East Asian culture – as a broad scope – has been synonymous with health and wellness for centuries, from Thai massage to Japanese onsen. But South Korea, in particular, has its own vast wealth of places where those looking to unwind, relax, and soothe their aching bodies or minds can go to escape it all.
Health and wellness mean different things to different things. To some, this might simply mean a walk through the forest as the light dappled through the trees. To others, it means a weekend escape to a spa, complete with massages, saunas, and hot springs. Despite there being so many ways to define or look for health and wellness spots, you can find them all in South Korea.
While travelling to South Korea isn’t possible for many of us at the moment, this wellness journey will give you some ideas for some natural escapes once travel gets back to normal. South Korea is such a diverse and beautiful country that we had the pleasure to call home for a year and we can’t wait to show you why a visit to South Korea should be your next trip.
9 Health and Wellness Spots in South Korea
Here are some of the best health and wellness spaces across South Korea, from Seoul to Busan. Here, you’ll find beauty spas, hot springs, zen villages, resorts, forest bathing, and even more. Whatever your definition of health and wellness, you’ll find it here in South Korea.
Beomeosa Temple Stay (Busan)
If you find yourself in Busan, Korea’s second-largest city, you can treat yourself to an unforgettable stay at the city’s most famous and beloved temple: Beomeosa. One of Korea’s best-known Buddhist temples, Beomeosa offers visitors a temple stay (in English).
The temple stay lasts a day or two (your choice) and offers you the chance to live life as a traditional Korean Buddhist monk. This includes meditation practice, walks through the temple grounds, and vegetarian meals. The grounds of the temple offer the perfect setting and surroundings to lose yourself completely in mental and physical wellness exercises.
A temple stay at Beomeosa offers visitors the chance to not only let go of the mental and physical stresses they carry with them, but also to learn how a traditional Korean Buddhist monk lives in this day and age. A fascinating, soothing, and unforgettable experience.
For other temple stay options, you can also visit the International Seon Centre for more information.
Spa Land Centum City (Busan)
If you need more proof that Busan is a fantastic place for health and wellness in South Korea, look no further than Spa Land Centum City. If a temple stay at Beomeosa wasn’t enough, make this the next stop on your health and wellness journey around South Korea.
While Japan is often considered the hot spring capital of the world, South Korea has its own rich history of hot spring bathing, and Spa Land Centum City is the best place in Busan to experience those hot springs for yourself. With eighteen natural hot springs feeding baths and saunas, as well as a range of spa experiences on offer, there are few better places in Korea to visit in order to cleanse and lose yourself entirely.
Jeju Herb Dongsan (Jeju)
Jeju Island is a world apart from mainland Korea. A large but peaceful island experience with beaches, hills, and cycle paths where locals and tourists alike head to get away from the bustle of city life. And it’s here, on Jeju Island, that you’ll find the Jeju Herb Dongsan.
This expansive herb garden is a health and wellness paradise in aesthetics alone. The flowers in this garden are in-bloom all year round; the air is fresh; and you won’t find a single distraction anywhere.
At Jeju Herb Dongsan, you can enjoy an aroma foot spa, followed by an exfoliating foot scrub and, finally, an application of peppermint oil to your neck and back which helps to relieve headaches and loosen the knots in your muscles. This pleasant spa experience can then be followed up by an overnight stay at Jeju Herb Dongsan to allow your stresses to fall away and leave you completely.
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Herb Lab Bom Dong (Seoul)
Just because you’ve found yourself in the heart of South Korea’s biggest and busiest city doesn’t mean you can find a space to enjoy some health and wellness therapy. Herb Lab Bom Dong is a kind of wellness cafe situated in the concrete jungle and exists as a perfect escape where you can get seen by experts in local Korean herbal medicines.
These Korean medicine experts assess your current mental health, take in a few other personal factors, and provide you with a personalised experience that should help improve your overall physical and mental wellbeing. This includes medicinal teas which have been used in Korean tradition for centuries, as well as foot baths which help you soak away all the stress and strain kept in your feet.
Also in Seoul you can find Tea Therapy, another very similar health and wellness experience. Take your pick between Herb Lab Bom Dong and Tea Therapy.
Sulwhasoo Flagship Store (Seoul)
Another health and wellness experience that can be had in Seoul is found in Sulwhasoo Flagship Store. For those who don’t know, Sulwhasoo is a beauty and skincare company that provides various products for those looking to better look after their skin, whatever their gender or age.
At Sulwhasoo Flagship Store in Seoul is where you can, as their own website states, “experience the ideal of truly holistic care, the perfect balance of inner and outer beauty.” Several rooms across multiple storeys all offer different luxury spa experiences, using the company’s own cosmetics and the hands of wellness experts to help you find a new self.
This is where to go if you’re looking for a spa experience in Seoul. The decor and design in this space is fantastic, and serves to help visitors completely forget their stresses. Many of the spa experiences and cosmetics have a focus on anti-ageing which should help to wash away the signs of stress which life often paints across our faces.
Resort Spa Valley (Daegu)
Daegu is one of Korea’s bigger cities. And yet, despite being a major city, Daegu still offers visitors a fantastic health and wellness spot in the form of Resort Spa Valley. This spa getaway makes full use of its natural thermal springs to curate a perfect wellness escape for those who visit.
At the Spa Valley hot springs, you can bathe and soak your troubles away in what’s known as hexagonal water (named for its chemical makeup) which is pure enough to drink and is traditionally used as a source of healing.
If you have children, there are pools and play areas for them. And for adults there is a complete aromatherapy spa option, which uses traditional Korean medicinal herbs and open-air baths to help visitors soothe and relax.
Next to Spa Valley you can also find the Nature Park: a space of flowers, butterflies, and even peacocks where you can roam amongst the most beautiful aspects of nature and refresh your senses completely.
Jeongnamijin Cypress Forest Woodland (Jeollabuk-do)
For those whose perfect idea of health and wellness in South Korea is a walk through the forest, complete with woodland-themed spa therapies, Jeongnamijin Cypress Forest Woodland is where you need to go. This vast grove of cypress trees offers visitors an expansive and calming area to walk and regain a sense of mental balance.
The air quality, controlled by the existence of 470,000 cypress stress, offers visitors a chance to relax their lungs and bring some good, natural warmth back to their body. The forest offers opportunities to walk and hike, with splendid views of the surrounding greenery and even the local landscape, the higher up you climb.
At the top of the forest is Cypress Salt House, a traditional Korean dry sauna which uses a dry salt massage to help visitors detox during their stay. There is no other health and wellness experience in all of South Korea like that offered in Jeongnamijin Cypress Forest Woodland.
Jinan Red Ginseng Spa (Jeollabuk-do)
Ginseng is a plant whose root has been used in Chinese and Korean remedies for centuries to help soothe pain and clear up minor issues like the common cold. Ginseng is often used in Korean teas and, at Jinan Red Ginseng Spa, visitors can use a kind of ginseng soap to wash away their troubles.
The coolest thing about Jinan Red Ginseng Spa is its open-air bath where visitors can bathe in the cool, fresh air with a complete view of the nearby Maisan Mountain. The view is as exciting as it is calming. There is also a program known as the Five Elements. This series of spa treatments uses aqua, herb, and stone therapy to soothe your body and mind before you then head to the outdoor bath and enjoy the soothing view of Maisan Mountain.
Healience Seonmaeul Zen Village (Gangwon-do)
One of Korea’s first wellness centres was founded by a scientist of natural Korean medicine who took advantage of a forest valley to build a space where visitors can be soothed and healed. Here hiking and walking is the primary activity, as you take in the air and the views of the surrounding forest to get your blood pumping and your muscles working.
Healience is a place for visitors to learn how to live without the digital distractions of mobile phones, computers, and TV. You’ll learn how to eat healthily and observe the natural world around you. Paying attention to the surrounding wilderness through enormous windows and enjoying the sounds of nature will help to re-centre you and reattach your senses to the natural world.
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