The day we were leaving Pelabuhan Ratu my dear husband decided he wanted to visit the hot springs that were located on what he said was our way out of West Java. All I could think about was how the traffic was going to keep us away from home an extra hour for each five minutes we spared. Nonetheless we left the hotel and drove what seemed like less than 10 minutes to the village of Cisolok and followed the signs to the air panas (hot water).
We paid 30,000 rupiahs to drive our car in and parked in a large parking area surrounded by little shops and restaurants. I could tell we had arrived in the right place as I saw vast amounts of bathing suits, shorts and shirts for those who had come unprepared.
I had in fact come prepared to swim and take the kids in the water, what I hadn’t come prepared for was burning my feet and screaming of pain to the delight of the already amused locals. We were obviously the only foreigners there and as soon as we got there everybody seemed to halt their activities and stare at us, especially my gemuk (chubby) second born.
After amazing at the hot springs (a first for me) we were led to what seemed like a small pool area. Before actually going in, the husband “inspected” the site and decided it was worth visiting. After paying the lofty amount or 2,500 rupiahs (about 35 cents US) per person we went in. We changed in the dressing rooms as the local ladies held Joshua and pleaded me not to take him in the water but rather let him stay in their arms.
After Evan and daddy went in the water, they invited me to join them. I wrapped a towel around me because I felt very uncomfortable being the only one wearing a swimming suit, even though it was a one-piece and not revealing at all. So I ran, left my towel by the pool and went into a small makeshift swimming pool that collected the spring water after some of the sulfur had been processed out.
I absolutely loved it! The water was warm and you could tell it was full of minerals. Evan had so much fun splashing around and swimming with daddy. They had a “spa” area where they offered cheap massages and “hydro-therapy”. Please note that simple is an understatement for this place. It has some basic facilities and some of the things are not working properly but it you are looking to swim in natural spring water and relax for a few minutes, this is an awesome place. It was also great to not pay the 80 Euros I did in Vichy to get swim in the natural hot spring water.
After we got tired and a bit too hot we changed into our clothes and left the pool area. We stopped at a small shop to have a drink and had some bottled iced tea, the thirst-quencher of our choice. We were hungry and looked around only to find a few places selling snacks and instant noodles. We felt like having “real food” but did not consider the little restaurants there very sanitary.
Overall I would love to go back and spend a bit more time there. Maybe even try “massage”
If you are considering visiting the Hot Springs at Cisolok here are a few tips:
- If you get lost getting there, just ask. Everyone knows about them and will lead you the right way.
- Bring towels with you. They are not available. If you feel uncomfortable having people stare at you, consider wearing a shirt over your bathing suit.
- If someone offers to hold your kids while you change, go for it! People are very kind ad friendly.
- Hydrate a lot after you leave the springs. You might not realize it but you are sweating as you swim, after all the water is about 40 degrees Celsius.
- Don’t get too disappointed if the place doesn’t look like a spa. Just ignore your surroundings and jump in the pool.
- If you are feeling adventurous and have some extra time, consider visiting the nearby waterfall that lays about an hour walk away from the springs.
Nice post Ana. I can’t imagine enjoying a ‘hot’ spring in the humid heat of Indonesia, but you found it soothing? How interesting. And I can only imagine how awkward you felt in a bathing suit. I’ve only ever worn a bathing suit at international hotel pools in Jakarta, Bali was an exception because they’re not Muslim and are so used to tourists, but in Aceh I would wear micro-fiber quick drying pants and a thin long-sleeve shirt to the beach. It was so hot!
It wasn’t that hot. We were in the middle of the mountains so it wasn’t bad at all! The bathing suit thing was definitely very awkward. It’s the first time I feel this way in Indonesia. Will have to bring a shirt next time just in case. Where you in Aceh post-tsunami? I think you might have met a lovely couple who just moved to Jakarta and live in my building.
Yes, we were there in ’06-’07 with CHF International doing housing and markets reconstruction. Who are your new neighbors?
What a great overview! I like the mention and follow-on discussion of modest bathing attire to be culturally appropriate. It’s so important to be culturally sensitive where modesty is concerned.
Thanks! They are not very strict in Indonesia, but just out of respect I will be more modest. I have learned my lesson and will dress accordingly next time!
Glad to find your blog. I am a Jamaican expat living here in Jakarta and staying here over the summer. We are looking for things to do and this may just be part of it. Thanks much.
Hi Natalie. Cisolok is worth a visit if you are in the area. I’m no expert but I have traveled a bit around Jakarta and if you are taking a break and going to the beach and the mountains in Java I would definitely take a day to go to Cisolok. I’m glad you found my blog and I hope you have a wonderful summer!!!