Visitors who are exhausted from a long day of sightseeing are recommended to visit a traditional Korean sauna called jjimjilbang. Most jimjilbang establishments in Korea are equipped with all kinds of great entertainment along with their main sauna facilities, allowing visitors to spend leisure time as they relax. With the growing popularity, jjimjilbang facilities have captured not only the hearts of Koreans but also visitors from abroad, giving the opportunity for jjimjilbang businesses to spread outside of Korea.
What is jjimjilbang?
The term “jjimjil” refers to the treatment of illness through perspiration from the old belief that sweating helps release toxins. Hence, jimjilbang was initially built to offer a sauna experience through bathing in hot pools and relaxing in sauna rooms. Jimjilbang is usually equipped with multiple sauna rooms built from different materials, such as mud, charcoal, and salt, and set to temperatures ranging from 40℃ to 80℃.
Jimjilbang is now considered a leisure facility where one can bathe, rest, and enjoy entertainment all in one place with the small price of admission. As most jimjilbang operate 24 hours and are open all year round, many travelers who are on a tight budget also take advantage of the facilities as a cheap form of accommodation.
How to enjoy jimjilbang
Before entering the main area where jimjilbang facilities are open for both genders, visitors will first be guided into a gender-segregated locker room after paying for admission. Once inside, guests will be given a dry towel, T-shirt, shorts, and a key for a locker. Usually, jimjilbang is divided into the spacious main lobby where everyone can relax and a series of sauna rooms, each built with materials that offer different benefits.
Bath supplies are not provided, although guests can purchase single-use shampoo, hair conditioner and other bath products within the jjimjilbang. Take note that although there may be sleeping rooms, blankets are not provided. Additional fees may be charged if guests decide to stay longer than 24 hours.
Amenities available at jimjilbang are far beyond imagination, including snack bars, game rooms, massage chairs, theaters, nail salons and many more. Visitors are advised to have some cash on hand as the subsidiary facilities usually require an additional cost and may not accept credit or debit cards as a payment method.
The most popular subsidiary facilities include the snack bar and the cafeteria. Chilled sikhye (sweet rice drink) and roasted eggs are Koreans' most favorite combination of snacks at jimjilbang.