Is Cat Cat Village Worth it: What to do and see in Cat Cat Village in Sapa
To be fair, Cat Cat Village is not your average ethnic villages in Sapa, it is catered to tourists but that does not take away its charm and beauty. You will find local food, crafts and clothing as you walk down the stone path into the village and you will also be greeted by the beautiful natural scenery you came to Sapa for.
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What is Cat Cat Village?
Cat Cat Village is a Hmong village located about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from Sapa town. It was formed in the 19th century.
Historically, the Hmong people there were primarily engaged in agriculture, cultivating the terraced rice fields that cascade down the hillsides. The intricate network of rice terraces not only sustained the village with a vital food source but also contributed to the stunning landscape that defines the region.
Then in the early 20th century, the French came, found this picturesque land and made it a resort for the officials. Since there is a waterfall in Cat Cat village, and waterfall (Cascade in French) is pronounced as “Catscat”, this is how the name Cat Cat came about.
Now Cat Cat village is a popular tourist attraction due to its proximity to Sapa town, making it an easy half day trip when visiting Sapa. Many trekking tours also walk through Cat Cat Village as part of the trek.
How to Get to Cat Cat Village From Sapa?
It is super easy to get to Cat Cat Village from Sapa, since it’s only about 2 miles from each other. You can get to Cat Cat Village from Sapa by walking, riding a scooter, taking a Trekking tour or taking a taxi.
Walking to Cat Cat Village from Sapa
Cat Cat Village is an easy 30 minute down hill walk from Sapa town. You can put “Cat Cat Village” in Google Maps and follow the walking direction there (you basically just follow the road Fansipan all the way down.
Along the way you will get a nice view of the terraced rice fields on a clear day. We didn’t see anything because it was so foggy when we visited.
The road is mostly paved but there will be parts that can be a bit dirty and you have to share the road with scooters and cars. But otherwise it is a pretty easy walk down.
Riding a Scooter to Cat Cat Village from Sapa
You can’t ride a motorbike inside Cat Cat Village since it is pedestrian only so you will need to park your bike outside for a small fee.
Taking a taxi to Cat Cat Village from Sapa
If you want, you can get a taxi to travel between Sapa and Cat Cat Village. You can ask your hotel to book you a taxi to take you there and back.
However my advice is to walk down to Cat Cat Village since it is downhill and has nice views of the rice fields on a clear day then take a taxi back to Sapa town.
We found a few taxis waiting outside of the entrance to Cat Cat Village and they charged us 60,000 VND (~$2.5 USD). The guy literally had to call his friend and his friend the taxi driver drove over to Cat Cat Village to pick us up, so we had to wait another 20 minutes.
Taking a tour to Cat Cat Village from Sapa
Cat Cat Village cost
Being a popular tourist spot means Cat Cat Village is not free. There is a ticket booth on the outside of the Cat Cat Village entrance selling tickets. Cat Cat Village costs 150,000 VND (~$6.5 USD) per person. I believe the ticket prices have gone up because they used to be VND 70,000 a person! That is an over 100% increase…talking about inflation!
The location of the ticket booth is called Checking Station 1 in case you can’t find it. If you have a small child no taller than 1.3m in height, the ticket is half off at 70,000 VND.
The ticket booth also has a large map of Cat Cat Village, showing you the most important things to see in the village.
Cat Cat Village Opening Hours
Cat Cat Village is open from 6am to 9pm everyday. But it may have different hours on Vietnamese holidays so you should ask your hotel about that if you are planning to visit during Tet or other important Vietnamese holidays.
How Long do You Need at Cat Cat Village?
You need a minimum of 2 hours to 4 hours to explore Cat Cat Village.
If you just want to walk through the village and occasionally take some photos, then I think 2 hours is enough for Cat Cat Village.
But if you want to go into every Hmong home, check out all the stores, eat lunch at Cat Cat Village or if you are like me and take a million photos at every corner, then you probably need 4 hours to fully explore Cat Cat Village.
What is there to do at Cat Cat Village?
As you can imagine, there is quite a lot to do in Cat Cat Village and there are a lot of shops and a ton of photo spots!
Rent Traditional Clothing
Even before you enter Cat Cat Village, you will start to see a number of stores renting out traditional clothing. We weren’t planning on renting the costumes but we saw all the domestic Vietnamese tourists rent them. The shops also do your hair for you to match with the costumes.
If you do want to rent costumes then I highly recommend renting them outside since they are generally cheaper. Also we only saw one shop inside Cat Cat Village renting out costumes so we sort of regretted our decision to not rent outside.
Renting a costume inside Cat Cat Village meant we had to go back the way we came in (uphill to go back out) instead of making the recommended loop through the village.
Our costume rental cost 225,000 VND ($10 USD) a person, which I thought was rather expensive. I am pretty sure the rental places outside of Cat Cat Village were cheaper.
Check Out Hmong Houses and Shops as You Stroll Through Cat Cat Village
As soon as you enter Cat Cat Village from Checking Point 1, you will be going down the stone steps towards the actual village.
Along both sides of the steps are shops set up by the locals. These shops sell all sorts of things from coffee to local handicraft to clothings items to jewelry and other souvenirs.
We also saw a lot of shops selling dried buffalo meat, pork, and beef. These are special local foods in Sapa and very tasty. You will also see people selling bagged nuts and other food items like seasonings. You will even find ice cream bars from the different stalls in Cat Cat Village.
There are a number of Hmong houses that you can visit to learn more about the history behind the homes. The houses provide free tours! You can also visit shops that show you how to weave fabrics as you explore Cat Cat Village.
I read that there are still some Hmong families that still live in Cat Cat Village, but most people just come here to sell things from their shops and don’t actually live there anymore.
Take Photos at Various Photo Spots
There are numerous photo spots in Cat Cat Village. The first one is about 200-300 meters from the main entrance. You will see a platform with a few photo props, from swings to “nests” to flower arches where you can take photos with the beautiful mountain background for free.
There is also another paid photo spot around the same place that lets you climb higher up to take the photos for a fee.
As you explore Cat Cat Village more, you will come to more photo spots, one up the hill and another near the actual village center. Tons of Vietnamese tourists take photos and selfies at the one near the village center since it gives you a nice panoramic view of the village.
Cat Cat Village Rose Garden
After walking down the stone steps for about 300 meters, you will come to the first official “attraction” of Cat Cat Village, the Rose Garden.
The garden is small and free to visit. You can walk under the bamboo arches and go around the small garden. I can imagine it should be very pretty during the blooming season. When we went in March we didn’t see any flowers unfortunately.
Explore the Small Bamboo Forest
Did you know there is a bamboo forest in Cat Cat Village? Well I didn’t and we happened to stumble upon it when we were going towards the Village.
Since there are two ways you can go down to Cat Cat Village, you may very well miss this small bamboo forest. And when I say small, it is quite small, but there weren’t many people here so we took our time enjoying the bamboo forest before going back to crowds of tourists.
Watch a Performance
As you approach the main village center and walk towards the waterfall, you may end up seeing a free traditional performance.
At the ticket office they have a performance schedule informing you what time the performances are. You can always ask them if you don’t understand the sign.
When we visited we saw a man playing a flute near the waterfall, attracting tons of visitors to watch.
Admire the Cat Cat Waterfall
Cat Cat Waterfall is the main attraction of Cat Cat Village. Situated not too far from the village center, this waterfall gets its water from the Hoang Lien Son mountain range.
There is a large viewing area with a fence right in front of the waterfall and domestic Vietnamese tourists that come in groups LOVE taking photos here and can be very aggressive (several people tried to push us out of the way or told us to move yet they took photos for 10 minutes for their groups).
I read somewhere that people can dip their feet in the waterfall but I personally did not see anyone doing that in March since the area is fenced off. I don’t think it’s worth getting into the water at the waterfall anyway.
Explore the Village Center
The Village Center has a ton of things you can do, from sipping on coffee from a coffee shop to riding a pony (for photos) to crossing the various bridges to examining the waterwheels.
If you are into photos then you would love the Cat Cat Village center, since there are so many photo opportunities.
You can continue to explore the village and eventually loop back to Check Point 2 to leave the village. Generally people don’t go back the same way they came since it would be all uphill. But since we rented the costumes inside Cat Cat Village we had to go back the same way to return the costumes.
What to Eat at Cat Cat Village?
There are a number of restaurants inside Cat Cat Village, especially at the village center.
We didn’t eat inside Cat Cat Village but a couple of well reviewed restaurants include Mountain Flower Restaurant & Coffee (Nhà hàng Hoa Của Núi) and Dung Thu Restaurant. Both restaurants give you a view of Cat Cat Village.
There are more cafes outside of the Village along Fansipan road, such as Art house Sapa (where they do photography for you), Quán Gió SAPA which serves drinks and also costume renting, and Giot Coffee & Tea. All of these restaurants and cafes have a nice view of the surrounding area on a clear day.
Best Time to Visit Cat Cat Village in Sapa
The best time to visit Cat Cat Village (and Sapa) is during the month of September in the harvesting season. This is when the rice fields will turn into a golden color that you always see on postcards.
Other good times to visit are during the late spring and summer time when you have better visibility. I know many people say don’t visit Sapa in the summer but our Hmong trekking guide said summer is actually a good time to visit because the rice fields will be green.
I would say the WORST time to visit Cat Cat Village and Sapa is during the winter months between November to March. Even our guide said that summer months are better than winter because you don’t get fog in the summer even if it rains a lot.
Don’t rely on Apple weather for your forecast either. Right before we visited the forecast said Sapa was sunny but it really wasn’t, it was cloudy and foggy. When I visited in March I could barely see anything, so really, do yourself a favor and avoid visiting Sapa in the winter.
What to Bring to Cat Cat Village?
Depending on the season you are visiting Cat Cat Village, you would be packing different things. But in general, I would recommend bringing the following items with you to Cat Cat Village:
- Cash: They don’t take credit cards in Cat Cat Village. Bring cash to pay for your entrance fee and any other souvenirs or food. If you plan on getting a taxi back you will need cash too
- Raincoat or Umbrella: The weather can change quite drastically in the mountains so you should always expect rain. A lightweight raincoat or small umbrella will help save your trip!
- Water and snacks: Unless you are planning to buy things, I suggest you bring your own water and snacks with you in a small backpack.
Is Cat Cat Village Touristy?
Yes! Cat Cat Village is super touristy as expected. I saw buses and buses of domestic Vietnamese tourists visiting when we were there. There were also tourists from Korea and other parts of Asia.
Is Cat Cat Village Worth it?
Although Cat Cat Village is touristy, I actually found it super fun to visit.
You should not visit Cat Cat Village if you are the type that only wants the “real” and “raw” villages to visit where there are animals roaming around and little kids selling souvenirs on the dirt road. And no, Cat Cat Village is not that.
You would like Cat Cat Village if you want good photo opportunities, learn a thing or two about Hmong culture and see traditional houses or if you don’t mind a village that’s set up as a tourist attraction.
I am the latter so I really enjoyed visiting Cat Cat Village. I loved the bamboo grove, the waterfalls and being dressed up to explore and take photos. But I can see that Cat Cat Village is not for everyone.
Ultimately it depends on what you like. If you prefer a more “authentic” experience then trekking in Sapa may be a better fit for you.
Other Things to Do in Sapa
- Explore Sapa Town: relax at an infinity pool in your Sapa hotel or walk around the town to see Sapa lake and get some local hot pot.
Best Hotels in Sapa
But there are so many hotels in Sapa, it’s not hard to find one that’s centrally located and doesn’t break the bank.
Check Out My Other Vietnam Articles
If you are still planning your Vietnam trip, be sure to check out my other blogs on Vietnam to get an idea on what to do and where to go in Vietnam:
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