Lots of sources say that Dragon Hill Spa is the best jjimjilbang (sauna + hot spring + entertainment) in Seoul is Dragon Hill Spa. After all of the running around I was doing, I really liked the idea of spending hours in a place dedicated to relaxation.
After visiting Spaland in Busan, I realized that I should set aside more than a couple hours for a place like this, so I gave myself all day.
Upon paying the entrance fee, you get a key and a set of clothes. Some services – all-day use of the hot springs and saunas, use of the ‘resting’ rooms, etc. – are included by the entrance fee, but I was a little disappointed by how much was not. If you want to use an extra service, you have to charge it to your key, and pay the balance when you leave.
I was especially miffed that they do not offer free drinking water. Spaland offers unlimited free drinking water, and the oncheon (hot spring) I visited in Chungcheongbuk Province (which I never wrote about) also offered unlimited free drinking water. It’s a health hazard – people can get dehydrated in these hot baths / saunas. I suspect they don’t offer drinking water because they want to sell lots of overpriced drinks, which probably wouldn’t hydrate your properly anyway. If I had known in advance, I would have brought several bottles of water with me into the complex.
I first went to the baths. It is segregated by sex, so I went to the women’s bathing room. Some of the baths were closed for renovation, but I did get to soak in some of the herbal baths. I am not sure whether the baths use natural hot spring water or not (in Busan they do use natural hot spring water because there happens to be quite a bit of hot spring water beneath the city). Maybe it’s because some of the baths were shut down, but it seemed more crowded than most of the pulic baths I’ve been to in east Asia, which I admit is a minus.
What really got my attention in the bathing room was the … jade bed? I’m not sure. There was a description on the wall listing the order you should use the showers / baths and for how long for maximum health benefits. I tried to follow along as much as I could, and part of the regimen called for lying down on the stone with your head on the ‘jade pillow’ for three minutes. I thought it was odd, yet I also liked lying down there.
And then there were the saunas … which I will describe in Part 2.