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What will you experience at Korean Spas?

Updated on November 17, 2012
Korean spa - Imperial Spa
Korean spa - Imperial Spa | Source

Korean Spas Are Not Your Typical Spas

The first time I got a massage at a real spa was in my mid-20s. I heard about the wonders of a swedish massage and the cucumber water they serve for free but never had the chance to actually get one until after several years of working after graduating college. I don't really remember my massage experience, but I do know that I had to excuse myself mid-way because I had to use the bathroom. Guess I had my fair share of fancy tasting water. I've never gone back to a traditional spa since that experience.

My girlfriend introduced me to Korean Spas just a few years ago, and I'm completely addicted. It's not for everyone, let me tell you. Here is the low down on what you would experience at a typical Korean Spa.

Korean Spa - Locker Rooms
Korean Spa - Locker Rooms | Source

The Korean Spa Experience

1.) Pay for your desired treatment. Korean spas are known for their body scrubs which seriously is the strangest, daunting, most unique, satisfying, wonderful service that you will ever experience! These scrubs usually cost $40-$50, and it includes free admission to the facility pools and sauna rooms.

2.) You are given a key to a locker and an outfit to wear. The outfit consists of a big cotton shirt and shorts to be worn later when you enter in the common area where both men and women hang out.

3.) You are to strip down to NOTHING and have only your key with you when entering into the waiting facility. Imagine being naked in front of other women that you don't know. I don't know about you, but this is a big fear of mine. Honestly, my body is for my husband's eyes. And women are known to look you up and down to see what you're wearing and in this case what you are not! Every fat roll, stretch mark, funky looking moles, scars, inverted nipples, and hair down there or lack of, etc will be exposed. For the most part, the women who come to Korean spas are older Korean women who usually don't speak English. However I think this is slowly changing especially with how popular traditional Korean spas have gotten in the past few years. Groupon had a special on the Wi Spa in Los Angeles in March 2011, and over 6,000 people purchased this deal in a matter of a few hours. I highly doubt the majority of the 6K were older Korean women. Korean dramas are always showing scenes of the actors in Korean spas, so that might also be another reason why the spas are attracting a younger clientele.

3.) Once you get brave enough to exit the locker area, you enter into the waiting facility that holds the showers, jacuzzis, and the sauna rooms. Most women take a quick shower to rinse off their makeup and wash their hair. Soap and shampoo are provided as are individually wrapped toothbrushes and toothpaste. That's definitely a nice touch!

4.) Before your treatment (body scrub/massage/facial, whatever you paid for), you have time to dip your body in one of the jacuzzis. Beware. You might think that one of them might be filled with hot water, but it could very well be ice cold water. Some say that ice cold baths shock your body at first but benefits your muscles and tissue to recover from a workout. Athletes often do ice baths to prevent muscle soreness. As much as I want to just relax in the jacuzzi, I can't help but look at the women who come through the doors. I'm just an observer, I'll admit that. I'm sure other women are doing just the same to me!

5.) Spend as much time as you want in the jacuzzi or you can start the scrub down of shedding your dead skin in the salt sauna room. This room is my fave! There is a bowl of coarse salt usually outside of the sauna or I have seen some sauna rooms have the salt inside the rooms. Lather it up all over your body and sit in the sauna room (all while naked don't forget) and just use your hands to rub it against your skin. I like to do this especially on my feet. I tend to get dry cracked heels, so the salt definitely helps by stripping the dry skin off and making it feel smooth. After leaving the sauna, you'll feel like you shed all your dirty skin because it makes your skin feel buttery smooth but just wait for the scrub. You won't believe your eyes after seeing the gray eraser looking flakes just pile up around your body. All of that is dirt, and you'll feel pretty disgusting that your daily showers don't do anything to clean your body.

6.) After some time has passed, an older Korean lady wearing a black lacy bra and black granny underwear will call your number. I can guarantee that they'll call it in Korean, so if you don't speak the language, you might want to stand up and give her a puzzled look. If your number is called, you'll follow her into a small room with just a spa table, some of the scrubber's tools, and a big gray heavy duty trash can full of water. The trash can turned me off at first, but I'm going to assume these trash cans were purchased for the water only and not used previously for their actual purpose.

Going back to the black lacy bra and underwear - that is their uniform. It's so funny to me why they wouldn't have agreed on wearing a one piece bathing suit, but I just am thankful they're not naked as well. That would be awkward!

Now on to the actual scrub. She will scrub you in every part of your body including your breasts and your upper thigh. I have to warn people that the scrubbing does hurt because these women mean business. I don't think they'll feel satisfied unless they see piles of dead skin come off at every place they scrub. I feel ashamed thinking of my first experience because my scrubber must have thought I was filthy. She had to scrub my body twice (so she says) because the dirt kept coming off. The process is pretty detailed. They have a way of slapping your body around (a massage technique), throwing water around the plastic table immediately after scrubbing certain parts of the body that build up more dead skin than other body parts, changing out their scrubbing gloves at certain points of the session, and also my favorite which is the washing of the hair!

Is it just me or do you like to get your hair washed at salons? Someone just massaging my scalp and the feeling of my hair getting touched can just put me in the most relaxed state of mind. These women are awesome scalp massagers as they are scrubbers.

If the scrubbing is painful, you can let them know to be more gentle. Even if you don't speak the native language, I'm sure they'll get the hint with a few hand motions.

After your blissful 30 minutes of scrubbing is over, she will likely give you a small white envelope with her name on it. It's a TIP envelope. As a Korean myself, this didn't phase me at first. Koreans are not shy about this kind of stuff. If you liked her scrubbing, then you obviously would tip her just like in any beauty service.

7.) Now that your skin is feeling silky smooth and you're looking a couple shades lighter, you can go back to your locker room to wear the outfit they provided. The Korean spa experience is only halfway complete. You have the option to go into several different rooms such as the Jade Sauna Room, the Red Clay Room, the Red Clay Sauna Room, the Ice Room, etc. Most of the bigger Korean spas have these rooms. My favorite is the Red Clay Sauna Room. The room is as hot as a normal sauna, but the temperatures spike up once you lay your body on the red clay rocks. The red clay uses infrared rays to emit heat energy which will release bad toxins out of your body. It's a painful but a feel good experience at the same time.

8.) If you're sauna'd out, you can just hang out in the unisex area with all the other people wearing the same exact outfit as you. People even sleep in Korean spas as some are 24 hours. Some even bring their children and just spend the night. Most Korean spas have a small restaurant where you can order authentic Korean food or desserts and coffee. A typical food to eat is hard boiled eggs. They usually have Korean television shows playing on the flat screen tvs.

Once you've had enough, you just simply go back to your locker room and change into your clothes. I like to go the spas in the evening and bring my PJs with me to change into after my scrub. It's the BEST feeling to feel squeaky clean leaving the place in your sleeping attire and go straight to bed. Remember they have toothbrushes and toothpaste to use at your convenience!

9.) Lastly, if you're feeling kind, leave some tip in the tip envelope and drop if off at the front desk.

The Korean Spa experience is truly one of kind. They try to infuse Western influences as well as the cultural traditions. Hope you find yourself getting a scrub one of these days.

Take a peak inside Wi Spa in Los Angeles


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    • profile image

      marcus morgan 

      4 years ago

      I have gotten a massage in the past before. But I never heard of a Asian massage. This article was awesome and went step through step on what it would be like. It sounds super relaxing and I would definitely give it a try.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination.


    • xtinak profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from LA LA Land

      thx ripplemaker :-) i did see that nomination. i'm so flattered!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      xtinak, wow! Now I am thinking of trying it out just for the experience! :)

      Well your fascination for Korean spas got you into the Hubnuggets! Yes, your hub is nominated! A big shout of glee for you. Visit this hub and see for yourself: Go, go, go!

    • xtinak profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from LA LA Land

      thx thelma :-)

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Welcome to HubPages. This is a great hub. Thanks for sharing.


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