Kickin’ It in Spa Land

Located inside the world’s largest mall, Spa Land is undoubtedly a destination in and of itself. With all the standard facilities of a jimjilbang (traditional Korean spa,) this relaxation haven also boasts a number of European-inspired saunas, an open-air foot spa, nap rooms, massage chairs, restaurant, snack bar, nail salon, DVD room, esthetic spa, and yes, even more.

Although I’ve had “Attend a jimjilbang” on my to-do list ever since I got to Korea, it wasn’t until Lunar New Year this past Saturday when I finally seized my chance to go. Luckily, I found a partner in crime who was willing to be naked in front of me and a bunch of strangers to frolic about the baths and saunas.

We had planned on doing the “early bird special”, which meant an entrance fee of only 10,000 won if we arrived before 9:00 A.M. But in this case, we ended up doing ourselves a favor by arriving at around 11 instead, since the doors didn’t open until 12 for the holiday.

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Sign located in the main lobby. The smell of fresh, ___ water wafting through the air.

Once we paid the entrance fee (which includes four hours of uninterrupted naps, foot soaks, whatever-you-wish,) and received our keys, we took our lazy, over-sleeping selves up the escalator and to the shoe lockers. So with our boots locked up nice and tight in the cubbies, it was on to get our pajamas. (Or “spajamas” – WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS WHEN I WAS THERE?!)

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The key acts as both, well, a key and a credit card you can use to purchase drinks, snacks, and other services inside the spa. 
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The aforementioned “spajamas” that are required in the co-ed/non-naked common areas.

Equipped with our spajamas, towels, and locker key, it was off to the locker room to strip down to what our mothers gave us. As is considered customary, we each grabbed a stool and took a seat at the shower/vanities located beside the warm and cold baths. Both shampoo and body wash were provided, so we went ahead and took a quick shower before taking our first skinny dip of the day.

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The main bathing area, if you will. (via)

As you can see, there are a number of different jet-powered baths to choose from, all ranging in temperature from about 25°C to about 45°C. Of course, we decided to stick to the warmer baths, even though you’re technically supposed to go from warm to cold. Hey, our spa day, OUR RULES.

We then decided to step into the sauna for a spell, but ended up accidentally going into the hottest sauna, which was about 80°C. To save us from passing out or sweating out nearly all of our bodily fluids, there was an hourglass timer in there to let us know when to get the heck out of there. So then we tentatively stuck our limbs under a cold shower, soaked in the warm baths for a little bit longer, had another quick wash-up, and popped on our spajamas to explore the rest of Spa Land.

When exiting either the men’s or women’s locker room, there is a meeting point. Beyond this lobby is the common area, where families, couples, or other mixed-sex groups can join up and relax together. One of the first things we came upon was what seemed to be a large, sunny nap pad of sorts, where people lounged to get some shut-eye, play with their phones, and/or soak in the nutrients of a face mask.

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Pick a pad and nap away.

There is also an outdoor foot spa that stays open year-round, even in the depths of winter. (Coats are provided by the door.) The baths in the center of the area are cooler, while the ones along the right-hand side are much warmer. In fact, one of them was so hot, that we quite literally sprang out of the water. So we stuck to the baths that would not possibly scald us before we got to check out the “Wave-Dream” room.

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Not pictured: my wintry leg whiskers. Leg hair, don’t care. (Until May, at least.)

While, in our opinion, the abovementioned “wave-dream” room left much to be desired, we did enjoy a nice snack on the ondol (heated floor) towards the end of our visit:

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Cold beers, warm buns.

Would I go again? Duv course I would. In fact, we were already planning on when to go next before we even changed out of our spajamas. There’s still so much left to explore, particularly the DVD rooms, massage chairs, and esthetic spa to name a few.

If you’re planning on making a trip to Spa Land, below is the price list and a few helpful things to know:

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A Few Things to Note:

  • If you have longer hair, you must tie it up in a bun before getting in the baths or springs to avoid any stray hairs getting into the water. Or, if you want to be cooler, you can tuck your hair up into your towel Princess Leia-style, as you’ll see many patrons doing. (See picture of mannequin above.) This is called yangmeori, or “sheep head”. Learn how to do it here.
  • Try to speak quietly or keep your own noise levels down to a low. Like I mentioned before, there are a lot of people trying to nap or at least relax and have hushed conversations of their own. After all, it is a spa.
  •  Spa Land is closed once a month, on the same day that the rest of Shinsegae is closed. Click here for more contact info and guidelines for the spa.

 

Directions: From Centum City station (Line 2/Green Line,) take exit 12. Walk straight until you reach the entrance to Spa Land, which will be on your right.

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