• Things to Do
  • Things to Do
Photograph: courtesy Gokurakuyu
600 Xinjinqiao Lu
This Biyun-based Japanese hot springs mega-chain is packing ’em in, in spite of steeper entry fees than the competition (128RMB to New Star’s 88RMB).

A three-floor, 1,200-person capacity comfortably absorbs the masses, while thoughtful touches like a choice of eight pyjama patterns and friendly bath attendants who’ll knot your hand-towel into a nifty cap add to the appeal.

The baths themselves are spotless, sex-segregated in the traditional way, and decked out in a pleasingly minimalist Japanese style, with helpful English language signage describing each individual bath’s function.

Ranging in temperature from a gasp-inducing 17C to a steamy 40C, options include a milky hydrogen bath, an ‘alkaline carbondioxated spring’ (supposedly good for circulation), massage baths with underwater jets, and a salty steam bath – though we baulk at trying the electric bath, which delivers a ‘comfortable stimulation’.

Additional treatments such as body scrubs are also available pool-side (168-328RMB), but the big draw for the summer is the open-air roten buro, a series of half-shaded rock pools flanked by outsized ceramic jars, which resemble cannibals’ cooking pots. Despite being inspired by the tale of an unfortunate thief who was boiled to death, they’re actually lots of fun.

The ground floor has Korean-style ‘hobbit houses’, familiar to New Star patrons, as well as four saunas lined with fatigue-fighting amethyst and halite (anti-ageing rock salt).

Upstairs there’s a Japanese restaurant, a relaxation suite boasting a library of manga comics, and private treatment rooms. If you’re really looking to splash out, the VIP suite’s private onsen is a cool 1,200RMB/three hours.
Venue name: Gokurakuyu
Opening hours: 10am-1am daily
Metro: Jinqiao Lu
English address: 600 Xinjinqiao Lu near Jinzang Lu, Pudong
Chinese address: 浦东新金桥路600号, 近金藏路