Okay, for those of you who are wondering… What on earth is a Jjimjibang? Jjimjibangs are gender-segregated public bath houses in Korea. They are a part of Korean culture, and all Koreans go to them. A Jjimjibang is a glorified spa with numerous pools and hot tubs heated at different temperatures. There is one more important question that needs to be answered… Everyone wears swimsuits… right? ….Emmm…. no. Yep, you heard me, if you decided to go to a Jjimjibang, you’ll be going all natural.
Now, I was the crazy foreigner who actually wanted to experience this. My sister absolutely loved going to Jjimjibangs while she was here, and she insisted I must try them. Since I’m not much of one to turn down a challenge, I accepted it. Not wanting to go alone, I set out recruiting some other women to go with me… As you can imagine, not many people took me up on this crazy idea. But, I did find two other ladies who happened to be as crazy as I am. My adventurous neighbor Jen, and my dear friend Chelsea decided to brave the Jjimjibang experience with me.
A turn of events lead us to try the Geojedo Sea Spa… and I’m very glad we did.
Not only was it beautiful, but the lady at the front desk spoke some English and it made it much easier choosing which pass we wanted. This was very important because it is very common for Koreans to go to the Jjimjibang, scrub down, soak in some pools, and then head to the community room to spend the night… and we were only interested in the soaking aspect. (If you’re wondering, the community rooms are multi-gender and everyone wears spa robes. There are usually lounge chairs, spa food can be ordered, and there are normally large screen TVs to watch.)
Our passes to the spa were only $6.00 and it’s one of the best six bucks I’ve spent. When we arrived, we paid for our pass, and the lady at the front desk gave us a locker key. We then entered the “shoe locker” room, and placed our shoes in the shoe lockers.
After locking our shoes up, we took the same key and entered the dressing room.
We found the locker number that matched our shoe locker key, and that was it!
As you can guess… this was the last of the photos taken.
When we entered the spa, we were asked to shower first. (Having little to no idea what we were getting ourselves into, none of us packed shampoo or body soap… but, if you are thinking about experiencing a Jjimjilband, I definitely recommend that you bring some. It just would have been nice to have that extra clean feeling.) As the name “bath house” suggests, it really it just that–a glorified community bathing experience.
The showers were basic open showers with a mirror in front of each one. After our shower, we poked our head around the corner and were greeted with the sight of multiple pools in the center of the large open bath house. On the left side of the pools, there were rows of scrubbing stations where women were seated in front of a sink and mirror giving themselves a good ol’ fashioned scrubbing. On the right side of the pools there were pressurized shower jets that almost looked like some type of tornado simulator you would see in a science museum. As we wondered further back into the bath house, we found more pools with various temperature ratings, hot tubs with jet massages, and dry and wet saunas.
For the next few hours, we lounged around in different pools… tried out the icy cold ones, and the baking hot ones. The jet massage hot tubs were a big hit as well. Overall, it was a great spa experience that was amazingly relaxing. Yes, if I’m honest, it does take a little while to get used to seeing everybody in their birthday suits, but to Koreans, it’s completely normal. All Koreans, from infants to children to the elderly, regularly go to bath houses. It just a part of their culture… and it was a true cultural experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Without doubt, it is a perfect way to end a stressful day, or escape from cold weather outside. If you’re in Korea now, or if you ever plan on visiting, I highly recommend you seek out a Jjimjilbang experience of your own.