Prepare to enter the world of Korean sauna… It’s not for Fanny Fainthearts, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
The traditional ‘jjimjilbang’ (Korean bathhouse) is altogether unlike any spa in the West – this country is famed for its pinewood-burning kiln/cave saunas, where locals come on the weekends to cook themselves in intense heat, then indulge in optional add-ons including scrub (or should we say flay), massage, and finally pools and baths. Did we pique your curiosity? Here are a couple of the best spots to indulge in this national custom…
The Hotel Prima in Gangnam has rather faded from her former glory, but still maintains a spot-on spa and sauna facility, which is open to non-guests with a tranquil, polished outdoor hot spring, volcanic rock pool, suntan room and separate floors for ladies and gents. Or, for something more all-inclusive, check into Riverside SpaLand, a simple, sprawling 24hr bathing playground of hot/cold pools, dry/wet saunas and treats using mud, salt, oxygen and more.
However, if you seek respite from Seoul altogether, 40 minutes by air is the stunning volcanic sanctuary Jeju Island, home to the Sanbang Tancheon Oncheon (pictured), famed for its healing thermal spring water.
Hotel Prima Sauna, 2/F Hotel Prima, 536 Dosan-daero, Gangnam-gu, +82 2 6006 9114, prima.co.kr
Riverside Spaland, 593-15 Gueui-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, +82 2 455 3737, ispaland.co.kr
Sanbang Tancheon Oncheon, Sanbangsan, Jeju Island, +82 64 792 8300, tansanhot.com