I was a declared jjimjilbang (Korean bathhouse) virgin and even skeptic. I didn’t like the idea of getting into a pool with naked women I didn’t know or having my entire body scrubbed for half an hour while being butt-naked. After a visit to Busan’s SpaLand, everything has changed. You can now call me a jjimjilbang lover!
What is Jjimjilbang?
Jjimjilbang (찜질방) is a traditional Korean bathhouse, equipped with various kinds of pools, showers, saunas as well as massage areas. As mentioned in the introduction, this kind of bathhouse has gender-separated areas where people of the same sex bathe nude. Usually, a jjimjilbang is a pastime activity for the whole family to relax and have a good time. Most jjimjilbangs are open 24 hours, where you can even spend the night sleeping in rooms with ondol (Korean floor heating).
What makes SpaLand so different?
First of all, SpaLand covers two entire floors and has and outdoor area – both gender-segrated pools as well as shared foot bath pools outside. This makes it one of the largest spas in Asia. It calls itself an urban resort-style hot spring where visitors can enjoy the view of the beautiful Suyeonggang River. The spring water, pumped from underground, has two main ingredients (sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride), known to increase natural beauty and relieve pain.
SpaLand offers a large types of traditional baths, as well as saunas & hot steam rooms and an entertainment and refreshment zone:
- 18 hot spas
- 2 cold spas
- 2 bathe pools
- 1 eaglewood bath
- Finnish Sauna
- Red Clay Room
- Roman Room
- Pyramid Room
- Body Sound Room
- Wave Dream Room
- Hardwood Charcoal Room
- Hamam Room
- Bali Room
- SEV Room
SpaLand is conveniently located inside the famous Shinsegae shopping center, the largest one in the world. The spa is on the 1st floor and accessible both from the inside as well as the outside of the department store. You can take the subway and get off at “Centum City”, where you enter Shinsegae and then the spa. There’s also a huge food court in the department store, in case you fancy some food before hitting the jjimjilbang.
Come and see for yourself!
Admission is 15,000 KRW ($15) on weekdays, 18,000 KRW ($18) on weekends and 13,000 KRW ($13) before 9 AM and 8 PM on Saturday and Sunday or 10,000 KRW ($10) during the week. That’s an incredible price, since basic jjimjilbang usually charge the same fee of around 10,000 KRW.
Jeongsu and I went for 4 hours after 8 PM on a Saturday and got the discount. It was great, however, note that the scrubs and massage tables close early, at around 10:30 PM. The special spa clothes and towels are free of charge as well as your own locker where you will store all your other stuff. You can take your cellphone into the spa as well.
Check out CNN’s review of SpaLand Busan here.