Korea is not that relaxed as most people are very busy and rarely have time to chill. But there is a place that they sometimes go to relax or to sleep. That place is called the jimjiban. The jimjiban is unlike any place you have been, yet it resembles something like a sauna or spa. They are not all alike, but they are pretty popular in Korea.
They do have some things in common though. Here are some of the things that you will find there.
- Heated floors
- Hot tubs or pools of water with different temperatures
1. Heated Floors and Rooms
Heated floors are common in Korea. These are great as these make winter a lot more comfortable. If you haven't experienced these then imagine walking barefoot or with your socks on a floor that is warm. It's a very efficient way to heat a place. At the jimjiban you will find different rooms some lighted some not so much and you will also be given a blanket. You can lay down on the floors and relax, read or watch TV like some other people do.
Some of the rooms are separated by sex. Most of these rooms are somewhat quiet, but the communal room is not that quiet as that is where the TV is.
2. Hot tubs
You will find pools of water with different temperatures. Some are warm, some are hot, and a few are cold. Some also claim to be natural hot springs. The ones I went to in Busan that claimed this didn't seem any different though. These are separated by sex and are nude.
Some have separate sauna rooms.
A few of these had a massage therapist inside the bathroom/hot tub areas. These are separated by sex, so if you are a male you would have a male giving you a massage or salt scrub down.
Once you pay and check into one of these places you'll be given a uniform that is a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Sometimes males and females get different colors.
If you like to watch Korean TV then you'll be right at home. Sometimes, like on a weekend some of these places can get quite packed and hundreds of people will be hanging out chatting and watching TV.
You can actually sleep overnight in these places. They are not that expensive ($4-10 a night). I slept in the jimjiban for a couple months at one point in-between jobs. Housing is not always easy to find without key money or a job that provides housing which leaves you with a couple of options for short term housing. Stay in a hotel, hostel or jimjiban. The jimjiban is the cheapest option by far, but it's not very comfortable as the floors are hard, there is some light, and people snore. Make sure you bring ear plugs!
The jimjiban is pretty cool, so if you are in Korea definitely check one out.