If you’re a k-culture, k-drama, or k-pop fan, you may have already come across the word jjimjilbang. Jjimjilbang (찜질방) is a traditional Korean sauna, and the name itself means “heated rooms”. Basically, it’s a gender-segregated bathhouse where you’ll find both hot and cold pools, heated rooms, and get body massages and scrubs. And the best part? You can eat and even crash there overnight because most of them are open 24/7! But here’s the thing, jjimjilbangs are way more than just a chill-out spot. They’re also an essential part of Korean culture and people go there not only to relax and unwind their bodies and mind, but it is also for dates and social meetings too. It's fantastic to relax after a long day or a weekend outing, to unwind after the day, for families to spend quality time together, and for friends to catch-up in a laid-back setting.
TWITTER | @JINNIESLAMP
Now, let’s talk about why jjimjilbangs are so cool. They’re not your average saunas with a few rooms, they’ve got it all! From heated salt rooms, and heated lounging areas, to snack bars, restaurants, gyms, PC cafes, karaoke rooms, nail salons, movie rooms and even barber shops! You will be culture-shocked when you explore a jjimjilbang 🤯
Instagram | @dodolje83
Now, here’s a rundown of what to expect when you go to a jjimjilbang! First, you walk through the entrance, pay an admission fee, get a numbered key, towel and a set of jjimjilbang clothes. Then, you head into the gender-segregated areas where you will take off your shoes and store all your things in the lockers. Prepare yourself to strip down to your birthday suit which might feel awkward at first, but everyone’s minding their own business. You’ll get used to it in no time! Then, hop into the bath area to rinse off and hop into baths of different temperatures. Don’t worry, you can choose the temperature of your choice and what’s most comfortable for you. Past the baths, is where the fun begins!
Once you've done the necessary rinsing off in the baths, it's time for the fun part. Slip into the provided shirt and shorts, and get ready for a range of leisure activities in the main area. One of the coolest things you can do is get a body scrub. You can either get your mates to scrub you or pay a little extra for a scrub ahjumma (아줌마) a middle aged and/or married woman) to work her magic. Get ready to shed all that dead skin and come out feeling like a brand-new person with smoother skin and get your blood circulating!
But the main area is where the real magic happens! Like the baths, you'll find various heated rooms with different temperatures, so you can pick the one that suits your heat tolerance. Some rooms go up to a toasty 40°C to 60°C! And get this – each room's walls are lined with different stones or wood like salt, jade, and quartz, so you can soak up their healing properties. They even have ice rooms to cool off between the heated ones – it's a true healing experience!
When you've sweated out all those toxins, head to the snack bar for a must-try drink called sikhye (식혜), a sweet rice drink and menbanseok gyeran (맨반석 계란), or baked eggs that are slow-cooked. Trust me, it's the perfect refreshment after a steamy session, and your tummy will thank you! If you're feeling hungry, they've got restaurants for a proper meal too. After all that unwinding and filling up, you can crash on a cozy sleeping mat right on the heated floors or relax your muscles in a massage chair. It's like a slumber party for grown-ups! Alternatively, check out their gym or nail salon – they've got everything covered.
Instagram | @annyeong_school
So, whether you're going solo or bringing your pals along, jjimjilbangs are a blast for everyone, no matter your age. From bathhouse fun to the variety of facilities available, it's the perfect place to rejuvenate your body and mind without breaking the bank. Just a few thousand won, and you're in for a treat! 😄🧖♂️🧖♀️