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Visiting a spa is a must-do thing to be added in your checklist when visiting Korea, and one of the places that you have to experience is a jjimjilbang. A jjimjilbang is a gender-segregated Korean bathhouses that features relaxing and soothing soaking pools, massage and bathing areas, numerous saunas, communal eating area, entertainment lounges, as well as communal sleeping rooms.
Visiting A Jjimjilbang – What To Do
While a Korean bathhouse is a must-experience place when visiting Korea, there are certain things that you need to know, especially when you are trying a jjimjilbang for the very first time, to avoid any awkward situations.
- Leave Shoes in the Shoe Locker. Upon entering a jijim jjimjilbang bang, there are small lockers for you to put away your shoes. For some, you have to pay first before you are given a locker.
- Pay Up. After you are greeted by the front desk attendant, you will need to pay the admittance fee which could be from ₩6,000 to ₩15,000 ($5.60 to $14.00) depending on the kind of facility and amenities they have, the time of the day you are to visit as they operate 24/7, or if that you intend to stay overnight. You are then given bath clothing, towel, as well as a key you are to wear around your wrist. Today, spas make use of electronic keys wherein it tracks any other services you avail for and pay for them before you leave. A staff would then lead you to the proper gender-segregated room for changing.
- Strip Down. Your key has a number that corresponds to the locker number where you are to store your clothes as well as other belongings after you have stripped down and changed into the clothing they’ve provided. Most jjimjilbang or spas have to areas, the gender-segregated baths and the communal area for saunas, concessions as well as other facilities. If you intend to go to the baths, you will have to be naked and only bring with you your towel and toiletries. If you go to the communal area, put on your clothing. Never forget your key.
- Take a Shower. Before soaking in the baths, it is a must that you take a shower first since sanitation is taken seriously. There are washing stations or showers with plastic tools and bowls for rinsing. You could bring your personal toiletries or purchase single-use items for a small fee. Although you don’t need to wash your hair, it is imperative that you tie your hair so it wont get in the tubs.
- Soak it Up. After showering, you could proceed to the baths. Every tub has various water temperatures which are labeled for you to easily choose your preference. Many opt to go back and forth form hot to cold as they believe it has more benefits.
- Get a Scrub. Consider getting a professional scrub after your soak which cost about ₩15,000 to ₩20,000 ($14.00 to $18.00). There are gender-segregated scrubbing stations where you are scrubbed from head to toe. Koreans love to exfoliate. However, you could get an oil massage if you wish for something more calming and relaxing.
- Sweat in the Sauna. After the bath, you could proceed to the communal section and sweat it out in the sauna with various temperatures and materials for diverse medicinal effects.
- Take Some Food and Have Fun. After the soaking, scrubbing and sauna, you could indulge in various Korean food and beverages in the concession stands. The area has a place where you could watch TV, sit on massage chairs, even internet cafes.
- Get Some Rest. As there are a lot of things to do in a jjimjilbang, you could opt to stay overnight as most jjimjilbang are open 24/7. The room is communal that has thin sleeping pads and box pillows made of plastic. However, in more high-class facilities, the sleeping areas are more private with beds that are cubby-like. Regardless, earplugs are a good idea to drown out all the snoring.
- Pay your Bill. After you’ve enjoyed your time at the jjimjilbang, change into your own clothing, get your belongings and head to the front desk with your key. There you will receive your bill for any additional fees. As soon as you’ve settled the bill, you could take your shoe from the locker and be on your way.