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On an Asia cruise, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more hot springs than in Beppu, Japan, which has over 2,000 onsen in the area. Nestled between picturesque Beppu Bay and incredible volcanic mountains on the inland side, Beppu is famous for its eight “hells,” steamy hot springs that attract millions of visitors each year. This popular resort town for Japanese travelers has gained acclaim for its hiking opportunities at Mt. Aso, a local volcano, or Mount Jifu, both of which promise stunning, dramatic views of Beppu Bay.
During your Beppu cruise, take a cable car ride to Mount Tsurumi, or spend the afternoon scoping out local delicacies, like vegetables, pork buns, and meats steamed in nutrient-rich waters. You’ll find plenty to explore in this town, even if you spend most of your time in the Beppu cruise port or dipped in the restorative hot springs.
There are many types of hot springs in Beppu, but some of the most famous are the eight “hells” in the area, which are exclusively designated for viewing the hot springs instead of bathing in them. The natural beauty of these springs is unlike anything else you’ve seen before, as steam rises from the ground from all directions and envelops you.
The sheer variety of the springs in Beppu give you plenty of options to spend your day submerged in the nutrients of the springs, whether that’s a mud bath or a heated sand bath. The relaxation of these incredible natural springs will leave you feeling completely refreshed, both physically and mentally.
If you’re craving something other than lounging in the relaxing onsen, pack a hiking bag and put on your most comfortable shoes for a trek to the summit of Mount Jifu, which promises panoramic views of Beppu Bay from the top.
Kids and families of all ages will love the Umitamago Aquarium, which offers beautiful marine life, dolphin and walrus experiences, and interactive features that promote learning and fun.
One of Beppu’s most intriguing local practices is the steaming of meat, vegetables, pork buns, and other delicacies in the waters that the hot springs produce. Locals have been cooking this way for centuries, and the end results are delicious and chock-full of nutrients from the minerals of the springs.
Take the Beppu Ropeway or enjoy an afternoon hike to the top of Mount Tsurumi for awe-inspiring views of Beppu and Oita City. Hiking trails range from easy to challenging, depending on what type of experience you prefer.
Cuisine in Beppu, Japan is heavily influenced by the local hot springs, including the region’s signature steaming method. It’s called “hell-steaming,” and it must be tried to be believed. Taste delicious pork buns steamed in the mineral-rich onsen steam, or enjoy seasonal and fresh sashimi farmed exclusively from the Beppu Bay. Seafood is incredibly fresh in this part of Japan, so don’t miss the chance to try mackerel, seki, and flounder.
Beppu didn’t begin to rise in popularity as a hot spring and resort town until the 19th century, although settlement in the Beppu Bay dates back to before the Japanese Edo period. Today, the town provides a mindful break from the hustle and bustle of nearby cities like Osaka. Many visitors come and go from the resort town, but other families have lived in the area for generations. Beppu might be one of the quirkiest destinations you’ll ever travel to, between the eight “hells” and the funky museums and attractions alike.
The Beppu port is conveniently located between major sights in the area, including historic temples and Mt. Aso, the local volcano. Taxis and ferries are readily available from the port.
Public transportation in Japan is known as some of the best and most efficient in the world. Beppu is very walkable, and there are also buses that cater to tourists. There’s a train station about 10 minutes away from the port.
Beppu’s status as a hot springs town has made it popular with artisans and makers, so the city’s boutiques and local shops are filled with quirky handmade goods and beautifully crafted souvenirs.
In Japan, the official currency is the Japanese yen. You’ll find ATMs regularly available. Unlike the United States and other Western destinations, it’s largely considered rude to tip in Japan, even at restaurants and with taxi drivers. If you do end up leaving a tip of any type, it’s also considered impolite to hand over cash directly. During your time at the Beppu cruise port and beyond, bring a blank envelope or two for the cash and tips you’d like to set aside.