Chunja Hot Springs
Chunja Hot Springs
Chunja village (also spelled as Chunzha, Shonzy or Chundzha) is located 240 kilometers east from Almaty in the Uighur district of the Almaty region. There are about 140 large mineral springs with temperatures varying between 37-50° C, east from Chunja village in the area, north from the Ketmen ridge. The area of springs continues for tens of kilometers along the Aksai-Chunja-Koljat highway. The Shonzhy springs get their thermal waters from the nearby Ketmen ridge and the rivers that at some points transform to underground rivers in this otherwise arid region.
Chunja has been a popular tourist destination already for a long long time as the waters are believed to have healing properties. The water in the Chundja hot springs was called earlier radon due to the high content of this element in some of the springs. Nowadays the water quality has been investigated more thoroughly and minerals like silicic acid, calcium, sodium, chlorine, iodine, bromine, among others were found as well. Bathing in it is believed to have a beneficial effect on the body that should help to cope with various illnesses. Bathing in the hot spring waters can have a very good effect on especially the skin.
Chunja Hot Spring Resorts
Most of the springs in Shonzhy are privatized by local entrepreneurs, so you need to choose the one to spend time or overnight at. There are dozens of mini resorts to choose from. They provide a wide variety of services and accommodation options from very basic (soviet) to fairly luxurious ones. The cost of staying in the areas depends on the comfort level of the complex.
On average, they charge from 6 000 to 12 000 tenge per night per person. Usually the price includes accommodation and access to the pool infrastructure with breakfast and others meals often included as well (sometimes for extra cost). Most of the springs are outdoors and many do not have a cover on them making them especially enjoyable in the cold winter weather. The best time to visit these hot springs is in spring, autumn and early winter. For summer time some resorts also offer water slides and shallow pools suitable for children but it can get awfully hot in hot spring during the warm summer period. The level of the resorts in Chunja varies from dilapidated Soviet ones to ok Western standards and the price level follows the quality.
How to get to Chunja Hot Springs
You can take a regular bus from the Sayakat bus station from Almaty. “Almaty – Chundja Hot Springs” bus runs daily at 8:00 in the morning. One way ticket will cost about 3500 tenge. From Chundja, the daily bus starts it’s return journey at 13:00 in the afternoon. The journey takes about 3,5 hours. The road to Chundzha takes travelers by the scenic Kok Pek pass with sharp turns before reaching the area of the Charyn canyon. If you are planning to visit Charyn, visiting some relaxing hot springs with 100 km more drive to East is not a bad option with some inexpensive night stay as well.
The road in the middle of the arid area is also not far away from the Ili river meandering its way towards Kapchagay reservoir from China.
Before your trip, consult your doctor to make sure you don’t have any limitations for hot spring bathing.
Other destinations and sights near Chunja region
Page updated 19.3.2023