Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Southeast Asia's Most Popular Hot Springs

Putting together a list of hot springs and making a top 10 of this or that seems to be a popular thing to do. However quite often these lists add nothing and are based on nothing. has put together a list with 12 most astonishing hot springs in the world. The list has no references and seems at random. But not. Most are from North America, 4 from Japan and 3 from Iceland. Forgotten is the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and South America.
World's Top 5 hot springs by, even selected Sankampaeng, Thailand as it number 5; due to it
hot springs cooking area
(!). Not really remarkable, cooking at hot springs in Southeast Asia is a number one past time.

Then there's a recent list on the 15 hottest springs in the world by sumberair, which surprisingly contains 17 listings. Though hottest seems an objective criteria the list once again seems arbitrary. Temperatures are not used for selection the list seems at random with bias once again towards North America.

I thought that putting a list together of Southeast Asia's most popular hot springs would not be too difficult. I have a hunch, but I used hits from Google search, flickr photo's, Technocrati and's Asia forum to arrive at a score for each hot spring. The result:
  1. Poring, Malaysia
  2. Sungai Klah, Malaysia
  3. Ardent, Philippines
  4. Fang, Thailand
  5. Banjar, Indonesia
  6. Maquinit, Philippines
  7. Thap Ba, Vietnam
  8. Pangururan, Indonesia
  9. Rinjani, Indonesia
  10. Tambun, Malaysia
Falling just outside the Top 10 were Asin and Mainit, Philippines and Binh Chau, Vietnam.

Though arrived at through repeatable measurement, it has to be acknowledged that there is considerable bias in the results.
  • English is the main language in some countries and counts especially for Malaysia and Philippines.
  • Income and thus internet use once again counts in favour of Malaysia.
  • Names for hot springs are sometimes fluid, especially in Thai, where one can have many different versions for the same hot spring. In Vietnam and the Philippines this is less the case.
  • Due to changes in ownership, hot springs change name which does not favour a large number of hits. See for instance Toya Bungkah, which was previously known as Kintamani, a much more often used name. And would have made the top 10.
  • Internet is disproportionally skewed towards English. Vietnam sees relatively more non-English speaking tourists.
  • Some hot springs carry easy names referring to larger places, such as Fang or regions. Banjar for instance, would have been third instead of fifth if Lovina (the name for the region) would have been used.
That said, Poring has repeatedly been mentioned on this site already as propably the most popular hot springs site in Southeast Asia, which was also the outcome. Sungai Klah is also well known for being popular. Surprises are Rinjani and Pangururan in Indonesia. Pangururan I have visited myself and it was not busy ...

Now, have I chosen the right method to ascertain popularity?

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