Koreans love indoor public bath houses.
Totally nude public bath houses.
I walked into the women’s dressing room with my three little daughters and wanted to walk immediately out.
This is what to expect inside a Korean Jjimjilbang with kids!
Spasis: Korean Jjimjilbang Bathhouse
I felt completely out of place, uncomfortable, and culture shock pressing down on my typically outgoing and willing to try anything persona.
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
Spasis | A Korean Jjimjilbang
263 Gyeongin-ro, Dohwa 1-dong
Hours: Sunday thru Saturday 24/7
Price: ₩ 10,000 Adults | ₩ 1,000 Children for each year of age up to 10 | Babies under 2 Free
But we stayed, mostly because I had no way of getting a hold of Gabriel on the men’s side to ask him if he wanted to leave too.
So, the girls and I changed into our swimsuits while everyone else around us giggled. It took us a few minutes to figure out that you do not wear swimsuits in a Korean jjimjilbang.
We conversed in unintelligible Korean and choppy English with lots of gestures to determine jjimjilbang etiquette:
- We should take off our swimsuits and bathe naked
- We should use the provided lounge clothing to use the upper floors, wearing nothing underneath
- We should not exit to the main lobby until we are finished bathing
No one giggled at my family walking around completely exposed and totally nude, but somehow it was hilarious that we thought it was appropriate to wear swimming suits to a place that had swimming pools and hot tubs.
I think this is by far the most interesting and culturally distinctive experience we’ve had on our travels.
Birds and the Bees
Going to a Korean Jjimjilbang with kids also made it glaringly obvious that it might be time to have a talk with the twins about the birds and the bees.
They were very confused about why it was ok to bathe naked here in Korea, but in every other instance they should never show anyone their body parts covered by a swimsuit.
We may not have had the full discussion in a room full of other nude people, but as a parent it made me question what I was teaching my children about not only protecting themselves, but respecting themselves as well.
Especially my daughters.
They have a divine inheritance to create life, nurture life, to grow and nourish it. There is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide, nothing to be scared of.
My experience at Spasis, a Korean Jjimjilbang with kids I decided how important it was to move forward teaching my children how sacred, special, and important their bodies are.
Lounge Floors at Spasis
Once we were dressed appropriately, wearing the provided lounge wear, we headed up to the 3rd floor to meet the boys in our family.
At Spasis in Incheon, kids are welcome, and are free to run around and use the facilities same as anyone else.
Update: We found a baby jjimjilbang in Incheon! Baby Angels is equally amazing as Spasis!
Spasis Review: Layout
The jjimjilbang has five levels.
The first floor level is the women’s public bath and dressing room.
The second floor is the main entrance lobby and the men’s public bath and dressing room.
The third floor has saunas, sleeping rooms and massage chairs. A cafe, billiards tables, exercise room, a library, computers and large screen TV which Korean’s call a movie theater comprises the fourth floor.
The fifth floor is an outdoor rooftop pool only open during the months of July and August, and here swimsuits are acceptable and required attire.
Saunas at Spasis
There are approximately eight different sauna rooms offering a different temperature and experience.
I preferred the salt room with infrared lighting that settled in about 80°C (seen in the top photo with Eclair). Gabriel went outside for the 107°C sauna that he said was like walking on hot asphalt.
That’s Celsius oh my goodness!
Some of the saunas are tiny caves and you crawl into them. The temperatures varied from 50° to Gabriel’s asphalt sauna.
There is also a phytoncide room with trees and calming music and a cold room with literal ice on the walls.
Massage chairs line the perimeter of the Korean jjimjilbang and for ₩1,500 the chair will operate on a 10 minute cycle. I did it twice. These chairs fully recline and give you an excellent tenderizing.
One of the most popular things to do at a Korean jjimjilbang is sleep. For ₩10,000 or less per person, it’s not only comfortable and open 24 hours with a cafe, but it’s much cheaper than a hotel.
Apparently, sleeping at a public bath house is a thing in Korea. It might sound kind of creepy, but it has all the amenities of a hotel and the pajamas are included.
There are rounded bamboo type couches for soaking the sun from the windows, there are cave pods that block out the noise, there are padded floors in quieter rooms off from the main areas.
Plus, it’s super warm.
Molasses and I took a nap upstairs in the sleeping room for women. This is a loft area with 5 foot ceilings and sleeping pads reserved exclusively for women.
Something else exclusive for women at the Korean jjimjilbang is the elevator. Men must use the stairs.
Spasis Review: Added Expenses
Nearly everything on the 4th floor comes at an additional cost.
We ate lunch here during our 6 hour visit to Spasis. We’re pretty sure we ordered pork cutlets. It came with rice and was covered in a sweet gravy, a crab salad, cabbage with jello on top of it, and two types of kimchi, of course.
Spasis Bath House with Kids
We ended the day in the bath house spa.
The bath house has five pools. One for washing, rinsing and cooling off that is room temperature. Two in the middle are set at 39°C/102°F; another to the side of the room that is three degrees warmer.
The far wall has a four foot deep refreshing pool set to 20°C/68°F. Eclair swam back and forth and back and forth all afternoon.
Of course, the rest of the room is filled with showers. Rows and rows of showers.
It was captivating to watch the rituals among friends and mothers and daughters who saw nothing more than a loved one sitting near them. Their washing customs lasted hours from bath to shower to pool to shower again.
Seeing these customs and rituals at the Korean Jjimjilbang solidified for me, once again, the importance of healthy attitudes towards our bodies, and teaching my children an Eastern approach towards being comfortable in our skin.
Veering as far as possible from the overly sexualized toxic Western view I was raised on.
Korean Culture at Spasis with Kids
Our family loved this experience. It was every bit refreshing as we initially thought it was eccentric.
I’ve honestly, never seen so many nude people in my life and after the initial American shock of it, I didn’t feel out of place at all.
It’s true: bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and no one in Korea seems to care. Fully nude women came to play with Molasses. Fully nude women watched and laughed as Eclair swam through the pool and asked me all about her age, her talents and commented on how strong she was.
This was a beautiful window into Korean culture and a bonding experience with another culture I never would have had if we’d been too uncomfortable to give it a try.
Spasis Review with Kids
I cannot recommend visiting a Korean jjimjilbang with kids enough! Spasis is the largest in Incheon and welcomes children of all ages.
Spasis offers a comfortable experience with lots of options for bathing, relaxing and soaking. It’s affordable and at no point did we feel out of place, especially with our kids.
A Korean Jjimjilbang is a unique and definitive experience you definitely don’t want to miss out on during your trip to Korea.
More info on the how-to of a Korean Jjimjilbang with kids at Lonely Planet.
For Kids: Visiting Spasis, a Korean Jjimjilbang with kids was an incredible experience. We saw a different, wholly organic, and pure and natural way to view and appreciate our bodies. We witnessed innocent intimacy between mother and daughter, and sisters.
We also took Molasses to a baby jjimjilbang where she was pampered too!
What We Learned: We learned not to be ashamed or embarrassed by our skin.
Have you ever been to a Korean bath house, or Jjimjilbang? What was your experience?