China: Xi’an – Huaqing Pool & Hot Springs

About 30km east from Xian lies a sprawling complex of palace pavilions and classic Chinese gardens with hot springs built all the way back in 723 AD by emperor Xuanzong of the Tang dynasty. There was a palace of some sort existing here from the previous dynasties and some kind of royal gardens existed here for nearly three millennia starting with the first Chinese emperors – making these the oldest gardens in China. The main attractions here are 5 imperial spring pools – Lotus Pool, Haitang Pool, Star Pool, Shangshi Pool, and the Prince Pool. The Lotus Pool was Emperor Xuanzong’s private bathing pool, while the nearby Haitang Pool was the pool of his favorite concubine Yang Guifei (and the ensuing romantic story – drawing massive crowds here). The whole complex is very crowded and rather commercialized, but swing the ancient royal pools that are over 1000 years old is most definitely worth it.