12 Korean Bath House Etiquette Rules

korean bath house etiquette
When visiting Korean jjimjilbangs, be prepared to disrobe before entering the sauna. Refrain from staring and show gratitude to the staff. Silence is highly valued, so avoid talking loudly or making disruptive noises.

1. Strip Down

The most striking feature of Korean bathhouses is the requirement to strip down. This tradition stems from the Korean belief that water symbolizes holiness and purity. Bathing together was seen as a way to cleanse the body and soul.

Nudity is not about flaunting your body but about being comfortable with yourself and respecting others. Being comfortable with one’s body is essential to self-care and self-love. 

Respecting others’ nudity is also a key part of Korean jjimjilbang etiquette. Everyone is there to relax and unwind; judging or ogling others is rude and goes against the spirit of the communal bathing area.

2. Cleanliness is Key

Maintaining cleanliness in the bathhouse ensures a more pleasant experience for everyone and helps prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

Use the washing stations equipped with a shower head and grab a stool to sit on. Lather up with the provided soap. While soap is provided, shampoo and conditioner are not.

3. Be Respectful

Respectfulness is about treating others how you’d like to be treated. Respecting each other’s privacy and personal space is key to ensuring everyone has a good time.

When you enter a Korean bathhouse, you’ll notice that everyone is focused on their own experience. Whatever activity they’re doing, don’t disrupt their peaceful time by being loud. If you’re with a group of friends, it’s best to keep your conversations to a whisper.

Another way to be respectful is to avoid splashing in the pools. While it might seem like harmless fun, splashing can annoy others trying to enjoy their time in the water.

4. Mind Your Manners

The first rule at Korean spas is to leave your shoes in the lockers at the entrance. You’ll be given a uniform consisting of shorts, a T-shirt, and two towels. Shower before getting in any of the pools or tubs.

Avoid loud talking or any behavior that could disrupt the peaceful atmosphere. Following these simple rules means you will not offend others, and you will enjoy the serene and relaxing atmosphere. 

5. Watch Your Possessions

locker room at bathhouse
Locker room at a bathhouse

When you arrive at the bathhouse, you’ll be given a locker key or a wristband with a key. Some have lockers with digital codes, while others use keys or combinations. Whichever type of locker you have, make sure that you remember the code or keep the key safe.

If you’re worried about your valuables, some jjimjilbangs have designated areas to leave your things. These areas are usually monitored by staff members, so your belongings are secure.

6. Overcoming Shyness

person in bathrobe
Person in bathrobe

One of the biggest obstacles for first-timers is getting over the fear of being naked in front of strangers. But don’t let that intimidate you. Everyone is in the same boat, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Take your time. Feeling nervous at first is okay, but don’t rush yourself. Take your time and ease into the experience at your own pace. Embrace the experience. Jjimjilbangs are an excellent way to try new things and experience a different culture. 

7. Mind Others

Nobody wants to be disturbed by an inconsiderate visitor in a bathhouse. Avoid making any sudden movements that can disrupt the calm atmosphere. Keep your personal belongings organized and out of the way. 

If you’re not familiar with the customs and traditions of a Korean sauna, take some time to do your research before you go. 

8. Hush Hush

As you enter the Korean spa, you might notice that the atmosphere differs from other spas you’ve visited. One of the key differences is the emphasis on quiet time.

Quiet time is a chance for you to escape the hustle of your daily routine and immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance of the spa.

When you enter the designated quiet areas, such as the sauna, you should keep your voice low and avoid unnecessary noise. In some spas, the designated quiet areas are marked, and signs might remind visitors to observe silence. 

Observing quiet time also has physical benefits. According to this 2006 study, silence can help lower blood pressure. So, while you might feel tempted to chat with your friends, take this opportunity to unwind and enjoy the stillness.

9. Temperature Check

Sauna temperatures range from 50°C (122°F) to a scorching 90°C (194°F). Each temperature has its own set of benefits. The lower temperature is perfect for first-timers not used to the heat to help ease into the experience. These saunas are also great for relaxing your muscles and improving your circulation.

The higher temperature is perfect for experienced spa-goers looking for a challenge. They can help burn calories, improve skin, and even reduce stress. 

Start by spending a few minutes in the lower-temperature saunas before moving on to the higher-temperature ones. Listen to your body. If you start feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous, it is time to step out and take a break. Sauna rooms are meant to be a relaxing, rejuvenating experience, not a torture chamber.

10. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial to your overall health and well-being, especially in a hot and steamy environment. Bring a water bottle with you. It’s easier to track how much water you’re drinking when you have a bottle you can refill.

Another tip is to drink water before and after each steam room session. This will help replenish any fluids lost during your time in these high-heat areas.  You can also stay refreshed by taking a cold shower or dipping in the cold pool between sauna sessions.

11. Respect Cultural Norms

Different cultures have different ways of doing things, and the Korean spa experience is no exception. Being mindful of these differences can help avoid offending others and ensure everyone feels comfortable and respected. 

One of the most important aspects of Korean culture is respect for elders. You should always give deference to older patrons. If you are unsure about what to do, simply observe the behavior of others. 

Another aspect of Korea’s culture to keep in mind is modesty. It’s customary to wear a uniform provided by the facility.

12. Say Thank You

When you visit a Korean spa, you will meet the front desk attendants, the locker room attendants, and cleaners, who play a crucial role in ensuring your experience is pleasant. 

As a visitor, it is essential to show gratitude to these individuals for their hard work and dedication. This creates a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and acknowledges the hard work of maintaining the spa. 

Express your appreciation politely and respectfully by saying, “Thank You!” A simple smile and a friendly nod can go a long way in making someone feel appreciated. You can also offer a small tip as a token of your gratitude.

What do you wear to a Korean bathhouse?

First, you must be fully naked when using gender-segregated hot tubs, saunas, and heated rooms. You will receive a T-shirt and shorts for the rest of the facilities, such as the common areas.

What are the differences between a Korean bath house and a Japanese bathhouse?

Korean 🇰🇷Japanese 🇯🇵
Has multiple facilities, i.e., a sauna, sleeping cubicles, and entertainment areas.Has only a volcanic hot spring bath
Open 24/7Not available all-day

What is a jjimjilbang?

A jjimjilbang is a traditional Korean bathhouse that offers various spa and wellness services, including saunas, hot tubs, massage, and even sleeping quarters.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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