La Piscina de la Virgen, Public Thermal Baths // Banos, Ecuador

Tuesday, February 10

They don't call the town Banos for nothing! Banos is named after the wealth of thermal baths that dot the town and surrounding area. By far the most famous is La Piscinas de la Virgen as it sits at the base of a huge waterfall in the middle of town! The baths are heated by the volcano that looms high above! 

These baths were built in 1928 as a community project, and were named after the Virgin Mary, who is said to have come here to dip her feet in the healing waters. Folklore aside, these baths are really something to behold! 

Kevin and I visited Banos and the baths on the busiest weekend of the year (New Years), so the phrase "a relaxing dip in the spa" didn't really apply to us. We felt a bit more like sardines packed in with every Ecuadorian and their mother. But it was truly something we had to experience, and are so glad we did. Chances are, if you go to Banos any other time in the year, you won't see the pools so crowded. I happened to snap these pictures early in the morning (after the holiday weekend), and as you can see there are very few people. Your best tip would be to visit the baths early in the morning, and you might really get a relaxing soak! 

How it works: 
- You'll pay between $1-3 to enter the baths (the price goes up later in the day)
- You'll purchase a swim cap for $1.50 and change into your bathing suit, dropping your clothes off in their locker room (that has guards)
- Then, you'll pick a bath and enjoy! 

There are 4 baths to choose from! 3 of them are located outside on the top deck, and one is below deck. Of the three on the top deck, one bath is cold, another warm and a third reaches an intense 42°C (118°F). According to Lonely Planet, "If you’re curious, ask the basket woman to show you the ojo del agua, where the water, heated by the volcano, gushes from the earth at a scorching 50°C (122°F)." 

If you're not brave enough for the baths, you can still go and walk around the waterfall and climb the stone tower. From the tower you'll get a great view of the baths as well as a panoramic of the city. It's a cool little area. 

There are a few other public baths right outside Banos. Our favorite was the more private thermal waters at the Luna Runtun Resort and Spa. You can read about Luna Runtun and see pictures of our time there {here}. 

Happy Tuesday friends! And if you haven't got a chance to enter to win a Tinggly "experience" any where in the world, check it out {here}! The contest ends tomorrow night! 

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