I was surprised to learn of a new cafe that opened up recently in Hongdae featuring adorable meerkats! I mean really, as if dog, cat, sheep, and raccoons weren’t enough, someone had to take it up a notch. I honestly wasn’t really sure what to expect, but knew I had to make a trip to see what it was all about.
I’m going to give you a all the details below, but I felt that it was hard to give the full experience in the article. So here’s a video I put together to give you a better idea of what to expect.
Meerkat Friends Cafe (미어캣프랜즈)
19-12 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea, 3F (서울특별시 마포구 와우산로21길 19-12 3층)
Hours of Operation: 12:00 p.m. – 10 p.m.
(The cafe is located very close to Hongdae Park. From Hongik University Station take exit 9 and from Sangsu Station take exit 1. It’s located in the same building as Thursday Party on the 3rd Floor.)
This is the street view of the backside of the cafe:
This is the street view of the front side of the cafe:
Couple of things to consider before you go:
- wear socks (you’ll thank me later)
- don’t wear a skirt (you don’t want a meerkat up there)
- you must be 15 years or older to enter
When you arrive, you will need to remove your shoes and put on a pair of slippers and go inside the cafe. Scott was super excited, because they had XL slippers that fit his feet! I was already excited as, at first sniff, there were no strange odors, the cafe was bright and smelled super clean and sanitary!
Next, you will order a beverage, you must order something. Just like other themed cafes, the drink is basically your entry fee. They have various coffee, tea, and fruit drinks. We ordered a Strawberry Latte (10,000) and a Mint Chocolate Chip Latte (10,000). The cheapest drink on the menu was 8,000 won. I was a little too excited about the animals, and didn’t get a photo of the drinks before we basically finished, but really I wasn’t there for the beverage…and you won’t either.
The cafe has ample seating, we visited on a Saturday afternoon and at no time during our visit was it packed.
In the middle of the cafe, there is one large and one small pen. There were by my count 10 meerkats in the large pen and 4 in the smaller pen, each pen had one staff member inside.
We were told the meerkats are separated into 2 different groups as they are 2 different “families,” and if put together, they would fight. Also very interesting was that the larger pen consisted only of males. The staff told us that females tend to be aggressive.
There are 2 young females in the smaller pen, but they said it was okay because the females were young.
As you can see, the meerkats are super curious about everything going on inside and outside of the pens.
When you are ready to enter the pen, just hang out outside of the pen and the staff member will let a small group enter. There was one group who went in before us, and they seemed to have calmer meerkats. I’m not sure if they just get more rowdy during the day, or if it really depends on how they are feeling at the time. But as you saw in the video, when we had our time with the meerkats, they were anything but calm.
Before you enter, you will get a spritz of some hand sanitizer and will be asked to leave your slippers outside. You will also be given a cloth and told to use it to cover your feet. When they tell you to do this, take them seriously, I didn’t cover my feet up quickly enough and I had a few curious meerkats immediately began biting my toes; and they have super sharp teeth! OW! (this is also where making sure you wear socks comes in handy)
Also, I would recommend only bringing in your cell phone, as I tried to bring my DSLR in and all they wanted to do was eat the little knobs and straps (the staff also told me they love to scratch lenses). I ended up having to hide it under my blanket, and this little guy was trying to get under still.
Here they are nibbling on the staff member inside the pen. They are very curious and love to chew.
While inside the pen, the little guys will climb all over you, attempt to nibble you and do a lot of fighting amongst themselves. We also learned the little guy in the teal collar was the king of the large pen. He looks like he’s smacking down one of the other meerkats in this photo, haha. We spent about 10-15 minutes inside the pen with the meerkats.
Although the meerkats are the main draw, they have some other adorable critters who also live in the cafe.
One of the other featured animals is this arctic fox. He is honestly not a fan of people and prefers to roam around the cafe and play with his toys. I snapped a couple of photos, but let him do his own thing.
Another exotic animal at the cafe, is this genet, I had never even heard of a genet before, but apparently it is a cat like animal originating from Africa. It is very spry, as you can see, he is up in the rafters.
The genet spends a lot of quality time with this little white kitty, they were really cute all snuggled up.
The genet, cat, and dog were all super interested in the “kitchen” area, they apparently all know where the good stuff is hidden!
Say hello to this cute little dachshund – his name is Hyeon-gi. He loves treats, and you’ll find him hanging around the staff in hopes that they’ll give him one.
Last, but not least, there is a raccoon at the cafe as well. He didn’t get let out while we were there, but he’s a big guy!
We had a great time at the cafe, and I would definitely visit again. The animals were fun (as expected) and the staff was very friendly and even spoke some english. Unlike some of the dog cafes we have seen, the animals seemed to be well cared for and everything was very clean and tidy. There is just so much going on at this cafe, I definitely recommend a visit!