The main hot spring pool at Longmai.
For weeks, we’d been thinking about getting out of the city. It was hot, it was humid, it was polluted, and Beijing was simply getting on our nerves.
Dalian was our first choice, but the airfares were too high. We didn’t want to take a train trip anywhere–the hassle can kill any holidaymaking mood we had. So instead, we decided to take an overnight trip to Longmai Hot Springs Resort (龙脉温泉度假村) out in Changping District. Located in the north of Beijing and accessible by Line 13 and Line 5, Changping is a district that begins with high-rise developments to the south that gradually give way to suburbia, and then to the countryside.
Longmai itself is in Xiaotangshan (小唐山), which despite the name is actually quite flat. Xiaotangshan is where emperors used to take the waters (although, since this is Beijing, everywhere is where the emperors used to hang out.)
We had high hopes for Longmai–this review says that it’s the least tacky hot springs resort in the area. However, our dreams of a hot spring buried deep within the woods, like a Japanese hot spring, were not realized. If Longmai is the least tacky of the hot spring resorts on Xiaotangshan, then I shudder to think what the others must be like.
A quiet, “non-tacky” lane. Admittedly, this does look beautiful lit up at night.
We paid 358 RMB each for a basic room and a ticket that allowed us to go into the main hot spring complex as well as play one game each of bowling, badminton, tennis, and pool or billiards. There is also a somewhat pathetic little horse riding range, although the horses look well-cared for. Longmai also has restaurants, but the ticket is only good for 40 RMB towards your meal.
We stayed in a villa like this.
As we walked along the roads and breathed in the fresh air, we could actually hear birds chirping in the trees. At night, we could see stars. These are things that seem like luxuries after being in the industrial urban landscape of Beijing.
Beyond this communing with nature, the hot spring pools themselves are well worth the trip. Lockers (with pool slippers and a robe) and showers are available with a mandatory deposit that is returned after visiting the pools. There are a variety of pools at different degrees of heat. Some are about right for lounging around, while others are bordering on boiling. We picked one that was a good medium between the two, and as bugs flew around to their merry deaths in the water, we read books and relaxed.
Another hot spring pool. This one was heated to about 45 degrees Celsius.
The largest pool even had a huge television screen so that people could watch a movie–the one playing during our visit was one of the Infernal Affairs films–as they waded through the mineral waters. There is also a steam room, but we didn’t try that as it looked a bit crowded.
Although our hotel room was hardly worth what we paid for it–especially if you factor in that for two people it was probably about 500 RMB (the cost of a four- or even five-star hotel in a second-tier city), it was clean and sufficient for one night. There is no hot water after midnight, something we discovered when we tried to shower! It was fairly miserable, actually, and not to make a bad pun, it really put a damper on things.
The Longmai rose garden.
All the same, we would easily go to Longmai again, especially since it was so easy to get there by public transportation. We got there by subway and taxi the first time because we wanted to make sure we would get there, but on the way back we took a bus that goes directly to Tiantongyuan Bei station at the top of the Line 5 subway. Longmai was just what we needed for an overnight trip away: quiet, the air smelled amazing because of the rose garden, and the hot springs themselves were very comfortable. Just take a shower before midnight.