I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of love locks.

I used to see them fairly regularly on my strolls across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Lovers young and old would write or engrave their names onto a padlock and fasten them to the metal criss-cross fence lining the eastern pedestrian walkway. The key would then be thrown into the harbour below, symbolically rendering their love unbroken for all of eternity. On occasion I would count upwards of 100 love locks, and I took much inspiration from stopping to read the names & messages that appeared on their metallic surfaces. I’ll always remember one in particular that simply read “Ugné + Darren” – it was late in the evening as it attracted my attention, catching a reflection from the passing traffic. I smiled and silently wished this unknown travelling couple a lifetime of happiness, knowing they’d experienced their very own moment of romance standing at this exact same spot with the magnificent sails of the Opera House peaking perfectly in the background.

Eight months after leaving Sydney, I found myself in Seoul visiting the N Seoul Tower. Being the tallest structure in South Korea at 236 metres, its overall height is further boosted to nearly 480 metres above sea level due to the fact that it sits on top of Namsan Mountain; the observatory at the top offering spectacular 360° views across the sprawling metropolis. But it wasn’t the view nor the tower itself that I found most fascinating about my visit to said attraction – it was its famous collection of love locks that roused my senses the most.

It was a busy Monday morning in the centre of the city, and I’d spent around half an hour walking through Namdaemun Market before approaching Namsan Park on foot from the northeast corner. The uphill trek toward the tower was stunning – it was almost unbelievable just how peaceful and pristine the forests of the park were, considering its proximity to one of the largest cities in the world.


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Eventually the forest cleared and the N Seoul Tower stood out majestically above the canopy. I always try to reach the highest point of each city I travel through, and I couldn’t wait to see the urban sprawl of Seoul from the observation deck above.


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It wasn’t until I arrived at the base of the tower that I began to understand the true extent of the love locks. I mean, I’d read about them in my guidebook but it simply described the sight as being ‘trees’ covered with padlocks which symbolise eternal love. I knew to expect a few of these trees, but much to my surprise I was greeted with an entire kaleidoscopic fence full of padlocks, key rings, phone cases, tags, hearts and toys – there was such an array of dazzling paraphernalia attached to the railings!


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Some of the messages appearing on the locks were concise & to the point; others had a lifetime of thought & emotion put into them.


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Some people think that it’s holding on that makes one strong, sometimes it’s letting go:


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I loved the rather blunt message left for Mike on this tag:


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There are a lot of signs around the premises asking lovers to hold onto their key rather than throw it over the edge. Due to safety and environmental concerns, the authorities understandably don’t want the ground below littered with thousands of tiny metal instruments.

But where’s the romance in holding onto your key, huh?!


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This is one of a number of Heart Chairs that featured around the grounds of the love locks. Designed by the official mascot of the locks (a bear named Nsarang Gom, who claims to be an expert at dating), they’re described as being magical chairs that help two people fall in love. The idea is of course that shy couples sit on either end of the chair, only to find themselves being drawn closer together. What a lovely idea 🙂


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Some Starbucks love:


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Honestly, the fence of locks was enormous. Unlike the Sydney Harbour Bridge where I was used to seeing padlocks numbering the hundreds, here there must have been hundreds of thousands, of all different shapes, sizes and colours! It was truly a sight to behold.


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These were the ‘trees’ I was originally expecting to see, as described by my guidebook:


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Not to be mistaken for a post box, those who obeyed the rules and held onto their key after fastening their lock were invited to dispose of it in this bin, to save from it being thrown over the edge.


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Eventually I made my way to the observation deck at the top of the tower, where I admired the spectacular but smoggy view of Seoul. The monochrome picture from the heavens didn’t quite match the vividity of the scene below, though.


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Inside the observation tower, couples who wished to put in a little extra effort could purchase a tile which they were free to decorate and attach to the wall as a further token of their love.


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The view of the love locks from the window of The Place restaurant, back down at the base of the tower.


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And finally, a simple, heartfelt message to leave with:


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There were a number of souvenir shops lining the base of the tower where padlocks could be purchased and names could be engraved. I was thinking about leaving a lock myself… but I decided not to in the end. Not this time, anyway.


The N Seoul Tower love locks are an attraction well worth visiting – if not for your own romantic endeavours, then simply to observe the astonishing display of collective happiness in the form of symbolic expression. The tower can be reached by a number of transport options, including shuttle bus, cable car, city tour bus, car, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, simply by foot. The nearest subway station to the cable car is Myeongdong Station. For further details on public transport to the top Mt. Namsan, have a peek through the Getting Here section of the official N Seoul Tower website.


One day, I’d like to return to N Seoul Tower and fasten a padlock of my own onto the fence.

Only time will tell whose name will be engraved on the lock next to mine.


Have you ever left a love lock anywhere? Who was it dedicated to and what did it say?


It was back in May 2012 that I first came across the concept of the pet cafe. I was travelling through Tokyo at the time, and I’d heard about a craze sweeping through the city where cat-loving entrepreneurs were opening tearooms full of kittens, allowing their clientele to play with them, watch them, relax around them and ultimately fulfil their desires for feline affection while sipping on a matcha latte.

I visited one such venue with my friend Shino, a delightful cafe in Shibuya called Hapineko (it translates to ‘happy cat’ – how kawaii!). You can read my TripAdvisor review on it here, but altogether it was a very pleasant way to spend an hour, chilling out in a room with 15 or so cats waiting for us to pamper them.

I didn’t think too much more into pet cafes after that, until only a few months ago while I was busy researching unique attractions in Seoul. I had a 3-day stopover in South Korea last month on my way from Australia back to Canada and I felt like venturing a little further away from the typical touristy things that my guidebook recommended me to see. Thanks to the kind folk of Reddit, I quickly came to realise there was an area in Seoul which was abundant in pet cafes – there were not only cat cafes, but dogs and even sheep were covered! So I booked myself a room in the university district of Hongdae and happily explored the many wondrous pet cafes of Seoul during my time there.


DOG CAFE: Bau Haus

Address: 394-44 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Phone: 02-334-5152
Metro station: Hapjeong, exit 3
Website: http://bau.cyworld.com (in Korean)

The first stop on my journey through the Seoul pet cafes was Bau Haus, a very popular dog cafe that had recently moved to a bigger & brighter location due to overwhelming demand. And it’s not surprising to see why this place has caught on so well! There were around 25 adorable canines at my disposal; a large number of these were Border Collies, Pomeranians & Golden Retrievers, with the occasional Chihuahua, Beagle, Irish Setter plus a handful of other breeds thrown in for good measure.

Upon entering, I was offered an introduction card briefly pointing out some health & hygiene rules and explaining how to safely interact with the puppies. I was also handed a menu of light refreshments; there was no entry fee, but you were expected to buy a drink for around 7,500 won ($8). As well as a delicious smoothie, I also purchased a bag of treats to feed to the dogs for 3,000 won ($3). Judging by the amount of jumping and tail-wagging going on around my ankles, these pooches knew very well that they were about to receive a free feed from me.


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This little fella was my favourite of the lot, a sweet 8-year old Brittany called Ri-ong. He followed me around for a while before eventually settling with a couple on another table:


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You might wonder about the hygiene of Bau Haus considering the potential for little accidents, but I’m pleased to report the sanitation was very well-managed and the animals appeared to be greatly cared for. I did notice one dog relieve himself on the floor, but an attentive staff member had cleaned it up almost before he’d even finished his business.


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Most dogs just chilled with humans either on or under the chairs & tables, but a couple of the younger, more mischievous pups enjoyed a good play fight.


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Here’s a short video I took of some canine cacophony that occurred half-way through my visit – the dogs weren’t normally this crazy but I guess they need to let off a bit of steam every now & then!



I loved Bau Haus and would definitely visit again should I ever find myself in Seoul. Anybody who enjoys the company of dogs would have a ball at this place.



Address: 358-92 Seogyo-dong, 3rd Floor, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Phone: 02-336-5779
Metro station: Hongik University, exit 9
Website: http://ycat.kr/ (in Korean)

Here’s the first of a few cafes I visited in Seoul for all you kitty lovers out there. On the opposite end of the scale to that of Bau Haus, YCat is somewhere you can go to relax and wind down while attempting to gain the affection of a new feline friend. It becomes entirely evident when comparing a dog cafe to a cat cafe that the former are hell-bent on seeking attention whereas the latter are very independent.

Before you enter YCat you need to exchange your shoes with a pair of slippers, disinfect your hands and pack your bags into a locker. Again, there is no entry fee as such, but you do have to purchase a drink from a ticket vending machine for around 8,000 won ($8.50). Once you’re in, you’re free to chill with the cats to your hearts content.




I didn’t count them, but there easily would have been 15 (maybe 20?) furry creatures in attendance at the time. During my visit, most of them were either sleeping on a rug, gazing at the world outside the window or tucked inside a hidey hole somewhere, but occasionally a curious pussycat would wander up to investigate the new human who had just entered their territory.






The cats do have a pretty good view of the street below from up on the 3rd floor! There was a private room to the side of the cafe where cats could go for food, drink & privacy, and the staff were very attentive towards their feline needs.








There was much entertainment for the cats around the cafe in the form of toys, scratching posts, boxes and maze-like platforms, but I particularly liked this guy who was having a great time spinning himself around on the wheel.








And just before I left I managed to get a selfie with a new friend!





SHEEP CAFE: Thanks Nature Cafe

Address: 486 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Phone: 02-335-7470
Metro station: Hongik University, exit 9
Website: https://www.facebook.com/TNcafe

Now, dog and cat cafes I can understand seeing as they are the two most domesticated animals, but a sheep cafe? This was something I really wanted to see!

Located downstairs along the very busy Hongik-ro that leads towards Hongik University, Thanks Nature Cafe comprises of an indoor area where you can sit & eat in air-conditioned comfort, as well as fenced-off outdoor area with a pen that houses two gorgeous sheep that frequent the cafe. They’re brought down each day by the owner and spend most of their time being admired by fellow cafe-goers. Throughout the day, their owner keeps them fed and entertains them by letting them out of the pen to mingle with the customers.

Thanks Nature Cafe specialises in waffles & coffee – I ordered one of each which set me back around 12,000 won ($13) in total, and I sat outside where I could easily access the animals. It was late afternoon at the time of my visit and thankfully it wasn’t too busy, but being in such a central & convenient location, I can imagine it gets packed during peak hour.


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Here I am giving the sheep a pat in between bites of my waffle:


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Before too long they were let outside of their pen! They loved the attention.


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The sheep are very tame and are comfortable around kids & adults alike. This little boy even got a kiss:


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I believe that on hotter days, the sheep aren’t always brought to the cafe – they are sometimes left at the sanctuary where it’s more comfortable for them. You can check at the Thanks Nature Cafe Facebook page to see if the sheep are likely to be there on a particular day.

A few times a day they also go on a walk to the carpark to stretch their legs. It’s quite a sight to see two sheep strolling through a public area in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world.


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You can’t go past Thanks Nature Cafe for a unique pet cafe experience!


CAT CAFE: Cats Living

Address: 358-112 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Phone: 010-7319-1320
Metro station: Hongik University
Website: http://catsliving.co.kr (Korean)

All the cafes I’d visited so far had been researched online, but I stumbled upon Cats Living by accident. As I was walking through the backstreets of Hongdae, I chanced to see a shop with the curious name of Fuckfake (which turned out to be a clothing store, upon investigation), and it just so happened that the floor below Fuckfake was a cat cafe. I couldn’t help but make my way inside.

Similarly to YCat, I had to exchange my shoes for some slippers and sanitise my hands before I went in. I paid 8,000 won ($8.50) for a lavender tea which acted as my entry fee, and I was faced with around 15 sleepy cats upon my access to the building.


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Admittedly the atmosphere here wasn’t quite as lively as the other pet cafes I’d visited, and I found the cats to be less social, but it was by no means a bad experience. It could just have been that lazy time of the day where they all wanted to sleep and stick to themselves.


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BONUS CAT CAFE: Hello Kitty Cafe

Address: 358-112 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Phone: 02-334-6570
Metro station: Hongik University, exit 9
Website: http://hellokittycafe.co.kr

Ok, so this isn’t a cat cafe as such, but it is a cat-themed cafe.

I must say at this stage that I have no idea who or what Hello Kitty is, but hey, it was just down the road from the Cats Living cafe and it seemed like an interesting place to check out. Plus my friend Inga is a massive fan of it and I wanted to get a photo of it for her. But I think in hindsight, you need at least a basic understanding of who or what Hello Kitty is before you step foot into this place… I still can’t comprehend what the heck it was all about :-/


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The menu was mostly made up of sweet drinks, snacks & desserts, and I ordered a sweet potato latte which was served to me with some cute cocoa artwork stencilled atop the milk.

The decor was ridiculously pink. I don’t quite know how else to describe it.


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A selfie with my sweet potato latte and the Hello Kitty centrepiece!


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After my couple of days discovering the various pet cafes of Seoul, I left with the distinct impression that they are a bundle of fun and have potential to bring much joy to an ever-increasing & stressful urban environment. There have been numerous reports in months gone by of the pet cafe concept expanding and opening up in Australia, Canada and America – not to mention a handful of cafes that have already popped up around Europe. Let’s hope they’re as successful in these corners of the world as they are throughout Asia.

I’m just hoping somebody opens a squirrel cafe one day 🙂


If you liked this post, you should also check out Coco The Adorable Staffie!