Beppu is an onsen town directly at the ocean. However, you won’t smell salt in the air. As soon as you step off the train you will smell sulfur. You can even see the steam that vaporates from every gap in the ground. By now the latest, I was looking forward to see the colorful Beppu Hells in nature. On top of that, in front of the train station there is your first little hot spring, which welcomes you. Dip your hands and get a first idea of how it will later be at your Beppu Onsen.
The main reason why you came to Beppu however, are probably the Beppu Hells. You should dedicate at least one day to visit them.
How to visit the beppu hells
Buy a combined bus and hell pass at the train station. A one day bus pass is 900 Yen and the entrance fee to all 7 hells is 2000 Yen. Otherwise it would be 400 Yen per hell. We paid 2700 Yen in total because we got a combined ticket.
Board bus 5 or 7 and take it to two stops after Kannawa station. Now you will be at the top of the hill and the main «Beppu hell» area. From here you are able too walk back down to Kannawa station and visit all the hells. You will notice the stop because all the tourists who hadn’t gotten off at Kannawa will get off now. Again, you will notice hot steam rising into the air out of every small gap in the ground.
Start with the «sea hell», one oft he bigger and in my opinion the prettiest hell. It’s a big pond of boilding blue water. Also, it’s set in a beautiful flower garden and apart from the sulfer smell, there also is a sweet flower scent in the air. When you walk around in the garden, you will find a few smaller red ponds and of course the lake with the water lillies. Plus, there is a hot foot bath where you are welcome to soak your feet for a while.
Move on to the hell with mud bubbles, which draw interesting formations on the mud pools. Again, there is a nice foot bath where you can relax your feet. This park is much smaller than the one before.
In case you are hungry, you could buy a freshly steamed bun or a flan in front of the entrances to these two hells. Otherwise, you cross the parking lot and walk to the next hell.
You have arrived at «white pond hell» which feautures a pond of steaming milky water. There also is a small, slightly creepy looking aquarium.
The “cooking pot hell” features several boiling ponds and a flashy demon statue as cook. On the grounds, visitors can drink the hot spring water, enjoy hand and foot baths, inhale the hot spring steam and try various snacks cooked or steamed by the hot spring (for example hard boiled eggs).
Crocodiles are bred and kept on the grounds of the “monster mountain hell” and you can look at them in their cages.
Sights around Kannawa station
By now you are back down at Kannawa station. It’s woth it to walk down a little bit further on the tourist street and find a center where you can rent your own steaming installation and cook your own meal. However, be prepared to wait up to 90min until a cooking station is free. Therefore, to be sure, go to this restaurnat first thing and reserve a time slot for later. It’s a bit pricey compared to the other food but still a fun experience. Further, you can find another foot steaming location where you can sit down for a moment and rest your tired legs.
To get to the hells in Shibaseki District take bus number 16/16A from Kannawa station. It runs twice per hour. The ride to Shibaseki takes about 5 minutes. There, you find the remaining two Beppu Hells. The bus then continues to Beppu Station (40 minutes). Bus number 26/26A runs in the opposite direction of bus number 16/16A.
The “blood pond hell” features a pond of hot, red water and a large souvenir shop. It is one of the more photogenic hells. Here, we finally tasted one of the freshly steamed buns.
The “spout hell” features a boiling hot geyser, which erupts every 30-40 minutes for about 6-10 minutes. A stone plate above the geyser hinders it to reach its full height. A short walking trail leads up the forested slope in the back of the hell grounds through a beautiful garden.
What to eat in Beppu city
Apart from several special onsen, Beppu also had the best Gyozas in Japan. We found them in the tiniest Gyoza bar. Definitely check out Gyoza&Beer (google maps) if you like these Japanese dumplings. For 600 Yen you receive a plate of 15 Gyozas. Gyozas and drinks is the only thing they offer there and it’s not a place to spend a whole evening. You knock at the door, see if there is a seat. If there is one, you can enter and order or otherwise you wait up to 5 minutes until someone will be done with their meal. It’s a Japanese experience you shouldn’t miss!
Were to stay in Beppu
We stayed at Cabosu House Beppu Hamayu in Beppu. It’s within walking distance to the restaurants and the train station. Plus, it’s close to the beach and Starbucks for breakfast, in case you don’t cook your own food. Cabosu guest house even offeres a small onsen. We really enjoyed our stay there.
What else should people visit when they are in Beppu? Comment below.