Like other cities, Seoul is fast paced, busy, and always bustling. Living in this type of environment can sometimes leave you feeling mentally and physically tired. Not everyone is fit for city life, and especially with Seoul's highly advanced public transport system, walking is an essential part of daily life here. You should definitely expect to end many of your days here with sore legs from walking around everywhere, catching the train or bus to and from places. This is why Korean saunas or "Jimjilbangs" (찜질방) are such a staple in Korean culture and everyday living. Entering this mini oasis you will find a variety of hot rooms, steam rooms, hot tubs, and a delicious selection of Korean snacks to enjoy.
Upon entering the sauna, you will receive a locker key, robe, and towel. After changing out of your clothes into your robe, you are free to go into the shower area that has an array of hot and cold tubs and steam rooms. Then you can head out and sweat it out in the dry hot and cold rooms out in the communal areas. You can test your limits with heat, all the while letting your body and muscles completely wind down and relax. Once you’ve begun sweating, you might start feeling hungry which is when you should order some typical Korean sauna snacks. Eggs that have been hardboiled from the heat of the hottest dry room and shikye (식혜), an icy cold traditional sweet Korean rice drink, are must haves.
Certain areas in America with high Asian populations have Korean saunas, so I grew up experiencing this special form of Asian self-care. While the overall experience can seem rather odd to those not familiar to it, the idea behind sitting in a sauna is sweating out all of the toxins, dirt, and oil from your skin and body for a healthier, cleaner complexion. In addition to sweating everything out, Koreans also enjoy removing all the dead skin off their bodies with a “seshin” (세신) scrub. At any Korean sauna you can pay an ahjumma to scrub your body, leaving your skin completely clean and baby soft.
If you haven’t experienced a typical Korean sauna yet and are feeling more adventurous, I would definitely recommend going to one and seeing what it’s all about! Saunas are such a un, unique, important part of Korean culture so be prepared to experience something completely new. The key is to stay open minded and let your body and mind relax!