A Korean sauna, or jjimjilbang, is a traditional Korean bathhouse that offers a variety of spa services and facilities. The jjimjilbang is a popular social gathering place in Korea, where people come to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy the company of others.
The Korean sauna typically features hot and cold baths, steam rooms, dry saunas, and relaxation areas. Many Korean saunas also offer additional amenities such as massage services, nail care, and hair styling.
In a Korean sauna, visitors are often provided with a uniform, which typically consists of shorts and a t-shirt, as well as a towel. Visitors are expected to remove their shoes before entering the sauna area. Notably, men and women are usually segregated by gender.
Korean saunas are believed to have health benefits, such as improving circulation and relieving stress. As a result, they are often considered an important part of Korean culture.
A popular Korean social wellness activity
Also known as jjimjilbang, they very popular in both Korea and among people of Korean heritage around the world. They are an important part of Korean culture, and many people visit Korean saunas regularly for relaxation, rejuvenation, and socialising.
Korean saunas have gained popularity in recent years outside of Korea as well. This includes in countries with significant Korean populations such as the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Many Korean sauna facilities offer a range of services, including hot and cold baths, steam rooms, dry saunas, massage services, and food and beverages, making them a popular destination for those seeking a unique spa experience.
Interestingly, Korean saunas are also becoming increasingly popular among people from different cultural backgrounds. The health benefits and cultural traditions associated with Korean sauna culture have gained interest across the world.
A Korean sauna, or jjimjilbang is community centred and used by everyone.
Used by Korean people of all ages
Korean saunas are used by a wide variety of people of all ages and genders. They are popular among both men and women, and people of all ages, from teenagers to senior citizens. Young people, in particular, often visit as a way to socialise and spend time with friends. Older adults may visit for health reasons or to relax and de-stress.
Furthermore, they can be a great place for families to spend time together. Many offer special amenities and activities for children, such as game rooms and movie theatres. In general, they are a welcoming and inclusive environment. Visitors of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to enjoy the facilities and amenities at their own pace and in their own way.
Thousands of Korean saunas across the country
It’s difficult to give an exact number of Korean saunas in Korea. Estimates put the number at over 4000. However, they are quite numerous and can range from large, modern facilities to small, traditional bathhouses. It is safe to say that there are thousands of Korean saunas in operation. Urban areas such as Seoul, Busan, and Incheon are host to more facilities that other parts of the country.
Many Korean saunas are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result they are a popular destination for anyone looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. In addition to offering a variety of spa services and amenities, Korean saunas often serve as social gathering places.
Types of wellness rooms inside a Korean sauna
The exact facilities and rooms found in a Korean sauna can vary depending on the establishment. That said, there are some common rooms you might expect to find.
- Jjimjilbang room: A large communal room with heated floors where visitors can relax, socialise, and sleep.
- Sauna rooms: A variety of dry and wet saunas that may use different types of heat sources, temperatures and humidity levels.
- Hot and cold pools: Pools with hot and cold water for soaking and relaxation. Some may also have jets or other features.
- Shower rooms: A space with multiple shower stalls for visitors to wash before and after using the saunas or pools.
- Massage rooms: Private rooms where visitors can receive massages or other spa type wellness treatments.
- Rest areas: Lounges or seating areas where visitors can take a break, relax and chat with friends.
- Fitness areas: Some Korean saunas may also have fitness centres or exercise equipment like a regular gym.
It’s important to note that the facilities and rooms can vary widely depending on the establishment, and some Korean saunas may have additional or different rooms and amenities.
Typical rituals associated with a Korean sauna
There are rituals and customs associated with visiting a Korean sauna. Visitors should be aware of these in order to fully enjoy the experience. Here are some examples:
- Removing shoes: Visitors are expected to remove their shoes and store them in a locker or designated area before entering the sauna area.
- Gender segregation: Most Korean saunas have separate areas for men and women, and visitors are required to use the appropriate area. In some cases, there may be a common area where everyone can relax and socialise together.
- Nudity: While some saunas may provide modesty garments such as shorts and t-shirts, it is customary to be completely naked in the sauna area. Visitors may feel more comfortable bringing their own towel or robe to cover up while moving between different areas.
- Bathing: Before entering the hot tubs or sauna rooms, visitors must thoroughly clean themselves in the shower area. Doing so maintains hygiene and prevents contamination of the water.
- Relaxation: One of the main purposes of visiting a Korean sauna is to relax and de-stress. Visitors are encouraged to spend time in the various sauna rooms, hot tubs, and cold pools, as well as to enjoy other amenities such as massage and sleeping areas.
- Refreshment: Korean saunas often have a range of food and drink options available. Visitors are encouraged to try different foods and beverages to enhance their experience.
The hot kiln, or hanjeungmak, is a type of dry sauna that is commonly found in Korean saunas.
Experiencing the hanjeungmak hot kiln
A hot kiln, or hanjeungmak, is a type of custom built dry sauna that is commonly found in Korean spas. It is a large, domed room made of stone or clay that is heated using a wood-fired stove. Inside the hot kiln the temperature can reach up to 80-90 degrees Celsius (176-194 degrees Fahrenheit), and the humidity is usually very low.
Visitors to the hot kiln typically lie or sit on the heated floor and allow their bodies to sweat and release toxins. Some people also use traditional Korean scrubbing mitts to exfoliate their skin while inside the hot kiln.
The hanjeungmak is believed to have health benefits such as improving circulation, boosting the immune system, and relieving muscle tension. However, it is important to take precautions and stay hydrated while it. The high heat and low humidity can be intense and potentially dangerous for some people.
Three well-known Korean saunas
- Dragon Hill Spa: Located in the Yongsan district of Seoul, Dragon Hill Spa is one of the largest and most popular Korean saunas in Korea. It features a range of saunas, hot tubs, and other amenities, as well as a rooftop garden and a range of food and drink options.
- Siloam Sauna: Located in the Jung district of Seoul, Siloam Sauna is another large and well-known facility that has been in operation for over 25 years. It features a range of saunas, hot tubs, and other amenities, as well as a restaurant and a rooftop garden.
- Spa Castle: With locations in New York, Texas, and California, Spa Castle is a popular Korean-style spa that offers a range of saunas, hot tubs, and other amenities. It also features a range of food and drink options, as well as a pool and water park area.
Two Korean saunas in the UK
- Spa London: Located in Old Street and Wimbledon, Spa London offers a range of Korean-style spa treatments, including sauna, steam room, hot tubs, and cold plunge pools.
- Korea Sauna: Located in New Malden, Korea Sauna is a traditional Korean-style spa that offers a range of facilities, including hot and cold baths, sauna, and massage services.
It’s worth noting that while these establishments may offer some Korean-style treatments, they may not offer the full range of facilities and amenities.
Interesting facts about a Korean sauna
- Korea has a long history of sauna culture: Sauna culture has been a part of Korean life for thousands of years, with early records dating back to the Goguryeo period (37 BC – 668 AD).
- Usually open 24/7: Many Korean saunas are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, allowing people to visit at any time, day or night.
- Popular spot for overnight stays: Many Korean saunas offer sleeping areas or “rest zones” where visitors can spend the night. Consequently, they are a popular spot for travellers and people who need a place to stay.
- Enjoy a range of health benefits: Health benefits include improving circulation, boosting the immune system, and reducing stress.
- Popular spot for socialising: They are a popular spot for friends and family to meet and spend time together. Many offer a range of amenities such as game rooms and movie theatres.
- Often offer unique experiences: Korean saunas often have unique amenities, such as themed sauna rooms, outdoor hot tubs, and ice rooms, that visitors may not find elsewhere.
- Popular around the world: Korean-style saunas or spas have become increasingly popular around the world in countries such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Jjimjilbang frequently asked questions
What are Korean saunas for?
A Korean sauna is a type of public bathhouse in Korea that offers a range of spa facilities and wellness amenities. These include saunas, hot tubs, cold plunge pools, showers, ice rooms, massage services, and sleeping areas. Typically Korean spas they are used for relaxation, socialising, and health benefits.
Are there Korean spas in London?
Due to the size and quantity of wellness rooms there are very few Korean spas outside of Korea. Furthermore, there are no Korean spas in London. There are however some wellness facilities that offer Korean-style treatments. But if you’re searching for Korean spa London you will be sadly disappointed.
What is the Korean sauna experience?
The Korean sauna experience typically involves several steps. Visitors first check in and receive a locker key and a set of clothes, which usually consists of a shirt and shorts. They then proceed to the gender-segregated locker rooms to change into the clothes and store their belongings in the lockers. After changing, visitors can enjoy the various wellness rooms. They may also receive massage services and other treatments. Many Korean spas also have restaurants and relaxation areas where visitors can socialise and rest.
How much does it cost to stay in a Korean sauna?
The cost of staying in a Korean sauna can vary depending on the location, the amenities offered, and the length of stay. In Korea, it can cost anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 KRW (approximately $8-16 USD) for a few hours. Overnight stays can range from 15,000 to 30,000 KRW (approximately $12-25 USD).
Korean saunas offer sleeping areas or “rest zones” where visitors can spend the night.
Why do people sleep at Korean saunas?
Many Korean saunas offer sleeping areas or “rest zones” where visitors can spend the night. These areas usually have mats, blankets, and pillows for guests to sleep on. People may sleep here for various reasons, such as convenience, cost-effectiveness, or simply for relaxation. Staying overnight at a Korean sauna can be a cheaper alternative to a hotel or guest-house. Furthermore, it allows visitors to fully experience the range of facilities that the sauna has to offer.
Is a Korean sauna good for you?
Yes, Korean saunas are believed to have several health benefits. The heat and steam from the saunas can help to improve circulation, reduce stress, and promote relaxation. The hot and cold baths can also improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness. Additionally, the scrubbing and massage services offered at Korean saunas can help to exfoliate and detoxify the skin, leaving it feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. However, as with any spa or sauna, it’s important to listen to your body and not overdo it, especially if you have any health concerns or medical conditions.
Korean sauna eggs are a unique delicacy cooked in the jjimjilbang.
What are Korean sauna eggs?
Korean sauna eggs are a type of hard-boiled egg that is typically cooked in a traditional Korean sauna or jjimjilbang. Sauna eggs are boiled in a large pot over a wood-fired stove, often with other ingredients such as ginseng, herbs, and tea leaves. The high heat and long cooking time result in eggs with a unique texture and flavour that are believed to have health benefits.
What is a jjimjilbang?
A jjimjilbang is a type of public bathhouse or sauna that is popular in Korea. It typically offers a range of facilities and amenities, such as saunas, hot tubs, cold plunge pools, showers, massage services, and sleeping areas. Jjimjilbangs are often gender-segregated and require visitors to wear a set of clothes provided by the establishment. They are used for relaxation, socialising, and health benefits.
Where does the word jjimjilbang come from?
Jjimjilbang comes from two Korean words: jjim, which means “to steam or bake,” and bang, which means “room.” Together, the word jjimjilbang roughly translates to “heated rooms for steaming and relaxation.”
What’s the difference between a Korean sauna and Korean spa?
The terms “Korean sauna” and “Korean spa” are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are some notable differences between the two. A Korean sauna typically refers to a public bathhouse or jjimjilbang. It offers a range of facilities and amenities, such as saunas, hot tubs, cold plunge pools, showers, massage services, and sleeping areas.
A Korean spa, on the other hand, may refer to a wider range of wellness facilities that offer spa services such as massages, facials, and body treatments. Korean spas may also include facilities such as pools, fitness centres, and restaurants. While some Korean spas may have a similar layout and facilities as a Korean sauna, they typically focus more on wellness and beauty treatments.