Seoul has become famous for its unique cafe culture in recent years, and we have just found the newest addition to this city’s offerings in odd experiences. Starting with the typical and expected dog and cat cafes- catering towards people unable to have pets of their own, the past ten years have seen a steady rise in popularity. What was once a simple and fun place to have a coffee and interact with animals has transformed into a competition for the most exotic and unexpected animals possible.
In all of our years of living in South Korea, we’ve experienced dog cafes, cat cafes, cafes where fish eat the dead skin off of your feet, sheep cafes, and even last year’s latest: Raccoon Cafes. Check out our friend’s over at Bobo and ChiChi to find out more information about the raccoons! Recently, though, on a trip to Hongdae, we stumbled across an advertisement for the most ridiculous of the animal cafes we’ve heard of in Seoul: a Meerkat Cafe.
Originally, we were skeptical. We thought, “This surely isn’t real. They most likely just have an Africa theme.” We fought off excitement, sure that it would only lead to disappointment. As we climbed the stairs of a hidden and nondescript building down a typical Hongdae alley, our pulses quickened. The first thing we heard were little chirps and sounds that don’t come out of any animal any of us had ever heard. As the sounds emanated down the stairwell, we had our first indication that we’d found the right place and that we’d soon be in our own dream world of Meerkat Manor.
Once inside, we promptly removed our shoes, disinfected our hands, ordered 10,000 won drinks (required and includes fees), and sat down to soak in the ridiculous establishment we found ourselves in. Two glass cages were placed in the middle of the cafe, each containing 6-10 meerkats and floor mats for visitors to sit on during 10-minute play intervals. We stood in line to patiently wait for our newly realized dream of playing with meerkats before it was our turn. Inside, chaos ensued as the little furry animals crawled over, under, and sometimes through our laps in their curious sort of way. As it is probably clear from the video, we had a wonderful, albeit surreal, time at this cafe and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to see the newest trend in Seoul’s animal cafe scene.
Near Hongik Children’s Park, this cafe is very easy to find in the alley west of the park, and is located on the second floor of the building. Signs and banners advertise the meerkats, so it should be fairly simple to find, once you’re in the area. For those unfamiliar with the area, exiting Hongdae University, Line 2, Exit 9 and walking will probably be the easiest method outside of taking a taxi and showing the address.
Know any other strange cafes in Seoul?
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