Sapa

Cat Cat Village: A Taste of Love and Life Outside of Sapa City

Cat Cat Village (Vietnamese spelling: Bản Cát Cát) is situated at the foot of the Sapa Plateau. It’s at the base of the Muong Hoa Valley (thung lũng Mường Hoa) about two kilometers or so from Sapa town. It was formed in the 19th century by the Black Hmong people who had long resided in the Sapa area.

The famous Cat Cat waterfall became a power station when the French started colonizing Sapa. Today, its rustic charm and beautiful scenery attract many day-trippers, hikers, and sightseers from Sapa town.

Why is Cat Cat Village So Popular? 

Walking in Cat Cat
Scenic Walking in Cat Cat
[ by Chapi Dreamy Home from Facebook ]

Cat Cat Village is probably one of the most visited locations near Sapa for a number of reasons: 

  • It’s the closest village to Sapa only 2.3 km away. 
  • Great mountain and valley views on the way down. 
  • Many tour operators go there. 
  • Ample picturesque photo opportunities. 
  • Craft and souvenir shopping.

The scenery on the way down to Cat Cat is quite fantastic and a great way to get your first taste of the magnificence of the surrounding mountains, Mount Fansipan, and the Muong Hoa Valley. 

It’s an easy walk along a mostly concrete roadway. Sometimes there’s hardly room for one car and it can get bustling depending on the time of day and the season. 

The village itself is somewhat touristy, and some people may find it not so ‘authentic’. There are some really nice spots though— especially the waterfall area, the bridges, and along some of the stone pathways. The walk around and through the village can be slippery with a lot of stairs to climb. 

If you enjoy souvenir shopping, there’s plenty of that in Cat Cat, especially as you enter the village. It’s a more scenic place to shop than a typical indoor market. You can also watch villagers working on their crafts. Sometimes you may get hassled by hawkers, but not so much if you arrive early. 

Is Cat Cat Village Worth Visiting? 

Cat Cat Water Wheels
Cat Cat Water Wheels
[ image by mmmmngai@rogers.com from Flickr ]

It really depends. If you leave relatively early in the morning to avoid the traffic and to catch the fresh fantastic views, it’s really worth it. You can also get a bike or taxi back and avoid the uphill struggle.  

The walk there is really what makes it worthwhile, so if you just want to taxi on down, it may not really meet expectations. Also, if you rent your own motorbike, you can stop off wherever you want to enjoy the scenery or a coffee shop along the way. 

Cat Cat is also a good choice if you’re still groggy from the long bus haul or train trip to Sapa. The walk is a nice way to reinvigorate. If you don’t have a lot of time, and want to get the most out of hiking and exploring Sapa, you may want to skip Cat Cat Village. 

How to Get to Cat Cat Village

  • Entrance adults: 90 000 VND.
  • Entrance children: 50 000 VND.
  • Motorbike Parking: 10 000 VND.
  • Map included with ticket upon request.

You can walk, take a cab, or go by motorbike taxi or rental if you’re following your own itinerary. The signposting is clear enough from Sapa town. You follow Fansipan Road all the way down until you come to the intersection with the lower Violet Road, and the way to Cat Cat Village continues from there. 

A taxi there cost between 90 000 and 150 000 VND one way. Motorbike taxis are a lot cheaper at around 50 000 VND or less. Many tours include a stop-off at Cat Cat Village, especially the waterfall, so you may want to keep that in mind. 

Key Points of Interest in Cat Cat Village 

Cat Cat Waterfall
Cat Cat Waterfall
[ by mmmmngai@rogers.com from Flickr ]

It may only take about an hour or so to wander around the village. Many of the friendly locals speak some English, so feel free to chat with them along the way or in shops.

See all locations mentioned

Traditional Clothing Rental 

Just as you enter through the village arch entrance, you’ll find a number of shops that rent out traditional colorful ethnic clothing. It’s a more popular activity for women than men, and Cat Cat is a popular photoshoot location for younger people. Rental for a set can be around 50 000 VND to 100 000 VND. Always check the clothes first to confirm if there are any tears or damage before heading out. 

Exhibition Houses 

Along the way will see various ‘open houses’ which are free for you to enter and look around. People don’t really live in these houses, but they are interesting nonetheless as a kind of museum or insight into how locals live or have lived in the area. Some of the houses are the Traditional Hmong House, Weaving House, Clay Brick House, and Shaman House. 

Water Wheels and Cat Cat Riverside

There are a number of water wheels around. The larger ones are found near the bottom of the Cat Cat Village loop. Apart from being very picturesque, these bamboo wheels were traditionally used to power rice grinders and pounders.

The Cat Cat Riverside Restaurant nearby is a nice place for a break, and they often get good reviews for their food. It’s right near the hand bridge with a view of the Ta Sien Waterfall. 

Cat Cat Waterfall 

This is the key attraction and in the busy season, near to noon, or in the afternoon it can get quite crowded. There’s a parking nearby where a lot of tourist coaches and buses stop. The waterfall viewing area is quite nice with benches where you can sit for a while. 

People like to pose here in traditional costumes they’ve rented, or sometimes there may be some music and performances by ethnic peoples. There’s actually a small play theater next to the waterfall. Things are on hiatus during the pandemic, but there used to be a small show every hour on the hour. 

Happy Water 

Happy water is a local brew fermented out of corn with the help of a local tree yeast. The corn is literally boiled off the cob before it is cooled and fermented. It’s probably not a good idea to drink too much of the stuff if you still have a lot of steep steps to negotiate. 

Souvenir Shopping 

Cat Cat Village is quite commercialized and touristy so there’s plenty of shopping and browsing you can do. It’s also well known for its indigo dyeing techniques. Most cloth colors are naturally derived from stuff like yellow turmeric root, black from local tree leaves, or red and brown from tree rinds. 

There are a lot of nice things you can buy. If you bargain well, prices can be better than Sapa and much cheaper than Hanoi. Fabrics include hemp, cotton, as well as silk. You can find things like shirts, jackets, batik clothes, bags, purses, blankets, and more. There are also a number of talented silver and jewelry makers around. 

Before the Sapa turnoff to Cat Cat village, and just up the road from Good Morning Vietnam cafe, you’ll find Indigo Cat where you can buy higher quality fabrics and souvenirs with no bargaining. 

Restaurants and Coffee Shops around Cat Cat Village 

Coffee With a View at Cat Cat Village
Enjoy Your Coffee With a View
[ by Coong Coffee & Homestay from FaceBook ]

In Cat Cat Village, and on your way down from Sapa, there are plenty of places to eat and drink from casual coffee shops, roadside food stalls, to restaurants, and cafes with fantastic views: 

Good Morning Vietnam – Technically still in Sapa on Fansipan road about 300 meters before the intersection to Cat Cat Village. Good food, service, and a nice place for breakfast. 

Coong Coffee & Stay – A nice terraced location not far after the turn off at the Cat Cat intersection. You can sit on the terrace or inside the glass house. Nice atmosphere and views of the valley. 

Cat Cat Amazing View Restaurant – A little after you’ve passed by the ticket booth and head down the road to the village. Excellent views of Cat Cat Village down below. 

Cat Cat Riverside Restaurant – Near to the big water wheels. They make good food and their chicken dishes are the most appreciated. 

Tiny Bar – A nice secluded and quiet spot just a short walk up from the Cat Cat Bridge. They have food like fried noodles, but their banana pancakes are the best. 

Homestays Around Cat Cat Village 

Cozy Homestaying in Cat Cat
Cozy Homestaying in Cat Cat
[ by Chiende Homestay from Facebook ]

If you want to be away from the busy throng of Sapa town, but also near its conveniences, there are quite a few hotels and homestays along the way to Cat Cat Village, and a few in and around the village. 

Cat Cat Garden House – Halfway along the road leading to Cat Cat village entrance. This guest house has four rooms each with a private bathroom. Scenic views, friendly family, and there’s a small swimming pool for the summer. 

Art House – Situated on the main street that leads down to Cat Cat Village. More like a guest house with four rooms. Very hospitable and a more busy and convenient location with lots of shops nearby. 

Hamlet Black Hmong – A relatively new homestay at the bottom of the village, not far from Tiny Bar. They have a double room and a dormitory. There’s also a playground and a garden. 

ChienDe Homestay – A well-reviewed and friendly homestay on the west side of the village. Clean, simple rooms, with a beautiful home terrace. A peaceful location and easy to visit Cat Cat sites at opportune times. 

Chapi Dreamy House Homestay –  Hilltop view on the west top side of the village. Excellent hosts and they will take care of any tour or transport arrangements. They also make very good vegetarian food.  

See more choices for homestays around Sapa. 

Get More out of Cat Cat and Hike Further to Sin Chai Village 

If you want to get more out of your day hiking close to Sapa city, it’s not so difficult to carry on your journey to Sin Chai Village. It’s about 2 km from Cat Cat. You can get into a quieter vibe and experience more of the picturesque Muong Hoa Valley. Sin Chai is where the original Hmong settlers of the Sapa plateau were forcibly relocated when the French started to develop Sapa town for their own.   

More about places and things to do in Sapa.

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