It has become common knowledge now that visiting a fish spa in Korea has become a must-do in Seoul. Although it was on the top of my list of things to do when I arrived, it somehow got pushed aside for other adventures. But I finally got around to presenting my feet as dinner to a school of Garra Ruffa.
Garra Rufa are a strange little species of fish that feed only on dead skin, so they have been used in many countries (such as Turkey) to exfoliate, and have been especially beneficial for people who suffer from psoriasis. The experience of little fish nibbling away at your feet proved to be quite popular, and so fish spas have been popping up around the world.
Unfortunately you won’t find a fish spa most places in North America; health regulations have prohibited their usage–regulations that I find overly protective and likely unnecessary. Foot washing beforehand is required and a sanitizing spray is used afterward (along with some soothing foot cream).
The sensation of having a few dozen tiny fish eating dead skin off your feet was strangely pleasant. Like tiny vibrations all over your feet. But even stranger still (and my personal favourite) is the feeling of a few dozen large fish eating dead skin off your feet. It’s like dozens of cat-tongues licking you simultaneously.
The location that I found nearest my home was along the Gangnamdaero, one of Seoul’s hip-and-trendy mega-hubs in Southern Seoul. If you’re in the neighbourhood, find the Park Jun spa near Krispy Kreme and the cafe is on the second floor of the same building. The cafe is called Namugonul, but their signage is only in Hangul. For 8,000won (about $7) you can get one of the best specialty coffees in Seoul, enjoy unlimited snacks (breads, toasts and anju), unlimited house blend refills, wifi access, and time soaking your feet with the ever-hungry fish.