Remember that guy in college who told you to get naked because everyone was doing it? Well, he may have been ahead of his time. Whether it's for art, health, relaxation, or spiritual awakening, a whole world of travel is opening up to the idea of an NC-17 holiday. But remove your mind from the gutter—this isn't about sex. This nudity is about art! About freedom of expression! About refocusing your third eye! And when that all fails, it's also about checking out the hotties in the thermal baths in Iceland. In other words, those in the know are also those in the buff. Read on to find the best places to take it all off, from Nevada's desert of hot bodies to Japan's nude theme park.
For a complete slideshow of the Best Places to Get Naked, click here.
(Warning: Some of these pictures are, ahem, somewhat risqué. Click at your own discretion.)
1. Spaworld, Japan
Naked truth: Volcanically active Japan has thousands of natural hot springs traditionally enjoyed au naturel. One Osaka onsen has taken that concept to the extreme, creating an over-the-top, around-the-naked-world-in-eight-floors theme park. The complex is divided into themes by country—Finland, Greece, Spain, France, Ancient Rome, and so on. You'll soak amid a replica of the Trevi Fountain, in a hammam-meets-Disney stone bath, and over an Atlantis-themed tank full of tropical fish. Naturally, all baths and body soaks are done in the nude, but—bummer alert—men and women are confined to separate floors. On the bright side, you're given pj's to wear when you walk around the common areas—pink for girls, blue for boys.
Bodies of evidence: Despite its name, SpaWorld is favored by locals—and it's popular. Expect to be hanging with lots and lots of naked Japanese people.
Best reason to bring a towel: The ones they supply are meant for locals. Hearty Americans may find the in-house towels only cover one cheek.
Don't forget your: Japanese-English dictionary. This will be especially useful for translating the following: "Pardon me. I'm straight, but may I join your all-male naked pool party?"
2. Turkish Baths, Budapest
Bodies of evidence: We're not going to lie to you: The Rudas Baths won't be pretty. Think burly men toughened by an Iron Curtain past who sound like Borat—all naked as the day is long. Király, on the other hand, gets the young-and-pretty types.
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Best reason to bring a towel: To cover your eyes. We're not kidding about the Borats.
Don't forget your: Dry clothes. If you're there anytime but summer, you'll be in for a chilly shock once you leave. Be sure to bundle up.
3. Loveparade, Germany
Naked truth: "First and foremost the Loveparade stands for peaceful togetherness," reads its Web site. "The most important values for us include love, mutual respect, tolerance, and community." In other words, naked, mutual naked, naked, and naked. The annual dance-music megaparty has been held in Germany every summer since 1989 and okay, not everyone is naked—some people wear body paint. But exhibitionist types are out in full force, dancing their way through the parade to all-night after-parties in clubs and warehouses. The location changes from year to year, heading to Bochum, in the Ruhr Valley, for 2009.
Bodies of evidence: The Loveparade makes Mardi Gras look like the Republican National Convention. There's an awful lot of body paint, piercings, and tattoos on a wide array of bodies—plump, skinny, gay, straight, and everything in between.
Best reason to bring a towel: You'll need somewhere to nap between the parades and all-night raves.
Don't forget your: Brotherly love. You'll be cheek by jowl (not to mention other body parts) with your fellow lovers, and you didn't come here to stand in the corner by yourself.
4. Burning Man, Nevada
Naked truth: Some would argue that it was the Silicon Valley crowdthat put Burning Man on the map—because it was a way to see their colleagues naked. (And yes, we realize that "colleagues" and "naked" never belong in the same sentence.) However, the idea took off, and the annual weeklong art festival in northern Nevada's Black Rock Desert has become a must for those who like to party in the nude. The point, though maddeningly vague, is self-expression and self-reliance with a heavy emphasis on artwork and revelry (that's your clue right there). After days of fiery displays, the event culminates in setting aflame a giant structure shaped like a man, proving the age-old adage that some bodies are just too hot to handle.
Bodies of evidence: You name it. Last year almost 50,000 people came to Burning Man—each in various stages of dress, undress, and conflagration.
Best reason to bring a towel: You're in the desert and it's hot. Take off your clothes and throw the towel over your head for mobile shade.
Don't forget your: ATM card. Once all that self-reliance has melted away, you might notice you're not that far from Vegas.
5. Bay to Breakers, San Francisco
Naked truth: A 12K race through downtown San Francisco toward the ocean, Bay to Breakers has been held every May since 1912. This being Haight-Ashbury country, Bay to Breakers is part race, part gay pride event, part naked-from-the-Nikes-up parade. Though there are a handful of serious athletes in attendance, the Boston Marathon it is not.
Bodies of evidence: Technically, clothing is required and alcohol is forbidden, and there are many law-abiding Californians who are there to beat their personal record. But then again, many other participants take this opportunity to strip down and throw inflatable sex toys around their necks.
Best reason to bring a towel: The run will take you through the swankier section of town. If you lose your nerve, you can always pull over, wrap yourself in the towel, and pretend you got locked out of your spa appointment at the W.
Don't forget your:Your race number. Seriously. We don't care if you are wearing a fuchsia afro and nothing else, rules are rules.
6. Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Naked truth: This is nakedness, jet set style. The Blue Lagoon is your typical luxe destination spa—massages, healthy food, steam rooms, saunas, high-design guest rooms, its own product line—but with an only-in-Iceland twist. It was built on the country's famous hot springs, which, judging by the other participants, are best enjoyed sans clothing.
Bodies of evidence: Among others, svelte Swedes named Sven. It's a collection of attractive Nordic people with blond hair and no tan lines.
Best reason to bring a towel: There's actually a practical application, for once—you need to dry off after your dip in the geothermal pools. The temperature of the pools varies, but expect a chilly awakening when you get out.
Don't forget your: Hydrogen peroxide. Go ahead and be blond for the week. You may be naked but you don't want to stand out.
7. Hadaka Matsuri, Japan
Naked truth:Japan dedicates an entire annual festival to the glory of nakedness. Oddly, this event takes place in wintertime. No matter, the annual Hadaka Matsuri, or "naked man" festivals, draw massive crowds throughout the country. Though the specifics vary by event and venue, the general idea is for lots of Japanese men and boys in nothing but loincloths to run to a shrine where they receive a water purification cleansing. Tip: The full monty is frowned upon—a thousand men in glorified thongs is one thing, but this is an age-old rite of passage.
Bodies of evidence: Imagine running with the bulls. Now instead of bulls, there are a thousand Japanese men dressed as sumo wrestlers. And instead of fear of being gored, there's the fear of not tying that T-shape cloth properly.
Best reason to bring a towel: To wipe your feet. Slipping on all that poured water is a real concern, and you don't have a whole lot of cushioning for your fall.
Don't forget your: Gore-Tex. Once all the fun is over, you'll remember this is still Japan in January, and hypothermia—and shrinkage—will be a cruel reality.
8. No Pants Day, New York City
Naked truth: Imagine it's the first Friday in May, and you're in New York. You're taking the 2 train to Times Square, minding your own business when you look up and—ka-pow!—half the subway car has dropped trou. Actually they boarded the train that way—fully dressed from the underwear up and ankles down. But there's no need to flag down a cop. The harmless truth is that No Pants Day was started by an improv troupe to provide some comic relief to bored commuters (check out their Web site for hilarious videos). It has since spread to other cities—from Boise, Idaho, to Adelaide, Australia—and other bored commuters.
Bodies of evidence: What New Yorker hasn't passed a long train ride checking out foxy fellow commuters? No Pants can be a (day)dream come true, when that buttoned-up businesswoman or that hot hipster across from you promptly disrobes. But there are all walks of (pantsless) life here, so generally it's more of a laugh than an aphrodisiac.
Best reason to bring a towel: Remember, this takes place on the New York City Transit system. The towel is for anything you plan on touching with any part of your body. In fact, it's not a bad idea to bring one with you on a fully clothed subway ride.
Don't forget your: Metrocard. Nothing will take the fun out of the day like having to jump the turnstile with no pants on. The cop in the station won't think it's so amusing either.
9. World Naked Bike Ride
Naked truth: Ostensibly, the World Naked Bike Ride was started in 2004 as a demonstration against pollution and oil dependency. Over the years, it's taken on different forms in different countries at different times but the general theme is the same: Participants are encouraged to strip down and go out for a bike ride. But the bicycle part is somewhat misleading—skateboards and in-line skates are welcome as well. Dates are listed online, but if they don't fit into your schedule, you can start your own.
Bodies of evidence: It's hard to tell what you're looking at with all that colorful body paint, but that man dressed like a cop is not a YMCA imposter. He's actually a cop, and depending where this bike ride is taking place, he's either directing traffic or about to issue a citation.
Best reason to bring a towel: For padding—ouch—on the narrow—ouch—and bumpy—ouch—bike seat.
Don't forget your: Mirrored sunglasses—they're as close to inconspicuous as you can get on a naked bike ride.
10. Spencer Tunick
Naked truth: Want to be immortalized and scratch that exhibitionist itch at the same time? Sign up to be in one of Spencer Tunick's famous photos. The artist made a name for himself for his compositions of thousands of artfully arranged naked people, like the photo at right, taken in the Rubens Hall of the Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf, Germany. Tunick, who is originally from New York and has been documenting naked people since 1986, has famously disobeyed civil order with pictures of 18,000 nudies in Mexico City, not to mention New York, Vienna, Rome, London, Montreal, and dozens of other places where people tend to wear clothes. Tunick works solely with volunteers—you can sign up on his Web site to be notified next time he shoots in your neck of the woods. Just think—you too can be someone's screen saver.
Bodies of evidence: You name it—young, old, black, white, male, female, fat, thin—art brings all types.
Best reason to bring a towel: Only if you have second thoughts. But, then again, if you have second thoughts, your brow's not high enough to be here. Also, might want to have a pen handy so he can sign a print for you—his work commands a pretty penny at auction.
Don't forget your: Maturity. This isn't about seeing other people's private parts, it's about Art. Now grow up. (And bring a camera—hell, if Tunick is taking pictures of it all, why shouldn't you?)
11. Blacks Beach, San Diego
Naked truth: For every shoreline, there is a nude beach hiding somewhere on it. Of course, Brazil, France, and Greece get all the attention, but for our money, Blacks Beach in La Jolla, San Diego, is just as gorgeous, just as nude, and much closer to home. Blacks embodies everything that made Southern California a pop song in the first place—volleyball, barbecues, lab puppies frolicking in the surf, and a slew of bathing suit–less sunbathers who come with the let-it-all-hang-ten attitude that we love about California in the first place.
Bodies of evidence: This is the part of the world where "Baywatch" was filmed, but no, we can't pretend that it's all Pamela Andersons and David Hasselhoffs (thank goodness). You know the people you normally see at the beach in Southern California? Now picture them with no clothes.
Best reason to bring a towel: You're on the beach, duh.
Don't forget your: Sunscreen. You'll be exposing bits and pieces that have never seen the sun.