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Washin' All Over the World

Life’s always a bit more fun when you get a little dirty and few things are more relaxing and enjoyable than washing away your stresses or worries in a nice, hot bath. For a long time now, travellers have being experiencing the bathing habits of the countries they visit, and they often become a highlight or something not to be missed. We here at Travelzoo have enjoyed the cleansing rituals of many different cultures which we thought you might like to learn about.

I recently visited the Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool in Fiji. Located beneath the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, these sulphurous pools are naturally heated and set among the lush Fijian countryside. You can cover yourself in the pure, thick mud at the bottom of the pools before immersing your whole body in the warm water to wash it all off. I treated myself to an oil massage afterwards and felt thoroughly refreshed after my visit. Sabeto Hot Springs is a 20-minute drive from Nadi and an entrance fee of FJ$15 ($9) applies.

Onsen literally means 'hot springs' in Japanese. These indoor and outdoor pools are geothermal-heated and located all over the country. Pools range from icy cold to 40 degrees Celsius and you can choose from relaxing spa jets to mineral-infused waters. Clothing is not permitted -- yes, that’s right, you must be butt naked -- and while this may sound challenging, you quickly lose your inhibitions. You must also wash your body from head to toe at the cleansing stations before entering and tattoos are not permitted. Oedo Onsen in Tokyo costs 1980 yen ($22) per visit and you can spend as long as you like there.

Turkish baths (or hamams) are a great Middle Eastern experience with bathers first sitting in a steam room or sauna to build up perspiration before the ritualistic washing occurs. Patrons lie on a solid marble slab and are scrubbed and washed by a ‘tellak’ or masseur. A full-body massage generally follows. You can then retire to a cooling room to relax and recouperate. Suleymaniye Hamami is one of the most famous Turkish bath houses in Istanbul and costs €35 ($50) per person.

Bath, UK
The Roman Baths in the UK were so popular that they named the town after them around 60AD. Today, they are still operational and are visited by over a million tourists every year. Mineral-rich water is available daily with a selection of heated baths on offer. Choose from the outdoor Great Bath (perfect on a summer day) or go indoors and refresh yourself in the cold plunge pool which is 1.6 metres deep. Admission is between £13-£14 ($22-$23) for adults, with special offers regularly available.

Donegal, Ireland
Covering yourself in seaweed and sitting in a bathtub may not be most people’s idea of fun but it is an incredibly invigorating experience which dates back to Edwardian times. Bundoran Seaweed Baths is probably the one of the most popular places to do it and it's where I have been. Benefits of seaweed include improved circulation and reduced cellulite. It also has a cleansing and detoxifying effect due to the presence of powerful antioxidants. Follow it up with a deep muscle massage, body wrap or seaweed facial and then enjoy 15 minutes in the unique Relaxarium room.  A seaweed bath, steam and shower costs €22.50 ($32) for one person.

Aguas Calientes (Spanish for 'hot springs') is a popular resting spot for weary trekkers who have completed the Inca Trail. Located high in the Andes, the town features natural thermal baths set above the surrounding landscape. Guests can rent swimsuits and towels, and can order drinks like Cusqueña beer or pisco sours. Entrance costs S/.10 ($4) with lockers costing just S/.1 (40 cents). The baths are well signposted from the town and are approximately 10 minutes' walk uphill.

Mornington Peninsula, VIC
Peninsula Hot Springs is just 90 minutes from Melbourne and is the first natural hot springs and day spa centre in Victoria. The Bath House features over 20 different experiences including a cave pool, reflexology walk, cold plunge pools and hilltop pool. The Spa Dreaming Centre offers an Aboriginal-inspired kodo full body massage and other treatments, such as foot therapies and ancient healing stone experiences. Primarily outdoors, guests can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding valley. Cost is $30-$35 per person but early birds who arrive before 8am will pay only half that.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Sydney
Friday, July 5, 2013
See more Tips from
Niamh Walsh