We made it our goal to try as many new cultural experiences as we could on our Asia trip so going to a traditional Korean Bath House was high on the list. Prior to going to Seoul, we watched Conan O’Brien’s Korean Bath House youtube video so we knew what to expect.
We decided on Siloam Sauna for this experience after doing some research, reading reviews and the location being easily walkable from the train station (5-7 minute walk from Seoul Station).
If you want to try out the spa, here are some basic guidelines:
1. Payment & Entry into Facility
Entry into the facility was rather cheap, it varies from 8,000KRW to 12,000KRW depending on what time of day you go and what parts of the facility your using. Having said that, we didn’t quite understand the ticketing lady and paid what she asked for (10,000KRW).
2. Take off shoes & clothes
Once inside the facility, you’re separated into the male locker rooms & female locker rooms.
Take off your shoes and put them into the tiny shoe lockers, then see the lady at the desk for a key to the bigger locker, a towel and clothes for when you are ready to go into the common area or the different hot and cold rooms.
3. Bath Area
Usually, the first step is to go down into the bath area, fully nude, located below the locker rooms at level B1. There are 3-4 different hot bathtubs at various temperatures, a cold water bath and a few saunas rooms, one at extreme heat and another at regular heat. Before going into the bathtubs take a shower.
In the bath area, there is also an area where you can get body scrubs, massages, etc. We decided to go with the authentic Korean body scrub which is very different from any North American spa experience (not sure it classifies as a spa experience). The lady put on a exfoliating (scrubbing) mitt and started scrubbing at our skin (not gently by any means) removing all the dead skin. It is a very intimate scrub as you are completely nude and there are 3 other people on tables next to you getting the exact same thing done (I had a friend lying next to me going through the same first time experience which was comforting). Note, there is no towel provided to cover any part of you, you really have to leave your modesty at the door and just be okay with yourself/body. Below is a picture to show you how the setup for the scrub / massage area is.
On a positive note, your skin feels amazingly smooth for days after. As unique as this experience was, I would DEFINITELY go back!
4. Common Area & Fomentation Rooms (Hot / Cold Rooms)
After you’re done with your bath, take a shower, put on the clothes you were supplied with and go into the common area (level 2F) or Fomentation rooms, which are all unisex areas. The Fomentation rooms are located on level 4F and some of the different room options are sauna, jade, charcoal and clay rooms, which are beneficial for the health. Below is an outline of the different options.
TIPS FOR VISITING SEOUL
- Google maps do not work in Seoul. Throughout our travel in Asia we relied heavily on Google maps to get around so we found out quite difficult to self navigate in Seoul. We were told that South Korea did not release or update Google maps in an effort to prevent North Korea from obtaining the layout (not sure if this is true)
- Taxi’s are quite cheap and a good alternative to transit !