When you go to Busan, one of the things I'd like to recommend is spending at least half a day at Shinsegae's Spa Land. Inspired by the Koreanovelas I used to watch, I've dreamed of experiencing jjimjilbang (Korean style spa) like the locals in Korea. Sadly, I can't speak fluent Korean yet and so it's very hard to just walk-in into an authentic traditional one with the bowl with steam sign (you see them everywhere) by myself without a local guide or friend. I've heard you can even stay for the night or do all your showering in this type of Korean spa if you don't have anywhere to go instead of a hotel or your home. SpaLand is not 24 hours but it is unique to Busan. It's a more high-end jjimjilbang and hot spring resort because they incorporated Western comforts and concepts from all over the world like the urban baths of Japan. It appears more expensive (it's located in Centum City which is one of the, if not THE, world's largest department store as of 2009) but maybe you'll say it's worth the penny when you experience it for yourself starting with none of that awkwardness because you're a foreigner. I've been here a few years ago and just came back this month. I must say that they've upgraded this place with more amenities and choices for their guests, esp. the topmost floor. You can definitely go here, armed with just enough Korean won and English only as they will take care of the rest ;)
This place is memorable for me because of the shock that came with bathing with everybody (of your same sex) in your birthday suit. I must say that I became more confident in my own skin after that first SpaLand experience. They pump water from natural springs into 18 hot spas, 2 cold spas, 2 bathe pools and an eaglewood bath. They mix in sodium bicarbonate (beauty spring "removes dead skin cells and makes the skin and hair smooth") and sodium chloride (hot spring "promotes blood circulation and mitigates pain").
Guests pay the admission fee downstairs and get a number ticket. You have to remove your shoes and place them in lockers matching your ticket number. This key will serve as your entrance ticket.
You get sauna shorts and a towel before you go into separate men and women locker rooms (same number) and bath houses. I remember there's free drinking water in the lockers.
Put your valuables inside the storage box instead of the lockers.
The common area is for people of all ages, regardless of sex.
This is a big place for families, friends and couples to gather. You can sleep,
eat boiled eggs (and watch TV)
or go into their hot and cold saunas.
Spaland has 13 themed saunas and hot steam rooms - Finnish sauna (Finland), Red Clay Room, Roman Room, Pyramid Room, Body Sound Room, Wave Dream Room, Hardwood Charcoal Room, Hamam Room (Turkey), Bali Room, SEV Room and a few more! There's English explanation everywhere so it's easy to go around and understand what they are for.
There's a relaxation and entertainment room with big massage chairs with your own TV and headset.
If you want more, you have to pay separate for the restaurant, cafe, aesthetic area, massage chairs,
You wouldn't even notice the hours here as you go from one activity to the other. My old favorite was the Himalayan salt room (not sure if they still have it) ;) Perhaps, you'd also find one corner with a view of the Suyeonggang River. One thing I missed (not sure if they have it here) are the old lady ajiuma or old men ajiosi scrubbers in the bath area in a jjimjilbang haha. I heard they'll scrub you thoroughly with sandpaper and bathe you hehehe.
Note: I heard children under 13 aren't allowed here. I think they allow though with a guardian. Prohibitions to enter also include drunk people and people with tattoos, skin or infectious diseases. People with systolic blood pressure, cataract, hot flushes, elderly, pregnant, with fever, with heart diseases may be prohibited from entering high-temperature steam rooms and saunas inside the bath.
There's a subway line 2 with a direct stop to Centum City Station Exit 12 and an airport shuttle with a Centum City stop. Look for Gate 4 - this is the door that leads directly to Spa Land from outside hehe.
I'd like to thank the Spa Land management for showing us around, along with Asiana Airlines, Korea Tourism Organization Manila, USTravel and the Busan Tourism Organization :) Spaland was a nice welcome after an early morning flight to the port city of Busan. We went to many more places and I will feature those next! Korea is now MERS-free according to KTO and I just went there this August 2015.
Asiana Airlines flies once daily from Manila to Busan (3:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.) on an aircraft Airbus A321. You can book through your favorite travel agencies or at their site.
Open 6 a.m. to 12 m.n., Closed once a month
Adult 4 hours max 15000 won (Mondays - Fridays), 18000 won (Weekends/Holidays)
Early morning before 9 a.m. - 10000 won (Mondays - Fridays), Late night after 8 p.m. - 13000 won (Weekends/Holidays)
*If the guest spends 10000 won or more excluding admission fee, he/she may stay up to 6 hours!
Korea Tourism Organization Manila Office
26th Floor, Tower 2, The Enterprise Center, Ayala Ave.
cor. Paseo de Roxas, Makati City
Asiana Airlines Manila Office
6th Floor The Salcedo Towers
169 H.V. dela Costa St. Makati City
662-8088 / 662-8000 (Reservations)
Busan Tourism Organization