Hot springs in Central Asia

Hot springs in Central Asia

Mineral and hot springs are abundant in may parts of Central Asia. Hot springs in Central Asia are mostly found at the mountainous regions, where the groundwater can easily get in touch with the inner heat of Earth and fluctuate back towards the surface along the cracks in the bedrock. Therefore, most of the hot springs of Central Asia are found in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan and few more can be found in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan but the latter ones have mostly only mineral springs. 

Many of the Central Asian hot springs have been developed into sanatoriums during the Soviet era and several of those are still functioning. Some have not changed after the Soviet times and are very much on the verge of collapsing or heavily malfunctioning otherwise while others have gone through modernization. In general, it must be said that the quality of the hot springs in Central Asia is not as high as for example in Europe but for the ones interested in trying something new, Central Asia offers a tremendous amount of unique hot springs from wild ones to modern facilities.

Kazakhstan hot springs

Chunja hot spring area

Chunja (or Chunzha) hot spring area in Southeastern Kazakhstan has tens of hot spring resorts of different levels and is therefore the largest hot spring center in Central Asia. The Chunja hot springs are located east from the town of Shonzhy, not far from the Charyn canyon along the A-352 towards the border of China.

It is common for the locals to rent a room and cooking utilities and to prepare some barbecue and to spend a full day by the hot spring pools. Food is often also available from resort kitchens. Some of the resorts here have also pools suitable for children.

Chunja hot spring resort with pool

Rakhmanov hot springs resort

If you are not a fan of hot temperatures, the Rakhman Springs might be just your cup of tea. The resort is located in the Katon-Karagay National Park, near the Rakhmanovsky Lake which is always on the cold side. The low temperatures are due to the location of the lake, its depth and the ice-cold springs which feed it. 

The Rakhman Springs Resort is the perfect place for all those who suffer from health issues such as digestive problems and skin conditions. Visitors can use a variety of different treatments, ranging from massages over radon baths to mud therapy. Combined with the stunning surroundings it makes for the perfect health-getaway. Read more about Rakhmanov hot springs here!

Rakhmanov lake

Gorelnik hot springs

The Gorelnik Hot Springs are definitely a bit different from the other thermal options we have discussed so far. This is in no way a resort but instead, it looks more like a Jacuzzi that has been dropped in the middle of nowhere for everyone to enjoy on your way to Shymbulak from Almaty. You do not need to pay to get in the tub, you just have to get there and dive in. No wonder locals are totally charmed by this place. In addition to a hot spring tub, there is also a cold tub.

The water inside is about 27°C, so you could visit during the summer months and enjoy the relaxing water. But, and this is our favorite option, you could also go hiking during the colder months when the region is covered in snow and enjoy the tub while looking at the marvelous winter scenery around you. 

Kapal-Arasan Sanatorium Resort Hotel

Kapal-Arasan Sanatorium, located by the river Bien, was Kazakhstan’s first resort and was opened already in 1886. Right now, it is still up and running and you can enjoy a break in the hotel amidst a splendid park with a view on the peak of the Djungarian Alatau. While you are here, it would be almost stupid not to enjoy the benefits of the spring water. 

At Kapal-Arasan, the water is rich with sulphate-sodium chloride, nitrogen and silica. This may not say you very much, so let’s be a bit clearer. The water is considered as therapeutic for people suffering from rheumatism, metabolism, problems with blood vessels and gynecological diseases. And after spending some time in the water, nothing holds you back from taking a hike in the mountains.

Kyrgyzstan hot springs

Issyk Ata hot springs

Issyk Ata hot springs (sometimes Ysyk Ata) offer several great pools just a short drive from Bishkek! This site was developed already during the Soviet times as a sanatorium and was dedicated for curing different illnesses. The old sanatorium side is still there but there are also several outside pools for pure relaxation and enjoyment purposes. The site is surrounded by beautiful mountains and you can drink some of the waters from different springs if you wish so. There is also a beautiful small waterfall deeper in the valley if you wish to have a hike.Issyk Ata is definitely the easiest place to start experiencing the Kyrgyz hot springs.

Issyk Ata hot springs near Bishkek

Ak Bermet hot spring baths

Ak Bermet is the most developed hot spring resort in Kyrgyzstan. The facilities are new and there are several well built different temperature, shape and size pools to try. Some of the pools have even features like bubbles that are more often found in jacuzzis. Ak Bermet hot springs can be found next to the same named hotel resort, by the shore of Issyk Kul, west from Cholpon Ata. There are also some hot spring pools in the Ak Bermet hotel side but they are less luxurious, but that being said, well at the level of the hot springs in Kyrgyzstan and in Central Asia in general.

Ak Bermet hot spring near Cholpon Ata in Issyk Kul

Ak Suu Kench hot spring

Of the numerous hot springs available to soak in throughout the Issyk-Kul Region, the Ak-Suu Kench reigns as the most authentic and perhaps the best choice in our opinion. Conveniently, it is also the most accessible hot spring from Karakol. The resort contains one large pool separated by partly-submerged partitions that cause the temperature to degrade as one travels further from the hot water inlet. The top pool is nearly intolerable for any length of time, while the lowest pool has been subject to surface-skimming, and maintains a perpetually lukewarm status. The temperatures range approximately 45+ at the mouth, to around 32 at the far end. Common practice would have a visitor toggling between the pools of varying temperature as desired. 

A separate ice bath lies up a set of stairs from the main pools. Take the plunge if you dare. As an alternative ice bath, the Arashan river can be accessed from the resort along a stone footpath. Numerous health benefits can be attributed to the act of rapidly transitioning from hot to cold conditions. The pools are composed of a rock, and mortar, giving the complex a very organic, classy feel. You will also find a restaurant on-site to satiate your hunger after a long day of strenuous exercise and soaking. A 100 som security deposit may be requested for the safe return of the locker keys.

Ak Suu kench hot spring near Karakol
Ak Suu hot spring near Karakol

Juuku Hot Spring

Juuku hot spring is mostly visited by locals as the conditions are not at the level for most tourists. The water has also radon, which is not favored by all hot spring enthusiasts. It is also possible to swim in the mountain river next to the hot spring to cool down.

Altyn Arashan Hot Springs

Altyn Arashan valley is very well known by trekkers who travel to the Alakul  lake between the Altyn Arashan valley and the Karakol valley. The hot springs in Altyn Arashan, at the altitude of about 2600 m above the sea level, can also be reached by a car but the car needs to have exceptional off road capabilities as the road up to the valley is really terrible, even by Central Asian standards. 

Altyn Arashan hot springs offer several outdoor pools, made in several shapes, just by the Altyn Arashan river. These outside pools very much favored by tourists who wish to take few photos for their social media feeds as the view to the river is great. In addition, there are also more traditional inside pools in concrete and log buildings.

Altyn Arashan Kyrgyzstan Karakol Hot spring

Issyk Kul North beach hot springs (Chon Oruktu village)

About 60 km east from Cholpon Ata, just before the village of Chon Oruktu, turn towards south and the Issyk Kul lake to find an area with several hot spring resorts. The most well known and the best hot springs in Chon Oruktu are the the Delfin hot spring and the Keremet Suu. They both offer several different temperatures in one or several pool complexes.

Enilchek hot spring

Enilchek hot spring, sometimes referred to as Kara Tash hot spring (a good name as the spring is located under black stones just by the Sary Jaz river), is best visited during spring or late autumn when the water level of the nearby Sary Jaz river is low enough to form nice pools for this wild hot spring. There are also 3 concrete made pools as well but the water in them is super hot and does not allow for a stay longer than a dip. The pools are filled with dark gray mud, most likely formed by the combination of the flooding period of Sary Jaz river and the minerals from the hot spring.

In order to reach this hot spring, one should first venture to Karakol and then pass the mostly abandoned town of Enilchek, little bit further to the south and drive or walk down to the shoreline of the river, depending on the abilities of your car and the bravery of the driver as the road down is narrow and steep.

Jyrgalan Kurort hot spring near Karakol

The sanatorium in Jyrgalan was built already in 1964. The sanatorium specializes in the treatment of patients with diseases of the musculoskeletal system, with nervous and gynecological diseases. The main therapeutic factor is mineral water with a water temperature of + 40, + 43 ° C. Private rooms are also available.

Central Asia Tours including hot springs

If you are interested on a private hot spring oriented tour in Central Asia, please contact us and we are happy to organize you a hot spring tour in Central Asia or in one or several of the countries or add some hot spring visits to an existing tour.

Tajikistan hot springs

We cover only the main hot springs of Tajikistan as there is a large number of tiny, modest built hot springs in the small villages of Pamir. 

Bibi Fatima hot spring

Bibi Fatima hot springs are one of Tajikistan’s most striking natural wonders, situated just a short distance from Yamchun village, in the Pamirs, not that far from the border to Afghanistan. This hot spring is named after the Prophet Muhammed’s daughter and is well-known as a pilgrimage site for Muslims around the world.

Bibi Fatima spring is located just around 1 km uphill from the Yamchun Fortress. The waters are believed to have powerful healing properties, particularly in increasing women fertility as well as in curing urological and gynecological diseases. One of the legend states that if a woman bathes naked in the water, she will increase her fertility, while another says that if you pray in a specific section, a narrow crevice in the wall, your prayers will be answered.

Bibi Fatima hot springs in Pamir, Tajikistan

Garm Chashma

Garm Chashma is located south from Khorog and has been known already for ages and is one of the best known sights of Tajikistan. Its name translates as the hot spring from the Persian language. The spring is a least several thousand years old and is by now a huge travertine mound going in cascades down towards the river. 

The biggest pool surface is 20 sqm and it is 0,5 meter deep. The water temperature varies between +38 to +50 C in the pools. Men and women take turns in the pools here as you need to bathe naked. 

The place is very popular with locals as well as pilgrims from other areas. The Garm Chashma waters provide a curative affect for those with skin and other health problems. A small sanatorium is attached to hot springs as well as many cafes.

Garm Chasma hot spring in Pamir, in Tajikistan

Jelondy hot spring

Jelondy, also at the Pamirs, has an abundant choice of hot springs with the sanatorium being the recommended one. There men and women have their own sides and you can sit in a large hot tub with several naked locals and experience Soviet sanatorium culture at its best. There is a shower with cold water to cool down in, and the sanatorium also has a hotel and a restaurant but the food is very basic.

For a more private experience, one can visit one of the several small buildings with spring-fed hot tubs inside for few somoni per person. It should be noted though that the level of the facilities is fairly low in these ones. They have often very hot water that allows only a short dip so it is best to choose an option with a cold shower for cooling down in between the dips.

Madiyan hot springs

Madiyan hot springs are very far from anything, hidden in the Madiyan valley of Central Pamirs, behind the Ak Tal village. The pools are free but it would be recommended to give at least some money for the caretaker to pay at least for the offerings of tea and naan that can be had here. 

The pools are simple concrete made buildings where you will be alone. Remember to bring your own soap for the shower as it will not be provided. 

Turkmenistan hot springs

There are very few hot spring resorts in Turkmenistan but in Western Turkmenistan, nearby the shores of the Caspian Sea, there are several mud volcanoes. The presence of a large high-pressure underground natural gas reserves is a prerequisite for the mud eruption. Almost half of all mud volcanoes in the world are located in the area of the South Caspian Basin and about thirty of them are in western Turkmenistan.

Kaynar Baba hot spring

Kaynar Baba is a rather small pond with about 25 m diameter, fed by the warm water source called Akkoz with more than 80 l/s flow and is considered sacred by the locals. Its name translates as the “boiling spring” from the Turkmen language. Next to it, among thickets of green reeds and tamarisk there is also another spring that enriched with hydrogen sulfide. People from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan often come here seeking for healing for diseases like radiculitis and rheumatism. The water temperature of the lake is not high, only 21 degrees Celsius. The lake is also the only source of freshwater in this otherwise super arid area of Turkmenistan and is therefore used by the locals of the nearby villages. In the ancient times people dug some channels to distribute the waters around the area and the traces of these channels can be still seen. 

Uzbekistan springs

There are not many hot springs in Uzbekistan but still some worth mentioning.

Nurata baths

Towards the north of the main architectural ensemble of Nurata, there is a slab built bathhouse of a traditional layout, erected in 1922 by the Bukharian masters. Probably it was built on the place of the old bath. 

The bathhouse has 12 rooms: tambours, bathing huts, reservoirs for cold and hot water. 

Next to the baths, there is a holy pool with sacred fish. Locals also come here to collect the spring waters as it is believed that they have healing properties like in many parts of Central Asia.

chashma spring channel in nurota

More about Central Asia

Page updated 21.1.2024

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