Jjimjilbbangs: 5 Steps To Getting Started

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Thanks to Nicole for the photo. It’s a face mask explosion.

So, maybe you read the last post and are all like, “What ‘evs Nae-nae. My buttocks aren’t clenched and I want to get them to a jjimjilbang stat. I just need to know what exactly to expect . I don’t want to seem like a crazy foreigner.”  That’s legit. Here are the answers to the questions I had when I first wanted to go.

What’s a jjimjilbang? First of all, you should know that jjimjilbangs and public baths are not the same thing.  In fact there are three options: just a bath, just a sauna or booth.  Usually foreigners refer to all of these things as “the jjimjilbang” but it’s not accurate.  Personally, I like to go to places that have both a sauna and bath that is open all night long.

How long does it take?  There is no magic number, but you are going to feel pretty rushed if you go for anywhere less than 5 hours.  We usually go between 5-7.  Sounds crazy right?  We spend about 2-3 hours in the baths and 3-4 hours in the sauna area.

How can you spend 2-3 hrs bathing?  That’s a good question.  First, you need to shower and bath for the first time (5-10 min).  Next, you need to prepare for relaxation by soaking in varies salt, tea, herb baths (30 min).  After that it it’s time to work on the muscle stress which takes going from hot baths/saunas to the cold pool followed by time with the jets (1-2hrs). Now you need to scrub yourself shiny/be scrubbed shiny by staff (30 min). Finally, you are relaxed and clean enough to sauna.

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How can you sauna for 4 hours?  Well, there are going to be multiple rooms and after each room you need to relax/take a nap. (1.5-2hrs).  During that time might find you need to use the massage chair (usually 1,000 10min).  Or better yet, maybe go for a deep tissue massage ($45-$55 hr) or facial.  If you brought a book you might want to read that for a while as well, or if you brought your tablet and earphones you can watch a movie.  My point is, this is about just doing whatever your little heart desires.  Bring the kids, eat a meal, take a nap and let them run wild.  You have no place you need to be.

What if I get really relaxed, fall asleep and don’t wake up until 3am?  If you go to the 24 hour places you don’t have to worry.  You don’t have to leave until you darn well feel like it.  You can go back to the bath and start all over again after the sauna.  I have been known to do just this 🙂

Okay, this sounds great.  What do I do when I get there?  Great question, here are the steps to checking in.

1) PAY. When you arrive you need to be sure they understand you want to visit BOTH the sauna and the bath.  You don’t, in fact, have to use both just because they offer both.  Some people go just for the bath and others go just for the sauna.  If you make a mistake, don’t worry.  They are happy to help get you back on track.  The prices are sometimes different depending on which services you will use.  They may give you 2 towels and prison uniform at this point, or they might not.

2) SHOE LOCKER. After you pay you are going to take your shoes off and put them in their own locker. I repeat, ONLY your shoes go in this locker. Take the key and go to the locker room.  You will need it for the next locker.

3) PRISON UNIFORM.  If you did NOT get your prison uniform at the front desk, once you are in the locker room go to the service desk and give your receipt to the lady who will then give you 2 towels and your prison uniform.  Usually you use one towel for the shower and 1 towel for the sauna.

4) CLOTHES LOCKER. The key that you take from your shoe locker often matches up to the exact same number as your clothes locker.  However, NOT ALWAYS, you have to place this one by ear.  Staff is helpful when you don’t understand.

5) SHOWER.  Just like back home, you need to get yourself cleaned up before you start getting clean.

What should I take with me?  Technically you don’t need to take anything.  You can buy single use shampoo, conditioner, face creams, scrubbers, toothbrushes, etc. on location for cheap. They also usually have snacks and drinks for you to buy as well.  Some even have restaurants for if you are really hungry.  That said, here are things we recommend taking if you feel like preparing something:

  • A refillable water bottle
  • Books
  • Tablet or phone with earphones
  • Misc. snacks
  • Face masks
  • Hair masks
  • Favorite travel size toiletries 
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Clean underpants

Hope this helps answer most of your questions, and saves you drama when you go. However, if you have any additional questions feel free to ask in the comments.

OH! Eat Your Kimchi JUST did a video the same day I posted this.
It messes up my post, so click here to view.