My Sister was with me during my First Time at a Korean Sauna
I had no idea it was nude!
Don’t worry, I survived.
So if you’ve never been to a Korean sauna, then let me just tell you something: the faster you get over the nude issue, the more you’ll enjoy yourself.
I was suuuper self-conscious at first. And no one else cared. Seriously, no one.
Plus, you’re only nude in the separate women/men areas and you can always wear the spa uniform they provide. The only necessarily nude part was when you had to shower, since they had an open shower layout. Some girls wore their bikinis, which was allowed at the sauna we went to, but not allowed in other places, so you can always call ahead to make sure.
My sister and I decided to brave it out our first time at a Korean Sauna at Spa Palace in Koreatown which is in Downtown Los Angeles. There are a ton of other saunas. Guess where? Yes, Koreatown. So check out Yelp for some good ones.
Side note: I actually lived in Koreatown for about two years shortly after college. It was a rather interesting experience I’ll never want to try again. However, I think I would move back, solely for the spas.
The price is okay if you pay the full retail, which is $25 for a day pass and $30 for a night pass. Day hours are 6:00am to midnight and night hours are 8:00pm to 6:00am. That’s cheaper than a hotel! If you get the day pass and stay into the night (after midnight), you have to pay an extra $10.
However, I went ahead and bought the 10-day passes booklet for $150 (with cash. If you pay with a credit card, they charge $180–I believe this is a promotion that’s around for a “limited time”) since I had a feeling I’d be back. That brought the day passes to $15 each. Which is pretty nifty in my opinion!
Then I read the fine print and apparently you can’t stay past 6 hours or they’ll charge you upwards of $15. Not that I have been able to handle more than 6 hours at the spa, to be honest, but I would have liked to have the option! Especially when they tout the ticket as an all-day pass. But. Whatever. Principles, I suppose.
My first time at a Korean sauna, I packed waaaay too much stuff. The tiny sliver of a locker they provide barely had space for my giant gym bag, purse, extra pairs of shoes, and towels. Yes, I am an over-packer. I just don’t know if I’ll be in the mood to wear my Ron Swanson t-shirt and ripped jeans or my fit-and-flare floral dress, okay? Also, they gave me an odd-numbered locker, which are the ones on to upper level, so if you’re short like me ask for an even-numbered locker. I had to stand on the stool to reach my stuff. 🙁 Short people problems.
I learned my lesson though, and narrowed it down to only a few items that you’ll need to bring to the spa.
I would suggest you only bring a change of clothes (don’t forget clean undies and socks!), your bathing suit, and an extra towel if you want it. The spa will provide the uniform that everyone wears in the co-ed areas, shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. Girls get one regular-sized towel and one hand towel. Guys only get a hand towel (was very confused the first time I went with Husband, and he did not get a regular-sized towel). They won’t give extra towels unless you ask, and then you feel like a nuisance, plus you have to walk all the way to the front desk in your spa attire, which you won’t want to do.
My first time at a Korean sauna, my sister and I sprung out for a complete beautification experience. I made a delicious coffee and honey scrub, which we lathered all over ourselves. And I mean. All. Over. I’m glad I used this at a sauna and not at my own home because man. What a mess. But it left our skin smooth, exfoliated, and moisturized. I would totally do it again.
Then I also used this dead sea mud mask, which buuuuuurned, but left my face super soft and exfoliated.
We even put our hair in hair masks and leave in conditioner. So after my first time there, I felt completely primped and clean and scrubbed all over.
Then we spent all day soaking in hot tubs, dry saunas, and sitting in steam rooms. We tried out the Himalayan Salt Room to “soak up the minerals,” the Gold Room (which was just hot and painted gold), and Elvan Stone Room (hot with an…Elvan Stone. I still don’t know what that is or does, sorry), the Loess Soil Room (laying on tiny, warm beads felt amazing, but prepare to lose all dignity when you try to leave!), and shocked our body in the cold room, which was around 55 degrees (so pretty much like stepping outside that night since it was raining).
So here are my tips if it’s also going to be your first time at a Korean sauna:
- Seriously get over the nude part as soon as possible. Other people don’t care–and in fact, they feel sorry for you if you’re self-conscious. Those Asian ladies will look at you funny. You know what look I’m talking about
- If the nude thing really bothers you, just hang out in the spa uniform. No one will care then either
- There are more things to do in the co-ed areas than the separate women/men rooms, so you can always hang out there clothed for the most part
- Leave most of your crap at home. You won’t even need your phone, and shouldn’t even have it out unless you’re in the co-ed areas. YOU’RE HERE TO RELAX, SO RELAX ALREADY CAN’T YOU JUST RELAX??
- Bring your own towel, at least to this location
- Try out their food, especially the green tea ice cream
- Go when it’s raining or cold outside! Nothing feels better than a warm sauna on a wintry day
They also provide a blow dryer, q-tips, and body lotion in the women’s locker room, so you won’t need to pack that.
Oh, and don’t forget your deodorant.
Husband and I went back the following week for a couple’s massage, which was rather different than what I was expecting. First of all, it wasn’t one of those relaxing massages where you felt pampered after. It was one of those I-will-beat-your-muscles-into-pulp massages that left you feeling like mush. We got back home after five hours at the spa, and felt bad for leaving our fur-babies at home all day on Saturday. It’s usually the one day they would get to enjoy with us.
But no. I guess they had their own fun.
I hope you guys visit a Korean sauna one of these days, and tell me all about it! One of these days we would like to visit Korea and go to a real one, but until then, we’ll make do with the offerings in L.A. I guess there are some good reasons to move back here after all.