찜질 (jjimjil) means in Korean “hot bath” and 방 (bang) is a room. However, if you visit a jjimjilbang, you’ll see that it’s not only a hot-bath-room, but a common area, where people gather together to have some fun, to rest, to take a sauna or massage and even to overnight at low costs.
I’ve been to Dragon Hill Spa – a well known jjimjilbang in Yongsan, Seoul. The experience there was quite unique… You can find my special tips for a great jjimjilbang visit at the end of this post.
Jjimjilbang is usually open 24/7. You should pay a small amount for the entrance (₩11000 (~8,50€) at Dragon hill) and can stay there for up top 12 hours. Every further hour will cost ₩1000 (~0,80€) more. At the entrance you’ll get a chip key with dedicated locker numbers, where you can lock your shoes, clothes, etc., two small towels and new clothes. Yes… you’re gonna wear uniform inside the jjimjilbang, except in the shower / bath area, since it’s nudist zone.
Firstly all shoes should be locked in the shoe-locker, because only barefoot is allowed. Then you can go to the men or women’s changing room, which is directly connected with the nudist zone. It is strictly prohibited, that a man comes to women’s changing room and vice versa. In this room, you can not only changing clothes, but also buying stuff you need, take a massage, have your finger nails painted, etc.
After put on the uniform, you can go start your exploration around the jjimjilbang. Each jjimjilbang could be designed differently. The dragon hill spa, for example, has 8 floors. 4 of them are the only for men or women dedicated areas, with changing room, sleeping room and shower / hot-bath-tub area.
Besides, there are other common areas, where everyone can visit. Here you can find restaurants, a swimming pool, a gym, a small cinema, etc. If you want to use anything here, additional fee will be charged to your chip. When you check out later, you need to pay.
There is a huge common use area, where you can see people sitting or laying around, relaxing, sleeping. Here you can also find the entrance to most of the healing rooms or saunas, which you can visit without any additional costs. Each room can have a special theme, e.g. Salt room, Hinoki-wood room, Ice-room, etc., as well as different temperature, from -1 to 80-90°C. By the way, you have to wear your clothes while using the sauna.
Just take a pillow from the cabinet into the saunas, lay or sit down, enjoy the silence and take the time to have a rest. When it’s enough, you can get out, bill a bit, buy some food or drink, then keep on relaxing.
Before leaving the jjimjilbang, you should also have a look at the shower / hot bath tub area. There are bath tubs with various temperature, where everyone can enjoy without clothes. You can also try the whole body peeling massage, which could be a little bit painful…
After spending some hours here, I’m sure you’ll get out totally relaxed.
Some tips for your visit:
- You can have more relaxed experience when you visit the jjimjilbang during weekdays and before working hours end because of less visitors
- In the nudist zone, if you feel uncomfortable without clothes, you can just bring and wear swimming suit or bikiny to enjoy the hot-bath.
- In case you want to overnight at jjimjilbang, you should also plan to arrive earlier than 11 pm to be able to have a mattress and a space in the common sleeping room.
- It’s said, that there are some jjimjilbangs, that are dedicated for homosexuals. Please double check online before your visit, to avoid any undesirable event.
- And finally, here are things that you definitely have to try out at a jjimjilbang: to fold a sheep head – 양머리 (yangmeori) with your towel and wear it the whole time like Korean do; to taste the smoked eegs – 훈제 계란 (hunje gyeran) and to enjoy the traditional sweet rice drink – 식혜 (sikhye) in the saunas.
Wishing you a lot of fun and a relaxing time.