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You've probably heard of onsens and sentos in Japan, which are public bath houses. Korea has something similar and here they're called "jjimjilbangs".

One major difference is that you usually don't sleep in an onsen or sento in Japan unless it's part of a hotel or resort. But in Korea almost all jjimjilbangs have a sleeping room where you can sleep on the floor (which are always heated in winter).

Now there are very big jjimjilbangs which are practically resorts and have many more facilities than just the baths. Those can be expensive and I'm not asking about those.

But small plain jjimjilbangs are ubiquitous. Every city or town no matter how small has some. These are the ones I'm asking about.

Last time I was in Korea I stayed at one, but that was seven to nine years ago. I forget the price and Korea is a fair bit more expensive now anyway.

I've searched online but can't find recent info in English about the prices to use jjimjilbangs that are not touristy or fancy. The price used to be the same whether you were just bathing or spending the night. I'm not sure if this is standard or if sleeping now costs more.

So, in 2019, what is a typical price to use a low-end jjimjilbang in a random Korean town? Is the price to sleep the same as the price to use?


(I know prices will vary a lot. I'm specifically asking about the cheap ones. I intend to use them as flop houses while long-distance walking and/or hitchhiking in areas that don't get many foreign tourists. I want to know how competitive the prices are compared to cheap backpacker hostels here, which can be as low as 7,000 KRW. I'm well aware that jjimjilbangs are not at all like hostels.)

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    One tip so far: A sleeping room in a jjimjilbang is called a 수면실 (sumyeonsil). – hippietrail Jul 25 at 8:42
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Interesting question. Try searching the Google Maps to zero in on your geographic area of interest, then put "찜질방" in the search bar.

For example this one near the tracks has reviews which mention prices W8000/10,000) and Google will translate for you.

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    Google Maps is notoriously out of date in Korea because of a law that makes it illegal for foreign companies to practice cartography here! The one you found looks pretty "fancy" too. But this is probably still a fairly useful trick, and the only suggestion so far. So thanks! It's a shame the software doesn't show the prices like it does for hotels. I have to dig through the reviews to see if prices are mentioned. – hippietrail Jul 25 at 4:05
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    I employed this technique two nights ago outside the main part of Busan. As well as Google Maps I used the two Korean mapping apps by Naver and Kakao, and also Maps.ME - there seems to be an overlap between "jjimjilbang", "spa", "sauna", and some other Korean terms. The first was on a map but being demolished, the second showed no sign of having ever existed at the location, the third was not a place one could sleep, and the fourth called itself a spa but had jjimjilbang on its sign. It was a bit fancy and cost 10,000 won - 8.50 USD, 7.60 Euros. Will persevere... – hippietrail Jul 29 at 6:05
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    I was giong to submit an answer of my own after running into another hitchhiker here and he's been staying at lots of jjimjilbangs and told me 8,000 is the typical price. As that price and the price I paid for the only one I've stayed at so far is completely encompassed by your answer already, you get the prize. So thanks again (-: – hippietrail Jul 31 at 13:52
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    @hippietrail Thanks, and please keep contributing good content here in travel SE. – Spehro Pefhany Jul 31 at 14:00
  • @hippietrail BTW it is not illegal to practice cartography by itself (if it were so OSM would have been blocked for being illegal) the tricky part is 'taking government-cartographed data' outside Korea which requires government pre-approvals. – revi Aug 10 at 10:19

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