Jimjilbang: Where I Spent My Three Nights in Busan

Posted on March 5, 2012


As a budget traveler, usually I couch surf or stay in hostels. Personally, my rule is to spend less for accommodation as much as possible. After all, I just need a place where I can sleep and use the bathroom.

For those who travel light and are budget conscious, South Korea has jimjilbangs. A jimjilbang is a spa and some of them operates 24/7. Jimjilbangs, unlike the usual spas in the Philippines, have so much to offer including common rest areas where you can just find a spot where you can spread your blanket (which they also provide) and sleep. In some, they have sleeping quarters.

Before going to Busan, my plan was to stay in a hostel for two nights and in a jimjilbang for a night. As always, plans change. I ended up spending my three nights in jimjilbangs. True that staying in a hostel would have been more comfortable but if budget is your main concern and you only have a backpack which you don’t mind carrying around then jimjilbang is perfect.

Here are the two jimjilbangs I tried while in Busan:

Vesta Spa

I searched online for jimjilbangs in Busan and Vesta is always mentioned in the blogs and forums I found. This is because of the view of Haeundae Beach from its wet areas.

I didn’t know how to get there when I arrived in Busan. All I know is it’s near Haeundae. But when I checked the map I got from Busan Station it seems like it’s nearer to Jung-dong subway station. Since I intended to buy something from E-Mart (which is in Jung-dong exit 7 or 9) I decided to get off there. After buying the things I need I felt tired and since it’s also a bit late I decided to take a cab. I assumed that the cab driver knows the place if it is that popular. I had a hard time talking to the driver though due to language barrier but luckily I saw this…

I was the only foreigner that night and it seemed that the place is really famous even among Koreans. There were a lot of customers and those who arrived later that evening had a hard time looking for a space where they can rest.

Female Sleeping Quarters

The place looks old and so are the facilities. I think they didn’t have any major renovations or upgrades yet.

Cold Room

I didn’t appreciate the view that night because it was already too dark outside but the next morning when I went to take a shower I saw the breath taking view they are raving about and I agree that it is one reason why people still go to Vesta. There were other people in the bath area that time so I didn’t take pictures.

Vesta in the morning

Rate: 9,000 KRW for 12 hours

How to get there:

Use exit 7 of Jung-dong subway station and walk straight. You’ll pass by the Rodeo Outlet, Lotte Castle, a 24- hour McDonalds, a GS gas station and Merville Apartments.

Haeundae Spa

The next day, after visiting the temples, I wanted to stay near Haeundae Beach. I don’t know any jimjilbang in the area but the map shows some so I decided to look for these jimjilbangs. Luckily, I met a Filipina who is married to a Korean while I was in the subway and they live near Haeundae Beach. They invited me to stay in their house but I told them that they can just refer a good 24- hour jimjilbang where I can stay.

So, they brought me to Haeundae Spa. Again, I was the only foreigner. I wasn’t able to take pictures because earlier that day my camera got broken.

Haeundae Spa is bigger than Vesta. There were a lot of customers but I didn’t feel that it’s too crowded because there’s enough space for everyone. They have more rooms, they even have a DVD room. But unlike Vesta, they don’t have a cold room and a female sleeping quarters.

I don’t know when they started operating but the place and their facilities are still in great condition. That must also be the reason why their pillows feel more comfortable for me.

Something I noticed while taking a shower, the water in Haeundae Spa tastes a bit salty though it doesn’t really leave a slippery feel on the skin(which would have disgust me if it did).

Rates: Before 9 PM 9,000 KRW; After 9 PM 10,000 KRW

How to get there:

Take exit 1 of Haeundae subway station. Walk straight, passing by the intercity bus terminal and Sfunz then turn right in Jungdong 2- ro. Walk straight and you’ll see the building where this spa is located. It’s in the 4th floor.

On my third and last night, I looked for the other jimjilbang I saw from the internet but I didn’t like its location so I decided to go back to Haeundae area and stayed again in Haeundae Spa.

If you’d like to search for other jimjilbangs here in South Korea this blog is a great source of information.

Posted in: Busan, Korea