Taking a sauna abroad

Other countries, other customs

Globalisation is a keyword that not only describes the growing together of economies and countries worldwide. Cultures are also growing closer and closer together, mixing with each other and often leading to completely new ways of life. Also in detail. And yet there are still differences that need to be taken into account when dealing with different cultures. Even if, for example, you like to go to the sauna abroad, on holiday or during a longer professional stay.

The first question is always about nudity

In Germany, saunas are generally taken in the nude. Occasionally, a towel can be used as a support, and those who are too embarrassed sometimes cover certain parts of their body with light cloths. In many other countries, too, sauna bathing in complete nudity is completely normal. For example, in the motherland of the sauna, Finland. In Slovenia, Croatia, German-speaking Switzerland, Austria, north-eastern Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, people also go into the sauna without clothing.

Light clothing in the sauna is required in Brazil, France, Great Britain, Spain or in many southern European countries. There, at least the pubic area must be covered with swimwear. Brazil is even stricter. There, swimwear in the sauna is strictly compulsory. The situation is similar in the USA, which is considered quite prudish in this respect. Here, too, at least a towel, or better still swimwear, is required in the sauna.

Gender segregation - yes or no?

Yes, it still exists, the strict separation of the sexes. While in most European countries special days are set aside for men or women as an additional service, here the sexes are mixed. Right down to the family sauna.

The situation is somewhat different wherever other cultures also demand distinctly different customs. In Spain, for example, the sexes are strictly segregated. This also applies to South Korea. There, too, saunas are taken among men or women, but never together.

As far as the separation of the sexes is concerned, it is always worth informing yourself before half of the family has to stay outside.

Other forms of sauna

What we know as a sauna does not exist in this form in some countries. Although you can visit the sauna in certain hotels in many African countries, it is much less hot there. If you like it really hot, try the Russian sauna. There, temperatures are often raised to 115° Celsius, usually with a wood-burning sauna heater, which is not to everyone's liking.

In Turkey, there is no sauna as we know it here, but there is a similar form, the hamam. Here, the sexes are generally segregated and the procedure is far more ritualised and elaborate than in the German sauna, for example.

Things get exciting in Japan. There, too, the classic sauna is unknown. Instead, there are special bathhouses, the sento. A sento consists of various bathing rooms in which the sexes are strictly segregated. Before diving into one of the bathing pools, a thorough body cleansing is obligatory. Swimwear, on the other hand, is not permitted.

In Mexico, the sauna is designed completely differently. Here the focus is clearly on individual sweating, so the question of naked or accompanied does not arise anyway.

Even though the sauna in the USA is organised in a rather prudish way, there is often a special feature here. During the rest periods, for example, you can have your tarot cards read or listen to a fortune teller.

Inform first, then plan

So if you don't want to do without your usual or beloved sauna abroad, you should find out in advance exactly what is possible, permitted and customary in the country you are travelling to. And sometimes customs regarding the sauna even differ from region to region. If you are well informed, you won't put your foot in it, as every culture does.

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