Have you ever stepped into a public bathhouse, completely nude? Well, I have. I thought it was going to be really weird and awkward to see people walking around butt naked, but it was not. Surprisingly, it felt empowering to see everyone being comfortable in her own skin and not judging anyone’s body shape!
Well, that was my main takeaway from the traditional Korean spa. Of course, we were all separated by gender when going into the bathhouses. (Credits)
What’s Dragon Hill Spa
Koreans often relax by going to “jjimjilbang” (찜질방), which means the Korean sauna and spa. It is a relaxation hot spa with several types of sauna facilities. One key feature of Korean spa as compared to other western spas is that there are rooms to nap or sleep in, snack bars to chill and eat. It is also open 24 hours, 365 days a year. Unsurprisingly, these hot spas are really popular during cold winter days. (Credits)
So Dragon Hill Spa is Special Because
Dragon Hill Spa is one of the most luxurious jjimjilbangs (찜질방) in Seoul. It is huge, with an all-inclusive 7-stories relaxation facility. The underground level has a gaming and movie room. They were showing a horror film then, so I did not linger on to watch.
Following, a common area for both genders, outdoor pool, snack bar and children’s play area on level 1. The women’s sauna is on level 2 and the other women facilities like locker room and massage are on level 3. Level 4 is where the fitness centre is while 5th and 6th floor are for men. The common sleeping area for both genders is on level 6. There’s a rooftop with a garden, cinema and barbecue area on Level 7.
Dragon Hill Spa is Great For
This spa is great for experiencing the Korean spa culture, experiencing going nude in public, warm place for winter or basically just to relax and chill. The best part is that this place is great for singles, couples and families. There are playing areas for kids, the common jjimjilbang area for couples and families can hang out together for a relaxing fun day. (Credits)
There are many ways to get there.
From Yongsan Station
Take the Exit No.1 from KTX Station or Yongsan Subway Station (Line No.1) and walk in the direction of Yongsan Station Plaza (Gwangjang). Cross the small street on the right of Yongsan Station Plaza towards Yongsan Convention Hall and you will see Dragon Hill Spa next to it.
From Shinyongsan Station
Take the Exit No.3 Shinyongsan Station (Line No.4) and walk for about three minutes.
From Airport Limousine No.6001
Walk toward Yongsan Station for about one minute.
Experience at Dragon Hill Spa
It was definitely an experience like no other. You are completely naked in public with tons of other naked people. Then you experience the different types of jjimjilbangs (찜질방) they have in the common areas. It was really fun.
Upon reaching, you will be greeted at the front desk. You cannot enter the compound unless you have paid for it, so it’s safe. After paying the entrance fee, you will get your electronic locker key and spa clothes (t-shirt and shorts). The shoes are kept in the shoe lockers at the ground floor and then you proceed to the respective level to change out and keep the clothes in your locker.
You can start your adventures in the different jjimjilbangs (찜질방) in the common area at level 1. There are many little “houses”, which are sweating rooms set at a specific temperature. Some were really comfortable, like the room heated with pine tree wood fire. The purpose is to induce perspiration to discharge body toxins and help to relax your body and enhance blood circulation. There are also other rooms like the pyramid rooms and hotter rooms that go up to 40 degrees Celsius! Some rooms were so warm that I only stayed for a minute or two. There was a room however, that was ice cold. You could literally build a snowman in the rock icehouse! This is to help your pores to contract after being open and exposed due to the high temperatures. It is recommended to use each rooms for a maximum of 20min, rest for 10min and then change rooms. End it with the cold icehouse.
Then, finish your experience with the gender specific sauna. You basically strip naked then take the private stairs down to the sauna. There are hot baths from 10 to 40 degrees Celsius of water for you to relax. There are also hot baths outside (still private area) of the sauna area, where it is much colder. The sauna rooms are also great for you to chill and relax.
The Most Interesting Experience
I was intrigued by the full body scrub and exfoliation corner. Many Koreans brought their own exfoliation kit to clean their bodies. However, you could also pay for them to help you exfoliate. You lay down on this bed and people start exfoliating you. It really helps to soften and cleanse the skin and body. It costs about 26,000 won.
Then after you are showered and clean, you can head down to the common area and have some snacks. It is quite a common thing in Korean dramas, where they wrap a towel on their heads and have an egg in the common area. They may also rest or chill there. Alternatively, head up to the resting area and take a nice relaxing nap. The eggs cost 10,000 won for 2.
After you are done, you return the electronic locker key and the pay the amount.
The admission fees differ from day to night.
Day Rates and Public Holiday rates: 13,000 for adults, 6,000 for kids
Night Rates: 11,000 for adults, 6,000 for kids
Parking is free up to 5 hours for daytime customers, while it is free till 10am for night time customers.
Name of Spa: Dragon Hill Spa
Address: 40-713 Hangang-no 3-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Contact: +82-2-792-0001 (English)
Operating Hours: 24 hours / 365 days
What many travellers do is to spend the night at the spa instead of paying for accommodation. You get to see a glimpse of Korean culture while staying there. The iconic mufflers made from towels on their heads are very interesting. I always see them on the Korean tv dramas, but never learnt to make them.
For the gender specific saunas, be comfortable in your own skin. Loosen up and adapt to this new experience. Nobody is going to judge you; in fact, nobody is going to care about your body. Just be comfortable, otherwise you can draw lots of unwanted attention.