Guide to Going to a Korean Bathhouse
I love to frequent the Korean Bath House, a ritual the Korean’s have down. These bathhouses are open late – the one I attended in Irvine, iSpa, is open until midnight – which makes it easy to head over there in the evening. I usually head over there around 6:30 pm or later after my workout. Plan to eat dinner there and stay for at least 2 hours plus.
In this post, I am going to share my routine to give you a roadmap to use as your guide. I wish I had this article to read before my first time there because I was totally lost the first several times I went. Korean bathhouses can be found all throughout the US and of course everywhere in Korea. Most of them are open 24 hours.
Who to Go With
This is a great place to go solo, with a friend, or with your spouse. Just know that in the gender specific side you will be totally nude. No bathing suits allowed.
What to Bring
Be sure to bring a comfortable clean outfit to change into when completely done and easy shoes like flip-flops. I usually bring sweats. I also bring a brush and any face cream I like to apply before bed. When I walk out the door I am completely ready for bed. They offer toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Check-in and Cost at Front Desk
I either just pay for an all-access pass $25, book a scrub/massage combo for $85 (1 hour and 10 minutes) in advance, or a body scrub for only $40 (35 minutes), which both includes the all-access pass. They give you a bracelet with a numbered key and an outfit, baggy shorts, and large t-shirt (not flattering).
When you enter your gender side, there are small lockers where you put your shoes, then further in are the large lockers you put your street clothes and belongings in. Dinner is approximately $9-$15 a meal. They charge your numbered key bracelet, and you pay on your check out of the spa for food and beverages. I buy dinner and drink the free filtered water.
Common Co-ed Area
The baggy shorts and t-shirt are for the common area where both men and women can go. That is where the cafe is, as well as the lounge with heated floors to relax on, and several detox hot rooms and an ice room.
You do not need to bring your wallet to the cafe, your bracelet with numbered key is all they need. They charge your number and you pay when you check out of the spa. You will want to bring your water bottle (I bring a large water bottle from home and refill it with their free filtered water stations) and grab a few towels that are offered in your gender spa area to the common area, and you can bring your cell phone to the common area if you like as well.
The first thing I do when I get checked in is head to the cafe. I am a creature of habit and order the seafood tofu soup and/or the BBQ Pork – both are amazing and never disappoint. Each meal is served with kimchi or some other fermented food which is gut healing. They offer plenty of filtered water stations. I bring a tall water bottle and refill there.
Common Area Hot/Cold Rooms
Next, I head over to the hot rooms with my water bottle full – you will sweat a ton and drink a lot – and a towel I grabbed from the women spa area to use to lay under my head and to wipe off the sweat (I grab a few towels).
- I start in the Forest Room – which will help refresh your body and clear your head -with forest aroma, aromatic wood exerts, a chemical called terpene, which has various medicinal uses like treating problematic skin and calming nerves. Suggested usage time is 10-15 minutes.
- Then I head over to the Salt Room where you lay on organic Himalayan salt which pulls toxins out of your body. I stay in there for 5-10 minutes.
- Next is the Fire Room – the HOTTEST Room – which is built using red clay bricks which exerts far-infrared radiation and produces minerals that cause a cathartic effect. This helps the body heal and eliminate waste. I am really sweating at this point and drinking lots of water in between these rooms.
- I then head over to the Clay Room, which is mildly warm and also exerts far-infrared heat which is great for detox. I do yoga stretches in this room. At this point, my muscles are loose and stretch easily…feels sooooooo good!
- Then I end these rooms with the ICE Room which tightens my skin, contracting blood vessels and helps eliminate waste! All of these rooms are co-ed and you wear the baggy shorts and t-shirt they give you.
Gender-Specific Pool Area
In the specific women or men pool rooms, they are birthday suit required, no bathing suits allowed. First thing I do is shower, then sit in the hot pools, then the dry and wet sauna, which prepare your skin to be sloughed off. From there I do a full body scrub myself or enter my scheduled body scrub they do for me. If I schedule one, I arrive at the spa at least 1 hour before my appointment to allow time to eat and do the common area hot/cold rooms and then shower and sit in pools first.
The Body Scrub
There is a very specific scrub mitten they use and you can buy there if you do it yourself for just $3. These mittens are the best scrub mittens ever! They take off ALL the dead skin leaving you so silky! You can buy the $3 scrub mitten at the front desk. I will either do the scrub myself or have it done for me.
Ice Cold Pool
I end all the above with a shower and then fully submerging in the ICE COLD pool a few times. It is shocking but WOW do you feel amazing after. There are so many benefits to Hot and Cold Water Therapy, like anti-aging by tightening the skin, reduction in muscle soreness, improved detoxification, fat burning, promotion of longevity, and so much more. Dr. Mercola writes a good article on the surprising benefits of extreme hot and cold temperatures.
Wrapping Up at the Korean Bathhouse
From here I put my sweats on, brush my hair, moisturize, slip my flip-flops on, check out, drive home, crawl into bed, and sleep like a baby!