Travel: Visiting a Korean Jjimjilbang / public bath / sauna

If I ever were to migrate to Korea or to go there for a 3-month holiday, I wouldn’t worry about being homeless. I’d just drag my luggage to the nearest jjimjilbang 찜질방 (public bath, sauna) and check myself in. It’s a mere KRW5,000-10,000 per entry.  It’s one of the things I’ve done in Korea that I’m super addicted to (besides shopping, of course), and still want to keep doing.

During my last trip to Korea in September, I went to these jjimjilbangs 3 days in a row simply because my friend insisted that it would help me to lose weight. According to him “this is my present to you – weight loss and good skin”.

And guess what, it worked! My skin became so much smoother and clearer, and I slimmed down significantly.

Weight loss aside, tt’s seriously an awesome place. There are so many things you can do here.

  • Soak in their jacuzzis
  • Bathe together with your pals
  • Steam your face off and detox in the 100-degree rooms (temperature varies from sauna to sauna)
  • Freeze your arse off in the -20 degree room
  • Relax in the charcoal, salt, aromatherapy, oxygen rooms etc
  • Get a massage
  • Get a facial
  • Get your brows trimmed or a lash extension
  • Stuff your face, especially with the baked eggs 삶은 계란 and sikhye 식혜 sweet rice drink

It’s such a communal activity place that Koreans use it for family gatherings or just for chilling out. I saw a Korean ajumma playing with her cute lil baby boy there too~

This Siloam was the first sauna / jjimjilbang I came to. I managed to find an English site of their facilities, but it wasn’t the exact one I went to.  This one had a 60-70 degree heated room / igloo.

Their facilities are majorly advanced – once you pay, you’re given a set of clothes (t-shirt and bermudas that reach your knees) and a numbered magnetic key  with a rubber band that’s large enough to go around your wrist or ankle.

Using the key to open our shoe locker

My improvised take on “Look of the Day” – check out my jjimjilbang glam. Sorry I had to block out my face cos it was such a badly and hastily-taken shot. You know, tourists just have to take a photo, but can’t be spotted by anyone else doing it.

Another jjimjilbang fashion show – a different jjimjilbang with a 100-degree heated room.

One more before we start melting ourselves!

There’s sort of a routine here – you go into the heated room for about 5-10 minutes, and start dripping sweat. Next, you zip into the ice room to cool down and close your pores. Initially, I really thought I was gonna catch a cold doing this, but somehow, I didn’t.  We repeated this routine about 10-20 times, going from hot-cold-hot-cold 😀

Taking a photo in the ice room – it was way too hot to take one in the heated room. I think my camera would have melted.  This room is really cold too, at about -20 degrees celsius. That’s ice on the walls.

Getting photobombed by Romeo.

Relaxing at the open communal area – you can see the flush in my cheeks from the detoxing.

Another photobomb by Romeo. -.-“

What we’re wearing on our heads (folded by me) is called the yangmori 양머리 – it keeps your hair out of your face and helps soak up the sweat and protect your head from the heat.

At this communal large hall area, we ate eggs , and lay around talking and doing nothing. There’s a huge tv in this hall too. In fact, we even slept in one of these areas overnight 😀

wing-shaped sweat stains on the t-shirt before we went to shower

Wait for me jjimjilbang, I’ll be back!


2 thoughts on “Travel: Visiting a Korean Jjimjilbang / public bath / sauna

  1. Hi, was always wondering about this. Is it mandatory to bathe there before and after going into the open area? The bathe area is public right? Not so keen about the bathing in public part 😛

    • Hi Cass,

      Yup, it’s kind of an etiquette thing to shower before and after going in. The bath area is open – they have the sit-and-scrub each others’ backs areas with stools, and also “booths” for showering – kinda like telephone booths but only with small side panels to prevent water splashing, not to hide behind. You should be prepared to shower/see with many naked ladies if you’re heading to a jjimjilang 😀

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