Toward a healthier holidayTourism in Korea is no longer just a matter of looking around and taking pictures. With the “well-being” trend now being used to sell absolutely everything (soju included), so-called “health tours,” combining travel (usually) with various holistic-style treatments, are becoming popular. Here are a few destinations that a writer for the JoongAng Ilbo investigated.
Restoring your fitness on top of a mountain
Chorakdang is a rest house located on a mountain that overlooks Mount Namsan in Gyeongju. Its walls are made of clay and Korean traditional bricks. Grass grows green in the yard, and inside is a sauna made of ochre (yellow mud). Meals served are completely vegetarian.
Chorakdang opened three years ago, and currently has the most comprehensive program of all the health tours we looked at. Upon arrival, guests receive a basic checkup and, based on the results, are given heat massage therapy, an herb bath, herbal tea and health pointers. The owner, Park Seung-hui, observes each visitor to detect habits that may cause health problems.
The next day’s itinerary involves touring national treasures such as Bangudae Amgakwha (pictures carved on rocks) and other artwork from the Neolithic Age.
After the tour, another checkup is given, as well as advice on daily diet and exercise. The tour costs about 100,000 won, with a therapeutic herbal bath available for an additional 20,000 won. To get there, take Gyeongbu Expressway and at the Gyeongju Interchange, turn right and take route 35 toward Eonyang. Drive seven miles (12 kilometers) to a street full of bulgogi restaurants. At the end of the street is a sign reading “Chorakdang” in Korean. For information, call (052) 264-8001.
This cure includes room service
For a mere 1.64 million won ($1,500), the Seoul Grand Hilton Hotel is selling a three-night, four-day “health package” that includes exercise, massage and herbal treatments that are said to prevent aging, as well as luxury room service.
Although all of the above takes place at the hotel in central Seoul, it is La Clinique De Paris, a professional anti-aging clinic in France, that administers the program.
A doctor checks body fat percentage, bone density and blood pressure to evaluate the patient’s physical fitness.
The doctor also prescribes a proper diet, administers detoxifying shots and offers spa and massage skin care.
Clients receive herb massages, along with foot massages said to stimulate acupunture points on your feet. There is a daily injection that detoxifies the body and decomposes fat. The results of the health checkup are sent to a fitness center, where a health professional draws up a continuing health plan.
The rest of the day is spent swimming or walking around the hotel (of course, you can leave if you really want to). The hotel has a beautiful walking track.
Participants in the plan stay in a deluxe room for the entire period.
For more information, call (02) 2287-8400.
Golf, horses, yachting ― oh, and health care
The YinYang Physical Therapy Academy is located on Jeju island, where it is surrounded by green grass, exotic palm trees and cozy-looking white buildings.
Here, guests who can afford it will find some unconventional treatment methods that include healthy meals, beautifully appointed bedrooms and plenty of Eastern medicine.
Owner Lee Won-ju’s treatments combine ancient Chinese yin-yang theory with yoga.
According to Mr. Lee, diseases are caused by an imbalance of yin and yang energy. With the proper mix of herbal medicines, acupuncture and some exercise, a balance can allegedly be restored. (If you’re skeptical already, you might as well stop reading.)
Mr. Lee claims he chose the expensive island getaway as the academy’s location because Jeju’s volcanic soil is good for growing medicinal herbs necessary for the treatment.
Also, the island’s nature appeared ideal for maximizing the body’s immune system and its ability to cure itself, Mr. Lee said.
Mr. Lee says he spent 12 billion won ($11 million) over five years to build the center. It now includes accommodation, a hospital, a research center and restaurants.
The center’s health program features sightseeing along with health treatment.
The first day starts with a diagnosis of the patient’s physical constitution and immune system. This is done with a series of blood and body fluid tests.
Based on this result, a dietary plan is drawn up for the duration of the stay.
Patients are encouraged to enjoy their free time in the afternoon, touring Jeju island in a rented car, horse riding, yachting or playing golf. At night, they can do yoga or get a hot mud massage.
They also have the option of relaxing in something called a “harmonized yin and yang bath.”
This well-being bath supposedly gives buoyancy and magnetic force to the body. It’s allegedly possible to take a nap floating on the water.
On the last day, after touring Jeju city and receiving all the day’s health services, patients receive another physical checkup and get some counseling on the proper diet and lifestyle necessary for maintaining long-term health.
For information on the program, call (064) 794-0440.
by Choi Hyeon-chul