Our favorite accommodation on the road is our tent – bought once and sleep anywhere for free forever after. Not everywhere though it was used, oftentimes because of the low temperature or just the crave for better comfort and shower. In South Korea guesthouses are not so cheap and although couchsurfing worked well, there’s not that many hosts outside of the capital city. Luckily this beautiful country has another very special kind of sleep to offer. Jimjilbang is a type of a public bathhouse, which is a rather spacious building with sex segregated hot tubs of various kinds, sauna, salt room and showers. In other unisex rooms there are Korean traditional kiln saunas, snack room (sikhye and smoked egg, mmm…), PC room, TVs and, yes, area for sleeping.
For the price of around 9 EUR you can get all those luxuries. The whole country is dotted with them, and they’re all marked with the unique symbol. All together we stayed in more than 10 jimjilbangs. From the sparkling clean, new ones, with a vast choice of baths and saunas, to very local ones, which seem to have just few regular senior customers. We even found a mini jimjilbang on a ferry going to Jeju. Yet again we could jump into the hot pool, from which water was spilling like crazy while the ship was rolling with the waves.
Since all of the jimjilbangs we’ve visited were outside of Seoul, we didn’t spot even one tourist. Visitors seemed to be quite shocked to see us, they were impressed with mine chest hairs and Tiias tattoos. It was so nice to dip and exchange a few words with the few that knew English. The sleep was good in most of the places, the trick is to find a good spot far from the lights and very hot floors (which all Koreans seem to love). We survived through quite a lot in the baths: one night somebody tried to steal our sheets, literally off our bodies… another night, just like that, an older lady died… Anyway mostly we experienced the kindness of local people and of course otherworldly levels of relaxation. Once you’re in Korea don’t hesitate to visit at least once!