Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Daegu, Sinam-dong - Goongjeon Lavender (궁전라벤더)

This is a nice, big jjimjilbang near Dong Daegu KTX station (동대구역).  Just by the looks of the exterior I have wanted to go inside since I first saw it a few months ago.  Quite a few bus lines pass by this building including 156, 401, 414, 521, 618, 650, 708, 808, 937, 980, or the express #1 (급행1).  It's quite a walk from the subway, but would be a basic cost ride from either Sincheon station (신천역) or Dongdaegu station on Line 1.

The jjimjilbang entry fee is 8,000 (5,000 for kids 7 and under) then you head in.  Drop off your shoes then get your clothes and towels inside the sauna.  It's big, don't be alarmed.  Lockers to the left, sauna and counters to the right.  The lockers are in smaller coves to keep some privacy, and the prep area isn't too public.  Inside the sauna it was clear that the building is older, but well kept.  Some of the showers don't have hot water working, but even on Sunday afternoon it wasn't too busy to find one that did.  (There are 30 standing showers and even more sit-down style ones.)

It's a typical sauna: you can relax in various hot tubs, a couple warm massaging tubs, 2 dry sauna rooms or a cold-water tub.  Popular with children, the large cold tub runs the width of the sauna along the back wall and is surrounded in a dark, cave-like atmosphere.  It even has stalactites descending from the ceiling and odd rock formations on the walls (pictured at left).  Their website shows an ice room as part of the wet sauna area.  That's unusual and I didn't notice it while I was there, but I guess it might work.

On a special note, there's a dead sea salt tub (사해탕) that is separated from the main area by floor-to-ceiling glass walls.  Due to the high salt concentration, it's recommended you only spend 10 minutes at at time in the therapeutic, dark blue waters - enjoy it!

You'll have to step out into the cool hallway, uncomfortably barefooted, to get up to the 4th floor jjimjilbang area, but it's worth it.  Up there, the age of the building is less apparent.  The main area is warmly lit and cozy, with a couple of small rooms around corners to provide quiet places for rest.  The mens' and womens' segregated sleeping areas are separated by glass sliding doors, so it seems they may be a bit bright during the night.  All the heated rooms have a twist:  A heavenly-scented lavender room, open lounge-style yellow soil room (황토방), and the usual sleeping caves are instead a roomful of 4" high platforms which have adjustable under-floor(ondol) heating!  Genius, aside from the loss of cave-y privacy.  Even the need for an ice room has been mitigated by the existence of an ultra-cool passageway between the 5th floor lounge and the restaurant/PC room/DVD room/singing room wing.  The restaurant is big and has windows looking out to the smoking area, which is a large patio with resting places and vegetation to keep your mind at ease.  I think there may even be an artificial putting green up there!

궁전라벤더 - Goongjeon Lavender
대구 동구 신암3동 214-12
Daegu, Dong Gu, Sinam 3 Dong 214-12

Rates: 8,000 won for adult
          5,000 won for child

Wikimapia of Goongjeon Lavender Spa


  1. hey I stayed over at this one last weekend.
    I got there just before eleven and was very disappointed that they close the bath area except for some standing showers from 11pm to 5am. I was also unhappy that the attendant didn't warn me that there would be men cleaning in there when I walked in naked and without glasses... so embarrassed!!
    I tried out the tubs in the AM and enjoyed them.

  2. Thanks for the information. I've stayed overnight here and this wasn't my experience, but it's good to be aware that it could happen. As I've noted before, some places do all their cleaning at night and others space it out throughout the day tub-by-tub. The cleaners may be in there, and you will NOT be warned about it when you enter. It's hard to know what to expect as far as that goes.

    (Also just to clarify for others, only male workers clean the men's sauna and female cleaners clean the women's sauna.)

  3. I went here today, Saturday, and thought it was a nice sauna place. I'd recommend it. I really liked the dead sea salt pool. It made my skin feel real smooth.

    Rob L

  4. Great Rob! I'm glad to hear that you liked it, the sea salt tub is a nice one!

  5. I went there last week. Its sauna is good, but the jjimjilbang is just so-so.
    I stayed overnight there. When I went there, so many people were there. I can barely find a spot to sleep, additionally, men and women are all sleep together, and it was very noisy. Many people were still talking with loud voice around 2 AM. And around 5 AM, one ahjussi argued with the halmoni (the one who took care of blanket in the jjimjilbang). Everyone woke up because of that.