We spent most of the day at a thermal spa on Lake Chapala a few miles west of Ajijic, and it was a fantastic experience. Definitely go check out Spa Termal Tlalocan if you visit this area. We immersed ourselves in hot mineral water relaxation for several hours, for less than $20 USD each.
Best time to go and how to get there
As a few people have pointed out on Trip Advisor, go on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Supposedly, the water is changed Mondays after weekend crowds.
I would also add this – try to get there before or around lunchtime. In addition to lighter crowds on those days, at that time, people are thinking about lunch before the tubs, which take 90 minutes to three hours to experience.
We were super lucky. We got there at 1:00 p.m., and we had the tubs to ourselves. The sun was starting to hit some of the tubs at this time, so perhaps a touch earlier would have been a tad more comfortable. You can’t wear sunscreen. More on the special tubs in a moment.
Once you decide when to go, make sure you go to the right spa. Coming down the main road, the sign is pretty small and you could miss it.
Next, when you go down the side street to get to the spa, go to the right spa. It is to the left of the first spa you will see — “Termal Cosala” — but the entrance to the spa reviewed here is nondescript. Spa Termal Tlalocan is on the property of a hotel – Hotel Baneario, San Juan Cosala and the entrance looks like this:
Admission is 240 pesos. For that, you can use all of the features in the main upper level – several warm pools, hot tubs, saunas, tables and chairs for relaxing and picnicking, etc. Kids will be impressed various water slides.
We paid another 130 pesos each to get to the lower level along the lake shore for six special tubs – and we are so glad we did! You pay that once you are already inside the facility, and on the other side of the large pool closest to the lake. You will get a wrist band for entry, and will give your receipt to an employee at the special pools.
Now for the best part – the special tubs
Wait under the palapa for a worker to guide you to tub one. If there are no other people waiting, you may luck out and get to start the experience without others in your tub. You will be in each tub a minimum of 15 minutes. You shower off with cool water before entering each new tub.
When we started at the palapa, there was no one else waiting to begin the tub tour. So, when the people in tub one moved to tub two, we went into tub one alone. That meant for each rotation, it was just us in our group. It appears based on head rests, they can try to fit up to ten people per tub.
Another bonus to going during their slow time: once you are in the tubs, if there is no one else waiting to start the tub tour, the workers seemed lax about the 15 minutes in each tub, so you could get to soak longer. We did.
The first tub is infused with apple cider vinegar, to bring the body more in line with an alkaline state. It’s hot, and wonderfully relaxing.
The second tub is infused with flower petals. It smells like your sitting in a potpourri pot. I enjoyed the scent and the hot water. In this tub, an employee poured our first cups of cold, green tea. They were most welcome. (There is a water jug near tub four if you need to serve yourself.)
The third tub is infused with a little sea salt, and it was rather plain, but the temperature was quite nice.
The fourth tub was my favorite – it was infused with roughly ground coffee beans and it smelled heavenly! (I’m a big coffee drinker.) The course little bits did not hurt the skin, as you might expect. In fact, if I picked a flake off my skin, it easily crumbled into more little bits. I was a little stimulated after this one, although still relaxed.
The fifth tub had oatmeal. There was a bunch in the water and also a container of soft mushy oatmeal outside the tub for you to slather onto yourself. This tub was the hottest one when we were there, and I couldn’t stay inside it the full allotted time.
Before the sixth tub, cake yourself with mud. It turns to a tight, light gray clay-like body mask. It feels wonderful to have it harden on your skin in the sun. Of course we goofed around with selfies as mud monsters.
We went down the stairs to the lake shore to enjoy our feet in the sand under the sunshine. There are a few benches down there to relax, if you choose.
Once scaly like a lizard in the sun, we went into tub six, and soaked in hot water to ease the mud off our skin.
Once you experience all the special tubs, you can sit in a temazcal room, like a sauna, and breath in deeply at some aromatherapy stations. You close the experience with a quick dip into cool water, and a walk on stones for reflexology.
So. Worth. It.
Go. Do the special tubs. I give it 4.9 stars.
The only thing that could have made this five stars is if I could have done it in the nude and occasionally sucked on dark chocolate. Oh my.
Rounding out the day
Before you leave the lower level, you can buy more extras, such as massages, facials and other spa services. I took a picture of the price board, to give readers specific information as of this writing (the peso keeps sinking, and prices may change again).
We did the Recorrido Plus option – which is all six tubs.
Done with the lower level, go back up and sit poolside and snack on items you brought for refreshment, or, buy something at the snack shops. We brought snacks and bought drinks. Our experience in the tubs lasted more than three hours and I was hungry.
Take a dip in the heated mineral water in the pools or the hot tubs with other spa-goers. Relax. The pools shimmer. The lake view is gorgeous. The mountains are beautiful. The air smells pure.
When we were done, I changed into soft cotton clothes, and I felt wonderfully relaxed, soft and drowsy. That’s 20 bucks well spent.