I’ve been in Korea for almost 3 years now, but until a few days ago I had never been to a jimjilbang. I know it’s a vital Korean experience, but I just wasn’t sure I could get over the whole being naked in front of people thing. Granted, I did do the onsen in Japan, on a tour of Kyushu island. But the onsen baths were located in a large spread out village so my friends and I went to the baths on the outskirts to avoid having to strip down in front of a lot of people. Obviously it’s not possible to avoid people in one single spa building.
In fact, when I went to Siloam sauna this past weekend, I didn’t intend to go to the bath section at all — I was going to just check out the saunas and then crash in the sleeping room. This blog is simply the latest in a long string of blogs praising this sauna and it’s sleeping room, which unlike other jimjilbangs, actually has individual sleeping compartments with mats, pillows, and a towel to use as a blanket.
The price to stay the night is 15,000 won. The difference between this and a hostel price (typically around 20,000 won) is pretty small, but unlike a hostel, that price includes several saunas and relaxing baths, a set of pajamas and large resting areas. Also, no need to worry about waiting for a shower (there are plenty in the bath area obviously) or a bathroom as there are several stalls on every floor. The baths are located in the basement floor and the sleeping rooms are on the 5th floor.
Since this was my first jimjilbang, I don’t have any other to compare it to, but I was really impressed with the facilities here. The locker in the locker room is big enough to store a backpack, and you can buy shampoo, conditioner (rinse), other toiletries, underwear, socks, and snacks from the counter there. They also have a closet to store big luggage, as the place is pretty popular with tourists. On the second floor, there’s a Korean restaurant with plenty of food choices. The third floor is the entertainment floor, complete with a PC bang, fitness center, arcade, and noraebang. The fourth floor has the saunas. I really liked the jade room, where you can basically lay down and cover yourself with a bunch of hot(!) jade crystals. There’s also oxygen rooms (neutral temperature) a very very hot room (86 Celsius, I wasn’t brave enough to go in there) and an ice room to cool off afterward. The fourth floor also has a coffee shop.
Every floor has small lockers to charge cell phones, ensuring that no one will snatch the phone. They’re also free. The whole place had a nice warm ondol.
After I checked out the saunas, I decided I wanted to shower so I headed down to the locker room area. I was reluctant but eventually got over my fear of being naked because, hey, everyone else around me was naked too. I went down to the women’s bath and showered, then checked out the baths. There were massage tubs, a jade tub, a cold pool, and others. It was nice and relaxing and in the locker room there were plenty of blow dryers.
After that I chose a bunk in the women’s sleeping section. The beds on the top have curtains for extra privacy and the mats were surprisingly comfortable. The only issue I had was that I thought the room was a bit too hot. Also, although there was a separate snoring room, there were plenty of snorers in my section. Still, though, it’s a convenient place to spend the night, that’s for sure.
For reference, Siloam’s web site.
Siloam is nearby Seoul Station, and can be accessed by the Seoul Station subway stop (Line 1 and 4) or Chungjeongno station (Line 2 and 5). I chose Chungjeongno because I read it was easier to find from there. Just go out exit 5, walk straight for a few minutes and eventually it will be visible on the left. Very easy.
The next day, I took a bus down to Cheongju, to visit the last province I hadn’t yet been to in Korea (Chungbuk) and see Beopjusa, which is a temple located in Songnisan National Park and contains Korea’s only remaining five story wooden pagoda.