Guide to Japanese Hot Spring Bath House (Onsen) in Shanghai

What if I told you that there was a place where you could relax, eat, drink, and entertain your kids? Sounds impossible right? 

There are several of these modern hot spring bath houses in Shanghai, but before we dive into that, first a quick introduction on the different public bath houses in Japan:

Onsen 温泉 is a type of Japanese public bath where natural hot spring water is used. It's considered as one of the bucket list items that people travel to Japan for. But the word Onsen is used more loosely now, even for public bath houses without natural hot spring water (they just heat up tap water and add some minerals or herbs into it to mimic a natural Onsen). 

Kusatsu Onsen

Sento 銭湯 on the other hand, is a communal bathhouse which not only has hot baths, but also saunas, jet baths, or other forms of entertainment. In the Edo period, they were also known as Yuya 湯屋 which literally translates to hot water shop. 

Yuma no yu

Modern Bath Houses: After the 1970s, most households in Japan have individual bath and shower units, and thus the decline of bathhouses started. Recently, a new style of bathhouse sprung up and are built more like an amusement park with lots of entertainment, an example is the 大江戸温泉物語, Big Edo Hot Spring Story in Odaiba Tokyo, which also offers a variety of saunas, steam baths, jacuzzis, massages, facials, a gym, restaurants and Karaokes etc.

From the Ghibli movie "Spirited Away" is a classic example of a Japanese bathhouse where people stayed overnight, bathed, and wine & dined. 

The type of bathhouse I'm introducing today is the Modern one which has all of the entertainment possibilities packed in one single building. 

Lian Quan Da Jiang Hu

This is a group of bathhouses which was jointly developed by a Japanese and Chinese company. They currently have 4 branches and is preparing to open a 5th one in Shanghai. 

The one I'm introducing today is their Hongqiao Branch. 

Branch Information
  • Address in Chinese: 延安西路3162号 
  • Address in English: Yan'an West Road No3162 (Next to Ji Hotel)
  • Access: Subway Line 10, Long Xi Lu Station exit 3
  • Hours:11am - Midnight (Friday/Saturdays till 1am) 
  • Facilities: Free parking, smoking room, wifi available, portable battery packs for charging phones available 
  • Age Limit: None 
  • Can pregnant ladies go? Yes
How the Pricing Works

They're always doing seasonal promotions and package deals, so the info below may change. But here's an idea on how much you'd expect to pay:
  • Adult Bathhouse Entry Fee: ¥68 (Weekday), ¥88 (Weekend)
  • Children (90cm-140cm) Entry Fee: ¥29 
  • Children under 90cm: Free 
This entry fee above gives you full day access to the bath facilities and a free set of basic rental Kimono robes to wear. 
  • Free entertainment also includes: TV, Movie room, Saunas, Hot stone room, massage chair room, kids soft play area, resting lounge area 
  • Entertainment that is priced separately: full body scrub or massage, dining, Karaoke, kids arts & crafts, claw machine, video games, cat cafe, pool table, mahjong room, board games, tarot card reading room, cafe, hourly guest rooms (overnight stay not possible)
Going With Kids?
While there is no age limit on the entrance, there is an age limit on which gender bath a child can enter. If the child is shorter than 90cm, then they can go to both the womens and mens bath. If the child is taller than 90cm, then they have to go to their designated gender's side (eg. Boys taller than 90cm have to go to the male bath and cannot accompany mom to the female side.)

If you are bringing a baby who is not yet able to walk or sit up, there are little buckets/tubs you can put your kid into to accompany you in the bath area. 
  • The bathhouse also sells diapers and children underwear in case you need some! 
  • Highchairs and kids meals available at the dining area. 

What do I need to bring?

Nothing really, other than your phone to make payment. 

The bathhouse will provide:
  • Free rental kimonos to wear after the bath
  • Free inside the baths: slippers, hair bands, shower caps, hair brushes, shower gel, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hair moisturiser, toners/facial moisturisers, toothbrushes, towels, hair dryers, q-tips, and cups + water to drink. 
  • NOT allowed in the baths: bikinis, underwear, towels. (You need to be completely naked to dip in!)
Step by step guide on what to expect

Part 1 - Preparation (Between entering the building up to before the baths)
  • Take off your shoes, the staff will pin it with a shoe locker number and take it away for you to store it
  • Wristband: the staff will offer you one which you will wear at all times, including inside the hot baths, until you check out and leave. This is used to open your bath area locker as well as to track your spending. 
  • Get your Free kimono rental, there's one piece ones or two-piece ones, sizes range from S to XL, kids size available too
  • Head to the appropriate gender bath area (Female is on 1/F, Male is on 2/F)
  • Find your locker number, open it with your wrist band, get naked (yes, completely naked), and put everything inside the locker including your phone. The only thing you can bring into the bath area is your wristband, which is required to open your locker again. 
Part 2 - Using the bath
  • Now that you're naked, rinse off first at the showers just near the baths
  • There are about 5 baths to pick from, temperatures ranging from 32 ~ 42C
    • Don't forget to hydrate yourself! Water available inside the baths
  • Sauna room is also available
  • Body Scrub/Massage room is at the back, prices are on the wall. It's all in Chinese but the basic package is to pick 2 types of scrubs (I remember options like honey & aloe, prices start around ¥88 and it takes 30min to finish)  
Photos from official account of the bath house 
since phones aren't allowed in this area!

Part 3 - After the bath 
  • Rinse off near the exit of the bath area, all of the toiletries are provided, and towels are just outside where the lockers are. 
  • Next to the row of lockers are a row of vanity tables with mirrors, hair dryers and all kinds of lotions. 
  • The staff can help you wear and tie your kimono if you are unsure how 
Other Entertainment
After you're done with your bath, you can head up to the 2/F dining area to get a drink or grab some food. If you want an alcoholic beverage, there's a bar on the 3/F. 

Kimono Rental - If you love the decorations inside and would like to take more photos, there are also fancier kimonos you can rent on the mezzanine just outside the men's bath. The prices are around 50 per hour. 

Cat Cafe - There's no age limit, however children must be accompanied by an adult, prices are ¥68 per hour (half price for consecutive hours past the first one). You can also purchase a package online for 108 which gives you access to the bath plus unlimited play time with the cats.

Free Activities: Kids soft play area (2/F), Hot stone room (3/F), TV (3/F), Movie room (3/F), massage chair room (3/F), resting lounge area (3/F)

It was such an amazing experience, and we spent a good 4 hours there. Next time I'll definitely be bringing my son so he can have some fun there too. On the getting completely naked part, it wasn't awkward at all and other guests generally just keep to themselves. And of course there are some parts of my body that I'm not feeling the most confident about, but this was a good opportunity to just embrace it and be comfortable in (just) my own skin! 

Arigatou Gozaimashita!

Follow me on instagram for more adventures in Shanghai and around the world! 


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