Dragon Hill Spa

13 Jan
Dragon Hill Spa

Dragon Hill Spa entrance

Traveling abroad is no picnic in the park, as even the most seasoned travelers will tell you.  Between figuring out your way around, trying to understand the foreign language, and constantly participating in the activities and events that brought you there in the first place, life gets incredibly hectic.

Then, you have to add in the fact that you are living in a strange place.  No bed that you recognize, often times (especially in Asian hotels) no bath to soak your weary bones, no familiar comforts of the home you’ve left behind.  After awhile you just need a break.

Well, it took much bravery on our parts, but this past summer, me and three other friends decided to try out one of Korea’s famous relaxing “Saunas” (also called the “Baths”).  One of us had been given a coupon to the Dragon Hill Spa, and, after looking at pictures online, we decided to try it out.  In the end, I would highly recommend the Dragon Hill Spa to visitors to Seoul.  It is an amazing experience, and it truly was the most relaxing thing I did.  As an introvert, I greatly needed a place to rest, and this was exactly what I needed.  Great place!!

Dragon Hill Spa by Dushan and Miae

Dragon Hill Spa by Dushan and Miae

Benefits

  • Relaxation
  • Fun for the entire family (kids love the pools and the igloo sauna)
  • Swimming
  • Chance to Beautify
  • Exquisite (though expensive) massages
  • Health (the herbs in the baths and saunas go a long way toward healing bruises and hurts).
  • Cheap lodging in a pinch (read about my experience below for further details).

Tips

  • If you want to swim, bring a swimming suit and cap with you when you arrive.  They will require it before you can get in the swimming area, and it’s much cheaper to buy one elsewhere.
  • Put all your electronics in one of the locker.  You aren’t allowed to take photos or anything while you are there, and most of the areas involve water getting splashed around.  Makes it easy for electronics to get damaged.
  • Don’t stare at people, even the naked ones.  It may seem like quite a shock, but it’s rude to stare too long.
  • If you are not of Asian decent, don’t be surprised though if they stare at you, especially children.  For people with red or blonde hair, fair skin, etc. you may be the first person they have ever seen like that naked.
  • Watch how much you are spending.  Everything seemed to cost a little extra, particularly use of the pool, beauty services, and the massages.  We drank two sodas each and only used the baths, saunas, and sleeping room so we only paid extra for the drinks.
  • If you don’t mind sleeping on the floor, considering staying here for a night for cheap living expenses (12,000 Won for a whole night is pretty awesome).

Address: 40-713, Hangangno 3-Ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 용산구 한강대로21나길 40 (한강로3가))

Phone Number:

  • +82-2-797-0002 (Main line)
  • +82-2-792-0001 (for English)

Hours: 24/7 all year round

Admission Prices: (approx. $1 = 1,000 Won)

  • Children 5 and under (day or night): 6,000 Won.
  • Day Rates (5 a.m.-8p.m.): 10,000 Won
  • Night Rates (8p.m.-5a.m.): 12,000 Won

Directions: You can view the Seoul Subway Map here.  The entrance is hard to find (we spent 20 minutes looking and it was right in front of our noses.  Here is a picture of the entrance.  You are looking for the big stone statutes and the sign with a blue and white clock.  It will have 24 in yellow and red above the entrance because it is open 24 hours a day.

  • Taxi:  It’s hard to get directions to the location.  Just ask the taxi to take you to Yongsan Station.
  • Singyongsan Station: (Subway Line 4, Exit 4).  Walk straight out of the exit for 150 m (approx. 5 min.)
  • Yongsan Station Plaza: BEST OPTION!!  (Subway Line 1 & Jungang Line, Exit 1)  Walk out the exit, go down the stairs.  Turn right.  Straight in front of you, directly across the street, is the entrance to the Dragon Hill Spa.

Websites 

  • Main Website (includes information in Korean, Japanese, English, Chinese, and Spanish).
  • VisitKorea (info + Review).

MY EXPERIENCE

You aren’t supposed to take pictures of inside the sauna, but you can find a few pics on Flickr and Google.  Just search for Dragon Hill Spa.

Since I can’t show you pictures, I’ll try to explain what we experienced.

Arrival:

We arrived via Yongsan Station.  We had been told that it was a 5 minutes walk, but we finally figured out that it was directly across the street to the right.

You have to keep in mind the fact that we knew nothing about this place except that our tourist guide book said it was a tourism site.  Not a glowing recommendation.

Now, I’m expecting some sort of doorway, right?  Maybe a sign or something?  No!  We walk straight ahead, and on one side is an underground parking lot.  It looks like one of those places where young women are kidnapped off into the sex trade and young men get lassoed into forced labor or something.  We nearly turned around right then and there.  But in front of us was the strangest thing.

There was a bamboo lined walkway that led us further and further down.  It was the freakiest thing I’ve seen in a while.  As we walked down this lovely path, we could hear the cars parking on the other side of the bamboo, workers screaming and yelling outside.  But there, where we were walking, it seemed suspended in time.  Then, finally we came to the door.

Entrance

Once we entered the front doors, we saw a main desk on the left, with an key-card gate straight-ahead.  We headed up to the desk, and signed in.  They handed us:

  • A t-shirt
  • Shorts
  • Two Towels
  • Wrist-band that had a electronic badge.

We quickly discovered that the wristband is your key to everything.  It has a number on the top, and that will be your locker number.  Whenever you need to access a place locked by a keyed gate, you have to ring your badge.

So, we entered the first gate, and arrived at the second scene pictured above.  Those were the shoe lockers.  Here you stored shoes and anything you wouldn’t need for the rest of your stay (purses/phones, etc.).   Then we headed into the rest of the spa.

Locker Rooms

The girls-only section was our first HUGE SHOCK!  Everyone was naked!  And, I do mean everyone.  Grandmas, Moms, twenty-somethings, teens, and little kids.  No one was wearing any clothes.  The only good thing was that there weren’t any boys.  I fully admit that our eyes bulged, our mouths dropped, and our hands instinctively protected our private parts.

Trying studiously NOT to look at anyone, we made our way to yet another row of lockers. Here we stored everything except the things we received at the front desk.  At first my friend tried wearing her bathing suit, but one of the older women told her she wasn’t allowed anywhere if she was wearing that.  So, off went our clothes, on went the embarrassment, and our adventure had only begun.

As a side note, we later found that the only places were everyone is naked together are the locker rooms and the baths.  When you join  up with the guys at the arcade, pools, saunas, etc. everyone wears the shirt and shorts they were given at the desk.

What To Do

Standing there starkers makes it a little difficult to think straight, particularly when you are avoiding looking at each other or anyone else, but we were testing our courage and this would not stop us!

  • Shops–>We soon discovered that there was a small shop area set up along one side of the locker room wall.  It had bathing suits and caps, drinks, food, clothes, high heels, nylons, etc.  Just about everything you could imagine was available.  All you had to do was ring your badge, and then you would pay for it all when you left.  I think sodas were around 1,000 Won.    Elsewhere in the building are food facilities and an internet cafe.
  • Beauty Salon Areas–> There were several salon areas where you could get your hands massages and nails painted.  Several places that did facials and other beauty-oriented activities as well.
  • Swimming Pool
  • Arcade–> Many people love spending time here, especially kids.  They have dozens of games to play.
  • Dining–>We never actually ate dinner there, but we did get some appetizers at the restaurant on the top floor.  It was a nice place and had an open seating area on the roof.  you could sit and either talk in the swinging chairs or sit and watch the show on the big theater-sized screen.  When we went the first time, the Olympics were showing, but later it was a Korean drama.  As I understand it, they also have an internet cafe, places to get coffee, and various other food places.  You could always find a place selling snack foods.
  • Baths –>  Before and after you head off to the saunas, you’re supposed to make use of the many, many baths the place has to offer.  Along one side of the room was a set of stairs that said baths, so we headed on down.  We entered into sheer heaven.  Dozens of baths lined the walls, of every shape and kind.  I particularly like the icy bath and the ginseng bath.  I had been suffering from blistered feet, and by the next day my feet felt so much better.  I also had some severe dry skin and it moisturized quite nicely.
  • SAUNAS!!! –>  The best part of the Dragon Hill Spa is its saunas.  Here, we rejoined the boys and discovered that the place had nearly as many saunas as it did baths.  They ranged in levels of heat (some had you melting in seconds, one was made of ice) and additives (herbs and salts).  You were free to stay there as long as you wished.  The floors were quite comfortable, and some had pads for you to sleep on.  I admit to sleeping in one for an hour.  🙂

IMPORTANT EXTRA NOTE FOR VISITORS!!!

My last week in Korea, I had a friend visit from Japan.  Up until then, I had been sharing a hotel room with another study-abroad student. However, she was unwilling to let me invite a third person in, so we had to make other arrangements and fast.  Neither of us could afford another hotel room, so I suggested we head to the Dragon Hill Spa.  We actually ended up spending two nights there. Reasons Why?

  • They are open 24/7.  If you come in at 8 p.m., you can stay until 5 a.m. for only 12,000 Won which is approximately $12.  If you stay later than 5 a.m., it is 1,000 Won for each hour (although we stayed until 9 and weren’t every charged any extra).
  • They have showers and baths.  You will have all the amenities of a hotel.  Showers, restrooms, etc. so you can easily get ready in the morning (although bring  your own hair dryer or other such things if you want them.  They don’t provide anything like that).
  • It’s a great place to hang out.  They have dining facilities, and places to hang so you can amuse yourselves until bed time.
  • It’s pretty safe.  Everywhere you go, families are lounging about.  This offers you a safer alternative to sleeping on the streets, in some creepy hostel, or some other less than safe arrangement.
  • They have a sleeping room.  The rooms are split into men and women.  We only used the women’s room, but I’m sure they are similar.  The room was one ginormous room approximately the size of the building (I think it took up 5th floor?).  Anyway, all along either side were a bunch of mats on the floor.  You had one hard square pillow thing, and you got a mat. It was hot enough that you didn’t need any additional blankets.  We just stretched out and slept.  I won’t say it was the best night’s sleep I ever got, but it worked in a pinch.

CONCLUSION: TRY IT OUT!!

8 Responses to “Dragon Hill Spa”

  1. Meg July 20, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    Just have a quick question about the spa. Can u skip the wash (nude part) and go straight to common area (unisex).

    • deceptivelyblonde July 20, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

      Yeah 🙂 Although you have to change in front of everyone (of your gender) into the spa’s outfits in the locker room. But otherwise, you can go straight down to the common area. 🙂 The showers and pools though are nude 😛

    • deceptivelyblonde July 20, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

      The unisex is where the sauna’s are, so everyone often does that part first anyway and then cleans up in the showers.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 48 Hours in Seoul: Day 1 « Deceptively Blonde - February 5, 2013

    […] Visit the Dragon-Hill spa for a while before heading home (good way to relax, details and directions are on my other post here.) […]

  2. 48 Hours in Seoul: Day 1 | deceptivelyblonde's Blog - February 17, 2013

    […] It’s open 24/7 (details and directions are on my other post here.) […]

  3. 48 Hours in Seoul: Day 2 | Deceptively Blonde - February 24, 2013

    […] It’s open 24/7 (details and directions are on my other post here.) […]

  4. 48 Hours in Seoul: Day 2 | deceptivelyblonde's Blog - February 24, 2013

    […] It’s open 24/7 (details and directions are on my other post here.) […]

  5. Testing Out AirBnB . . . RESULTS! | Deceptively Blonde - August 5, 2013

    […] seem to mind.  Since I don’t really like the sink-showers anyway, I usually just went to the Dragon Hill Spa in the afternoons. It let me shower and swim for a while, so I enjoyed […]

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