Seoul is definitely the soul of South Korea. This capital city is bustling with trade and tourism, while preserving the beauty of Korea’s culture and traditions. Millions of tourists from all corners of the world visit Korea and enjoy all that the country has to offer. With so many fun and exciting things to do in Seoul, visitors will more likely tire out after a day of shopping, visiting ancient shrines, mountain climbing, or cavorting in amusement parks. This is when spa and massage in Seoul take center stage.
The most popular form of relaxation is hitting a steamy and aromatic sauna. Sauna facilities are very popular in Seoul, these days. Basically, there are two main types of saunas, namely “mogyoktang” and “jimjilbang”. Mogyoktong is the more common type, offering the usual hot tubs, showers, dry saunas and wet saunas, which are located in separate and segregated locations for men and women. Jimjilbang, on the other, offers the same basic services but a few pleasurable extras such as a snack lounge, computer rooms and relaxation lounges, which are facilities commonly shared by male and female clients. Guests wear bathing suits while enjoying these relaxing facilities.
Around Seoul, a typical jimjilbang hot tub is made with clay and the experience is made more aromatic and therapeutic using ginseng or green tea. A typical jimjilbang facility is a wide open area where people bathe together wearing spa gowns. The sauna rooms are infernally hot to make sure clients sweat all their stresses and body pains away. Typical also in Korea is a kiln sauna or “han-jeung-mak,” wherein people walk inside a heated stone dome through a low and tiny opening.
After a relaxing sauna, clients may also get facials, body scrubs and massage. A traditional Korean scrub is done by the bathers themselves, scrubbing each other’s back using special sponges. This is when the robes come off. Koreans have traditionally bathed together naked through the centuries, and no one seems to shy away from going through the same experience today. In some sauna centers, beauticians do the scrubbing to provide optimum relaxation. Some centers also offer nail care, foot reflexology, depilation of the face using a piece of thread, eyelash perm, and even shoe cleaning.
Meanwhile, a traditional Korean massage is called Ji-ap. It is a deep massage that combines elements of Shiatsu, Swedish and Thai massage. First-time guests could find the deep kneading and pressing painful at first. But quickly the pain turns into an indescribable kind of pleasure that penetrates deep into the muscles.
In some jimjilbang, guests are allowed to stay overnight since most people do not feel going anywhere after being spoiled with a heavenly kind of relaxation. Some saunas have sleeping areas for this purpose. This is also why a jimjilbang can be a cheap alternative to a hotel for visitors who are just passing through.
In every tourist’s list of things to do in Seoul, a visit to the exclusive spas in Myeongdong, Itaewon and Apgujeong is a must. For the best spa and massage in Seoul, the best facilities to check out are The Spa Grand Hyatt Seoul on Hannam 2-Dong, Yongsan-ku, Park Club Spa & Fitness Center inside the Park Hyatt Seoul Hotel, and JES Massage Center at the Incheon International Airport.