Different saunas and thermal spas abroad all have specific guidelines you need to follow depending on the location. To ensure ultimate comfort and relaxation, and avoid putting yourself in an embarrassing situation, here are some tips to remember.
Show Up on Time
Saunas in Germany are run just like trains. An expert is in charge of scheduling everything and they don’t tolerate interruptions and being late. A sauna meister pours water over coals, known as aufgass, on a schedule often posted at the entrance of the spa. It is expected that sauna goers arrive before the aufguss. Be sure you don’t leave or arrive mid-session unless you want the sauna meister to scold you.
Being too loud is probably the biggest mistake you can ever commit in Finnish saunas and thermal spas. It is regarded as the peak of rudeness to talk too loudly and discuss controversial topics such as politics and religion. The heat and sauna customs are the only appropriate topics allowed to be discussed in these sacred spaces.
Humming, singing, whistling, cursing, and passing gas should also be avoided. Local legend says that people who break such rules will receive punishment from the sauna elf called saunatonttu in Finnish.
Keep the Towel Dry and Cover Any Tattoo
Tattoos in Japan are often linked with the Japanese mafia. This is why many hot springs and public baths require covering them. Others even bar entry to guests with tattoos. While the country’s tourism department is trying to change it, don’t be surprised if they give you stickers for covering your tats.
One more interesting thing about Japanese baths is that you shouldn’t let your towel touch the water or get wet. Locals prefer folding them above their heads and using them for wiping their brows. It is also a big no-no to let hair trail in the water.
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No Splashes, Please
The saunas and thermal spas in Hungary are known all over the world. However, rules may vary depending on the spa and are usually posted only in Hungarian.
So, no matter where you go and regardless of the size of the pool, take note that these baths are not swimming pools. These are not for splashing but only for soaking. Bathing suits are often required in co-ed baths while single-sex hammams might be nude only.
Scrub Down Naked
In Icelandic spas, simply rinsing in your bathing suit will not be enough. You need to strip down naked and pay extra attention to your feet, groin, armpits, and head. If you don’t do so, the attendant on duty might just send you back to give it another go.
Unlike the saunas and thermal spas in Finland, the hot spots and thermal pools in Iceland are far from being sacred and tranquil spaces so don’t expect to find a quiet and peaceful spot. These places are popular among locals where they talk and catch up on gossip and news.
However, being loud is still unacceptable. You can talk about everything and anything but do it softly. You might be asked to leave if you get too loud.
Remember these tips and have the best and most relaxing in all saunas and thermal spas no matter where you are in the world!