Sauna Etiquette Around the World

Adam Hood Adam Hood
Sauna Etiquette Around the World

Around the world, sauna etiquette varies based on social expectations, customs, and cultural norms. If you understand and follow these unwritten rules, your sauna experience will be more enjoyable and peaceful. The etiquette of using saunas in various countries is thoroughly examined here.

It is normal to wear swimwear in the sauna in 41 countries, such as the US, the UAE, and India. 

Due to regional norms or to make everyone feel comfortable, this is frequent etiquette. Luckily, wearing clothing doesn't change how well the treatment works, so you can still get all the benefits of a sauna.

The Birthplace of Sauna Culture Finland

A saying goes that Finns are born in saunas, which shows how important saunas are to the society there. It's perfectly fine to be naked here, and people usually sit quietly to enjoy the heat. Even between sessions, sauna goers might like to cool off in icy water or roll around in the snow.

Also, don't go to the bathroom, whistle, hum, sing, or swear. According to a local tale, the saunatonttu, an elf-like creature, punishes people who break these rules.

Onsen Etiquette in Japan

Sauna Etiquettes

Hot springs in Japan are called onsen. They are like spas, but they have their own rules. Bathing is a rite, and you have to clean yourself very well before going into the hot spring. Some places might not like people with tattoos because they are linked to the Yakuza, Japan's organized crime groups.

Japan has very strict rules about how people should take baths. Onsen, or communal bathing, has been around for hundreds of years and is deeply rooted in ceremony. 

It usually takes place outside in wooden baths fed by natural hot springs. There are two parts to an onsen: cleaning and relaxing. Both must be kept very separate, and you can only do the soak (furo) after you are completely clean and washed.

Banya Traditions of  Russia

In Russia, the banya is a cherished social space. It's customary to bring small tokens like birch branches for gentle flagellation, enhancing circulation. Socializing is a key component, and it's considered polite to offer a fellow bather a gentle pat with the branches.

As opposed to the German sauna, which likes to be quiet, this is a place where people like to hang out with friends and coworkers.

You will sweat, so lie down to stay longer. It's hot and wet. Watch out for how slippery the floors are because of the steam. You might want to wear slides or flip-flops.

Most of the time, you will cool down in the main hall between three or four rounds in the hot room. People will be wafting around smells that will wake you up, like eucalyptus, mint, and sage. If you are easily allergic, you should probably stay away.

Jjimjilbang Culture of  Korea

Jjimjilbangs, which are Korean baths, are large health clubs. People who want to use the public baths here are supposed to scrub themselves very well before going in. It is normal to wear the uniforms that are given in the sauna, and it is normal to get treatments like body scrubs and massages.

The Hammam Experience of Turkey

The Turkish hammam is steeped in history and tradition. Attendants known as teak and nation guide visitors through the cleansing ritual. While nudity is accepted, some modern hammams offer segregated areas for men and women. It's customary to tip attendants for their services.

In traditional hammams, men and women have completely separate sessions, but hotels often market treatments for couples.

Before going in, you don't have to wash because the hammam masseuse will bathe, scrub, rinse, and massage you with a lot of love. Often, this means all of your body, so don't be too shy about your body. One thing you might want to do is take off your makeup first.

Sauna Étiquettes of  United States

People from different cultures in the United States often bring different rules to sauna etiquette. In some places, people may be okay with being naked, while in others, swimsuits are expected. Most people enjoy silence, which makes it easier to relax in a calm setting.

Casual Sauna Gatherings in Sweden

Swedes use baths as hangout spots for fun. People get together in saunas, either at home or in public places, to enjoy the heat. It is normal to go from sauna sessions to cool-down breaks. Most people don't mind being naked, but swimsuits are also popular.

Tips for a Good Spa Experience Anywhere

sauna etiquettes
  • Call or email the spa ahead of time to find out what the rules are. Ask what to wear to spas, saunas, hot tubs, and other places. If you know what the rules are, you should follow them.
  • Follow what the people do. Don't be afraid to wear a swimming suit under your spa robe. Just look around and see what other people are wearing. You're good to go if people are wearing bathing clothes. You should go back to the changing room and take off your swimsuit if other people are naked.
  • Clean up first. Take a shower with soap that doesn't have a smell, and pay extra attention to your head, feet, and private parts.
  • Do not make noise. Talking softly is always a good idea, even in places where it's okay to talk to your friend.
  • Don't worry too much about knowing everything—remember that being polite and respectful goes a long way, even if there are language or cultural hurdles. Also, those embarrassing spa times make for great stories.


A richer and more polite global sauna culture results from understanding and adopting these different sauna etiquette. Following local customs will make sure that your sauna experience is not only relaxing but also educational, whether you are in the peaceful saunas of Finland, the lively jjimjilbangs of Korea, or the public baths of Japan.

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