Cafe culture in Korea is taken seriously -- cafes are on every corner in my neighborhood. In addition to your run of the mill coffee shops, cafes with specific themes abound. I've posted previously about my visits to a board game cafe and the Mustoy cafe, but I have to admit, when I came to Korea, I was the most excited about the availability of a cafe theme I hadn't encountered before: animals.
Do you miss your pet(s) from home? Do you enjoy looking at sheep? Do you have calloused feet? I know these questions might seem a little odd, but read on. Here are the four animal-themed cafes I've visited so far, listed in order of my least to most favorite.
This cafe, which is actually called Thanks Nature Cafe, is located in Hongdae, Seoul. It's cute, with sheep-related paintings and decorations hanging inside the cafe. We tried coffee, some ades, and a dessert while we were there, and all were decent.
The draw of this cafe, as I'm sure you've guessed, is their sheep. Don't expect a flock -- to my knowledge they only have two. They don't seem to typically be wandering around freely, either. Instead, they're in a small pen on the patio outside the actual coffee shop. You can snap pictures and watch them, but that's about it.
Information: Check their Facebook page for more info. The cafe is located in the basement of its building, so when you go looking for it, keep an eye out for the sign in the photo above.
Dr. Fish Cafe
Sometimes, your feet are just gnarly and you need a bunch of little fish to munch on the dead skin.
The sensation is a strange one -- it kind of tickles, but it also doesn't. I didn't notice a huge change in the softness of my feet after letting the fish have at it, but that was probably because I couldn't stand to keep my feet in the pool for very long at a time. I also opted for the much smaller fish, as the larger ones (as seen in the photo on the left) just freaked me out.
You do need to order a drink to do Dr. Fish, and then the cost for Dr. Fish is just a couple thousand won per 15 minutes. These cafes also seem to always offer a bread buffet (baguette slices, cake-like bread, butter, and jam), complete with toasters to warm up the slices.
Information: Of the two Dr. Fish cafes I've been to, the one in Gangnam is the nicest. To get there, walk straight from exit 10 of Gangnam station. You'll walk for about 5 minutes, then the cafe is on the second floor of a building on your left. This Aclipse Blog entry from last year has great info about the Gangnam cafe.
I'm not lacking in cat snuggles personally, since my boyfriend adopted a cat from a shelter outside of Seoul, but a cafe full of cats still got my attention.
Before you can pet and cuddle all the cats in these cafes, you're required to purchase a drink, which essentially serves as your admission fee. Drinks are pricier here, usually closer to 8,000 won or so, but it's worth it.
I was impressed with how clean this particular cat cafe was, so I feel like they take good care of the cats. You can buy a can of food or little treats for the cats, which will make them swarm you, which is basically heaven for cat lovers.
Information: Cat cafes seem to be everywhere, so instead of providing detailed directions, I will point you in the direction of these previous Aclipse blogs. In popular areas of Seoul, such as Myeongdong or Hongdae, just keep an eye out for someone in a Garfield costume -- they work for a cat cafe and can easily point you in the right direction!
The best for last -- because I do believe that dog cafes are magical places. I'm a dog lover to a possibly neurotic degree, and when I moved to Korea, I had to leave my darling miniature schnauzer with my parents. Spending time at the dog cafe helps fill the canine-shaped hole in my heart.
While smaller dog cafes seem to be popping up more and more, the most well known dog cafe would be the Bau House in the Hongdae area of Seoul. This cafe operates by the same rules as cat cafes: buy a drink, play with animals. There's also a variety of treats to buy, which will make you quite popular with the dogs.
Some dogs only want to hang out with you for the treats you have, but others seem to just enjoy the attention. There are usually a few dogs happy to curl up next to you and have their head scratched. The only off-putting part of this cafe is that it is dirtier, as dogs are wont to be, but the staff is quick to swoop in and clean up.
Information: Bau House is located near exit 3 of Hapjeong Station. Make a right as you leave the exit, then walk down the nearest alley to the left, keeping an eye out for the sign to your right. Here's a longer Aclipse entry about Bau House and another about a different dog cafe, also in Seoul.
Have you visited any of the animal cafes in Korea? Do you know of any that I didn't mention? Leave a comment below!
Between studying Japanese and Asian culture in university and setting her sights on a teaching career, it came as no surprise when Zannah Smreker announced that she was moving to South Korea to teach for Chungdahm Learning. In November 2011, Zannah accepted a position through Aclipse with the Songdo branch in Incheon, just southwest of Seoul. When she's not teaching, she keeps herself busy with exploring Korea, eating all the street food, and hunting down strange Engrish shirts. Check out her blog here for more of her adventures!