The Best of Both Worlds: 9 Natural Hot Springs to Relax in After a Long Day of Travel Mary Zakheim November 29, 2016 Adventure Travel, Travel Guide We love the winter months — from fluffy blankets of snow to the beginning of ski season to the general holiday cheer that seems to permeate the crisp air, there are plenty of reasons why winter is a delightful season to welcome. But we’ve got to admit that after an entire day of traveling all bundled up against the colder climate, we do wish there was a way to unwind and relax… Oh, wait, there is! (C’mon, you saw that one coming). We’ve rounded up a list of *affordable* natural hot springs where traveling hikers, backpackers, and sightseers alike will revel in the restorative benefits of a nice long soak. Chena Hot Springs, Alaska Ever had a bath with a view? At Chena Hot Springs — a spanning, 100-year-old rustic resort — you can soak in the soothing hot springs while gazing at the Northern Lights. Plus, the springs are super affordable — bathers pay just $15 to soak up some of the most beautiful sights that the United States has to offer! The resort also has a chic ice bar, an ice museum, and plenty of other winter activities. Banff Upper Hot Springs, Canada Sitting nearly a mile above sea level, the Banff Hot Springs are Canada’s highest natural springs. Just a short bus ride out of the city center, the hot springs offer sweeping views of the surrounding national park — and it only costs a totally affordable $7.30 to soak in the large pool and bathhouse that the complex offers. Take a turn about town and participate in some of the many activities that are offered in the winter — like skiing, snowshoeing, or camping. Baden-Baden, Germany Okay, so this one kind of pushes the definition of *affordable* but, c’mon, it’s 17,000 years old! Give it a break. For a three-hour session, you pay €25 to experience the luxury that the Romans did so long ago — when the healing powers of the natural spas were first discovered and harnessed. Spread out between 12 separate thermal pools, the center is a taste of the high-life — just off of the secluded edge of the Black Forest, where you’ll appreciate the tranquil respite from all the hiking and sightseeing you can do in the area. We think that’s well worth the €25 price tag. Kusatsu, Japan Even though this is one of Japan’s premier hot springs resorts, the price of a day pass to the town’s many thermal baths range from $7 to $11. Seriously. There are also many public baths that are free as well as baths that you can rent out for private use at reasonable rates. The small town of Kusatsu warmly welcomes international visitors and there are a range of affordable places to stay that will house you up near plenty of the city’s bath houses. While you’re not soaking, check out the nearby ski resort and important landmarks. Banjaran, Malaysia Hear us out on this one, because the initial price tag is going to sound steep: $400. Are you wincing yet? Okay take a deep breath and let us explain ourselves. That figure covers expenses for you and two others to stay in a villa and experience everything that the resort has to offer — geothermic baths, yoga classes, an onsite fish pool, a jungle walk, and loads more benefits! So if you’re okay with forking over $130 a night for an all-inclusive thermal bath spa extravaganza — do it. Budapest, Hungary The most popular of Budapest’s well-known public baths is the beautiful and calming Szechenyi Bath complex. Smack dab in the center of the bustling city, the iconic yellow building welcomes locals and tourists alike in its sprawling complex. For $16, you gain entry to the large baths for an entire day — there are plenty of outdoor and indoor options as well as different temperatures. To do as the locals do, make the effort to wake up super early and get your day off to an uber relaxing start. You’ll thank yourself later, when the hoards of splashing tourists pile in long after the Budapest residents have left. Stanley Hot Springs, Idaho After a challenging six-mile hike through the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness, you’ll come upon the thing that every hiker wants to see at the end of a long day: pristine hot springs. Deer and moose abound as you make your way to this hidden gem just outside of Idaho’s Elk City. There are plenty of primitive campsites available around the springs, making this trip a voyage that won’t cost you a dime! Saturnia, Italy Jupiter and Saturn had a legendary battle in Tuscany — and the exact place where Jupiter’s thunderbolt struck the ground is where the bubbling hot water comes from. Or so says local legend. True or not, these hot springs are a site of temple ruins and originate from the heat generously provided by the nearby (dormant) volcano, Mount Amiata. Open 24/7, the springs are a series of thermal waterfalls that stay a balmy 99 degrees year round and are totally and completely free. Score. Pamukkale, Turkey This spa, which translates into English as “cotton castle”, is a series of 17 cascading pools that have been created by centuries of calcium deposits hardening into limestone — giving the setting an undeniably ethereal essence. Overlooking the city of Denizli in the southwest part of Turkey, these baths have long been a place for people to retreat to find tranquility and healing. There are tons of options for budget accommodations nearby and the cost of a day pass is just about $5. Which hot springs do you want to get away to? Let us know in the comments!