses and an elephant mascot.
More than 60 guestrooms overlook forests or the hotel’s courtyard garden.
The resort’s 35 villas (and some of the more premium rooms) contain private hot spring tubs along with traditional Tibetan medicine powder to bathe in.
For travelers who don’t stay here but wish to take a dip, the resort has set up23 private hot spring rooms to host anything from a honeymoon splash to a party of half a dozen.
Regalia Resort & Spa (Tangshan), No. 8, Quanyun Road, Jiangning District 江宁区汤山街道泉韵路8号; +86 25 8713 1188; nightly rate from around RMB 1,350 (US$217) plus 15 percent, RMB180 (US$29) per person per hour to use the private hot spring room; free pick-up service at Nanjing Train Station; official website [http://www.regalia.com.cn].
Highly popular with Chinese families and business groups, this 198-room hotel showcases the country’s public bathing culture in its extreme.
More than 70 public pools congregate in an immense, outdoor hot spring zone, each with a different theme, from the TCM pond to the Turkish Doctor Fish pond to the sizzling Volcano pond.
Service is top-notch: smiling waiters are on hand to offer hot ginger tea, which prevents bathers suffering dehydration.
The décor is a melting pot. Some areas are built around Vietnamese-style water wheels and others are adorned with white marble statues of European deities.
Guestrooms are decked out to meet the tastes of a typical Chinese businessman.
Easpring, No. 8 Wenquan Road, Tangshan Town, Jiangning District 江宁区汤山街道温泉路8号; +86 25 51190666; nightly rate from RMB 580 (US$93.2) plus 15 percent, RMB 100 (US$16) per person to enter the hot springs zone for hotel guests, RMB 218 (US$35) for outside guests; official website [http://nj.ea-spring.com].
What’s around to see?
Some 10 minutes drive west of the resort cluster on Wenquan Road are two colossal karst caves. Archeologists have unearthed about 2,000 kinds of animal fossils there and two skulls of homo erectus dating back 580,000 to 630,000 years. The skull is now displayed in one of the caves.
About three kilometers northwest of the caves, there is a 230,000-square-meter Ming-culture village where travelers can see grand Ming manors, lantern-lined streets and costume-clad staff performing different ancient trades.
The complex contains three gargantuan stone tablets. Standing seven, 10 and 51 meters respectively, these monuments were hewn in the Ming Dynasty to commemorate the founding emperor Zhu Yuanzhang.
For history buffs, Chiang Kai-shek’s former private hot spring villa is open for visits near the Tangshan town center.
Nanjing Homo Erectus Caves Scenic Spot, Tangshan Neighborhood, Outside Zhongshan Gate, Jiangning District 江宁区中山门外汤山街道古猿人洞景区; +86 25 8411 1108; admission: RMB 27 (US$4.3); open daily from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.(summer), 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (winter) Ming Culture Village, No. 8, West Wenquan Road, Tangshan Neighborhood, Jiangning District 江宁区汤山街道温泉西路8号; admission: RMB 50 (US$8); open daily from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Chiang Kai-shek Hot Springs Villa, No. 5 Wenquan Road, Jiangning District 江宁区温泉路5号; admission: RMB 12(US$1.9); opening hours vary.