For a country defined by its high-octane pursuits, Japan is also extremely dedicated to relaxation. It is a country where the concept of zen stems from, and that has trickled its way to influence a number of calming practices that are quintessentially Japanese, from gardening to the time-honoured tradition of onsens.
We all know the virtues of long soaks in a tub, but an onsen is on another level. The ritual, which has been around for centuries, centres around a communal or private bath with geothermally heated spring water. It is a popular activity during winter and can be enjoyed in outdoor or private settings.
We may not have natural hot springs in Singapore, but that doesn’t mean you have to book a flight out to the Land of the Rising Sun just to enjoy a soothing dip. A number of Japanese-style onsen spas can be found around our city, offering a similar atmosphere and experience to the one you’d get in Japan. If you ever find yourself in need of a quick respite, book yourself a bath at one of these venues and luxuriate in those zen vibes.
Ikeda Spa is arguably the best-known onsen in Singapore. It is the first of its kind to infuse the heated water with hinoki, a precious cypress wood that is commonly used in Japanese medicine, so you get a dose of aromatherapy as you dip. Ikeda Spa also offers facials and massages after your private bath if you’re truly in the mood to treat yourself.
Ikeda Spa, 787 Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 269762, +65 6388 8080.
Enjoy the onsen the tried-and-true Japanese way, which is getting buck naked with a bunch of strangers in the aquatic therapy pools in the Yunomori onsen. There are 11 different pools with different purposes, from a soda bath to a cold bath, spread across the 16,000 sq ft spa. With so many options, you can easily while away a good part of the day there.
Yunomori Onsen & Spa, #02-17/18 Kallang Wave Mall, +65 6386 4126
ESPA is a complex in Resorts World Sentosa entirely dedicated to rest and relaxation. One of its main features is an outdoor Japanese-style forest onsen, where you can unwind in a heated pool surrounded by verdant greens and bird calls. If you purchase a full-day spa pass, you can pop over to enjoy the first Turkish hammam in Singapore located on-site as well.
ESPA Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore 098269, +65 6577 8880.
If privacy is what you crave from your onsen experience, why not go all out and turn your spa time into a full-day escape at Le Méridien Singapore? The resort has an onsen suite fully equipped with an outdoor heated bath that you can unwind in for as long as your heart desires, with no other patrons in the way. After the soak, you can pop over to bed and doze off, because there’s no better way to enjoy that post-onsen pleasure than a long nap.
Elements Wellness is home to a full-fledged Japanese spa ritual that goes above and beyond what you can find in an average onsen. You begin with a massage, then proceed to get a seaweed body scrub before dipping in a tub made with a special type of Japanese wood, komayaki, that is anti-bacterial and naturally fragranced with a tinge of citrus. Couple packages are also available, so treat yourself and a loved one to this tranquil experience.
Elements Wellness,#B1-30, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801, +65 6738 3788