Destination: Damyang Spa (Damyang-gun, Jeollanam-do)
It’s a rare place that offers an outdoor hot spa for the naked people and a pool for the swimsuited.
Beyond the Juknokwon bamboo forest, Damyang Spa (담양온천, or Dam-yang on-cheon) is one highlight of visiting the Damyang area in Jeollanam-do. The spa isn’t open 24 hours a day, however. The connected tourist hotel is a bit on the fancy side but convenient.
Pay your way in (note that the jimjilbang portion of the spa is only open on Saturdays and Sundays), then figure out whether you’d prefer to get hot and steamy (in the jimjilbang) or cool off in the outdoor pool.
The main element of note was the spa’s size – able to accommodate hundreds of people at any time. It’s not quite as large as the Hurshimchung Spa in Busan, but there’s as much variety – a green tea bath, a bamboo bath, along with the usual cold bath and hot baths.
Photo credit: Visit Korea’s page on Damyang Spa.
Oh yeah – the outdoor hot tub! Not pictured to the right is a cooler tub – great if it’s really hot outside, or if you’re looking to hop between them. Gets your blood pumping.
Photo credit: damyangspa.com
While the pool had lanes, they seemed used more as volleyball nets instead of proper swimming lanes. That might have been because of all the kids and families around, of course – going on a weekend during vacation time virtually guarantees the kids will be out playing.
The spa’s lobby also features a snack bar serving anything from ramyeon (4,000 won) to donkaseu (8,000 won). Plenty of ice cream products as well, though the dining room seemed like the place for a more proper sit-down meal.
With plenty of signage in English and nice amenities, it’s worth visiting while in Damyang. Unless you feel like overpaying, make sure to head back towards the Damyang Bus Terminal for a hotel.
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Directions to Damyang Spa: Get to Damyang first (buses go from Gwangju Bus Terminal to Damyang every half hour or so). Once at Damyang Bus Terminal, take a bus for Damyang Resort (they’re not numbered – look in the front window or ask at the counter). Nine buses a day, or take a taxi for the 10-15 minute ride. Alternatively, some of the Gwangju-Damyang buses also stop at the resort. Admission: 9,500 won for just the hot spring, 11,000 won to include the pool, and 13,000 to include the jimjilbang.
© Chris Backe – 2011
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