A visit to a Jjimjilbang (Korean bathhouse and sauna) in Seoul was arguably the most authentic and relaxing experience I’ve had throughout my travels. What is that tongue-twister Jjimjilbang you ask? Literally ‘heated rooms’, a ‘j-bang’ is a 24-hour, gender-segregated public bathhouse featuring hot and cold-soaking pools, bathing and massage areas, as well as various unisex saunas, entertainment lounges, and communal sleeping areas.

Koreans regularly visit jjimjilbangs to relax, hang out with family and friends, and indulge in spa rituals that go far beyond a quick soak and scrub. Jjimjilbangs are basically the Korean institutions of ultimate relaxation: relax, unwind, relax, and more relaxation in every way imaginable. Sounds tempting, huh? Wouldn’t you like to immerse yourself in Korean culture and enjoy some good soak in your birthday suit? That’s right, birthday suit, mother-naked.

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Korean bathhouses are nude affairs, and the idea of being naked in public can be daunting for many. Fear not: it’s very unlikely that the locals would take a second glance at you as long as you feel comfortable in your own skin. Public bathing (similar to Turkish hammams) is just the first part of a jjimjilbang visit though. Then comes what makes a j-bang a unique experience. The large j-bangs often provide plenty of other facilities in addition to general saunas and baths, such as a fitness center, gaming arcade, massage chairs, cinema and karaoke rooms (‘norebang’). So, get ready to embrace your nudity and let me walk you through my experience in Siloam Sauna in Seoul.


The first thing you’ll encounter at the entrance of a jjimjilbang is the reception, where you pay the entrance fee and get your ticket, as well as your j-bang uniform and two small towels.

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J-bangs are open 24 hours. Daytime visitors must leave by midnight on the same day, nighttime visitors by noon the next day. If you want to stay overnight, go to the jjimjilbang of your choice only after the night rate kicks in (8pm for Siloam).

Bathing is a gender-segregated affair, so boys please turn left!


Once at the entrance of the public bath, you must take off your shoes and place them in the designated lockers. When you hand in the shoe locker key at the bathing area desk, you will be given another key to store your clothes and belongings in the dressing room. Now, it’s time to strip off, embrace your nakedness, and head down to the bathing area. Don’t ever attempt to cover up yourself with the tiny towels, simply blend with the locals😊

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The entrance of the bath – Photography in this area is prohibited for obvious reasons.

Before getting into the soaking pools, you must wash at one of the washing stations. Grab one of the plastic stools and clean yourself. If I recall correctly, soap was available but you may want to bring your own shampoo and conditioner. If you have long hair, make sure to tie it up before the locals ask you to do so. Koreans take hygiene very seriously, and trailing hair is not desirable in the baths. Once you are clean and tidy, you are allowed to soak in the pools.

In Siloam Sauna, there are a number of bathing pools with a variety of temperatures and medicinal effects. It’s recommended that you start by soaking in the bath with the lowest temperature and slowly move to the hotter ones. The recommended soaking duration is indicated in each pool’s description. There are also heated stones to lay down and relax if you wish.

When you’re done with bathing, go back to the dressing room and don your pajamas provided at the reception. And then make your way to the common areas on upper floors for fun, food, cinema, gym, hot and cold saunas, sleeping rooms and more. Once again, these areas are gender-mixed and non-naked, so make sure you wear the pajamas provided!

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After bathing (B1) and putting your uniform on, you’ll be ready to explore the remaining four floors.


I don’t know about you but spending time in the water makes me hungry. As I noticed the locals celebrating their togetherness by having a feast in the restaurant on the second floor, I couldn’t miss out on sampling some traditional food before making full use of the other facilities.

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Food menu on the second floor
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My lunch: stone-roasted eggs and traditional rice punch, sikhye, a fermented sweet rice drink
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Stone roasted eggs (maekbanseok gyeran): They are baked on the stone for 3 hours or longer. The egg smelled like vinegar once cracked. The white of the egg tasted nutty but the yellow part just like a regular boiled egg.

Indulge in

Well-fed, nice and clean, now all you need to do is relax in so-called fomentation rooms. A word I hadn’t heard before is used to describe a Korean sauna, which is possibly quite different than the sauna you might picture. There are a number of fomentation rooms, each utilizing different materials at various temperatures between 50-90 °C. Loess fomentation room, jade fomentation room, salt fomentation room, oxygen room, charcoal fomentation room, you’ll find myriads of these rooms, each with its own health benefits. As you lie on salt or jade crystals, or hemp mats, the heated stone beneath gently warms your body up, and after a while, you start to meltdown like butter.

In addition to the fomentation rooms, there are several relaxation/sleeping rooms, huge common areas to hang out or watch TV, fitness room, cinema room, PC room, reading room and so on. While here, you can even get your hair and nails done for an additional charge. Let’s slowly climb up floor by floor for ultimate relaxation.

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Relaxation rooms on the second floor, at the same level as the restaurant in case you feel too tired to go to the upper floors after dining.
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Arcade (gaming) room on the third floor (gym, table tennis, karaoke room and more on this floor)
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Cinema room on the third floor
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The reading area on the third floor
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Jade fomentation room on the fourth floor with a temperature of 60 °C – relaxing on hot stones and traditional wooden ‘pillows’
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Women’s dugout room to relax and sleep (4th floor)
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Common area on the fourth floor
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Families and friends hanging out on the fourth floor
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J-bang uniforms are color-coded for men and women.
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This is how a gender-mixed sauna looks like in Korea: People sleep and even read books inside these hot rooms
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Ice room at subzero temperatures of  -11 °C
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Folding the tiny towels for selfies

Sleep in

Most people visit a jjimjilbang for an authentic Korean spa experience, but a j-bang actually double as the best budget accommodation in Korea, a superior alternative to hostels. And in fact, during the week many workers, whose families live out of the city, stay overnight in jjimjilbangs for cost-saving purposes.

The sleeping rooms in Siloam resemble capsule hotels and come with separate rooms for women and even snorers! The night fare would allow you to stay there until noon the next day, so you can go for another round of j-banging before checking out. I really regret not considering jjimjilbangs for staying overnight. In Siloam, they would even store your luggage free of charge. An uber practical solution if you have a layover in Seoul.

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Sleeping room for snorers on the 5th floor — Nobody seems to accept the reality though😂
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Sleeping “capsules”
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A closer look inside a sleeping capsule
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The sleeping area for not snoring men and women

Repeat over

In Siloam Sauna, I spent 5 hours in total but I’d have stayed longer if I hadn’t had a dinner date with a friend who didn’t want to join the pool party. In j-bangs bathing is not a must though, you could head to other floors without bathing if you wish. Having grown up in a conservative household in Turkey, I came a long way concerning public nudity in gender coed places while living in Germany. So for me personally, it wasn’t a big deal to strip off, scrub my body, soak in several hot/cold spring baths among dozens of other naked females. The whole experience was so damn good that I went for another round.

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I made my way back down floor by floor for the second round of j-banging and bathing.
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Simply an ultra-cool place to hang out!
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When you visit South Korea, get ready to don your birthday suit and soak up some Korean culture in a jjimjilbang! Absolutely recommended on my part, and I am confident you will find yourself wanting to come back👍🏻👍🏻

After all, where else on earth could you munch on stone roasted eggs and sweat out in pajamas?

Check out all our posts about South Korea!

Update April 2024: Sadly the Siloam Sauna is permanently closed, but the experience remains unique.