Another bucket list item for every Chungdahm teacher living, working, and playing in gorgeous Korea is to experience a traditional jjimjilbang 찜질방 or Korean bathhouse. I had the pleasure of visiting Siloam Sauna (실로암사우나찜질방) located in Jung-gu 중구, the historical heart of Seoul. Jung-gu is one of the 25 districts that form the city of Seoul 서울 and is just north of the Han River.
Navigating to Siloam Sauna
For a first time visit, navigating to Siloam Sauna can be challenging because Seoul Station is very big and very hectic. First, take the Metro to Seoul Station 서울역 line 1 and take exit 1. Follow the blue signs towards LOTTE Mart and Outlets by going up the escalators near the Dunkin’ Donuts.
Next, once outside exit 1 of Seoul Station, turn left and walk towards the LOTTE Mart.
While approaching LOTTE Mart, turn left again when the outside vendors selling shoes and clothing are spotted. Keep walking straight past the vendors on your left and right and then veer a little right and walk down the stairs to the main intersection.
Finally, walk straight through the intersection and turn right, then walk straight through the underpass for about 3 minutes and then veer slightly left and cross the street and the spa entrance will be easy to see. Now, it’s time to unwind and relax.
Quick Note: Frequent demonstrations and rallies are held just outside Seoul Station. Another one was held on this day as people with flags abound and the blaring of the megaphones can be heard inside the station while going up the escalators.
Inside Siloam Sauna
The sauna is open 24 hours and the admission fee for an adult during the daytime for the bath and Jjimjil-bang or saunas is 11,000 won. The nighttime usage fee is 17,000 won.
After paying the fee, I went to the locker room and the first thing to do is put away my shoes inside a little shoe cubby. Absolutely no shoes are allowed on locker room floors in Korea where it is obviously commonplace in Canadian locker rooms whether it be a gym or sauna. A towel, shorts and a shirt, and a wristband with a locker key attached were handed to me after putting away my shoes.
Quick Tip: You can get your shoes cleaned and shined for 3,000 won while enjoying the sauna. There is a small room with a shoe shiner right before entering the lockers.
Once inside, it will be easy to find what you are looking for as there are simple directions in English and Korean on the floors and on the walls. There are 6 floors: the main floor contains the lockers, B1 the baths, 2F the meeting lounge, 3F the entertainment center, 4F the saunas, and 5F the sleeping room.
On the 2nd Floor, you have the option of just relaxing on some chairs and watching tv, lying down on the floor with mats, eating at the restaurant, getting a sports massage, or even getting your nails done.
On the 3rd Floor, you have plenty of options again, there is an old school arcade, a PC bang, a table tennis room, and best of all a weight room. I really enjoyed using the weight room as it had all the equipment and weights of a regular gym. The bonus with Korean gyms is that all of them include an assortment of self-massage equipment.
Besides the 3rd floor, the 4th floor with the various sauna rooms are where the relaxation happens. The heated rooms are for both genders and range from low, medium, and high temperature and also an ice room is available to get the opposite effect. Some of the room also have heated stones on the floor which you can bury your feet in or even lie down on.
I personally enjoyed switching between the high temperature rooms and ice room as it gave the greatest effect for my body. Then, I would use the low temperature rooms to really lie down, zone out, and unwind while listening to music on my phone.
Quick Tip: a Jjimjilbang (찜질방) is a comfortable and inexpensive place to sleep and shower in Korea during the day or overnight with prices ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 won.
The 5th floor is the sleeping room and it houses the Korean style bunk beds or sleeping pods with curtains. It’s a great way to get some sleep anytime of the day and there is even a designated Snorer’s Room for those who are a little loud when getting some shuteye.
Korea has a plethora of fun and amazing things to do, see, and experience as a Chungdahm teacher and going to a Jjimjilbang (찜질방) is just one of them. However, please be aware of the potential side effects: you may come out even more happy, smiling, and excited and ready for another great day in beautiful Korea.
Brian Lee began his second stint teaching in Korea for ChungDahm Learning in February 2018. He previously taught at the Main Mokdong branch back in 2013 and is currently placed at the Mokdong2 branch. He enjoyed his first time so much that he decided to come back for a second time in order to continue exploring and experiencing all that Korea has to offer. Brian is a native of Canada where he graduated from both the University of Toronto and York University.