Sunday, February 9, 2014

Spa Day: Visiting Icheon's German-Style Spa + Jjimjibang

The cold winter Saturday was a great day to spend at the spa. I'm definitely adding spas and jjimjibangs to my list of favorite winter activities, right next to drinking hot cocoa.

The Termeden Spa and Resort in Icheon is pretty impressive. A newer facility, it was like walking into a really rich person's house. The price reflected that - it cost 36,000 won (about 36.00 USD) to get in, mind you on a Saturday. But being 15 minutes away via free shuttle bus from downtown Icheon and the quality of the services, I would easily spend another Saturday there to rejuvenate.

 The free shuttle bus from downtown Icheon, near the Icheon Bus Terminal, took some digging to find. My friend was the one who knew about it, but it took searching through several travel blogs/unofficial spa sites to find out exactly where it picked up and what time. See below for timetables and details!

I wasn't positive I had the right bus stop, but I was feeling adventurous and decided to wait and see. I was 45 minutes early, but I had my iPod and a willingness to wait. Plus, there was and odang and fish pastry stand right next to the bus stop. Odang is a Japanese snack; I've heard it best described as a fish hot dog. Yum. Odang soup is one of my favorite soups we have at school. In the end, my patience paid off as a well-marked Termeden shuttle bus pulled up right on time and drove us to the Termeden.

Truly a resort, the Termeden includes a Korean-style spa (jjimjibang), a German-style spa (swimsuits please), an indoor swimming pool that extends into an outside one (complete with fountains, small waterfalls, caves, and water slides), a Korean-style sauna, Dr. Fish foot treatments, and places to eat, buy snacks, and go shopping. It was a lovely day. One of my favorite parts was lying in a pomegranate hot bath, outside, with snowflakes falling on my face. 

The Dr. Fish foot treatment was really cool. It cost 5,000 won for 20 minutes of having two different varieties of fish eat the dead skin off my feet and lower legs. It felt... slightly electrifying. It was like having gentle shocks or something all up and down my skin -- little vibrations. It was completely awesome. I was sitting next to a guy reading a newspaper whose son was squealing with delight at the fish tickling his skin. 

The whole spa-jjimjibang culture in Korea is something I know I'm going to miss a lot when I go back home. It is a family affair that the Koreans are just so chill about. Grandmas, grandpas, moms, dads, kids, old friends, new friends - the spa and jjimjibang are a place to relax, talk, and "cleanse your body and mind." The atmosphere is so comfortable with itself. Fun times and Vietnamese food afterwards!

Directions to the Termeden
A: Icheon to the Termeden:
1. Free shuttle bus (15 minutes; free): picks up at the city bus stop (the one in front of SC First Bank, or SC Foreign Exchange Bank) located across the street from the Icheon Bus Terminal
---> Timetable (to the Termeden): 8:20 / 9:20 / 11:20 / 13:00 / 15:00
---> Timetable (back downtown): 13:30 / 15:30 / 17:30 / 18:30 / 19:30 
2. Taxi (15 minutes from downtown; about 12,000 won one way): taxis situated everywhere around the Icheon Bus Terminal

B: Seoul to the Termeden:
1. Basic express bus to Icheon (1 hour; 4,100 won per ticket), then use the free shuttle bus or taxi service (see above): 
--> Timetable (from the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal; Subway Line 2, Gangbyeon Station): first bus 6:10AM, last bus 10:00PM (bus departs every 30-40 minutes)
--> Timetable (from the Express Bus Terminal; Subway Line 3 & 7, Express Bus Terminal Station): first bus 6:10AM, last bus 10:00PM (bus departs every 30-40 minutes)
2. Non-stop bus from Seoul to the Termeden, from the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal in Seoul (75 minutes; 5,100 won per ticket): I believe the bus leaves from Gate 26 
--> Timetable (to the Termeden): 9:20AM / 10:40AM
--> Timetable (back to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal): 4:00PM / 5:10PM

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