Despite its strict leash laws and lack of public dog runs, Seoul can be a fun place for a little pup like Vasco. Here’s what he and his friends have sniffed out for us:
Bau Haus: While Bau Haus is usually referenced as a tourist trap for gawking visitors, it’s also a decent space for socializing pets. The cost of a drink covers admission, animals included, for an hour (though this is not usually enforced and staying longer is fine). There are two rooms—small and large dogs separated—where resident hounds and visiting dogs mingle and compete for treats (for purchase at the cafe; outside foods not allowed). Note: this may not be the best place for impressionable, un-trained pups, since accidents and other undesirable behaviors are on display. Free admission, but one drink order per customer required. Open 1:30–11:30 p.m. daily. Located just off Hapjeong Station (between exit 3 and 4). Mapo-gu, Seogyo-dong 394-44. Tel: 02-334-5152
If you’re in Gangnam, check out the shi-shi Chicu Chicu (치쿠치쿠) where you may run into ladies and their teacup pups with matching diamond-encrusted hair pins. Open 365 days a year, 11 p.m–12 a.m. Gangnam-gu, Yeoksam-dong 681-17 (Editor’s note: Unfortunately, Grr, our favorite Gangnam dog cafe is now closed).
EAT & DRINK
While most cafes with outdoor seating are suitable for inviting furry companions, some embrace them more than others.
Curl up with your dog or a beer (or both) in one of the cushy patio chairs at RUFXXX. There’s plenty of space for dogs to roam—both on the ground level and on the roof that offers sweeping views of Namsan.
The Coffeesmith empire needs no introduction, and if you don’t mind the smoke and stares, it is the place for your pooch to see and be seen. Likewise, Ways of Seeing in Itaewon can get too smoky as there is no sanctioned smoking section, but their deck is clean, wide and usually empty.
Umma Kitchen: There’s no signage for this elusive, reservations-only Seongbuk-dong restaurant, and even if you find it, there’s no menu to choose from. But if you and your dog are willing to take the risk to eat whatever the chef decides to cook from the day’s shopping, this is one of the few restaurants in Seoul where canines are welcome. Located in Seongbuk-gu, Seongbuk-dong 112-3. Call 010-5669-2127 at least a day in advance to reserve tables.
Hackney: A member of Animal Rescue Korea also recommends the Haebangchon sandwich bistro as a super pet-friendly establishment. “They have water bowls and indoor and outdoor seating,” she says. “There are always a few dogs there.” Tel: 02-794-2668
VETS & GROOMERS
Mari Animal Hospital: Vasco’s girlfriend, Bingsoo, is a regular at Mari Animal Hospital (마리동물병원) in Hongdae. The Mari staff are warm and welcoming—they remember Bingsoo by name and always scoop her into their arms when she walks in. Appointment times are flexible, with same-day slots usually available and evening hours on weekdays. In addition to medical help in Korean and English, Mari offers boarding, grooming and immigration services for pets traveling overseas. They also send text message notifications for upcoming appointments and medication refills. Bonus: They offer discounts on care for rescued animals. Extra Bonus: Eat Your Kimchi video about the hospital. Mapo-gu, Donggyo-dong 174-20. Tel: 02-323-7582.
Sinsa 24-Hour Animal Hospital: Despite being located in one of the fanciest pockets of Seoul, this 24-hour clinic has very reasonable rates. Vasco was neutured here for 160,000 won and they’re also known to do a fairly good job of “lion-ing”—an elaborate dye/cut job that will set you back about 60,000 won.
Sometimes you have to leave the city for a breather, but you don’t have to go far to find it. The city of Namyangju is largely accessible via the Seoul metro and is home to a few grassy dog parks. Joy Dog caters to active small to medium-sized dogs. While they play, their humans are invited to take in the view of the Han River and sip on iced beverages in the air-conditioned cafe. Be prepared to run into a few dog clubs and regular meetups if you go on the weekends. 7,000 won admission per person and per dog. Additional 10,000 won for pool access. Joy Dog is located at Gyeonggi-do, Namyangju-si Wabu-eup Paldang-li 777. Tel: 031-577-7734.
Other popular dog parks in the surrounding Gyeonggi province include Petian in Yongin (031-335-5883), Star Dog in Paju (017-342-2344) and the newly-opened Dog Bay in Namyangju (031-521-6218), which offers pick-up services for visitors riding into Yangjeong Station. Be prepared to pay separate admissions for access to grassy grounds and a nice pool facility. Most parks charge 5,000~7,000 won admission per head (including dogs!) and more for pool access.
HOTELS & HOME AWAY FROM HOME
A network of English-speaking, animal-loving Facebook users who offer their services for free or with a nominal fee or deposit—sound too good to be true? Pet Sitting Network – South Korea is a win-win situation for dog (or cat) owners, as well as enthusiasts—this is a great way to get your feet wet if you are considering fostering or adopting in the future. Many PSN members are also active in the Animal Rescue Korea network, a valuable resource for those looking to adopt, find help for abandoned animals, get petcare advice or share rescue stories.
For last minute boarding: When something comes up last-minute and you’re unable to find a sitter, many 24-hour animal hospitals also offer boarding services. Some like the VIP Animal Hospital (VIP동물병원) in Seongbuk-gu have a separate play room and are able to accommodate larger dogs. Don’t let their pink and bedazzled ground level boutique fool you—it’s mainly to intrigue the students who attend the neighboring Sungshin Women’s University. Upstairs they offer a full-service hospital, grooming and boarding facilities—so you know your dog is in good hands. Last time Vasco stayed the night, he somehow became covered in his own poop and they were kind enough to wash him before sending him home. Despite being called VIP, their prices are conventional—starting at 20,000 won per dog per night.
For the VVIPs: Irion is a pet multi-complex that houses a hospital, hotel, daycare, training school, grooming services, boutique and cafe. They have three branches in Seoul and one in Ilsan. One of Vasco’s playmates, Ollie, is a regular at the Cheongdam flagship. “My dogs actually run in and do not want to leave,” says Eunice, Ollie’s mom. Their amenities rival that of real capsule hotels, with heated floors to warm up even the coldest of winters. Still not assured? “You have 24-hour webcam access to view your pups from anywhere in the world,” adds Eunice. “Plus, I have peace of mind knowing that they have vets inside.” If that wasn’t enough, Irion also provides a progress report and Polaroid snapshot upon pick-up, so you can feel like the proud parent that you are.
Written by Meagan Mastriani and Yaeri Song
Did we miss your favorite dog spots? Tell us where your dog hangs out in the comments below!