With the holiday break here, people have probably already planned places where they usually go to relax. Often these places are far away places to travel to, but what if these places are close to home? One of my favorite local ways to relax is one I found out about only a few months ago: Korean spa and sauna. There's many Groupon deals for these places, so there's no need to spend tons of money on a spa day. You can relish in one of these relaxation days for under $30 dollars for a 24-hour stay.
As an avid Korean drama consumer, I saw characters stay in these spas overnight wearing comfy uniforms when they've got nowhere to go. I decided to explore it.
These spas are all rather spacious. You get to bake your body in heat and literally sweat out the toxins in your body. I recently went to one that was over 200 degrees Celsius in which people brought in cots to sit on. An elderly woman even covered nearly her entire face with a towel! She was probably a regular, but I thought I'd have suffocated if I had done the same.
One thing important to note is knowing your own limits. It's good to sit inside for ample time, but don't stay longer than you can. The second time I visited, I also went with a sore throat, and the next day I was feeling sick. I think the dryness of the sauna exacerbated my symptoms.
Take advantage of break times in between and rehydrate! There are plenty of things to enjoy at the spa and sauna center. An area to provide food and beverages is ready to replenish people. There should also be water fountains available. I saw people drinking a lot of water in between their breaks. Though patbingsu (shaved ice) may be the perfect menu ploy considering that the saunas dry you out first and then that icy treat tempts you-- they are rather delightful. You may thank them later for offering this as a menu item.
Luckily, there's an ice sauna as well! Many people go right in here after an extremely heated sauna to cool off. For some reason, I never found the ice sauna to be too extreme, but it's possible all the heat from the other sauna overly influenced the way I had felt.
Something else many people mention is the nakedness you encounter in the locker room. You change clothes in the locker room, and these are separated by sex. It may be jarring when you go to the spa section though, because you'll see other naked people of your sex in all their naked glory relaxing in the basins and what not. Just be mentally prepared. I thought it was a good experience to go to the spa, because I think it really prompts you to feel body positivism. You see people in all shapes and sizes. Not many friends have wanted to go to the spa with me, but I've come to realize that nakedness is a part of the experience. When you relax and let loose, the last thing other people are thinking of is judging others. The spa is just another way to let yourself be, and what better way to relax over the holidays? So, if you're looking for something unusual to try over the year, consider checking out a Korean spa!
One of my non-Asian friends showed me the Conan O'Brien video because I was laughing at her reactions to the Korean spa (which she wholly enjoyed by the way!). It's really an experience you can tell wacky and fun stories about. I have certainly added Korean spa and sauna centers as one of my top relaxation activities for years to come!