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Japan's Top Hot Springs

Japanese hot springs

Japan’s thousands of onsen, or hot springs, have been used to treat everything from skin conditions to sleep disorders since the days of the samurai. Here, four worth the trip from Tokyo.

The Original: According to lore, a Buddhist monk discovered the hot springs of Yamanaka, on the western coast of Honshu island, some 1,300 years ago. Take a dip in the privacy of the secluded Kayotei, then stay for an organic kaiseki meal with locally foraged bamboo shoots and soba noodles with grated daikon.

The Pastoral: Located at the foot of Mount Amagi, Yugashima has jaw-dropping scenery and rustic baths. The Yumotokan onsensits in a gorge along the Kano River. Post-dip, walk through the primeval cedar forest to Jōren no taki, an 82-foot-high waterfall.

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TODAY Show: Places to Reinvent Yourself

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Travel really can transform your life, and these are a few of the trips that will make it happen.

Globe Aware Volunteer Trips

A volunteer vacation in another country can help you put your life into perspective. Globe Aware, for instance, operates trips in 15 countries, from Costa Rica to Cuba, Brazil to Vietnam. You’ll assist in rural schools, build wells, and deliver supplies to orphanages, teach English and computer lessons, or distribute fruits and vegetables to low-income families. Travelers come home and say that every aspect of their week was meaningful, and that they felt that they were able to give back to the community. Rates range from $1,140 to $1,390 per week depending on the trip. Cost covers meals, accommodation, and on-site travel (but not airfare).

Related: See the Best Life-Changing Trips

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Manhattan, Scottsdale, Bali + a Destination Spa

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 40% off.

SALE ENDS IN 3 DAYS!
201205-b-vacationist-nolitanjpgNolitan Hotel - up to 35% off - New York City, New York
The first boutique hotel to open in Manhattan's Nolita (North of Little Italy) neighborhood, the Nolitan exudes both low-key hipness and local charm.

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ENDING SATURDAY: Vote to Win a $10,000 Dream Trip!

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Saturday is the last day to vote in the 2012 World’s Best Awards Survey!

All respondents will be entered to win a $10,000 dream trip, among other trip prizes.

Go to TLWorldsBest.com and tell us which hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, travel companies, and destinations you love most. We’ll feature your favorite places in the August 2012 issue of Travel + Leisure.

Hurry! Voting closes at midnight on March 31st. Cast your vote now! 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The 2012 World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on 12/01/11 and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 03/31/12. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Briana Fasone is a digital editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Istanbul's Newest Bath House

Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami in Istanbul, Turkey

Ah, the eternal Istanbul conundrum: a pummeling at a historic, no-frills hammam such as Cağaloğlu, or a luxurious steam at a modern hotel spa. Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami (1 Cankurtaran Mahallesi Bab-i Hümayun Cad.; 90-212/517-3535; treatments from $90), which recently opened between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, offers the best of both worlds. The double-domed structure returns to its original incarnation—it was built as a bathhouse in 1556 by Mimar Sinan. Now, it shines with 1,400 square feet of marble, gold-plated faucets, and a galleried cedar cold room under a soaring cupola. After aromatherapy and bubble massages, guests can linger in the relaxation lounge over Turkish delights while the sound of a muezzin echoes in the distance.

Photo by Kerem Uzel

3 Weeks Left: World's Best Sweepstakes!

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Take T+L’s World’s Best Awards Survey and enter to win a $10,000 Dream Trip!

March is underway, which means there are only a few weeks left to cast your vote.

Go to TLWorldsBest.com and rate your favorite hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, and travel companies—and your top picks might make it into T+L’s annual World’s Best Awards issue in August 2012! Voting ends March 31, so time is running out.

A bonus? Respondents will be entered to win a $10,000 dream trip, among other first, second and third place trip prizes. What are you waiting for? Vote now!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The 2012 World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on 12/01/11 and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 03/31/12. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Briana Fasone is a digital editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

TODAY Show: Where to Go for Rest and Relaxation

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Want to unwind and get away from it all? T+L's features director Nilou Motamed shares her picks for the best spots for R&R.

Digital Detox Vacations: Dream Trip or Personal Nightmare?

Mashable.com |  Caribbean nation St. Vincent and the Grenadines is challenging travelers to leave smartphones, tablets and other gadgets behind as a part of their new digital-detox vacation package, complete with a guidebook explaining how to function on a trip without tech, and a life coach.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines — which is made up of 32 islands and cays, nine of which are inhabited – has launched a vacation package designed to wean people off their technology. Before arriving to the islands, visitors will receive tips on how to prep and de-tech for the stay, and an on-site life coach will provide advice on how to not let tech control your life.

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Vote in the 2012 World's Best Awards Survey and Enter to Win a $10,000 Dream Trip

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Calling all globe-trotters! The 2012 World’s Best Awards Survey is live!

What tops your travel list? Click here to vote for your favorite hotels, resorts, spas, cruise lines, airlines, and travel companies—and the winners will be featured in T+L’s annual World’s Best Awards issue in August 2012.

PLUS Enter the sweepstakes! All respondents will be entered for a chance to win a $10,000 dream trip to the destination of your choice. First and second prize winners will also receive once-in-a-lifetime vacations—and all bespoke trips are planned by one of T+L’s expert A-List travel agents. Two third prize winners will each receive American Express gift cards worth $1,000.

Vote now!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The 2012 World’s Best Awards Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 or older. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Sweepstakes, visit TLWorldsBest.com. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on 12/01/11 and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 03/31/12. Sponsor: American Express Publishing Corporation.

Briana Fasone is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Off the Grid in Malibu

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A “no-options” regimen at The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu, a boot camp for building physical strength, endurance and discipline—this was my summer vacation of choice.

Requirements:

- 8-10 hours of hiking, weights, yoga and other exercise daily in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountain range
- massage (of course!)
- a daily intake of 1200-1500 calories (no dairy, no sugar, no carbohydrates, no caffeine, no alcohol)
- living BlackBerry/smartphone-free

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