5 Distinctive Korean Cafe Themes Worth Checking Out
When visiting South Korea, one major thing tourists will look for are the unique places they can pop into and get an unforgettable experience. Besides the K-pop locations to see around South Korea, the various local sites around Seoul to see, and many more, there are a few smaller locations where you might find the most unique experiences. We’re talking about the different Korean cafes you can find.
For how similar cafes can be throughout the world, a Korean cafe is unique in its presentation and themes. They’ve taken the initiative to get creative with their themes—exploring cafes that include various animals, specific flavors/colors, and more.
Various Korean Cafe Themes You Can Find
Between the thousands of various themes possible, there are quite a few themes that end up being repeated from cafe to cafe. Of course, there are always K-pop and idol-themed cafes but there are tons that stray from those, too.
One of the most well-known themes for Korean cafes is the animal cafe. Quite literally, you can visit these cafes and have a meal with an animal. The most popular animals to come across are cats and dogs and some dog/cat cafes even allow you to bring your own pet along with you!
But there are plenty of unique animals that you might not expect to see in a Korean cafe. Including, but not limited to, raccoons, sheep, meerkat and so many more.
Thanks Nature Cafe
With an aesthetically beautiful nature vibe throughout the cafe, delicious food, sweet drinks, and even sweeter animals, Thanks Nature Cafe is one of the best places to stop by. And what animal will you get to see while visiting? Sheep!
That’s right—this Korean cafe branches out from the usual house pets to offer customers a chance to meet with sheep. Though they have the sheep in a separate area from where you dine, you can always visit the adorable furballs in their playpen. Many have said that the sheep are friendly and positively lovely!
You can find this Korean cafe at 10 Hongik-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
If you’ve looked into animal cafes at all in South Korea, then you’ve no doubt stumbled upon Meerkat Friends. It’s one of the most popular animal cafes in Seoul—especially with adorable meerkats running around!
Just like Thanks Nature Cafe, Meerkat Friends is located near Hongik University, making it quite the hotspot for people. As their name mentions, this Korean cafe has meerkats! What the name doesn’t mention is that they also have a raccoon, arctic foxes, a wallaby, and a few other animals.
After paying an entry fee of 10,000 – 15,000 KRW, you can find yourself being a personal jungle gym for the adorable meerkats. Of course, there are some rules. The meerkats are held in a special pen that you have to enter—most valuables removed by this point so the curious animals don’t end up stealing them from your pockets. You also only get a ten-minute limit in the pen with them, meaning that you don’t have too much time to spend with them in one sitting.
Some have mentioned that the “cafe” part of this animal cafe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It seems that Meerkat Friends focuses most on letting you see and meet with the meerkats, so don’t go there expecting to have a light meal. Anything you buy is at an additional cost to the entry fee.
Book / Comic Book Cafes
Alongside animal cafes, another popular theme you’ll find in a Korean cafe is the book or comic book theme. These cafes can be noticed through their seemingly endless shelves of books and/or comic books, comfortable seating areas, and warm lighting that’ll set the right mood for reading.
Probably one of the most popular book cafes in Seoul is Book Park. With its ravishingly large bookshelves, its endless choice of books, and its comfortable nooks to settle into, it’s no surprise that Book Park is a favorite for readers in Seoul.
Located in Itaewon, this three-story book cafe is nothing short of a homely place. Though the books and cafe mostly take space on the second and third floors, this is an incredibly large building filled to the brim with books, books, and more books.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to spend an hour or so just reading through things, then this Korean cafe is just what you need. Their wide selection of books, coupled with their cafe with quite a good selection of drinks, leads to the perfect place to recharge.
And if you’re exploring spots Korean dramas might have been filmed, then Book Park is definitely on that list. A couple of K-dramas have been filmed in this beautiful Korean cafe throughout the years, so you can plan a visit to see the actual place where scenes have been filmed.
Book Park is located at 294 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Dunguri Manhwa Cafe (뒹구리만화카페)
If you enjoy comic books more than novels, then you might feel a little more at home visiting a comic book cafe instead. Though many great comic book cafes have come and gone in South Korea, you can still get your comic book fix at Dunguri Mnahwa Cafe.
Though this cafe is more like a comic book store, there are still areas for you to sit down and enjoy flipping through the pages of your favorite comic book while relaxing. You can purchase beverages and enjoy the smaller space.
Though this cafe isn’t filled with adorable animals or thousands of books, it has its own charm to it. It’s a bit calmer, more relaxed, and small enough to attract a smaller crowd. This means that you can enjoy more time with your comic books without interruptions.
This Korean cafe can be found at 111 Seogang-ro, Changjeon, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea—not too far from a few of the other Korean cafes already mentioned.
If you’re more of a historical person, finding comfort in the history of places, then you should consider looking into Hanok cafes. Surrounded by history, these cafes aim to exemplify what makes the traditional Korean Hanok houses/buildings beautiful.
With a few branches throughout South Korea, Seoul Coffee is one of the hot spots for Hanok cafes.
With its open space, wooden furniture, and connection to nature, Seoul Coffee is the perfect definition of a Hanok cafe. It’s gorgeous, too, toeing the line between modern and history seamlessly. Not only will it provide picture-worthy places, but it also offers various beverages and foods to try.
Most noticeably, this Korean cafe is known for its butter bread—which are these larger rolls of bread split open and filled with butter. But there are a few different things for you to try if you’re not into butter or bread (or both!).
As mentioned, there are a few different locations you can find for Seoul Coffee. However, the most popular branch to visit is the one located in Ikseon. You can find this Korean cafe at 166-31 Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Cha Masineun Tteul
Taking a slight twist to the traditional cafe, this Hanok cafe is more of a tea house—meaning it specializes in tea and serves it more often than coffee.
With a great overview of the mountain nearby, the Cha Masineun Tteul tea house is the perfect place to escape from the busy city life of Seoul. Not only have people mentioned that this place is gorgeous and has friendly staff, the beverages and snacks there are delicious.
The Hanok theme gives this Korean cafe a simpler approach to foods and beverages, making it quite cute and calming for any visitors. For tourists, if they’re looking to find a local cafe to enjoy, then this would be the perfect place!
You can find Cha Masineun Ttuel at 26 Bukchon-ro 11na-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Though this sounds a bit like everything we’ve already mentioned, we wanted to bring light to a couple of cafes that stick heavier to one theme more than the rest. Above animal cafes, book cafes, and even Hanok cafes, there are some Korean cafes that you can find where they incorporated a single theme throughout both their food/beverages and their physical appearance.
Banana Tree Cafe
Known for their Banana themed decorations and foods as well as their potted pudding desserts, the Banana Tree Cafe is probably one of the more unique cafes you can find in Seoul.
Taking the banana theme seriously, this Korean cafe incorporates the color yellow heavily into their décor and the banana flavor in most of their foods and beverages (of course, there are alternatives if banana isn’t your favorite flavor). With a quaint setting, quirky foods, and a distinct theme, there’s not much that can come to its level of uniqueness.
Most well-known about this Korean cafe is their potted pudding desserts. Taking their banana theme seriously, they serve their pudding in a “pot” with flowers—almost as if it were a banana tree just starting to grow. They incorporate edible decorations (minus the flowers themselves) to give the illusion that the pudding is dirt and have special spoons shaped like shovels.
If you want to visit this banana-themed Korean cafe, you can find it at three different locations: Sinsa (Garosu-gil), Hannam (Itaewon), and the Lotte Department Store Star City branch.
If you’re willing to step into a completely different world when visiting a Korean cafe, then you’ll absolutely love the cartoon-themed Greem Cafe.
Greem Cafe will transfer you to an entirely new world, placing you in what almost feels like a fairytale cartoon. The solid white and singular line drawn onto each piece of furniture gives the illusion of being part of something two-dimensional. The theme of the cafe was actually inspired by the Korean drama W.
We have all wished at one point to be able to visit cartoon-like, or fairytale-like, locations. When Greem Cafe first opened up, it gained tons of attention for the decorations and the perfect photoshoot aesthetic. It filled the want many of us have had for being part of our very own fairytale.
You can find this Korean cafe at 161-10 카페 1.5층Seongmisan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Entertainment / Nap Cafes
The last Korean cafe themes for our list seem quite opposite of one another, but they can actually go hand-in-hand!
Entertainment cafes—typically game cafes that range from VR games to board games—are prime spots to hang out with friends, enjoy some downtime, and keep relatively involved. On the other hand, nap cafes are the exact opposite. As the theme suggests, nap cafes are places where you can visit and take some time to rest—many offer thirty-minute to hour-long slots, comfortable spaces, and light snacks.
Gangnam Bad VR Cafe
The popularity of VR has increased in recent years, causing a rising of VR-themed cafes to pop up around South Korea. One of the most popular VR cafe brands you’ll find in Seoul is the Gangnam Bad VR Cafe.
Right when you walk through the door, Bad VR transports you to an LED-lit and expansive area full of various games. The walls are lined with large, curved screens and the environment is pretty fun. There are single-player games, but many games go up to four players.
To enter, there is an entrance fee. It’s about 15,000 KRW for one hour, but you can always pay for more. There’s also a cafe area for you to buy snacks and beverages and take a break from the games if needed.
This Korean cafe is located in Gangnam, the address is 182-227 Nonhyeon 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Shim Story (쉼스토리)
In the hustle and bustle of a busy day, sometimes all you want is to take a break (and a nap). In recent years, Korea has pushed for cafes that allow busy workers to take a short break throughout their day and recharge with naps. Shim Story is one of the popular nap cafes in Seoul.
With various selections, this Korean cafe offers anything from a pleasant place to sit and rest to a full bed to enjoy a nice nap. Between the various options offered at Shim Story, you can choose from massage chairs, individual rooms with bean bag chairs or beds, or more open cubbies with comfortable chairs and a table to relax with others. The rooms each seem to include a television, too.
The price range for Shim Story varies depending on the option you choose. You can also purchase various drinks and snacks for an additional price. However, it seems like there are some free options that you can choose from—there are most likely some stipulations as to when they’re free, but having a free menu is still pretty good.
This Korean cafe can be found at Yeoksam-ro, 3-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Which Korean cafe themes have you heard about?
With an unlimited number of cafes continuously opening and closing throughout South Korea, there are more themes than just these five. Some focus more on broader themes—like the Hanok cafes—but there are plenty more that carry a very specific theme—much like the Banana Tree Cafe.
If you’d like to find more places to visit in South Korea—and more specifically Seoul—you can check out our Travel Category. We’ve written about tons of different locations throughout Korea that are definitely worth checking out!