If you are a frequent visitor to South Korea, it is time to step away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. Venture out to the lesser-known sights and start exploring the country’s great outdoors and her many offerings.
We have put together a list of wellness offerings, where you can immerse yourself in nature and relax in gorgeous spaces that help you focus on your mind and body.
Relax and rejuvenate at wellness resorts with thematic spas
1. Jinan Red Ginseng Spa, Jinan
Jinan, Jeollabuk-do has been traditionally known as a ginseng producing area and famous for its beautiful Maisan Mountain. Located less than two hours away via Seoul by train, it is a go-to destination for those who love nature as it is home to many popular attractions, including Maisan Mountain, Tapsa Temple and Maisan Provincial Park.
The Jinan Red Ginseng Spa, located in Maisan Mountain, is known for their Red Ginseng Bubble Sense Therapy where ginseng foam is used in a therapy session. The dense foam is said to promote metabolism, improve blood circulation and get rid of dead skin. After bathing in bubbles for about 10 minutes, enjoy a rinsing rain shower that will be sure to leave you refreshed. And don’t miss the open-air bath with a view of Maisan Mountain if you are visiting.
The spa also has a famed ‘Yin and Yang’ programme, which consists of two parts – an indoor spa and wind therapy. The indoor spa has unique sound therapy, where visitors can float in a dark and quiet pool and can hear classical music when their ears are fully submerged under water. For the wind therapy, hot and cold winds are used to dry the wet body. It is said that the combination of cold wind (yin) and hot wind (yang) is harmonious and improves blood circulation.
When in the area, do visit Yongdam Lake, a huge artificial lake that was created after the construction of the Yongdam Dam to prevent floods in the county. Check out the Guktae Garden restaurant for local food specialties, such as grilled deodeok (a root vegetable that is similar to ginseng)!
Address: 16-10, Waesayang-gil, Jinan-eup, Jinan-gun, Jeollabuk-do
Opening hours: 9:30am to 8:30pm (last entry at 5:00pm), closed every last Monday of the month
KRW39,000 (S$39.40) for adults, KRW30,000 (S$30.30) for children on weekdays;
KRW43,000 (S$43.50) for adults, KRW34,000 (S$34.40) for children on weekends
2. Osaek Greenyard Hotel, Seoraksan Mountain
Located in the north-eastern part of South Korea, Seoraksan Mountain is the third highest mountain in South Korea. The Osaek Greenyard Hotel has fantastic views of Seoraksan Mountain and offers a range of immunity-boosting wellness programmes – such as hot springs, Korean dry saunas, workout routines and nutritious food.
The hotel emphasises the concept of ‘holon’ in its treatments. A holon is a philosophical term, referring to something that is simultaneously a whole by itself but is also part of a larger whole. As part of the facilities available, the Holon Integrated Hot Springs allow guests to relax in carbonated water coming from 470m underground, and in alkaline water from 600m to 670m above sea level. They are meant to improve blood circulation and make your skin fairer and brighter.
During your stay, you can also check out Heullimgol Valley with its magnificent 20m-high Yeosim Falls. Don’t forget to stop by the Beombu Memil Guksu restaurant to try the famous local specialty - buckwheat noodles.
Address: 34, Daecheongbong-gil, Seo-myeon, Yangyang-gun, Gangwon-do 25033 South Korea
Opening hours: Hot Springs Facilities 6:00am to 10:00pm (11:00pm on Saturdays)
Prices: KRW150,000 (S$151.70) for Holon Immunity-Boosting Program: 2 Days & 1 Night, KRW270,000 (S$273.00) for 4 Days & 3 Nights
3. Taepyung Salt Farm Maritime Healing Spa, Jeungdo Island
The Taepyung Salt Farm Maritime Healing Spa is located on Jeungdo Island, a three-hour train ride from Seoul. It is the first city to be designated a ‘slow city’ in Asia by UNESCO, thanks to its beautiful, untouched nature and clean waters for people to enjoy life at a slower pace.
Located between two islands, the Taepyung Salt Farm has a wide range of alternative salt therapy programmes. Its most popular therapy is an experience in a Salt Cave Healing Room made with sun-dried salt, with beds for guests to rest on.
The farm also offers a Mineral Floating Therapy, designed for visitors to experience what it would be like floating in the Dead Sea. Guests will enter individual bathtubs filled with liquid to experience how it is like to be buoyant and the lights in the room will go off so that guests can rest in complete darkness.
During your visit, do drop by the Baekgil Beach for sprawling coastline views, and visit Ihak Sikdang restaurant for some delicious spicy mudskipper stew!
City: Jeungdo Island, Sinan
Address: 1053-11, Jidojeungdo-ro, Jeungdo-myeon, Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 9:00am to 6:00pm
Prices: KRW20,000 (S$20.20) for Thermal Spa with Sun-Dried Salt (50 minutes), KRW40,000 (S$40.40) for Mineral Floating Therapy + Salt Cave Healing Room (90 minutes)
Explore the great outdoors
4. Yong Pyong Resort, Balwangsan Mountain
The view from Yong Pyong Resort – located on the 13th highest mountain in South Korea – is breathtaking all year round. Visitors can enjoy both hiking and skiing in the winter season, much like in the Alps. The recently opened Balwangsan Ki Skywalk located 1,458m above sea level is a must-visit for spectacular views of the Balwangsan Mountain and the Baekdudaegan Mountain Range.
Balwangsan Mountain’s cable car system is the longest cable car ride in Korea, with a total distance of 7.4km. Its length means you have ample time to soak in the views, which are jaw-dropping during sunset hours.
Balwangsan Mountain’s yew forest is a great place to explore, with eight trekking routes that link the resort to the summit – perfect for an escape from the stresses of life and treating yourself to some me-time.
For food options, visit Hwangtaehoegan restaurant for dried pollack, which is a specialty of Gangwon-do.
Address: 715, Olympic-ro, Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
Opening hours: 09:00am to 8:00pm
Prices: Round-trip Cable Car: KRW25,000 (S$25.30) for adults, KRW21,000 (S$21.20) for children
5. Suncheonman Bay National Garden and Wetland Reserve
Suncheonman National Garden is the first national garden in South Korea. Home to more than 500 species of trees and 800,000 flowers, it covers a sprawling 920,000sqm space – a perfect destination for a day trip out of Seoul to take in all that nature has to offer. As it is a huge area, some opt to view the garden on the SkyCube – a small, unmanned train that runs between Suncheonman National Garden and the Suncheon Literature Center.
The highlight of the National Garden is the Lake Garden, created by globally renowned landscape artist Charles Jencks. This is the heart of the National Garden, and surrounding it, you can find 11 other gardens like the Italian Garden, Chinese Garden and Japanese Garden.
Within the garden, there is a Traditional Korean Medicine Experience Centre called the Suncheonman herbarium. Within the traditional Hanok houses you will find a healing hall (where visitors can check their body conditions quickly), a medical botanical garden, and places where you can get a medicinal foot bath.
Located in the same area is the Suncheonman Bay Wetland that is famous for its remarkable views in fall, with expansive mud flats and reed beds.
If you’re hungry, visit Sijangtong Jjajang restaurant for jjajangmyeon, noodles in black bean sauce, as well as jjamppong, or spicy seafood noodle soup.
Address: 47, Gukgajeongwon 1-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec–8:30am to6:00pm
Mar, Apr, Oct–8:30am to 7:00pm
May to Sep–8:30am to 8:00pm
Last admission is an hour before closing time
Prices: KRW8,000 (S$8) for the Sky cube ride, from KRW2,500 (S$2.50) for the Experience Programmes at the Traditional Korean Medicine Centre
6. Jeongnamjin Cypress Forest Woodland, Eokbulsan Mountain
Located below the 518m-tall Eokbulsan Mountain, Jeongnamjin Cypress Forest Woodland is a dense cypress forest with 470,000 cypress trees, and a 3.8km-long hiking trail that leads to the summit of the mountain.
Within the mountain, there is a woodcraft and ecological building experience site, a healing forest and a mountain herb complex. There are various programmes that you can sign up for, including the Healing Land programme – which offers a health checkup, followed by recreational activities such as yoga and meditation.
Cypress Salt Sauna, a Korean dry sauna located at the highest point of facilities in the Woodland, is where you can experience salt detox. Here, you can visit a salt cave filled with natural salts and visit other spa rooms such as the salt detox room and salt massage room.
If you’re visiting over the weekend, do check out Jeongnamjin Jangheung Saturday Market, for some lively performances! Don’t miss out on trying the “Jangheung trio” at the Jangheung Hanu (Korean Beef) Market. This dish includes pen shell (a type of shellfish), mushrooms, and Jangheung’s local specialty Korean beef.
Address: 180, Udeuraendeu-gil, Jangheung-eup, Jangheung-gun, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 9:00am to 18:00pm
Admission fee: KRW3,000 (S$3) for adults, KRW1,000 (S$1) for children
Forest Healing Program: KRW5,000 (S$5)
Cypress Salt Sauna: KRW8,000 (S$8) for adults and KRW5,000 (S$5) for children
Have time to yourself at meditation resorts
7. Park Roche Resort & Wellness
The picturesque hotel is located at Sugam-ri, which translates to “overnight stay on a rock”. True to its name, the resort offers programmes that focus on recharging the body and mind through deep sleep. The resort also has a Wellness Club, equipped with a yoga room, group exercise room, gym, meditation room, library and spa.
Within the resort, its Aqua Club gives guests access to indoor and outdoor spas as well as sauna facilities. The outdoor facilities also offer beautiful panoramic views of the nearby Gariwangsan Mountain, Dutasan Mountain and Odaecheon Stream. For the best views, sign up for their sunset and sunrise yoga classes, conducted on the rooftop of the resort.
When in the area, you may want to drop by the Hwaam Cave, a former gold mine that was used during the Japanese Occupation period. Visit restaurant Donggwang Sikdang to try one of the most famous dishes in Gangwon cuisine, kotdeungchigi (handmade buckwheat noodles in soybean paste broth).
Address: 9-12, Jungbong-gil, Bukpyeong-myeon, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do
Opening hours: Hotel is open 24 hours
Prices: Room rates vary depending on season
8. Museum SAN Meditation Hall, Oak Valley, Wonju
Museum SAN, where SAN is an acronym for Space, Art and Nature, is a place that blends the three elements seamlessly together. Located in the mountains of Wonju city, this is an art and design museum which contains a meditation hall that was opened in 2019. Here, visitors can participate in meditation programmes such as rest meditation that relaxes the body through breathing and simple motions, and voice healing meditation where you will make sounds and listen to your own voice. There are special meditation programmes that run every Saturday as well for participants to explore different forms of meditation.
Within Museum SAN, visitors can also meditate in the James Turrell exhibition hall, designed by James Turrel – an artist who uses light in his creations. Within the hall, you can find the Skyspace – a space that might remind you of the Pantheon in Rome.
When visiting this area, you may also want to visit Mireuksan Mountain, where you can explore its mysterious rock formations and ancient pine trees.
Address: 260, Oak valley 2-gil, Jijeong-myeon, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do
Opening hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm, closed on Monday
Prices: KRW32,000 (S$32.30) for adults, KRW22,000 (S$22.20) (must be above 14 years of age) for children for a meditation ticket
The next time you visit South Korea, be sure to include some of these wellness retreat destinations in your itinerary. With so many health and wellness locations in South Korea, take time to venture deeper into Korea to truly relax and rejuvenate.
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For more destination information, check out Korea Tourism Organization official website.
This story is brought to you by the Korea Tourism Organization Singapore.
Prices published are accurate as of time of publishing.
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