A longtime lover of all things animals, I swooned at the concept of a husky cafe. I remember the first time I went to an animal cafe – the concept had just started gaining popularity worldwide. I had been doing tons of research on Tokyo before moving there for my study abroad term. Excitedly, I wrote a never-ending list of unique to-dos in Japan. This list, of course, included visiting many types of animal cafes. Many cats, dogs, and hedgehogs later, it became somewhat of a therapeutic activity for me to visit one of these cafes.
Fast forward to my recent trip to Thailand, I had a couple of extra days to wander around Bangkok, a vibrant city which I adore, when a local introduced me to TrueLove at Neverland. No, really, that’s the name. Fitting, right? And as per tradition, I decided to give this place a visit.
Reaching True Love at Neverland Husky cafe
The easiest way to reach this little slice of heaven is to take the train and get off at Ari Station. The actual cafe is tucked away in a residential part of Bangkok, so my group and I shared a taxi. In addition, there are plenty of tuk-tuks to take as an alternative. When we arrived, the lady at the desk informed us of the entry time, accepted our payment, then had us fill out a small form while we waited. It’s best to arrive a little early because there’s a big chance of them selling out (as our session was) and they don’t accept any reservations.
- 500 BAHT ($16 USD) per person
- 2 one-hour session per day: 12:30-2pm, 3:30-5pm
- Address: 153 Soi Ari Samphan 2, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok, Thailand 10400
Pre-Playtime at the Husky Cafe
Once our session begins, we’re led inside to our table, where we then order our drink and ice cream cake flavor of choice once it’s our table’s turn to go. The drink and ice cream cake are all included with the 500 Baht fee; ice cream cake and huskies, I mean, what more could you ask for?
While we enjoyed our cake and chatted amongst ourselves, they got our attention by playing a video on each TV outlining some rules and introducing us to the dogs and the entire process. We learned that a woman actually owns and cares for all the dogs (aka her children) and the fee goes to the food and care for each of them. We were of course allowed to pet the dogs and take pictures, however, we were asked to not allow the dogs to lick us or expect them to obey our commands. After the video finished, we were asked to remove our shoes and place plastic covers over our feet before playtime. We then lined up for the sinks to wash our hands before entering husky heaven!
Playtime with Puppies!
Employees were around during playtime to keep an eye on the dogs, feed them, and assist anyone wanting photos. The main attraction was definitely the opportunity to take pictures with huskies on top of our shoulders. A few employees were there to lead the pups and take the picture for us. The huskies were so impressive, calm, and well-behaved! Many would continue to wander around. Others would lie in one spot and have people flock to them to take their photos. All in all, there were big smiles all around (from humans and dogs alike)!
Bangkok’s Husky Cafe Vs. Other Animal Cafes
The entire concept behind animal cafes – essentially having animals put on “display” – begs the question of the ethics behind all of this. Comparing my personal experience at other animal cafes with the TrueLove husky cafe, there’s a clear distinction. At other cafes I’ve seen, the animals are in one room from open to close waiting for visitors. Their environment was clean, they were being fed, and they were free to do as they please. However, some could still argue against these cafes.
At TrueLove husky cafe, the owner and her employees take care of her dogs with the utmost care and respect. I admire the fact that there are only two one hour play time sessions per day, as I can understand that being constantly swarmed by crowds of people can be overwhelming or exhausting for animals (and all employees who take care of them)! This gives animals the freedom they need instead of having to cater to visitors all day.
In conclusion, the most important thing is that all the animals are happy, healthy, and comfortable with their surroundings. If you understandably feel hesitant about investing your time in animal cafes, it’s a good idea to do more research into the animal care for that specific place – or read up on PETA’s stance if you need a second opinion.
Ethics of Animal Tourism?
I think only in recent years, more people have become aware of the ethics of certain tourist activities. The most well known controversy is elephant riding or visiting tigers in captivity. Thailand is a hotspot for activities like this, and tourists come from all over the world to experience them. Behind the ‘exotic’ adventure is a number of elephants being taken away from their mothers and beaten in order to ‘train’ them for elephant riding. If you admire animals and would enjoy these environments, consider visiting ride-free elephant sanctuaries in Thailand instead.
While animal cafes aren’t anywhere near the same sphere as elephant riding, I think it’s a good starting point to open the discussion and questioning of ethical ramifications behind certain seemingly innocent tourist traditions. Traveling should be enjoyed and appreciated by all parties, but it’s crucial to take these facts into consideration when participating in activities all over the world. While not everything is black or white, we should go into these activities with an open mind and really consider if anything is being harmed in the name of tourism. After all, the old saying goes: we should leave something better than we found it.
What’s your position on animal cafes? Do you enjoy animal-related activities when you’re traveling?