Koreans are known for taking good care of themselves. Whether it’s relaxing in jjimjilbang (classic Korean bathhouses) or cold soaking pools, or making time for 20-step skincare rituals, the men and women of South Korea take their beautifying and pampering sessions seriously. It’s no wonder, then, that the country is home to countless traditional and modern spas and retreats, boasting wellness programmes and treatments designed to refresh, rejuvenate and invigorate.
If you’re planning a trip to Korea, these five beauty and spa facilities have just what you need to look and feel like a million bucks. Plus, they each have something a little different to offer.
Located in Ananti Cove, a six-star hotel overlooking the ocean in Gijang, near Busan, Dr. Ananti offers immunity-boosting programmes designed to help you stay physically and mentally healthy.
The clinic’s two signature hyperbaric oxygen treatments claim to help eliminate toxins from your body and breathe new life into cells. In one of the treatments, you step inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and inhale 100 per cent pure, concentrated oxygen for about 30 minutes. The oxygen supposedly has an immediate effect on your skin and brain cells, facilitating the discharge of toxins, relieving fatigue, improving blood circulation, treating skin disorders and respiratory illnesses, improving hair health, reducing cellulite, boosting brain function, increasing antioxidant activity and more.
Before undergoing any treatment, you have to undergo a health check to determine if you have any stress-related issues. Hormone, urine and saliva tests also give a clearer idea of the health of your immune system.
B1, Hilton Busan, 268-32, Gijanghaean-ro, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan; Tel: +82 51 604 7241; www.ananti.kr/kr/drananti
Sulwhasoo Spa, Sulwhasoo Flagship Store
You may have heard of this premium Korean medical-themed skincare brand. Now, you can enjoy the range of products at this dedicated spa, housed in the Sulwhasoo flagship store in front of Dosan Park in Seoul.
Try their luxurious anti-ageing traditional programme in the private Sulwhasoo Spa in the basement, or, if you’re after a more casual experience, book a treatment at the Sulwhasoo Balance Spa on the fourth floor, overlooking the park.
The anti-ageing programme uses applicators made from jade, amber and white porcelain. Used with Sulwhasoo products, the jade applicator helps with skin restoration, the amber applicator with skin rejuvenation, and the white porcelain applicator, with skin purification. One of the spa’s most popular treatments, Intense Ginseng Journey, uses ginseng to help minimise signs of skin ageing and impart a youthful glow to the complexion.
18, Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul; Tel: +82-541-9270; www.sulwhasoo.com
Spa 1899 Donginbi
This Korean medicine-themed spa is the perfect place to escape to when you need total mind and body relaxation. The products used in the treatments are from Donginbi, a cosmetic brand that uses red ginseng extract as one of its main ingredients. In ancient times, Korean women bathed in water to which red ginseng had been added, to make their skin soft and smooth.
In the facility’s Red Ginseng Spa Room, you can enjoy water massages to help improve your blood circulation, while in the Capsule Zone, you can rest in a heated capsule while a red ginseng body mask goes to work on your skin, drawing out toxins and nourishing it at the same time. There’s also a Foot Spa Zone to treat tired feet and a Head Spa Zone, where you can try invigorating scalp treatments made from red ginseng.
Before and after your treatments, you’re invited to sip on refreshing red ginseng tea and try products by Korea Ginseng Corporation’s red ginseng brand, CheongKwanJang.
Daechi Branch: KT&G Tower B2F, 1002, Daechi-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul ; Tel: +82-557-8030
Myeongdong Branch: Hotel Skypark Central B1F, Myeongdong 9-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul; Tel: +82 755 8031
Haeundae Branch: Daom Building 6F, 277, Haeundaehaebyeon-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan; Tel: +82 51 747 8036
Spa Land Centum City
Busan is famous for its hot spring baths, so it’s only fitting that it would also be home to Spa Land, which consists of 22 baths filled with 100 per cent natural underground thermal water. In addition, the facility boasts Korean-style spas, dry saunas and outdoor footbaths. Surprising fact: Spa Land is located in an enormous department store, so customers have been known to work in some retail therapy after their sessions as well.
If you’re looking to revitalise your skin and reduce fatigue, spend some time in the calcium chloride baths; to enhance blood circulation and alleviate pain, try the sodium chloride baths. Before your soak, check out the more interesting saunas, like the Finnish sauna, the Roman Room – inspired by the public baths of ancient Rome; and the Hammam Room, modelled after the public baths of Turkey. For an extra skin treat, visit the Hwangto Room, made of yellow clay. The clay is said to have antibacterial and detoxifying benefits.
Shinsegae Centum City 1F, 35, Centumnam-daero, Haeundae-gu, Busan; Tel: +82 51 745-2900; department.shinsegae.com
Paradise City Cimer
Combining a Korean-style dry sauna and a European-style spa, this 13,000 sq m facility in Jung-gu, Incheon, houses a variety of indoor and outdoor pools and spas – think infinity pools, outdoor pools with an unobstructed view of the West Sea, cave spas and more.
The Aqua Spa Zone is a particularly interesting feature – here, you can float on the water, your neck resting on a special neck pillow, while music plays from the underwater speakers. Let your cares dissipate in this cosy dark space and get lost in the beautiful melodies.
Also unique is the Korean dry sauna, which uses charcoal. Negative ions and far-infrared rays emitted from the charcoal are thought to help calm the mind, relieve fatigue and boost blood circulation.
186, Yeongjonghaeannam-ro 321beon-gil, Jung-gu, Incheon; Tel: +82 2 1833-8855; www.p-city.com
This post was brought to you by the Korea Tourism Organization.