Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Joong-ang Haesu (Sea) Land - Yongho-dong, Busan

First off, it's pretty cute that this place translates 해수 into "Sea" in their name. I mostly notice places call themselves "Haesu World" or "Haesu Land" or whatever. But it does mean "sea" so there you go.

Secondly, the location is great. I've had this place on my radar for the past couple months but haven't had the opportunity to visit until recently. It's just up the road from Bukyung and Kyungsung Universities so it's not only conveniently & centrally located, but also excellent for a quick sleep after the bars!

You can reach this sauna by a cheap taxi from Namcheon or Kyungsung subway stations or by bus (lines 20, 22, 24, 27, 39, 131 stop just out front at Yongmoon Middle School). The Sea Land is right across from LG Metrocity building 107.

Inside the sauna you'll find a seated half-bath, a hinoki (Japanese-style therapeutic wood) bath,  along with mugwort (artemisia), lemon, and the signature sea-water bath. There are also beautifully decorated dry and humid sauna rooms which are great for warming up and keeping your skin supple.

Then there is the spacious jjimjilbang which includes a large main room on both the 3rd & 4th floors, charcoal room, a stalactite cave, a wood-paneled forest room, snack corner/juice bar, and yellow soil standard & sleeping rooms. The sleeping rooms are located up on the 4th floor along with the PC room, movie theater, restaurant, skin & nail care, and sports massage.

Basically, this spa has every bath & room you could want and is well worth a visit.

부산 남구 용호1동 170
Busan, Namgu, Yongho-1-dong #170
Open 24 Hours


Children (up to 7)
6,000 원
4,000 원
Jjimjilbang & Sauna
8,000 원
6,000 원

Wikimapia of Joongang Sea Land

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Greenvill Jjimjilbang & Sauna - Banwoldang, Jung Gu, Daegu

In my search for new jjimjilbang I found a nice place conveniently located just outside of the Banwoldang subway stop (transfer) in downtown Daegu. The staff were helpful and spoke a bit of English, even put my extra baggage behind the counter for safekeeping since it wouldn't fit in the locker!

As you exit the subway at gate 1, you'll see the Samjung Greencore Apartments (삼정 그린코어) and a sign for the Greenvill Jjimjilbang entrance.

This sauna is clean and warm, with the usual hot, cold, and warm baths and showers. The jjimjilbang is also standard; central TV area, ice room, a few hot dome shaped rooms, and the cafe/restaurant. It's definitely nice enough, and has separate sleeping rooms for men and women. The DVD room is a good, dark place to relax as well.

To be honest, I only stayed over here one night and have been unable to find their website, if they even have one. As a result, I am unable to quote all the current costs. Daum had the most information and Naver only has a weak listing. There is one review on Daum in which a person rated her experience as only 1/5 stars. It seems she had an isolated bad experience there with some man last year. Strange things happen to everyone once in a while.

I stayed again on my most recent trip to Daegu, and I'll tell you guys this. I'd spend the money, time & effort to sleep just about anywhere else.  When I entered I got 2 discount tickets reducing the rate from 7,000 per night to 6,000 and even that didn't get me to come back. Firstly, I was reminded how most rooms are just too warm for me to sleep comfortably. Then I noticed the lack of sleeping mats... that's right - you have to pay an additional 500 won (~$0.50) for a blankets (really just a large tightly-woven towel). This is the only thing you can get to sleep on or under, and it's not enough. And, a small thing, but all the showers are just one fixed temperature... a decently warm one, but still, only one.

It's an alright jjimjilbang for a day visit, but, don't sleep here unless you want to wake sweaty and stiff & sore.

대구 중구 남산2동 665번지
Daegu, Jung-gu, Namsan-2-dong 665
Open 24 Hours

Jjimjilbang Adult: 7,000

Wikimapia of Greenvill Jjimjilbang

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chungcheonbuk-do, Suanbo-myeon - Suanbo Oncheon (Hot Spring)

Suanbo is a large tourist spot in North Chungcheong province known for it's hot spring bathing and skiing. There are many hotels and activities in this area, and it's restaurants specialize in rabbit, duck, and pheasant meals. This is a beautiful place to be during the cherry blossom season in springtime or of course in fall or winter when you're looking for a nice outdoor warm-up. With fall coming soon, I thought I'd introduce you to the Suanbo Hot Spring area.

In fact, I'm just in time to tell you about the annual Hot Spring Festival! It's held each year in the fall, while the weather is perfect for both enjoying time outdoors and warming up in the evening in a nice hot bath.

  • Event Name: 2010 Korea Great Hot Spring Festival
  • Event Dates: October 6th (Wed) ~ 10th (Sun), 2010 (5 days)
  • Ceremony locations: 
    • First event space - Suanbo Mul-tang Park 
    • Second event space - Angseong Hot Spring (Oncheon) Plaza
  • 축제명 : 2010 대한민국온천대축제
  • 축제일정 : 2010.10.6일(수)~10.10일(일) 5일간
  • 개최장소
    • 제 1 행사장-수안보 물탕공원 
    • 제 2 행사장 - 앙성온천광장
Click here for more information on the festival.

The only problem is that Suanbo is a bit tricky to get to if you aren't driving. It's not near any of the rail lines I would say the best way to get here would be to reach Daejeon (from the west/south-west), Jochiwon (from the north), or even Andong (from the south-east) by train, then get a bus to Suanbo. This is because I'm just not sure how often a more direct bus route may be available from many parts of the country. If you're coming from Gyeonggi Province or near Seoul, it's possible there is a bus directly to Suanbo.

I'll be visiting this spa area for the first time during the Hot Spring Festival. Hope to see you there!

충북 충주시 수안보면 온천리 191-1번지

Wikimapia of Suanbo Hot Spring Area

Click title below for large map

Large map of detailed Suanbo area, showing many hotels and hot springs, as well as the Multang Park (English & Korean labels)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Lingo

It occurred to me during the radio show I did recently that I could do to provide you all with a list of words and phrases commonly used in the sauna. I will put the English meaning first, then the Korean characters, lastly my best spelling in Roman characters for pronunciation.

Please keep in mind that there are standard romanizations but not everyone sticks to them and they may be different from what I provide, so if you see rominized Korean printed somewhere it may be slightly different. (Such as the spelling of jjimjilbang/zzimzilbang, jeon/jun, Busan/Pusan, and so on. A special note is that "u" really shouldn't be used since it could sould like either "eo" or "oo" but it's often used anyway.)

         English term           Korean term-Hangul         Pronunciation
bath tang
room 방, 실 bang, shil
men / men's~ 남자 / 남~ nam-ja / nam~
women / women's~ 여자 / 여~ yeo-ja / yeo~
bathing area 사우나 sa-oo-na
resting/clothed area (room) 찜질(방) jjim-jil (bang)
hot (bath) 열(탕) yeol (tang)
warm (bath) 온(탕) ohn (long /o/) (tang)
cold (bath) 냉(탕) neng (tang)
bathroom 화장실 hwa-jang-shil
resting area휴게실hyoo-gae-shil
traditional kiln sweating cave/room 불가마 bool-ga-ma
sleeping room 수면실 soo-myeon-shil
entrance 입구 ip goo
the way to the~ ~가는 길 ~ga neun gil

towel 수건 soo-geon
outfit for resting area 찜질복 jjim-jil-bok
key / locker key 열쇠 / 로커 키 yeol-sway / lo-kuh kee
shampoo 샴푸, 세발 sham-puh, sae-bal
conditioner 린스 rin-suh
soap 비누 bee-noo
toothpaste 치약 chee-yahk

body scrub 세신 sae-shin
cucumber* 오이 o-ee
massage 마사지 ma-sa-jee
oil massage 오일마사지 o-eel ma-sa-jee
aromatherapy massage 아로마마사지 a-ro-ma ma-sa-jee
foot / back massage 발 / 등 마사지 bal / deung ma-sa-jee
*Cucumber facial often accompanies the body scrub service for a small additional charge. It's totally worth it!

yellow soil (loess) room 황토방 hwang-to-bang
charcoal room 숯방 / 참숯방 soot-bang / cham-soot-bang
salt room 소금방 so-geum bang
jewelry room 보석방 bo-seok bang
ice room 아이스방 / 어름방 i-ee-suh bang / uh-reum-bang
forest room산림욕방san-lim-yok bang
pine room소나무방so-na-moo bang
oxygen room 산소방san-so bang
artemesia (mugwort) bath쑥 탕sook tang
waterfall (massaging) bath폭포 탕pok-po tang
event* bath이벤트 탕ee-ben-tuh tang
*Event baths often feature a special herbal or mineral additive in the water.

Here's a link for some basic Korean phrases if you want more.

As always, if you have a request for further information or know something I've left out, please leave a comment below. Finally, I'm not perfect~ if I've made any mistakes in the above info, feel free to help me out!^^

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Onyang Oncheon, Asan - Shinchuntang

During my visit to Asan, I also visited this lovely little sauna just up the street from the Hot Spring/ Tourist Hotel. There is no jjimjilbang here, and the sauna is limited to 5 baths and one dry sauna room. The baths are cool, hot, hotter, event, and massage. The event bath was unfortunately not filled when I visited, and I was disappointed by the temperature - I like hot water, but this place is just too hot to spend any amount of time in. I guess I should have expected it, the Onyang Oncheon area is well-known to be the hottest natural hot spring in Korea!

On the other hand, the massage bath was great. It's a waterfall style area with a shallow wading pool and small stools to perch on while your muscles are being pounded by the downpour. I waited in a short queue to get my time in this tub, and it was worth it. Also, the whole place smells AMAZING!

충남 아산시 온천1동 221-2
Chungcheongnam-do, Asan, Oncheon-1-dong 221-2

Open daily 5AM - 12AM (midnight)

Enter from 5am-8pm (use from 5am til 12midnight that day)
Sauna: Adults 5,500   Students 8-18 years old 4,000   Children 1-7 years old 2,500

Wikimapia of Shinchungtang, Asan (if the building's not tagged, it's the one at the center cross-hairs.)
Shinchuntang website (I've been having trouble loading this page in the past~ good luck!)

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Recent Radio Guest Appearance

On Sunday June 6th, I was a guest on Let's Talk Busan, an evening talk program on Busan's 90.5 eFM. Luckily for me it was pre-recorded, but I was still nervous for my first on-air appearance. It went pretty well, as the show's new host Jeff Lebow is well-organized and comfortable on the air. He happens to be an acquaintance of mine as well, so that helped me to relax a bit more. The other guest was a woman I had just met, Val Hamer, who offered her interesting perspective from having lived in Japan for 7 years.

You can visit the Busan eFM website to view other shows and download the file, or listen to my Let's Talk Busan jjimjilbang show now!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Onyang Oncheon, Asan - Onyang Hot Spring Tourist Hotel

Cheonan-Asan is a large twin city area found just south of Seoul in Chungcheonnam-do. There are many ways to get here, depending on where you're coming from. It can be reached by KTX, and the subway line makes travel easier between the cities. There are also local rail lines which stop directly in Cheonan and Onyang Oncheon station to make your travel more direct. (Thanks to the commenter below, Helen, for supplying more info.^^)

The Onyang Oncheon is known as one of the oldest and hottest (57 degrees C!) natural springs in Korea. The sauna in Onyang Tourist Hotel (온양관광호텔- they call themselves "Onyang Hot Spring Hotel") is well-known in the area of Onyang in Asan.

This is the place to go to soak, scrub, and slow down for only 6,000 - 7,000 won. It has a lovely feel to it, with a lot of sun shining in from the windows and outdoor bathing area. Some showers are a bit fussy with temperature, but there are plenty to choose from if you happen to be at a cold one. In the main bathing area, you'll find 4 baths: a large cold tub, a pretty hot crescent-shaped tub, the event tub, and a hot-spring fed bath. The event tub was filled with an Ecto-cooler green water (which I later found out was due to the herb, artemisia a.k.a. mugwort.) and smelled amazing!

The real gem, where I spent most of my time, is the outdoor bath. The area is enclosed by rock and feels more like a lagoon, complete with fake flowers flowing down the walls. In addition, there is a hot, dry sauna room (bulgama) located outdoors as well but beware: they are serious about DRY. Bring your towel and prepare to pat down before you sweat it out in here!

Info below courtesy of guest reviewer Cami.

This sauna is located in the basement of the hotel, and easy to find, it is probably the most famous of the Asan/Onyang hot springs, certainly the oldest. Admission is is 6000 w. It is smaller than Asan Spavis or Asan Hot Springs, more of a traditional hot springs and it got pretty crowded.  The locker room has a few large lockers, you can ask for one of them if you have a lot of stuff. There are also massage chairs in the locker room. In the back of the locker room is a massage area where they offer different treatments, this was closed when I went because it was evening. 

Inside the sauna is a warm tub, a hot tub (which was actually too hot), an event pool of mugwort and a large cold pool. There is a skin scrubbing room also and a wet and dry sauna. Outside is a rocky outdoor pool, which is warm, and the best thing is the waterfalls on the side. I didn't notice them until another lady turned them on, but they feel fabulous! Also outside is a small bulgama, but it wasn't very hot. 

This place is supposed to have the best water, and I must say, it does! The facilities are not as nice as some newer spas, but that water is great!

Onyang Hot Spring (Tourist) Hotel
충남 아산시 온천1동 242
Chungnam-do, Asan-si, Oncheon 1-dong 242
Open 24/7


Wikimapia of Onyang Hot Spring (Tourist) Hotel

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Boryeong Mud Festival Sauna Accommodations

Well, my search has revealed only one sauna (no jjimjilbang) in the area of Daecheon Beach. Haesu Sauna is very near the main beach entrance but has little information listed anywhere on the internet. From the map, it looks to be a big building but I'm not sure if there are any sleeping rooms available there.

I'm sorry ~ I wish I had better news for all you spa lovers. It would be an excellent way to save money during the festival, as the motels and minbak can be more than double their regular rates. My best advice for now would be to get yourself a minbak room. After all the sun and sand you could check out this sauna for a little rinse-down then go out walking around/drinking/eating until dawn as others will. Anyway, with a minbak or motel room, you'll have somewhere to leave your bag.

I'll be attending the Boryeong mud festival on the second weekend (July 17th - 18th) so at that time I'll update this post with more information with details of the Haesu Sauna. Until then, if you have any information about good motels or minbak, and especially about a sauna or jjimjilbang, please comment on this post.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Busan, Jung-dong, Dalmaji (Haeundae) - Vesta Spa & Fitness

Vesta Spa & Fitness is currently under construction. It is scheduled to be completed on June 1, 2010. I believe they are closed for business during this time; I'd recommend calling ahead if you plan on visiting this month.

This large, well-located spa has a long reputation among foreigners and Koreans alike in Busan. Since I've heard so many good things about the place, I had high expectations. Luckily, I had the treat of visiting with someone who had been there many times before, including once long ago. She was able to offer some well-needed insight on my experience.

As soon as I arrived, from the back of the building it turned out, I noticed the unassuming entrance with a boardwalk around to the front. That's where I first saw the incredible view from their excellent location. Inside, it was clear how long they've been at their excellent location. The lockers are worn, and the keys and outfits show it too. Once in the water, you'll notice even the shower water is a bit salty (not sure what that's about, though my friend said it wasn't always like that) and the tubs could be filtered better. I was there on a Thursday afternoon and they were cleaning one of the main baths~ a tad disappointing.

Despite this, the view from the sauna was enough to make me forget the downsides. Just outside on the veranda there's a nice hot tub with some sunshine, surrounding privacy fence, and foliage. It faces seaside, so bring your shades: it gets bright!

In the jjimjilbang you can find most of the traditional rooms like yellow-soil, fire-hot (bulgama), and pretty jewelry room. There's also a small ice room, sports massage, nail art, aroma therapy, and a DVD resting room. Again, the view from here makes up for a lot.

Outside of the jjimjilbang you can find some small co-ed swimming pools (you can rent a suit for 2,000 won!) and the Sky Lounge, perfect for relaxing in the sun or enjoying some sea air with your sweetie. Since I visited during wintertime I didn't get to enjoy it. (Look for updates soon.^^)

I had a nice time here but I'd say it doesn't exactly live up to it's reputation any more. According to my friend, when it was a much nicer newer place it was the best in town. After years of heavy tourist traffic Vesta has started to show it's age, but don't cross it off your list yet - it still offers one of the best views of the seaside in Haeundae and is overall a lovely place to relax.

부산 해운대구 중동 1509-6
Busan, Haeundae-gu, Jung-dong 1509-6
Open 24 Hours

Sauna : Adults 5,000   Children 3,000
Sauna & Jjimjilbang : Adults 8,000   Children 5,000

Wikimapia of Vesta Spa & Jjimjilbang

Monday, March 22, 2010

Busan, Gwangan - KA (Kwang An) Sporex

Recently, a friend of mine told me his parents own a jjimjilbang near Gwangan. We got to talking about it and I decided I ought to check it out for you. I mean, I have a list of places I need to visit, but he is my friend after all, and I wanted to see what kind of place it was.

Here's how to get there: As you exit Gwangan subway station take exit 2. On your left immediately out of the exit you'll see a large Busan band - turn left around the bank and walk straight up that hill. After you pass the Top Mart (on your right ~5 minutes from the subway) you'll see the KA Sporex on the left.

So last Sunday I headed out to see KA Sporex. Firstly, my internet searches revealed inconsistencies. The Daum local listing only categorizes this place as a sauna or mok-yok-tang, not a jjimjilbang, though a search on Naver maps will show it as a jjimjilbang. Likewise, the reviews, ratings, and few photos visible on Naver cannot be found from Daum. Despite this trouble, the KA Sporex website includes some English words to help you navigate the site and shows many photos of the rooms and facilities.

My friend had said his place was a jjimjilbang so I trusted him. Sure enough, I was handed the little brown spa clothes when I asked for them. At only 5,000 won, this is a pretty cheap jjimjilbang (7,000 overnight). 

From the locker room through the sauna everything is pretty typical. A couple special bits- shown below- are the individual tubs similar to what you might find in your house back in the West and the nicely designed hot rooms found at the back of the sauna. There are 3 small, shallow event baths which feature different herbal treatments to the water, massage tubs, and an ice bath, in addition to the usual hot tubs and showers.

Up in the jjimjilbang (3F) you'll notice it's remarkably dark. Could be a bad thing, but I thought it was nice on a lazy Sunday afternoon. If your thing is reading or studying you'll want to go up one more floor to the 4F "hyu-gae-sil" or resting area (휴게실). On this floor you can find the restaurant & snack corner, PC room, book stacks, massage, skin clinic & nail art, movie room, and sleeping rooms.

Back on the 3F jjimjilbang each room has a small window to let in a small amount of light but, like I said, don't expect to be able to read the newspaper in there! On the upside there are multiple rooms at a comfortable temperature - combined with the darkness it's the perfect place for a nap. A couple special rooms made my day: The forest room (산림욕방) which has fragrant woods lining the walls and fresh woodsy air and a similar pine room (소나무방). Sporex also offers a super-hot bulgama (fire) room, rooms with salt/charcoal, gold, yellow soil, an ice room, and two beautifully decorated stone rooms (보석방- jewelry, 마노방- agate). Best thing? The small TVs in some rooms are placed where you can easily change the program or switch them off if you want peace and quiet.

In addition to all this, KA Sporex has recently developed their 6th floor to house a health club, yoga studio and a dance/aerobics room. My friend told me that his parents felt it was important to focus on the fitness aspect of the spa in order to compete with other saunas in the area. Just from the looks of the membership packages and yoga schedule (4 classes a day weekdays & 2 on Saturday?!) I can see they're taking it seriously.

부산시 수영구 광안4동 733-23
Busan, Suyeong-gu, Gwangan 4-dong 733-23

Enter from 7am-8pm
Sauna: Adults 4,000 Children 3,000
Sauna & Jjimjil: Adults 5,000 Children 4,000

Enter from 8pm-7am
Sauna & Jjimjil: Adults 7,000 Children 6,000

Wikimapia of KA Sporex

Thursday, March 4, 2010

About the Layout

I recently started using the computer at my office, which has a regular-width screen (as opposed to my laptop's wide screen). While updating my blog, I noticed that the page has been formatted to fit properly on a widescreen computer, and not to resize it's self on a regularly-sized screen.

For now, all I can offer are my apologies. I have no idea how to make it automatically fit your screen, nor if there's even a way. I realize it's really lame to have to use the left-right scroll bar just to read a post, but I'm at a loss. The problem with just reverting to the original size is that most of my posts already have formatting and photos that will not work with the narrower cut. I tried it and the pics just run off the edge.

So, I'm sorry. ^^ (If you are tech-savvy, feel free to leave a comment or email me about how I might fix the html. Blogger uses these complicated templates and it took me forever in the first place to get the page to show more words and less blank space. I like the width settings, but only wish it would resize automatically for viewers on 4:3 aspect ratios.)


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Seoul, KTX Station - Silloam Sauna & Jjimjil

I would never have found this place for you guys if I hadn't missed my train back to Busan recently. Just so you know, the last Busan-bound KTX leaving Seoul on any given night is at 10:30. Anyway, 10:40 is too late ㅠ.ㅠ

Fortunately, the helpful lady at the information desk in Seoul Station was able to direct me out the back of the station to Silloam Sauna, which I definitely had my doubts about. I mean, how many cheap and still nice places have you ever seen around a big station? Though I was worried, my other option was to stay in a motel, and I'm really glad I took the chance on Silloam.

From the outside, Silloam is unassuming, you might even miss it if you're not looking for it. From Seoul Station, you should exit to the northwest (sort of the back, to the right if you're looking at the ticket windows) and walk through or around Lotte Mart. From there, you'll see the overpass at the large 4-way intersection to the right just ahead of you - you should be able to see the sign on the side of the Silloam building as well. Walk across and then up the ramp and you're there.

Inside, the sauna is nice but, when I was there, not the cleanest. I entered around 11pm so I'm sure they clean at night, but anyway, it gets the job done. There are quite a few interesting tubs (yellow soil, wormwood, charcoal) and "sweating rooms" (infrared, jade, super-hot salt scrub room) inside the sauna, though I didn't take the time to enjoy them when I was there. One strange thing is that you can't adjust the temperature of any of the standing showers!

The real surprise came when I ascended the stairs into the jjimjilbang area: there's a LOT here! Again, the rooms contain many unusual materials and are located around the edges of a central room on 3 different floors. The charcoal, yellow-soil, salt, and oxygen rooms are typical, as are the dens (caves, pictured at the left); you can also find something they call elvan (maybe quartz or something?), loose gravel, and a cold charcoal room. There's a singing room, cafe, coffee shop, restaurant, snack bar, PC & game room, movie room, salon/barber shop, shoe repair place, and a little store. You can even participate in yoga free of charge.

I quickly scanned the jjimjilbang for some nice place to sleep and found quite a few nooks and rooms that would have been well-suited (you can get a sleeping pad and blanket from a staff member in one of the main rooms if you sleep here), but figured I ought to head up to the top floor and at least take a look at the sleeping rooms. First of all, cell phones must not be used (or at least activate silent mode) in the sleeping rooms and there's also a "Snoring room" to minimize disruption to other sleepers! The men's and women's sleeping rooms have 400 and over 300 beds respectively. You'll never have some ajumma's arm flop over you in this place! Each bed is separated by at least a low railing and some have a small wall between them. There are lower and upper bunks each made up with a really thick sleeping pad, pillow, and pile of blankets. Some upper bunks even have curtains for full privacy. Plus the rooms are slightly air-conditioned, humidified, purified, and all the other "-ieds" you could dream of. It's bliss. I had the best jjimjilbang sleep of my life here, even though it was only 5 hours worth!

Finally, Silloam offers some special services to visitors since they are located near Seoul Station. You can leave your larger suitcases or baggage in a parcel room - ask about this at reception. They will also wash or dry clean your clothes! If you need this service, be sure to allow 2 hours for the cleaning.

서울 중구 중림동 128-104
Seoul, Joong-gu, Joongrim-dong 128-104

Enter from 5am-8pm (use from 5am til 12 midnight that day)
Sauna: Adults 8,000   Children 6,000
Sauna & Jjimjil: Adults 10,000   Children 7,000
*5 hours free parking

Enter from 8pm-5am (use from 8pm til 12noon the following day)
Sauna: Adults 11,000   Children 9,000
Sauna & Jjimjil: Adults 15,000   Children 11,000
*free parking for full usage time

Wikimapia of Silloam Fire Pot Sauna

English, Korean, and Japanese available on the Silloam Bulgama (Fire Pot) Sauna website

Here's a video of a cute couple visiting Silloam Sauna, for your viewing pleasure!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Busan, Millak-dong - Gwang An Haesuworld

This nice place is tucked away near the coast, north of the Gwangali Beach area but, unfortunately, a long walk from the subway (Gwangan station or Millak station will do). The good news is, it's right outside the Gwangan Amusement Park, Mi World. Bus number 210 will bring you right by the building and 38, 62, and 108 also come along one main street (closer than the subway line), stopping on this side of the Suyeong 2 Bridge. Find it here, or in the center of the wikimap below.

It is a full sauna and jjimjilbang with a swimming pool for the kid in you. (Or the kids you bring!) Expect a good experience at this large facility, though most of the sleeping areas are pretty warm. There is a lovely view of the sea out the windows; you can even see the beach and Gwangali Bridge from the jjimjilbang main area. The bathing area has large windows to bring in the daylight, though they are on the city-side of the building.

Their website shows interactive maps of the floors so you can click around to see pictures and get an idea of what to expect. My favorite place was the yellow soil room on the 4th floor (황토볼 황열정): there's seating around the curved window with a view to the bridge and you can sink your feet into small, warm, clay balls (sit down on them if you like).

Overall, a nice place to relax and escape the city. Because it's near Gwangali, you may find a lot of people sleeping here on Friday or Saturday nights, or during events in the area. Users on Naver rate this spa 8.0/10.0, and I'd be inclined to agree. ^^

부산 수영구 민락동 110-14번지
Busan, Suyeong-gu, Millak-dong, 110-14
Open 24 Hours

Sauna : Adults 7,000   Children 4,000
Sauna/Swimming pool : Adults 12,000   Children 10,000
Just the pool : Adults 10,000   Children 10,000

Add Jjimjilbang : Adults 2,000 extra   Children 1,000 extra *
* I think this is right.  It wasn't very clear on their website... ㅠ.ㅠ

Wikimapia of Gwangan Haesuworld

Monday, February 1, 2010

Busan, Oncheon-dong - Hurshimchung Spa

Said to be the largest hot spring spa in Asia, Hurshimchung can accommodate up to 3000 guests. It's located just up the street from Oncheon-jang subway stop on line 1. The hotel also houses a brauhaus, several restaurants, a wedding hall and a night club.  At the sauna's reception desk, you'll be given a key and instructed to pay upon leaving.  You can use this key to secure your shoes, open your locker, and pay for anything in the spa.  Towels and jjimjilbang clothes are available inside the locker room, then you can head to the sauna.

Facilities there include hot, lukewarm, and cool baths, dry sauna rooms, fountains, showers, a half-bath with tables, and massage and exfoliation services.  There's an open-air section with a couple baths and another shower area.  The alkali spring water emerges at 45°C to 56°C and has the highest concentration of magnesium in Korea.  Forty different bath types are available during different seasons, including cherry, pepper, champagne, lavender, or citrus water.  All baths use natural ingredients such as salts and medicinal herbs.  There's even a large cave-type bathing area with several tubs of different temperatures.  This large, open sauna is a wonderful place to relax.

From the locker room you'll find the entrance to the jjimjilbang area where you can enjoy laying on a heated floor and watching TV in the main room, relaxing in one of the smaller rooms, enjoying doctor fish foot treatment, or eating carefully prepared traditional Korean foods at the snack corner or restaurant.  The yellow ocher, jewelry, and charcoal rooms are all quite hot, but dry feeling.  The segregated sleeping rooms, found at the ends of the two halls, are dark and quiet, and a comfortable resting temperature.  There is room called the Aroma Room where you can lay below peaceful, if plastic, green bamboo and treat your lungs to highly oxygenated air.  Another small room is the igloo-shaped ice room; this is usually one of my favorite places to hang out.  Unfortunately, the ice room was closed due to H1N1 (swine flu) concerns this fall.  For an additional cost, you can indulge in mug-wort cauterizing therapy with moxa (moxibustion), which stimulates circulation and improves qi.

In my opinion, Hurshimchung's strength is clearly the sauna.  The jjimjilbang itself is cozy and I kept feeling like there should be more space.  (Where do those 3,000 people hang out?)  On the other hand, the sauna is spacious, appropriately lit, and has many different areas to explore.  Almost the opposite of other spas I've visited, I found the sauna offered greater variety than the jjimjilbang.  So, if you enjoy bathing in spas or want to check out a Korean sauna for the first time, Hurshimchung is sure to provide you with a great experience.

5:30 am until 10 pm everyday.

7,900 won for adults
5,000 for students aged 8-18
3,000 for kids aged 1-7 

부산시 동래구 온천동 137-7
Busan, Dongnae-gu, Oncheon-dong 137-7

Hotel Nongshim
Hurshimchung Spa

Friday, January 15, 2010

Published! (Heosimcheong Hot Spring)

I've been amiss in posting recently, though I have visited a couple new saunas for review.  The reason for the lack of posts is that I submitted one, along with another piece, to a local magazine based in Daegu, South Korea for publication.  The article is entitled "2 Days and 1 Night in Busan" and you can find it on the 13th page of the January 2010 Daegu Pockets Magazine.

The spa article includes a review of Heosimcheong Hot Spring in Busan.  You can find more info about this spa in my next most recent post - thanks!

Another article of mine will appear soon in Busan Haps Magazine, a similar periodical run by some English teachers in Busan.  Look for it in a future post. :)