Chongqing in China is well known worldwide as the gateway to the Three Gorges, the jumping off point for a three-day cruise on the Yangtze River. Chongqing is also renowned as the nation’s hot spring capital where those in the know can recover from a lengthy flight with a day or two of immersion in the region’s healing waters. Arriving in the city, my husband and I headed to Tong Jing Hot Springs Resort for a soothing soak in the mineral-rich waters that are only part of the perks in this idyllic landscape. Set in a tranquil bamboo forest, surrounded by natural beauty and clean air, an hour away from the busy city, we soon felt one with nature. Bliss awaited.
Shown to our villa, we discovered each suite comes with its own personal hot springs tub. After a sumptuous dinner of traditional Chinese cuisine, we escaped to the tranquility of the tub. After adjusting the water temperature to a comfortable level, we sunk into the soothing waters. Earth’s mineral rich tonic served up a natural sleep aid. We slept through the night without a trace of jet lag.
Few naturally occurring phenomena relax and rejuvenate like a hot spring immersion and at Tong Jing Resort, you sense the harmony between nature and nurture at every turn. With 48 spring pools sprinkled beneath shade trees, chances are you’ll have your own private “hot spot” to enjoy. We felt the smaller “couple size” spring pools, sheltered under greenery with mountain views, emanated peace, love and intimacy. Then there’s the qi or chi nourishing pools, the spirit uplifting Zen pools and the spring group of heart healthy waters. Spoiled for choice, we soon realized our one night stay was far too brief to benefit from all the resort has to offer.
River Cruise: Early that first morning, we set off for a boat cruise through the Small Three Gorges on the Wen Tang River. Tong Jing Resort covers both sides of the river so it was an easy walk to the launch site on this branch of the Yulin River, itself a tributary of the mighty Yangtze.
Once on the river, our views were both horizontal and vertical as our small boat passed under colorful vine-covered bridges and through bamboo shaded gorges, all punctuated by sky-high rock outcroppings.
Monkey Encounter: We chose the white monkey cruise and soon arrived at the reserve where the eager little critters awaited our visit. Direct contact is, of course, limited but a crew member kindly supplied us with seeds to scatter. Meanwhile, a reserve volunteer had rafted across the river to the opposite shore. The primates were well aware his activity signaled feeding time and we watched as a dozen or so tumbled from a low cliff into the water to swim across the gap for a feeding frenzy.
As the satisfied scramblers returned to their cliffside homes in caves, we too needed to continue our journey with our next stop, Chongqing City, where we would board our ship for the Three Gorges Tour on the Yangtze River.
More about the Tong Jing Hot Spring Resorts and the mineral waters health benefits: Beginning as rain, the spring pools are all naturally sourced. The resort maintains nightly cleansing and weekly disinfection of the pools. Naturally endowed, the hot springs contain sulfur, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium with trace elements of phosphorus, iron and zinc. Crystal clear, the mineral rich waters are cosmetically skin enhancing and therapeutic for muscle aches, arthritis, circulation and metabolism. Locals refer to Tong Jing’s waters as the “finest under heaven” because of the water quality and high temperatures.
Extras: Elegant changing rooms, an indoor spa and an outdoor infinity pool, a physiotherapy room and a myriad of massage options in the European style spa round out the experience. At the very least, stay for the day. For the most benefit, include an overnight or two. The resort’s on-site restaurant serves both Chinese cuisine made from locally grown “farm to table” ingredients as well as a BBQ buffet.
Seasonal delights: Each March, snow white plum flowers blossom over the hills surrounding Tong Jing Resort. A perfect time for hiking the area trails. the Annual Orange Picking Festival and the Sichuan Grape Festival bring families from the city to hike in the white blossomed hills, pick fruit and then relax in the steaming pools. A visit during one of these festivals combined with the four-night Three Gorges River Tour would make for a memorable week and a fine intro to China’s natural and man-made beauty.
Accommodations: Visitors can find lodging ranging from budget to luxury. Not well known by English speaking visitors and, with favorable currency exchange rates, room rates can be reasonable. Our stay in the Tong Jing Hot Springs Resort Villas in a two-room suite with private hot tub was exquisite; condos and budget hotel rooms are readily available too.
Just off site in Tong Jing village, within walking distance of the resort, you will find hillside hiking trails dotted with caves. For those who enjoy more, the resorts also offers ping pong, billiards, swimming and kayaking. For the not so faint of heart, a bungee jump enables brave ones to experience the gorge up close and personal.
Tong Jing Hot Springs Resort website: www.cqtjwq.com. For convenience and accuracy, we booked all arrangements through Jimmy Deng at Spring Tour in Los Angeles- (http:spring-tour.com)– who was recommended by a friend. Jimmy was most helpful with arrangements and also with Visa forms. Advance planning and lots of details were professionally handled. Spring Tour also conducts English speaking group trips to the region so this would be another way to enjoy this extraordinary part of China. (China@spring-tour.com).