An extremely trendy pastime around here is to sit back and relax in cafes around here. You could find a handful of coffee shops on every couple of blocks. You don’t need to look far for a quick pick-me-up. You may be thinking of a regular coffee shop, but we’re talking about Korea, so what’s the catch? What’s so different? Well… maybe the title gave it away. Something that is pretty easy to find in Korea, and not so common in the states, are their animal cafes! I’ve gone to one or two in Philly, but the difference between what I’ve seen there and here are night and day.
Let me just say this first- people take their animal cafes very seriously. It must be something to do with the difference in cultures between America and Asian countries. They don’t play games; when you think of an animal cafe, you may be thinking one or two dogs lounging in the coffee shop, allowing people to play with them. Nope, that is not the case! There are most likely at least 10 dogs running around here, depending on the location. The more of a tourist location you are in, the more likely they have a ridiculous amount of animals. For example, I’ve been to cat cafes in Myeongdong that has 50 cats let loose at one point in time. It is exactly as cute and wholesome as you would think it could possibly be.
When you enter an animal cafe, you will be asked to either pay an entrance fee or to order a drink. Most places have a flat entrance fee and throw in a free drink of your choice, but I’ve gone to a few places where you only pay for the drink. Some places also have a cap on how long you can stay in the cafe or include it in their prices (for example, an additional fee for each half hour you stay). Once you pay for entry, you will most likely be asked to put your belongings into a bag (so the animals can’t get to your valuables) and switch your shoes into guest slippers.
Next, there are formalities to be taken care of; you’ll be given the basic rules of handling the animals. No lifting them, provoking them, or feeding them outside food– stuff that people should already know but are obligated to reiterate. That’s it. After that, you’re finally able to play with them! I recommend purchasing pet food for a few dollars as it makes the cafe experience a lot more fun. They begin flocking you and are more engaged than otherwise. Of course, you don’t have to as there are usually toys laying around that you can use to play with for no extra cost! Besides the ever so popular dog and cat cafes, there are even more exotic ones like meerkat, hedgehog, owl, sheep, and even raccoon cafes! I haven’t gone to any of the exotic ones yet, but they’re on my to-do list. If you ever get the chance to, I would recommend at least going to one animal cafe. It is a must-visit for animal lovers!