Ever since our Japan trip in 2016, Mr J and I have been crazy about Japanese Onsen (hot spring baths). We love the peace and relaxation of the mind that follows a long hot soak. Last Saturday, Mr J and I decided to be crazy and try the one and only onsen in Singapore. Called Yunomori Onsen Spa, there are three branches in the world. Mr J and I had been to the original branch in Bangkok just last year, and we really missed the onsen after coming back, so it was a very pleasant surprise to find out that Yunomori Onsen Spa will be brought into Singapore just one year later! We had such a great time that we felt that we definitely need to blog about our experience!
10am – 11pm daily
Yunomori Onsen Spa, in my opinion, works more like a Korean jjimjilbang (minus the crowd and noise) than a typical Japanese bathhouse. You will need to pay an entrance fee of S$38 (excluding GST), and with this day pass, you can stay in the facility for as long as you want until the place closes at 11pm. There are no hidden cost, everything you need for bathing is provided, such as hairdryer, comb, lotion, shampoo, soap and conditioner. You really don’t have to bring much (except a pair of undergarments if you like, or you can use their disposables). Children and elderly parents are welcome because children below 15 or above 65 years old can get discounted rate of S$28 per person!
Besides onsen, there are massage packages that you can choose from. A traditional Thai message starts from S$88 (excluding GST). We did not do massage this time, but based on our experience in Thailand, I think the massages should be worth a try!
The baths are GENDER SEGREGATED. I have to emphasize this because I got asked so many times just because I went with Mr J *roll eyes* (Come on this is Singapore, I think there is probably some law against naked guys and girls being together in public). So naturally, changing rooms are gender separated too.
Before entering the changing area, you will be given a set of towels (small one for bringing into the bathing area and big one for wiping your body). You will also be asked to choose your Yukata (which you can wear to the Cafe and relaxation area) and given the option of whether you want to wear their disposable undergarments. From the point of stepping into the changing area onwards, the use of mobile devices are strictly forbidden (so sorry, no photos of the baths to post here!).
The wristband with keys to your locker will be given at the reception counter. You will need to tap your wristband on the doorknob to open the locker. Changing room is completely open, so yes, you will need to strip in front of everyone 😉
From the changing room, there is a door leading to the bathing area. As with other bathhouses, there are open stalls for you to sit down and start scrubbing. The onsen etiquette is that you will need to wash yourself thoroughly first before stepping into the pools.
There are 5 baths in the female section and 6 bathes in the male section (this is so not fair!) If anyone is expecting the baths to contain natural hot spring water, then you are in for a disappointment. The more accurate description for the baths will be hot artificial mineral water (we all know Singapore only has one hot spring location). The baths are:
1. Silk Bath (my favourite!)
The silk bath really reminds me of 贵妃浴 (Me and my princess dream :P). The water has a frothy look due to the jets of hydrogen-containing bubbles, which gives the water a silk feel, aids in buoyancy and relax the muscles.
2. Soda Bath
The Soda Bath is my next favourite. According to the Yunomori Onsen website, it contains high concentration of CO2, which helps to increase blood oxygen levels, reduce blood pressure and detoxify the blood. From the first look, it does not appear as impressive as the other baths because it just look like a swimming pool filled with hot water. However, once you are inside long enough, you will start to feel as though all your pores are slowly opening up and absorbing the wonderful nutrients in the bath. I don’t know if it is my imagination, but I felt that my breathing became more regulated and my mind clearer (maybe because of the higher oxygen level)? Hmmmx…
3. Bubble Bath
The bubble bath contains water infused with minerals. I liked the feel of the tiny water bubbles popping against my skin. Felt like my pores were undergoing deep cleansing 😛
4. Jet Bath
The Jet Bath contain rows of Jacuzzi with inclination so that you can rest and sleep while having jet streams of air shot at your body. For me, this was a bit of disappointment because the seats were too big for me and I could not feel the massage effect. I could not reach the head rest either. Personally, I thought that the Bubble Bath was much better.
5. Cold Bath
Cold bath is, as the name implies, a pool of cold water at 17-19°C. This temperature is unbearable if you step into it immediately after a hot soak. But this bath was also necessary because one cannot stay in hot water for more than 20 mins (palpitation, giddiness and other side effects will occur). In fact, I was feeling faint from my initial enthusiasm of soaking in all the baths, and to rest for quite some time. Subsequently, I developed a regime of taking a hot soak first, and then a cold soak, and then rest for 5mins before starting all over again. It really works better for me as I could take long hot baths after that. Water cooler is provided too, so please hydrate yourself properly between soaks!
6. Onsen bath (male section only)
From what I read, the temperature of the water is higher at 40-43°C. It contains minerals to alleviate numerous ailments.
Besides the bath, there is a steam room which is really…steamy. It is so steamy that you can’t see your neighbours clearly. I had a little trouble breathing cause of the humidity. There is suppose to be sauna as well but I could not find it.
After 1.5hrs of intense soaking, I finally wore my Yukata and stepped out into the cafe. No footwear is provided except at the toilet area, so you will need to walk everywhere bare-footed. Makes you feel really at home. By then, Mr J had already finished napping at the relaxation area while waiting for me. Onsen really helps to stimulate appetite, for we felt hungry again and had our second dinner 😀
My other favourite corner is the relaxation area, because here is the place where you can sleep with no shame! There are rows and rows of lounge chairs with blankets provided. As this is meant to be a quiet zone, mobile phones and chatting are highly discouraged. Free wifi is provided throughout the facility.
Between the original branch in Bangkok and Singapore branch, I have to admit that the original branch still wins hands down because the setting feels more Japanese as the baths are made using traditional teak wood and there are outdoor baths (in wooden barrels!) There is also a small Japanese garden in addition to the relaxation area. Not to mention that the treatment fees are wayyy cheaper (onsen only cost 450 THB and traditional Thai massage cost 390 THB). Singapore branch feels more like an expensive version of Korean jjimjilbang with baths made of granite floors. Nevertheless, the service in Singapore is equally good, and the staff makes you feel welcome all the time. Initially I had my reservations about visiting a public bathhouse that is so close to home. What if I meet someone I know?? But fortunately, the bulk of the customers are still Japanese and Koreans, although I did see a handful of Singaporeans. The place is clean and quiet even on a Saturday night, just the place to be outside of home when you have nowhere else to go. Honestly, for S$38, where else in Singapore can you find a place that allows you to bathe and sleep for a whole day? So if you have a few hours to spare, I will still recommend to give this place a try!