You can hardly throw a rock in Korea without hitting a spa or jjimjilbang, but not all of them are created equally. Some spas split up genders and are largely nude once you’re past the locker room. Others allow for the genders (ahem… cheap date night) to lounge in the various hot rooms together wearing spa robes or bathing suits. We were excited recently as we visited a mixed gender spa with our awesome friends, Scott and Megan of Bobo and ChiChi over the New Year weekend.
The Red Ginseng Spa in Jinan (outside of Jeonju) is a testament to the quirky if not interesting spa culture in South Korea. This spa offers a great many features that you just won’t get in the standard spa or jjimjilbang such as aromatherapy, sound therapy, mud masks, group bathing, naps in a big room with uncomfortable “healing beds,” and more. We wanted to see what the fuss was all about and it absolutely lived up to the hype. The spa uses red ginseng and other oriental herbs in hopes of relaxing the mind and spirit. I’m not really sure if it was all that scientific, but we definitely left with our swim suits reeking of ginseng.
The Red Ginseng Spa has various themed rooms for it’s visitors to enjoy. The rooms are all quite unusual to typical jjimjilbangs, but the spa does try to be scientific with their treatments and use of the red ginseng. Some of the room have time limits and during busy times, you will need to put your name on a short waiting list. The wait maybe thirty minutes or so, but you can simply enjoy some of the other free access areas in the meantime.
This room has multiple beds that are filled with hay, so avoid this if you have sensitive allergies. The hay is believed to relieve pain and encourage blood circulation. They usher you in and you basically just lay on a hard bed for fifteen minutes in the dark. This was not our favorite part, to be honest. An important thing to note is that you will need to be fairly dry before you are allowed to lay on the hay beds. Visit the sauna or wind therapy room beforehand to dry yourself off a bit.
Before entering the room, a staff member will give you a bowl filled with a mystery liquid. Don’t be confused! The bowl is actually red ginseng extract and you need to pour it into the tub water before stepping in. This was probably the hottest water I have ever stepped into, but the aroma was quite nice and relaxing.
This dark room is where they sit you down in large separate tile chairs and give you mud to smear over your face, neck, and arms. Awkward layout of the room aside, this was actually quite relaxing. The mud is good for your skin and after your time is up, the shower nozzles above you turn on for you to wash off.
This room is also filled with beds, but these are filled with stones. The hot stones are said to helps your muscles and joints. If you place the hot stones on top of your stomach, hands, and feet, it is more effective.
This room is definitely the most unusual of them all. A large semicircle bench encircles the room and a spa staff member will usher you in and show you where to sit. After a while, the foam will start spraying through nozzles placed in various places along the bench. You will need to lather the foam yourself, but then just sit back and enjoy as the colors in the room slowly change and the foam continues to flow.
If the spa is busy, this room is typically filled with children and there is no relaxing to be found here. In the more quiet times, however, you can float in this room, listening to the soft music playing from speakers located under the water.
We actually didn’t know that this room was a part of the therapy rooms offered by the spa. It is basically a drying room that pumps in both hot and cool air in order to achieve a balance. Our advice is to only visit this place before heading the the Herbal Therapy room.
The indoor pool is the perfect place to hangout while waiting for your spot on the waiting list for the other rooms. The pool has various areas for floating or enjoying some of the powerful water nozzles. Be careful if you are wearing a bikini as the certainly spray hard enough to remove clothes you would prefer to keep on.
This is by far our favorite part of the spa. The view of the Maisan Mountains from the rooftop hot tub is simply unmatched. On a snowy day, you can sit in the warm waters just looking at the snow covered mountains for as long as your heart desires, or until you overheat from the water.
The spa also has a snack bar (you must be fairly dry to enter) and saunas.
Definitely worth the side trip if you are visiting the historic city of Jeonju which is just thirty minutes away. We drove there easily enough in our car, but there are also buses that go to Jinan frequently throughout the day. Once at the Jinan bus terminal, the spa is a short taxi ride away.
- Swim caps must be worn at all times. We were convinced that hats were not allowed, but saw many other people wearing them.
- The locker rooms are completely nude and gender segregated, per usual in Korean jjimjilbangs.
- Shower off before going into the pools.
- Price for adults: 39,000 won.
More information about this spa can be found HERE.