All you need to know to travel Cat Cat Village (Sapa)
Cat Cat Village Travel Guide 2019-2020: What to do, When to visit and more….
As one of the most attractive scenics in Sapa, the premier trekking base of Vietnam, Cat Cat is a lovely village with peaceful views and distinctive customs and practices of the H’Mong ethnic tribe. Surrounded by rice terraces and rolling green hills, Cat Cat village is considered a great place for trekking and sightseeing, also to experience the way of life in the mountainous area. Along the way getting to Cat Cat village, tourists may also witness the picturesque scenes of Sapa, including mighty mountains, immense forests, amazing terraced fields, beautiful valleys, and dazzling waterfalls. Spend a day in Cat Cat village, you will never regret your choice. But before packing up, let’s read our complete guide on how to traveling Cat Cat village for your best experience.
Cat Cat Village is nestled at the bottom of Muong Hoa Valley, about three kilometers from Sapa town. At a normal pace trekking, it takes you only 30 minutes on the trail.
Fun fact: Why is it called Cat Cat Village?
In the early twentieth century, the French have discovered and made this land become a resort for officials. And the beautiful waterfall at the entrance, which is pronounced “Catscat“ in French, became the name of the village afterward (Vietnamese call it Cat Cat). This waterfall is originated from the Fansipan mountain, through the forest, delivering water directly to the rice paddy terrace fields, becoming the water source of the village.
Since Cat Cat village is literally tiny and approachable from Sapa town, you can easily spare a day from your Sapa tour to discover the best of Cat Cat village. Be free to take our advice on the best things to do while traveling Cat Cat village in this 1-day itinerary.
Sapa has always been famous for its breathtaking scenery and tranquil air. Enjoying the Sapa view when trekking to Cat Cat village in the morning is indeed your first reward. Following the main road from Sapa to meet the trail to the bottom of Muong Hoa valley, where Cat Cat village sits, you will see the Fansipan mountain, the highest peak of all Indochina around; although from far, but the look is extremely impressive. Keep moving forward, you will also be treated to splendid lush green vistas of flower gardens and rice terraces, then thrillingly experience walking over a narrow suspension bamboo bridge above the river before entering this small village.
However, be noted that Cat Cat Village is not free to enter. You will come across a ticket center for Cat Cat Village, and this will only cost you VND50,000 ($2). The money goes towards local families who have opened their homes so you can explore and get to know their culture. After paying, you will be given a map of Cat Cat Village to help you navigate your way around.
Exploring Cat Cat Village during the day
1. Enjoy Cat Cat waterfall: As the first seen when you walk in, Cat Cat waterfall pleases you immediately. You can’t really miss it as you can hear it from quite a distance away. This large and powerful fall sends a fine cooling mist throughout the village, making the air more fresh and chill. You can stop by, cool off your feet and enjoy a perfect selfie.
2. Admire giant water wheels: As continue walking along the river, you may see giant bamboo wheels powered by fast-flowing waters that built and used by locals for pounding rice. These amazing things can ‘wow’ you for a while and are proven facts for how clever and resourceful the villagers are.
3. Visit the H’ mong house: The original architect of H’Mong people is interesting as well. Their houses are wooden-made and often called “House Presentation” with three rooms and three doors separately. But the main door is always closed and only opened for big events like weddings, funerals, and Tet holidays … They sit alone and barriers with each other by a front terrace field and rear bamboo fence. Besides, it is not unusual if you see a family with more than 10 members living together.
4. Learn the H’ mong culture and practices: Travelling Cat Cat village, you will be delighted witnessing the daily activities of the locals while they are weaving, carving, making farm tools and crafts. A typical scene is a woman sitting and weaving in front of a loom making eye-catching brocades with beautiful patterns of flowers, leaves, animals … They are famous for the indigo dyeing technique and very good at manipulating sophisticated gold and silver jewelry as well.
As staying late in the evening, you may join a community dinner and learn how to dance with local people at the Cultural Center. They are not only the master in traditional musical instruments playing but also the graceful dancers.
And if you are lucky enough, you may see the “Pulling wife” event, which is a unique and long preserved customs of H’ mong, when some girl being pulled by some men without resistance and interference. Don’t freak out, it is just a future groom and his friends trying to pull the girl home. Traditionally, the girl will be kept in his house for 3 days for a trial, afterward, she can decide to marry the man or go home in peace.
(If you travel to Cat Cat village in the early days of the year, you may join Gau Tao festival, the largest festival in the year which is the epitome of spiritual life of H’Mong people. The meaning of this festival is a blessing for people.)
5. Taste the H’ mong wine: Corn wine, which is often referred to as “happy water” is very popular in Cat Cat village. To make wine, corn is boiled in hot water for a long time until the kernels break off the cob. After cooling the broken kernels, they are then mixed with the yeast of ‘Hong my’ trees. This fermentation process can last up to six days. The wine is usually poured into recycled water bottles and sold in markets for cheap prices.
6. Experience the H’ mong foods: Cat Cat has a lot of dishes processed very uniquely to satisfy tourists, such as smoked meat, chicken soup, clone bamboo shoots, corn tortillas … All of them are mouthwatering and healthy.
7. Shop at Cat Cat market: Shops dot both sides of the village main road. These shops sell a range of items, from packaged and fresh food to handicrafts and clothes at fair prices. Enjoy your shopping and bring home some souvenirs to remind you about the fantastic trip to Cat Cat village someday.
Spend a night for homestay:
If you wish to fully experience Cat Cat village, opt-in for a homestay. The H’ mong’s door is opened wide for tourists. Stay there for a night, hang around with locals until late (some of them can communicate in English very well), then return to Sapa town in the next morning. You would have 24 hours to be local.
September-November / March-May: stable weather, dry sunny days, cold nights. Suitable for picnics and homestay.
April-May: is the time of transplanting rice on terraced fields, and also the flowering season. If you want to have great photos, travel to Cat Cat village at this time.
September-October: is the rice crop season with golden scenery across the hills. With fresh and pleasant air, you can make long-distance trips.
December-February: it is very cold, ice can be found and sometimes it snows. This is also the bloom season of peach blossoms. However, traveling through the villages may be more or less difficult.
Note: Although the weather is not a big obstacle for you, due to the characteristics of the rugged terrain and different natural conditions, you should consult with the advice of professional travel companies.
IV. How to get to Cat Cat Village (from Sapa)
Preferably, by trekking, as you may have experienced in the 1-day itinerary above.
Alternatively, you can hail a taxi traveling from Sapa town to Cat Cat village at VND100,000 (~$5).
Or rent a motorbike, which costs around VND 20,000 (~$1), and ride it your own to Cat Cat village. The road itself is not difficult – but beware of slipperiness during rainy days.
Reference: How to get to Sapa from Hanoi
Being more than 300km far away from Hanoi, Sapa can be reached by the following vehicles:
Train: With about 8 hours of traveling, the train is the most taken way many people choose to get to Sapa because it is safe and affordable. Fares range from $ 6- $ 12, depending on the facilities you prefer. However, the downside of taking the train is that it will not go straight to Sapa town but just stop at Lao Cai Station, which is 40km away from Sapa. You will need another forward bus.
Bus: With the same travel time, at a cost of about $12, you will go straight to Sapa town without the need for intermediaries (but in the rainy season can be hindered by many folding passes. rapid from Lao Cai to Sapa).
In addition, you can rent a motorbike to drive yourself from Hanoi to Sapa. Although renting a motorbike is not a big deal, but we do not encourage you to do this, especially when you first come to Vietnam. Ensure your safety first.