Though we did this trip a long while back, we thought it’s nice to share our experience here, especially now that the weather’s getting cold. So, within a week of me moving to Shanghai, we packed up and made our way to Tangshan in Nanjing (not to be confused with the one near Beijing). It was the Lunar New Year so offices were officially closed for a week which gave us enough time to squeeze a little staycation somewhere in the midst of a chaotic move.
Having heard that China’s domestic tourism can be quite overwhelmingly crowded during long national holidays, we settled on what we thought would have been the quietest option – hiding up in a mountain. Not just any mountain, but a mountain with natural hot springs. So so precious in the winter.
We decided on Regalia Resort & Spa Tangshan for our stay. Winter in Shanghai is usually rainy and miserable. So, locking ourselves up in a room with our own personal hot spring tub on a balcony overlooking the mountain, was an idea too appealing to resist.
As with most places out of Shanghai, English speakers are still pretty rare (aside from the kids who run up to you to say hello and a countable few hotel staff), so some Mandarin would be incredibly helpful. We were told we would be picked up by a driver upon arrival at the train station, but amidst the Lunar New Year chaos, the driver mixed up our location. There’re usually two train stations in each city so when travelling by speed train, it’s important to know which station you’ll be arriving at.
We ended up taking the taxi up the mountain, which took about half an hour and cost around 90yuan. The resort front desk was extremely apologetic about the mix up by the driver earlier, and offered to pay for our taxi, even proceeding to waive off the prices of our meals at the hotel restaurant. They also offered to pay for our taxi ride back on our final day, which we gently rejected. The level of service they provided after that, more than made up for the earlier confusion.
The resort itself was self sufficient. They only had one restaurant, which served great tasting Chinese and Thai cuisine, and also have an entertainment centre with several game rooms, ping pong rooms, KTV and the sort, as well as a gym and an outdoor pool (which is unfortunately not heated up in cold weather).
My favourite facility was the beautiful thai styled spa nestled on a little hill within the resort’s compound. The treatment rooms were beautifully designed. We enjoyed a couple massage there complete with a nice soak in the tub, finishing just in time for our dinner in the restaurant.
The resort also has a (somewhat) bar. A bar that serves all the usual spirits and even has a cocktail menu, but no bartender, with room temperature beers and only a lady who pours out what you need in glasses. Adding to that, the bar closes at around 10pm but we weren’t too bothered by it. Afterall, a steaming hotsprings tub was waiting for us back in our room.
Having said that, Nanjing is 2 hours away from Shanghai via high speed train, but additional time is needed for the drive up Tangshan. In total, you’d take around 3 hours commuting from Shanghai to Tangshan and because of this, we suggest staying at the resort for a minimum of 2 nights to make the transit worth it.
There are various hot springs all over China though their authenticity is a different topic. Some claim to be a hot springs resort but merely use heated tap water. Tangshan, however, is known to be one of the mountains that do have natural hot springs. Resorts and local homes that have popped up there transport this water through pipes to heat up the buildings and of course, for their personal baths.
So if a warm sunny island trip does not exactly fit your busy schedules, a hot springs resort somewhere might be a more feasible alternative to help ease the misery of the bitter cold months ahead.
CTrip now offers online booking service of trains via their website, and even delivers tickets right to your home (Oh lucky us): english.ctrip.com/trains
Regalia Tangshan: www.regalia.com.cn