Only in Korea – Dr. Fish

Seoul has many unique and wonderful cafes. This statement, as you surely know if you have visited many, is an understatement. We have been to coffee shops that house live sheep for the customers’ petting pleasure, treehouse cafes with high fort-style construction for booths, dog and cat cafes for when you’re missing your animals back home, and a plethora of other themes that will undoubtedly find a way to fill your needs.



One of our favorite and most peculiar establishments is Namu Geuneul, or “Dr. Fish.” For a paltry 3,000 won, a reluctant man washes your feet and escorts you to a trough of hungry minnows that have the singular job of feasting on human flesh if given the opportunity.

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Although we had been to Dr. Fish months ago with Ryan’s mom, we were anxious to return and make a video of this truly strange experience. We paid for our drinks and were told that the fish would be first. We plunged our toes into the warm water and they attacked!

Seriously though, it tickles like crazy at first. The swim around finding loose skin and nibbling away. It makes for a really funny and ultimately enjoyable experience once you get past the first few minutes of instinctual reactions to being eaten alive. We laughed and made funny faces when the horde would hit that spot between your third and fourth toes. The room with the fish tanks has many tables for enjoying your coffee and pastries, so there was a regular exchange of people watching mixed with gawking at the foreigners. We relaxed and enjoyed ourselves for the 20 minute limit before Captain Foot Scrub returned to give us a good post-cleaning-cleaning.

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We donned our shoes once more and our order was delivered to our table. Due to a wonderful special, buying two drinks meant free Honey Bread, which is always a wonderful addition to a warm beverage. Their service is always pretty good, and everything they offer is almost guaranteed to satisfy. They have good coffee, pastries, beer, small sandwiches, coke (soda/cola/pop/carbonated beverage/whathaveyou), and of course: the fishes.

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If you visit Namu Geuneul in Myeong-dong you’ll surely enjoy the experience as we have. There isn’t a lot of flair and drama about what is going on, just a straightforward niche cafe that serves its purpose well. When you arrive at the coffee shop floor, don’t be alarmed, they have another floor above where the fish are; the first level is just booths and magazines for a relaxing cup of coffee like any other cafe. Order your coffee and then say Dr. Fish. They’ll know what to do. If they ask you a bunch of question in Korea and you know as much of the language as we do, just keep saying “Dr. Fish” until they appear satisfied. We’re pretty sure that they’re probably asking if you want your coffee first, or your appointment with the doctor.

Dr. Fish Map

We have updated our map so that this gem is easier to find. Our first time we found about 20 different websites claiming that they knew where Dr. Fish was, only to find it by chance on our own. We hope you guys get a chance to try this place out and that you enjoy it like we did. As a bonus, Myeong-dong is famous for its shopping, so this can easily become a full afternoon exploring the shops after the fish do their work on your feet.

Hit up Myeong-dong Station, Exit 8. Go up the street and it’s on the left-hand side across from the Skypark Hotel. Metal elevator, 5th floor.

EDIT: We recently visited this location in September 2014, and it is no longer there! Sad day. However, there are foot spas in Myeongdong that do still offer Dr. Fish. Click here for more information!

2017-03-06T09:21:52+00:00 By |Only in Korea, Videos|18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Meagan | LifeOutsideOfTexas.com January 15, 2014 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    This has been on my list for a while, but haven’t had the time when in Seoul. I’m sooo ticklish so I’m kind of terrified at the thought of letting fish get all up in my business, but love the quirkiness of it.

    • Hedgers Abroad January 15, 2014 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      We are super ticklish as well! It is really strange just letting fish just fed on you like that, but definitely an interesting experience.

  2. lifefullofjules January 15, 2014 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    I have wanted to do this for awhile! But the more I think about it, I am not sure I would be able to initially put my feet in the water. I am a wimp!

    • Hedgers Abroad January 16, 2014 at 11:17 pm - Reply

      The smaller fish are not that bad. We have heard of places that have much bigger fish that would make us a bit hesitant to dip our toes in too!

  3. Shelley @Travel-Stained January 16, 2014 at 11:06 am - Reply

    These fish are better than any pedicure (and sooo much cheaper)! What I wanna know is, where the heck is this treehouse cafe of which you speak?? 🙂

    • Hedgers Abroad January 16, 2014 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      It is a really small hole in the wall place near our apartment actually! We need to go back soon and take some pictures soon.

  4. kekai September 16, 2014 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Oh no! I made it all the way to Myeongdong before I saw the bad news. Also the Gangnam branch is closed as well! Does this site help? http://www.restree.net/new/location.html I don’t know korean and I think not all restrees have dr fish in them(?) I hope to find one soon before I leave in Dec.

    • Hedgers Abroad September 17, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

      You are right, not all of the cafes have them. We found one in Samcheong-dong, but again, no fish. We have asked a friend of our’s who can speak Korean to call these locations and ask if they have the fish or if they know of a cafe that currently does. We will let you know asap!!!

  5. jen September 17, 2014 at 1:50 am - Reply

    have you guys found a new location yet? Going there in Oct and really want to try this

    • Hedgers Abroad September 17, 2014 at 8:38 am - Reply

      We are calling a few of the other locations and asking if they have Dr. Fish. Not all of these cafes offer them, so we will let you know as soon as we can!

  6. Jihong Jin October 1, 2014 at 3:51 am - Reply

    Oh nooo. 🙁 This is one of the biggest things on my to-do list when I hit Seoul next March! I hope you guys find one asap!!!

    • Hedgers Abroad October 1, 2014 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Currently all of the Namu Guneul Cafes are not carrying the fish. We just found a place close by in Myeongdong called “The Foot Shop” that have them. We will update the post soon!!

      • Jihong Jin October 1, 2014 at 10:50 pm

        Yesss!! Thank you! I hope I remember to check back before my trip.

  7. P November 19, 2014 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Any update on the spa?

    • Hedgers Abroad November 19, 2014 at 11:43 pm - Reply

      “The Foot Shop” in Myeongdong offers Dr. Fish. We have yet to visit this location, so we are unsure of the exact address. If you ask one of the tourism volunteers, they may be able to help locate it on a map for you. We will be visiting the area again in December and we can then make a more accurate map!

  8. […] of the most common requests we get is in regard to a post in our first year for Dr. Fish. People seem to be pretty enamored by the idea of this unique shop and, once it closed, our readers […]

  9. […] specialty cafes are not unique in Korea, as we explored dog cafes, sheep cafes, and Dr. Fish (seen here and here) where fish nibble offf your dead skins cells while you enjoy lattes and smoothies, but […]

  10. […] Dr. Fish […]

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