Want to know what I thought was the best part of this trip? Believe it or not, it wasn’t food (though it ranks up there) or even the sites. It was discovering Korea’s 24-Hour Jjimjilbang, bath house or sauna. This wasn’t the hot spring bath houses I’m used to in Taiwan or Japan. In my opinion this place wasn’t just about bathing. This place was focused on rest, relaxation and recuperation. The one in particular we found was Siloam Sauna, an establishment out in Jungrim-dong.
It was a little tricky to find late at night being around a sharp corner.
Once we got in, the attendant spoke very little English but we got by. We paid ₩12,000KRW for the “fomentation” option. The other option was for the shower facilities only. The first level were the lockers and the lower level was the bath level. After bathing, drying off, and changing into the given clothes, I headed upstairs to explore. Four levels of relaxation fun. And from this point it was all communal. Gender separation was only the locker and bathing levels. At 9pm it was surprisingly crowded. What I found out was that people spent the night there. I see why. You spend quite some time in all the rooms and all the floors, you wouldn’t mind getting some shut eye there.
Onto the floors. The second level was where you can meet up with your friends. There’s a small cafeteria there and open areas for you to lie down. In the middle was a room for massages. They seem to be open all night given we opted for an hour long massage at midnight. Massage and food, can you tell where I spent most of my time? The third floor was a hang out area. They listed a fitness room, but I didn’t see one. We didn’t spend too much time here. The fourth floor were the fomentation rooms. The floor where I spent the second most time on and where most of the action was at. You go room to room tying out different focuses. Rocks in one, crisp air in others, and as you can see, a super hot one next to an ice cold room. I really enjoyed trying out the rooms. Almost fell asleep in one if it weren’t for a snorer in the room. I should have beat him to the top of that mountain. Oh well. We didn’t plan on staying the night anyways.
After our fill we got out and hailed a taxi home. It was very late so we had to go to the main road to hail one. Felt pretty safe at 3am and pretty tired. Good tired. Like that just-got-out-of-a-hot-bath-4-hour-fomentaion-room-lazing type of tired. It was time to hit the sack.
Such a great intro into Jjimjilbangs. My next trip to Seoul will definitely have this on the itinerary. Maybe even for more than one day.
Sorry for the bad pictures. I didn’t carry my camera around. Only had my iPhone.
Siloam Sauna (실로암불가마사우나)
128-104, Jungrim-dong, Jung-gu
Seoul, South Korea
Verdict: Definitely something to try out. If communal relaxation isn’t your thing, fine, pass on it. Otherwise, try this place or any other one you find.
This room, lined with loess stone and jade, felt very sterile. Not like hospital sterile, but as clean and crisp air can be in a cool stone laden room. I wouldn't mind sleeping here if it weren't for the fear of sitting up and hitting my head inside those tubes.
Nope, there's nothing wrong with your monitor. This room is indeed this red and as hot as you can imagine it. 86 degrees Celsius! I lasted only 10 minutes before getting out.
Right after the fire room, I went into the ice room. I'm pretty sure this is frowned upon in the medical world, but it felt great. My presence may have knocked it down a few degrees.
Here's a room where you can bury yourself in a bed of jade stones. Don't worry, there are "pillows" for you head. And if you're worried about cleanliness, you are in a bath house.
You know where to find me, on the 3rd floor where they sell food. You literally can spend your whole day here. Just remember to bring some money and a good book.
What can I say. Relaxing in all the rooms can build up an appetite. Really. To cool off from the heat room, I went for some cold noodles. Can't quite give this a thumbs up even if it hit the spot. The taste and texture doesn't stack up to the quality of restaurants. But in a pinch, it did the job.
If you get anything, get the sweet rice tea. Very refreshing. I wish I had one waiting for me outside the fire room. And don't worry, you can take this around with you.