Huaqing Hot Spring (华清池, Huaqing Chi) is situated at the foot of Lishan Hill, 30km east of Xian. The springs were a popular retreat for Emperors more than 2,500 years ago, many of whom enjoyed bathing in the perfectly clear mineral water. Today this is a favorite site for Chinese tourists. In fact, there is not a great deal to actually see here, but the history behind the area is very vivid and colorful!
Legend has it that the pools were fully established here in the Qing Dynasty. The most romantic story that accompanies the history of the springs is that of the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet, the story of the Emperor Xuan Zong and his concubine Yang Guifei. Yang was a poor girl who the Emperor took a fancy to and promoted to the position of "lady". Legend has it that he was so enamored by her beauty that it distracted him from his daily work. The Empire was being threatened and the courtiers threatened to kill the concubine, blaming her for the Emperor's mismanagement of his nation. Desperate and madly in love, Yang hung herself to save the country and her lover's name. The springs were renamed the Huaqing or "The Fair" springs, in honor of Yang Guifei's beauty.
There are numerous classical style buildings at the site and many frescoes decorate the walls here. It is usually very busy, as the story of Yang Guefei is still very popular among Chinese. Today, visitors can bathe in the 43 degrees Celsius water.
There is a "Hot Springs Bathhouse" which is rather like a private bathroom in a five star hotel. More atmospheric and cheaper too is the communal bathhouse.