Monday, March 12, 2012

Gangwon-do, Sokcho - Cheoksan Hot Springs

Guest Reviewer: Cami

This is a hot springs outside of Seoraksan National Park located in the basement of a hotel with the same name. There is no jjimjilbang – only the segregated hot springs baths – so you get only towels and not jjimjilbang clothes.

The locker rooms are the standard and there are some snacks and drinks available but no restaurant since there’s one upstairs in the hotel. There is a skin-scrubbing area inside the baths, but no massages or other services unless perhaps they are somewhere else. 

Inside the baths, there is a large seated shower area but only a few standing showers. The water is nice; it is easy to tell the difference between "regular" water and hot springs water once you've been to a few saunas and hot springs. There is a hot bath, a hinoki bath, some massage baths, a warm/kids bath, a cold bath and a cold waterfall bath, a steam room, some saunas and a small heated floor area to rest. It’s clean, and the water is really nice feeling! However, there is not a lot to do here except soak, so this is not an all-day type destination like a big jjimjilbang would be. There are also not likely to be many, or any, foreigners, at this place. It was only us when we went. 

*I visited this sauna with 4 girls, ages 8-13, my daughters and 2 friends. All have been to Korean saunas before and are very well-behaved children. I would *not* recommend this place with children, unless you are Korean, as we had the only bad sauna experience we've ever had here. It started when we came in, the attendant in the locker room pointed to a sign (in English) that said this was an "Oriental bath", and no clothes were worn. I assured her (in Korean) that we already knew and had visited many spas before. She looked dubious and, frankly, grouchy as hell. We went into the baths, and showered, and there was a sign to put up our hair (in Korean), so we all did so before getting in the baths. The girls spent most of their time in the warm bath in the corner, playing and floating together. There were a number of Korean children in this bath, including 2 little girls with long, long hair not put up at all. One of my daughters’ hair started to fall out of the bun it was in, into a pony tail, and the locker room attendant came in and yelled at us! All while the little girls with waist-length hair were playing right there next to her, in the same tub. Then later my girls and their 2 friends were playing with the white plastic buckets, floating them in the warm pool back and forth. Right next to them, Korean children had the same white buckets and were filling them and dumping them over the side (my girls were doing this too at first but I made them stop as it wastes water). Locker lady comes storming in again, takes their buckets away, and says nothing to the Korean children running past her, hair flying, with buckets of water. At that point, I was done- we had been there maybe 2 hours and the locker attendant spent most of that time peering in the doors at us, standing next to whatever tub we were in staring at us, it was very unpleasant. I don't know if she's had bad experiences with foreigners before or what, but it really soured me on this place. 

To get here: From Sokcho intercity bus terminal, you could just take a taxi. If you say Seokcho Oncheon, it will be around 5,000 won, about 6 km/15 min.
By city bus is a little trickier from the bus terminal - it's best if you are on the north side of Sokcho, near City Hall.  The link below for Korea wikia on this area states that you can take bus 3 or 3-1 from Sokcho. I found info on both #3 and 3-1, which pass by the Sokcho Ferry Terminal/East Sea port, City Hall, and Dongwoo University on their way to the Cheoksan Hot Springs.

강원 속초시 노학동
Gangwon-do, Sokcho-si, Nohak-dong
Open 5:30 am ~ 9:00 pm *NOT 24 hours!

Wikimapia of Cheoksan Hot Springs*
Very few details are available for this listing yet, and the satellite image is a terrible, cloudy one so far. Let's hope a new one will be available sometime soon!

Some additional links to keep you busy:
Travelguide South Korea - post on Sokcho Beach Area
Korea's Wikia on Two Cheoksan Area Hot Springs

1 comment:

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