The best bathhouses in Shanghai

For a supremely relaxing experience, check out the hottest pools in town

Photograph: courtesy Cheersum Bathhouse
Let's cut to the chase: bathhouses are amazing. They're the perfect way to unwind in this behemoth of a city... if you don't mind public nudity. For some, the idea of strutting about in your birthday suit in front of strangers may be less 'relaxing' and more 'stress inducing', but if you can get past that hurdle, it's a great experience.

For the uninitiated, you take your shoes upon entering and place them in a locker. From there you're directed to either the male or female side of the bathhouse and given an e-bracelet that you'll use to pay for things while inside, and also to unlock your clothes locker later because yep, you're getting naked. Once you're in you're in the buff, take a thorough shower and enjoy the pools at your leisure. Shower off when you're finished and either put on the provided pyjamas and head to the common areas or pay the bill and leave refreshed and relaxed. And much less naked.

Read on for our picks of Shanghai's best bathhouses.


This three-storey Japanese-style bathhouse is top notch, and hands down our favourite on the list. The venue is decorated with images from the adorable Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away – a giant TV screen in one section of the common area even plays what seems to be exclusively Studio Ghibli films. The remainder of the common area includes a dark and quiet rest space, a Japanese restaurant, snack and beverage stands, a kids’ play area, several dry saunas and massage rooms on the third floor.

As for the bathing area, there are several hot pools ranging 38-44C and one cold pool at 17C. The pools all have a special feature, like the aromatherapy pool, the carbonated pool or the somewhat shocking (literally) electric pool that delivers a low dose of tingly electric current. Sweat it out at the area’s two saunas or get a massage or a scrub down starting from 58RMB, which includes interesting add-ons like milk or seaweed. There are more places for soaking in the outdoor area, closed off from prying public eyes of course.

Entry is 158RMB, 68RMB for children 90cm to 1.4m and free for children under 90cm.

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600 Xinjinqiao Lu

Cheersum Bathhouse

Cheersum Bathhouse – or ‘Qianshen’ in Chinese – is seven floors’ worth of relaxation, food and entertainment. The second floor houses the segregated-by-sex bathing areas, while the rest of the establishment is open to both ladies and gents. You’ll find several quiet, dark resting areas and dry saunas, rooms with large screens playing anything from CCTV to Marvel movies, a Chinese restaurant, massage rooms and more. The crown gem is the rooftop bar and restaurant, great for chilling out when the weather is nice.

The bathing area is quite spacious compared to the other bathhouses, and decked out in pseudo-Roman architecture, or something equally kitsch. There’s a giant screen playing an eclectic mix of media ranging from the American VMAs to a French musical about Mozart… just go with it. The pools are larger, with one cool pool and the others ranging from lukewarm to hot. Two small saunas and body scrubs are also available.

Entry is 198RMB, 98RMB for children under 1.2m. Word to the wise: with no signs posted anywhere in the place and limited English from the staff, Cheersum is best experienced with a Chinese-speaking friend or by whipping out Google Translate if you have questions.

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430 Caoyang Lu

New Star

Critics' pick

With three branches scattered about the city, Korean bathhouse New Star is a solid option for a few hours of relaxation at a decent price. The three-storey Minhang branch is more populated than other bathhouses on this list, but not uncomfortably so. There’s a restaurant serving solid Korean dishes like bibimbap and kimchi jjigae, while the common area on the second floor features several igloo-shaped dry saunas to lounge in when you need a break from the pools. Beverages and light snacks like popcorn and crisps are available for purchase, and there’s an outdoor swimming pool open during the hotter months.

In the bathing areas – also on the second floor – there are two saunas (one steam, one dry), two hot pools at 39 and 44C, a cold pool at 17C and a shallow kids’ pool. Additional services include body scrubs and moisturising treatments start from around 58RMB and feature ingredients like aloe gel, milk or honey, while full-body or more localised massages can be found on the third floor from around 188RMB.

Entry is 108RMB for adults, 90RMB for children 90cm to 1.4m and free for children under 90cm.

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Lane 258 Jinhui Nan Lu

Highton Spaland

What this bathhouse lacks in size compared to the other venues, it makes up for in pool variety. Highton has the widest range of temperatures to choose from on the list, from a large, lukewarm 33C pool (which interestingly enough contains aquatic exercise equipment) to the hottest pool on the list clocking in at around 47C. Like all the others, there's a cold pool for cooling off when other pools are too much to handle. There are two saunas (one dry, one steam), and body scrubs starting around 78RMB – think the usual suspects of sea salt, milk and the like.

After you've had your fill of the indoor pools, head to the outdoor rooftop area, which has pools and human-sized pots filled with water to soak in. The area is well-fenced from prying eyes, making it perfect for letting it all hang out and sunbathe when weather permits. There aren't any of the large common areas full of igloo saunas like the other places, but the outdoor area and pool selection are great in their own right.

Entry is 108RMB for adults, 68RMB for children under 1.4m.

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3588 Qishen Lu

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