Monday, December 10, 2012

Onyang Oncheon, Asan - Asan Spavis

Info courtesy of guest reviewer Cami

This is a huge water park/hot springs, but I only visited the hot springs park. Admission is 8000 w for the hot springs only, but quite a bit more expensive for the rest of the facility (33-39,000 depending on season/day of week). I got there at around 8 am, and it was very quiet, there were only 3-4 other people in the sauna. By the time I left around 11, buses of schoolkids and older ladies had arrived and it was quite crowded! 

The locker rooms are massive, and plenty big. There are a ton of showers, but I found them sort of cold. The baths here are great- hot tub, huge warm tub, laying down massage tub, some sort of massage tub with many strong jets and bars hanging over it (I didn't quite figure out the bars, do you hang on them?), there are ginseng and green tea baths, a really hot steam sauna, and 2 dry saunas, one with a TV inside! There is also a stone area to rest on, which feels great. The outdoor part is nice, too, with a hot hinoki and a cold bath. The water is great hot springs water, your body will feel very nice after soaking in it.

The whole facility is very clean and well maintained, my only complaint was no food at all available.There was one vending machine with canned drinks, but that was it.  Since there is no jjimjilbang, you must get all the way dressed to go out to the on-site restaurant, and since normally water-park restaurants aren't very good, I just decided to leave. If there had been some food or snacks, I would have stayed longer! 

Near the entrance to Asan Spavis is a great Kalbitang restaurant. I went alone, so I didn't grill meat, but it looked good, too. 

8 am - 8 pm Mon~Fri
7 am - 9 pm Sat~Sun

Sauna only 
Adults: 8,000  /  Children: 6,000
Spa & Sauna (dependent on season)
Adults: 33,000 ~ 39,000  /  Children: 24,000 ~ 29,000
(Also according to their website, admission is 50% off if you enter after 4 pm!)

충남 아산시 음봉면 신수리 288-6
Chungcheon Nam-do, Asan-si, Eumbong-myun, Sin su ri 288-6
Phone: 041-539-2000

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Asan, Dogo-myeon - Paradise Spa Dogo

Dogo Spa Resort (Korean/Japanese/Chinese/English website)

I've received a tip from a reader. Even though it was months ago, I'm finally sharing it with you all. Better late than never? Sorry.

This spa is definitely worth the wait, and now that I looked into it, I feel very sad to have kept it in my inbox so long. I'll let the photos tell the story.

Couples Bath

Event Baths

Indoor Baths

Also, there's a foot bath with Doctor Fish, a kids land, and lap pool for real swimming. Other advertised outdoor amenities include sunbeds, cabanas, something they call "caravan camping." --->

(All photos from Spa Dogo website)

How to get there?
Well, as it appears from their website it's not so far from Cheonan-Asan, if you leave from the Onyang area. The trip could be done by car or taxi pretty painlessly. Also, there's a free shuttle bus from Cheonan-Asan KTX station that takes 35 min. There's a train stop on the cheap line called the Dogo Oncheon Station (도고 온천 역).
As another option, there's a 2-hr shuttle bus direct from Seoul some mornings (only Th, Fr, & Sa, daily during "high seasons") and back to the city in the evenings for ~15,000 won round trip.

Wikimapia of the Paradise Dogo Spa

Depending on the season, this beauty of a spa will cost you anywhere between 26,000~50,000 won for admission to the whole place. Just the sauna runs you 10-12,000. The Caravan Camping is extra :)

Suanbo Overview

Guest reviewer Cami

Websites with info on Suanbo, and some links to hotel spas with photos
Suanbo Hot Springs Area
Suanbo Bus Station
Suanbo is a small town that can be reached by express bus from Seoul's East Seoul Bus Terminal. It is known for its pheasant, rabbit, freshwater snail and even deer restaurants, so be sure to try some when you are there. Buses run all day, every hour, and the trip takes about 2 1/2 hours. The bus station in Suanbo is just a small mart on the main road through town, but the town is so small that it is easy to find. I went with my 13 year old daughter. I didn't notice much, if any, English other than at the Suanbo Park Hotel, so that may be a problem - you may want to visit with a Korean-speaking friend. Also, be sure to visit the tourist information center on the main street - they have discount coupons for many of the hot springs and hotels. The town itself is kind of "stuck in time," you can tell it was a big tourist draw back in the 70s-80s, but not anymore. We went on a Saturday and Sunday, prime tourist time, but most places were virtually empty. Still, its an interesting place to visit, both for the water and the interesting food. 

Suanbo Hi Spa:

We got off the bus and this spa is on the first floor of a building directly across the street. The locker room is small but very clean, and has some large lockers that fit backpacks. Downstairs is the hot springs, just one large cement tub with a warm side and hot side. The hot side is really, really hot- I didn't see anyone dip more than a foot in the whole time we were there. In the back is a small cold tub, a wet sauna and a dry sauna, and one table for skin scrubbing. No other services are offered. There are many showers, both sitting and standing, and most people seem to use this spa as a place to get clean, rather a place to hang out and relax. The water in Suanbo is very strange- I thought at first I was imagining it, but my skin seemed to swell up! Then my daughter pointed out that she didn't get "pruny", even after 30 minutes in the water.* I don't know what is in the water to make that happen, but it is cool! Admission was 4-5000 won. There is no food or drink, and on a Saturday morning it was very crowded, so we didn't stay too long. 

Hi Spa
The internet lists the Suanbo Hi-spa as capable of hosting 500 people, but I can't imagine how!? It is mentioned in many internet reviews, but I have to wonder if they are written by anyone who actually went here. Maybe there are 2 Hi-spas in Suanbo?

* Fun Fact Science Lesson from the editor: Mineral spring water will do that. The balance of water to salts is closer to that of our skin/body so there is little movement of water across the skin's surface. (Typically, plain water diffuses into our skin via osmosis, which causes our skin to expand, take up more space, and wrinkle!

Suanbo  RI Hotel  Jjimjjilbang:

After lunch, my daughter was very tired from getting up at 5 am, so we went to the only Jjimjjilbang in town. I am not sure of the name, but it is in a hotel and says on the side clearly "Jjimjilbang." If you walk from the main street towards the river, you will pass it. Admission was around 8,000 w, with clothes provided, and the front desk held our backpacks for us since they wouldn't fit in the lockers. The staff here are very, very nice and accommodating

The locker room is quite tiny, and the hot springs is just one pool ringed with a few showers. Very small, but the same nice water as other places. The one thing I disliked in the locker room though was the bathroom- it is tiny, no windows, and it doubles as the smoking room. Yuck! (This is not uncommon... :/ )

Upstairs is a small one-floor jjimjjilbang. It has a few caves in the back, a TV, a small snack bar, a small salt room, a very small ice room, and a small charcoal room. The key word here is "small." But, it was quiet and not crowded, even on a Saturday afternoon, and there are mats for sleeping and a warm floor. My daughter slept peacefully for 2 hours while I wandered in and out of the salt room and ice room, ate and watched TV. It was very relaxing! This would be a good, cheap place to sleep, but there are no dedicated sleeping rooms. The mats are quite comfy though! 

Suanbo Park Hotel:

This sauna is up a large hill, in the Suanbo Park Hotel. My daughter was not thrilled with the hike up the hill, and to be honest, I am not sure it was worth the hike. The hotel is quite old and dated. I looked into staying here but it was expensive, and after seeing it I'm sure it would not be worth the price! The sauna is well marked, towards the back of the hotel. It has a small locker room, and a large shower area. There is a cave-like sauna, which is nice, a large warm pool, a hot pool, a cold pool, and a hot bath outside. The outdoor bath is the big draw, and it does have a pretty view of the valley and town, but on the whole the place is pretty run down and the same nice water can be found at any sauna in Suanbo. 

Suanbo Spa Hotel:

Suanbo Spa Hotel
The next morning we wanted one last soak, so we tried a new hotel with a sign advertising a Nokchantong (outdoor bath) next to the RI Jjimjilbang Hotel. 
They are still constructing the spa, so there is no outdoor bath as of February, not sure when it opens. But- the admission is only 5,000 w, and we liked this place the very best in Suanbo even if there is no outdoor bath. It is brand new, and very clean. And quiet- it was almost empty on a Sunday morning. They have many showers, a warm, hot and cold tub, and a massage tub- something none of the other saunas in Suanbo seem to have is working jets, so that was great! Same great water, and 2 saunas, wet and dry. Once they get the spa complete with outdoor baths, I want to go back! There are snacks in the locker room, too, which is nice because for some reason soaking always makes us hungry, and no other saunas seem to have anything to eat or drink except maybe a vending machine. We spent about 4 hours here and were sad to leave! 

Wikimapia of Suanbo area

Thanks again Cami!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Coffee, Sake, Wine! Oh, my!

Wow! A wine spa is now open (reopened, actually) in Hakone, a very popular spa & hot spring area in Japan. Here, you can bathe in red wine, sake, green tea and even coffee!