Best Budget Spa Trip in Japan: Beppu Onsen

Beppu is a spa playground for everyone.  There are so many choices that it’s hard to figure out which to not miss.  I had already taken to the hot sand baths and was ready to find my next indulgence.

My husband and I were looking for a private onsen this time which had a great view and was affordable.  We’re vegetarian and so we can cut out the options which include meals.  The Hotel Seifu with its oceanfront location seemed to be an excellent choice.  They have private two-person hot spring tub rooms which reserve in 45 minute increments and it cost us $30.  We headed over to reserve and found that there were plenty of times open for that evening.

I recommend going before you eat.  We timed it so we could go before the sun set and would be able to find something to eat right afterwards.  All the hot spring water makes you very thirsty and hungry when you are done.  Have a plan on where to go to eat and drink because it’s a town that closes early and there’s nothing more stressful than finding food when you are really hungry.

Let the spa begin

Our time was at 5:30 pm so we tried to get there around 5:15 pm.  The Japanese are timely and we just couldn’t wait to get in.  Here’s what happens:

The front desk of the hotel on the bottom floor checks you in and you proceed up the elevator to the top floor.  There, you exchange your shoes for a pair of wooden japanese slip-on sandals.  It’s hard to find ones that are over a size 9 US for men by the way.  Next, you head up to the very top-level via stairs in your comfortable clogs and an attendant give you your towels and soap.  You are welcome to bring your own shampoo etc.

There are few simple rules to follow to ensure while visiting a onsen:

  1. Totally scrubbing yourself down with a shower is mandatory before getting into the hot bath.  This ensures that the waters won’t get contaminated while you are enjoying it and the next visitor has no worries.  The waters are continuously flowing but the tub is usually made of wood so things can still stick.
  2. If you have a tattoo please consider just going to a private facility.  The Japanese love tattoos but you will notice that most are not visible to the public eye since they are socially not acceptable.
  3. Drinking plenty of water is a good idea.  It was very tempting to pick up a bottle of cold sake before going but this would have been a bad idea.  The water is salty and very hot.  This only leads to dehydration and a very bad hangover.  I highly suggest a liter of water instead.

Enjoy every moment and go back as much  as you can.  It’s hard to find the same thing back here in the states for those prices.  More information on Japanese Onsens.  Enjoy!

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