On almost all the online to do lists for Korea was visit Spa Land Busan, so I knew I needed to pay this traditional Korean sauna (known as a jimjilbang) a visit.
Spa Land is located on the ground floor of the Sinsegae department store – currently the largest department store in the world. Located at Centum City subway station, this place is massive – so don’t be surprised if you get lost even on the ground floor.
Once you find the spa itself, you pay a fee of about 15,000 krw, and you’re given a ticket and a locker number. Head up the escalators, take off your shoes, and lock them away with a key – this key is for not only your shoe and regular lockers, but also to pay for anything else you purchase at Spa Land.
What: Traditional Korean Sauna
Where: Shonseagae Department Store – 1st Floor – Centrum City subway station – Busan – South Korea
Cost: 15,000krw for 4 hours – pay extra for food, drinks, massages, etc.
What to bring: Nothing
Can I go alone?: Yes! I did and met up with another foreigner – it’s a friendly place.
On your way into the complex, you’ll be given a pair of baggy shorts and a baggy shirt. There are two areas to Spa Land; the private gender-separated bathing areas, and the public relaxation areas.
It’s time to get naked. Nudity is not only encouraged, but expected in everywhere from the locker rooms to the massive bathing room and saunas. There are about 10 different tubs all around the room with varying temperatures and water treatments. There are also 4 saunas ranging from pleasant to scalding. Feel free to enjoy them at your leisure. Like all Korean jimjilbangs, nudity doesn’t hold the same standard as it does in North American culture – you’ll find old, young, families (same gender) and friends hanging out sans-clothes. For the full Korean experience – do the same. If you don’t, you’re going to stick out way more than you already do. Just make sure not to walk out into the public areas in your birthday suit.
The Public Areas
While I do prefer the bathing area myself (hot tubs are great), the public areas are just as relaxing. They also have the added bonus of being a shared experience with different-gendered friends. For this experience, put on your clothes and head out to the meeting point. The complex is as massive as it is relaxing. You’ll find various huts and rooms each with different temperatures, aromas, shapes, and experiences. Among my favourites were the blue dream room, where a blue light bathed you as you sat on a warm bench; the pyramid room, a hot pyramid-shaped room where you lie on the floor, and the bone conduction room, where you can feel the music all throughout your body.
There are plenty of English instructions on how to best use these rooms, but the general practice is to spend a few minutes in one, then a few in the next. If the heat proves to much, visit a cold room or go grab a snack (payable with your key) at one of the many places to eat.
In addition to these rooms (included in the price) there are plenty of treatments to be had. From sitting in an oxygen tank, to getting scrubbed down with a hard brush, to getting a great massage, all of these services are available for purchase with the touch of your key.
You get 4 hours (you must keep track of them yourself or pay extra) to enjoy the complex, which for me, was plenty. I spent about 3 there, and left feeling incredibly relaxed. If you’re looking for a break from Korea for a little bit, then I would definitely recommend Spa Land in the Shinsegae Department Store, in Busan.