Western Seoul’s Hongdae (홍대) neighborhood is centered around Hongik University (홍익대학교), a school well known for its arts program.
This probably explains why the neighborhood is also well known for its trend-setting, artistic residents who coordinate events like the popular Seoul Fringe Festival .
The area’s bars, boutiques and cafés have an edgy, youthful feel. Case in point are the Seoul pet cafes in Hongdae.
Seoul is a huge city, but most people live in small apartments alongside their parents and siblings. As such, having a dog or cat of any size can be inconvenient.
Yet, it’s been my experience that most Koreans love animals. In fact, I’ve seen pet dogs, cats, birds and even a Hongdae couple that’s become well-known for their occasional stroll with their two lambs.
But what if you can’t have a pet? You’ve probably guessed the answer – go to one of the Seoul pet cafes in Hongdae!
Located on the third floor of a non-descript building in Hongdae‘s Seogyo-dong (서교동) neighborhood is Bau House, as in Bow Wow. After going over or around a wire barrier, you’re met with the unmistakable sounds – and smells – of many, many dogs.
Actually, upon walking inside, my first reaction was that this place was pure chaos! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun chaos. On my visit, a young woman was seated at a booth while a young Alaskan Malamute played with her seated atop a table.
On the other side of the room, a peppy Bichon Frisé was chased by a Golden Retriever, while two Corgis tag-teamed a terrier. On the far wall, an older lab preferred to take everything in from a resting position.
The bottom line is that both dogs and humans were thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The Seoul pet cafes in Hongdae are popular destinations these days. When we arrived, there was a one hour wait to play with the pups. The place was packed with young couples and parents with kids.
Started in 2000, Bau House’s owners had to relocate to a larger space to accommodate the demand. Although there is no entrance fee, visitors can order beverages or simple food, but please don’t feed it to the dogs.
Low-calorie dog treats are available for purchase.
For a very different vibe, or if you’re just more of a cat person than a puppy one, not far away is Hongdae’s cat café. Unlike the silly chaos of the dog cafe, the cat one is stylish and surprisingly quiet.
Upon entry, you pay
W8,000, trade your shoes for a pair of slippers, disinfect your hands, and then enjoy being among some 30 different cats.
Although I’d been told that many Koreans are afraid of cats, obviously the cat cafe’s customers were not among them. The popular place, which averages some 40 customers daily, has the kind of vibe you’d expect from a place filled with cats.
Less noisy and, thankfully, less smelly. Another noticeable difference is the overwhelmingly female clientele. Just like the dog cafe, however, both the customers and animals appeared to be very happy. (Note: Due to a curious legal threat, I’ve omitted the cat cafe’s name. Should you wish to visit, it should be easy enough to find it online)
I’m an animal lover, and have had the urge to get a dog since moving to Korea. But truth is, besides being expensive, having a pet is a huge responsibility that would greatly limit my ability to travel.
And now, having discovered two Seoul pet cafes in Hongdae, I think I’ve found the perfect compromise. (UPDATE: I adopted a mixed Jindo dog in 2010^^)
For Your Information…
About Matt Kelley
Matt Kelly is native of the US Pacific Northwest and is half-Korean by ethnicity. He lived in Korea for five years and has written hundreds of travel guides for Wallpaper, TimeOut, the Boston Globe and Seoul Magazine and was a host for several different variety shows on Korean radio and television.