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9 of the world's most relaxing hot springs

By: Josh Lew on May 6, 2013, 5:28 p.m.
A man relaxes at the Ganiba Onsen in Semboku, Akita, Japan

Photo: Fumiaki Yoshimatsu [CC by SA-2.0]/Wikimedia Commons

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A nice, soothing soak

Nature tourism is usually marketed as an active form of travel. Things like zip-lining and expeditions to see exotic animals in their natural habitat dominate the agenda. But taking an eco-themed vacation doesn't have to mean sacrificing relaxation time. In fact, one of nature's most unique phenomena, geothermal springs, provide the most relaxing vacation experiences any tourist could hope to experience. 

People have been visiting geothermal springs for centuries. Some of these waters are rich in minerals and are thought to have healing properties. At the very least, spending time soaking in a naturally warmed pool can reduce stress and rejuvenate you. But not all geothermal springs can be enjoyed in this way. Many are simply too hot to enter safely and others emit toxic gases! But hot springs with the right conditions prove that you don't have to give up a relaxing vacation to experience the best that Mother Nature has to offer. Here’s a sampling. (Text: Josh Lew)