Korean spas, known as jjimjilbang or 찜질방, are day spas that offer many amenities ranging from hydrotherapy pools, ice rooms, wet or dry saunas, specialty saunas like Himalayan salt, bathhouses with warm or hot options as well as cold plunge pools. Dry and wet saunas are good for pores and pains with cold elements to strengthen immune systems or blood circulation. Most spas do not allow shoes and only permit slippers or socks.
Traditionally, jjimjilbangs have nude areas that are usually gender-divided with strict privacy policies. Nude baths are part of the culture because it is believed that chemicals and clothing toxins interfere with treatment. In the locker rooms, seated showers in open spaces are popular for scrubbing. Korean body scrubs with special gloves can take dirt or dead skin from the body and give a deep cleanse.
Besides paying for admission, there are extras to add such as body scrubs, body treatments, facials, massages, and food. Lockers and extra payments are typically done through wristbands given before entering spas. Spas can also have a gym with treadmills, weight machines, or bikes and have restaurants with free WiFi for customers. Over the years, Korean spas have opened in the U.S., and there are many options to pick from.
Here are some of the most popular ones in different parts of America:
California - Beverly Hot Springs
Compared to the other spas listed, Beverly Hot Springs has lesser amenities but is distinguishable for its natural hot springs. Their pure alkaline mineral waters are exclusive to spas in Los Angeles and hot springs heated by geothermal heat. Originally, the well was discovered in 1910 and was not a spa until the 1980s after it was bought by a Korean couple with one owner being an Olympic weightlifter.
The spa offers sunless spray tanning, hair removals, and eucalyptus steam rooms with free admission to any treatment. At this establishment, slippers are given for customers to wear around the building. Though Beverly Hot Springs is on a smaller scale, it is one of the most serene and calming places to relax.
Address: 308 N. Oxford Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Price: $35 - weekdays; $40 - weekends/holidays
- New Jersey - SoJo Spa
SoJo Spa is situated in New Jersey, but is very close to New York with free shuttle services and a view of city buildings from the infinity pool on the top floor. Free robe and spa lounge clothing are provided with small towels and access to pools, baths, and saunas. No one under sixteen is allowed, and people under eighteen must have adults with them. The building is alcohol-free. It is open year-round from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Some of their special pools include carbon-rich baths, waterfall, and a foot massage path. SoJo has saunas that are Far infrared, white clay, stone sauna/beds, and volcanic sand baths. This spa gives the option for nude locker rooms, but optionally allows swimsuits to be worn inside and mandatory for outside pools.
SoJo Spa offers special prices during certain promotions and deals such as 10% off daily admissions for first responders or military dependents. Special to only SoJo, there are yukatas to wear and their volcanic sand baths have their materials sent in from Ibusuki. Their menu ranges from Korean food, pizza, salads, and sandwiches with a special outdoor grill open on certain seasons.
Address: 660 River Rd, Edgewater, NJ 07020
Price: $55 - weekdays; $75 - weekends/holidays; Acupressure therapy is also available as an add on and access to their gym is $5.
- Texas - Spa Castle
Spa Castle is open twenty-four hours and has special saunas from Gold Pyramid Plates to Loess Yellow Soil. Gold is for increasing concentration while the soil and yellow clay give off good aromas.
Other saunas include a color therapy one and Far infrared heaters. The color therapy sauna puts on colors to match moods and emotions while the heaters change light into heat for the skin to take in. While not everything is open twenty-four hours, the saunas are available all day.
The building has purified air dispensers and a free fitness center to improve health. The O2 Zone has mini-games, a theater, mini golf and video games for people to play that can be rented out for events. There are multiple pools such as the aqua bar, kiddie pool, mystic pool, and hinoki bath. Six different dining options are in the building from juice bars to cafes to restaurants or sushi bars. Extra treatments for massages such as foot and hand reflexology are offered as well.
Address: 1020 Raiford Road, Carrollton, TX 75007
Price: $40 - weekdays; $50 - weekends
- Virginia - Spa World
Spa World is open twenty-four hours (only poultice and sauna) with other amenities closing at a different time. Their dry saunas use high temperatures and air, which is good for the heart, blood, and skin. Humid saunas are for stress and other bade pools or poultice rooms are offered.
There are at least seven poultice rooms, such as Amethyst Gem, Blue Onyx, and Red Clay Ball with floors of yellow onyx stone. The spa offers authentic and fresh Korean food as well as a juice bar for snacks or smoothies. Compared to the other spas, Spa World leans more towards a classic, traditionally-styled Korean spa and is great for trips with the whole family.
Address: 13830 Braddock Road, Centreville, VA 20121
Price: $40 or $30 for sauna only
- Washington - Olympus Spa
Olympus Spa combines Eastern medicinal traditions with Western relaxation for a health-promoting spa. It's restricted to women only and does not allow anyone under thirteen. Olympus Spa offers extra treatments of skincare, nail care, spa packages, and lashes or brows.
Korean green tea has been prominent for more than a thousand years and their tea cafe is traditionally decorated with many organic teas or food available. Olympus Spa has special events like “Candle Night,” a seasonal event during the winter.
Address: 3815 196th St SW #160, Lynnwood, WA 98036
Price: $43; Day Passes can be offered at 50% off for birthdays and tea rooms can be added for $7.
Korean day spas have become more popular and as more locations open up in America, there are many options suited for different tastes. Although admission fees are not cheap, they are worth the price as there are no time limits and only treatments or food to pay for. While couples can certainly take a romantic day at the spa, Korean day spas are perfect for friends and family as well.
For more information about each spa and specific details feel free to check out their websites!
Written by Monica Park