Saturday, November 24, 2012

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!

1 comment:

  1. I went to Oncheon-Land and loved it! Spacious and clean. :)