Cat Cat Village Sapa: A Unique Cultural Portrait in the Northwest

Cat Cat Village has long been renowned in the hearts of visitors to Sapa for its rustic charm, brought to life with the culture and traditional costumes of the H’mông people. In this article, let’s join Jackfruit Adventure to explore everything about Cat Cat Village!

1. Where is Cat Cat Village?

  • Address: San Sa Ho Commune, Sapa District, Lao Cai Province
Source: Pinterest

Peacefully nestled at the foot of the majestic Hoang Lien Son Mountain range, Cat Cat Village is located just about 3 kilometers from the center of Sapa town. This idyllic village is embraced by nature, surrounded by towering mountains on three sides, creating a stunning and serene landscape.

With its simple, rustic wooden houses and picturesque, poetic mountain scenery, the small H’mông village stands modestly amidst the pristine wilderness. It has truly become an ideal stop for those visiting Sapa town. If you seek fresh air and a sense of inner peace after the hustle and bustle of daily life, Cat Cat Village is the perfect choice.

2. Guide to Transportation and Sightseeing in Cat Cat Village

Source: Pinterest

2.1. How to get Cat Cat Village

Renting a Motorbike

This is the perfect option for young travelers who want to be in control of their time and freely explore the beautiful paths leading to the picturesque Cat Cat Village. With a relatively affordable cost ranging from 80,000 VND to 150,000 VND, you can have a motorbike to enjoy and experience a full day in the vast Northwestern mountains.

Although the mountain roads in the Northwest are considered relatively difficult to navigate, the route to Cat Cat Village is actually quite easy, with few rocks or rough patches compared to other roads leading to different villages in Sapa. With a short distance of just over 3 kilometers, skilled riders will find it easy to conquer the breathtakingly beautiful path.

Hiring a Motorbike Taxi 

If this is your first time visiting Cat Cat Village, you might want to take a motorbike taxi. Motorbike taxi drivers usually wait around the area near the stone church gate and Sapa bus station. For just 40,000 VND for a one-way trip and 70,000 VND for a round trip, you can reach Cat Cat Village without worrying about getting lost or struggling with the challenging mountain roads.

Trekking

Trekking (hiking) is a well-known form of travel and is a great suggestion for young people with a passion for adventure and a desire to combine travel with fitness.

If you want to save on travel costs and enjoy a relaxing time, you can choose to trek to Cat Cat Village. This allows you to walk, breathe in the fresh air of the pristine mountains, enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way, and fully admire the view of Cat Cat Village from above with its wooden houses connected to each other and the white waterfall, while also improving your health.

Renting a Bicycle

Slowly cycling and enjoying the fresh air amidst the vast Northwestern mountains—what could be more wonderful?

The short distance from the center of Sapa town to Cat Cat Village, along with the easy route, makes bicycles a popular option among young travelers. Most guesthouses and hotels here offer bicycle rental services, with prices ranging from about 120,000 VND to 150,000 VND. If you love exploring mountain roads and have a passion for sports, renting a bicycle is the perfect suggestion for fully discovering the stunning scenery of Cat Cat Village at the foot of the majestic Hoàng Liên Sơn range.

2.2. Ticket Prices

To explore and experience the unique local cultural activities in Cat Cat Village, Sapa, visitors need to purchase tickets at the entrance gate. The ticket prices, which have been recently updated, vary according to the age of the tourists:

  • Adults (over 1.4 meters tall): 90,000 VND per person (approximately $4 USD)
  • Children (1 meter to under 1.4 meters tall): 50,000 VND per person (approximately $2.17 USD)
  • Children under 1 meter tall: Free of charge

Visitors should note that these ticket prices only cover entrance fees and do not include additional expenses such as hiring a tour guide, renting transportation, or purchasing handicrafts like bags and earrings.

2.3. Opening Hours

In addition to transportation methods and ticket prices, many tourists are also concerned about the operating hours of Cat Cat Village. In fact, this tourist area opens from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM, but it is advisable to return before dark to avoid dangers and coldness due to the night mist. Additionally, you can rent homestays or hotels in the village if you wish to stay overnight.

2.4. What to Wear When Visiting Cat Cat Village?

When visiting Cat Cat Village, Sapa, you can wear any comfortable clothing suitable for the local weather conditions. However, there is one thing to note: you will have to walk a considerable distance from the ticket booth to the village. Therefore, it is best to choose comfortable clothes and shoes that allow easy movement.

Additionally, hats or caps, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential items to protect your skin from the sun’s rays during your journey and sightseeing. You should also pay attention to the weather forecast for the day and bring a windbreaker or raincoat if necessary.

Furthermore, if you want to immerse yourself in the role of authentic H’Mong boys or girls, you can rent costumes right at the entrance gate of the village for about 100,000 VND to 150,000 VND per set (approximately $4.35 USD to $6.52 USD).

3. The Best Time to Visit Cat Cat Village

Cat Cat Village, located in the high mountainous region of Northwestern Vietnam, enjoys cool weather year-round. Each season brings its own unique beauty and distinctive features. In spring, the village is adorned with the pink hues of peach blossoms and the white blooms of plum flowers. Summer sees vibrant yellow mustard flowers in full bloom. Autumn is characterized by the golden fields of ripened rice, and winter blankets the landscape in a pristine layer of snow, reminiscent of scenes from a movie.

For those who have never seen snow, consider visiting Sapa in December. This is when you can witness the cherry blossoms blooming amidst the snowy landscape and immerse yourself in the local highland festivals.

4. What To Do in Cat Cat Village?

Exploring Sa Pa’s Cat Cat Village without knowing what it offers? Here are some unique spots you shouldn’t miss out on, where you can enjoy your leisure time with family and friends:

Source: Pinterest

4.1. Stone-paved staircase leading to the village

On beautiful sunny days, trekking enthusiasts can start their journey on the stone-paved staircase leading to Cat Cat Village. Along the way, you can admire the wooden stilt houses displaying various souvenirs such as traditional cloth, silver jewelry, bamboo baskets, and more. As you descend towards the village center, you’ll be welcomed by the strong flow of streams like the Gold, Silver, and Fairy streams crashing against the rocks and creating foamy white bubbles.

4.2. Terraced fields along the hillsides of Cat Cat Village

Although not as vast as the Muong Hoa Valley, Cat Cat Village still boasts terraced fields winding like waves along the hillsides. Each time of the year brings its own beauty to the village. It could be the mirror-like water surface during the flooding season (May – June), the lush green rice fields amidst the growing season (July – August), or the fragrant golden-yellow ripe rice fields (September – October). Sprinkled among the fields are simple wooden houses—the homes of the Cat Cat Villagers or used for storing rice and farming tools.

4.3. The center of Cat Cat Village

Farewell to the sparse houses on the terraced fields, you’ll reach the center of Cat Cat Village—a gathering place of wooden houses built closely together with a simple architectural style of three bays, three cross beams, and thatched roofs. In the middle of the village is a rushing stream, three giant water mills, and rustic bamboo bridges. Here, you can take photos against the romantic landscape, enjoy local specialties, and participate in various folk games like bamboo dancing, sack throwing, and pole pushing.

4.4. Tiên Sa Waterfall

Located at the end of Cat Cat Village, Tiên Sa Waterfall resembles a maiden of the ancient forest letting her shimmering silver hair cascade down the majestic cliffs. Legend has it that celestial maidens often visited this waterfall to bathe and play in the clear water. Nowadays, when visiting the waterfall during festivals, tourists can admire the image of H’Mong girls in gorgeous dresses dancing and singing together. The sound of the waterfall harmonizes with the clear flute melodies, composing a melodious love song amidst the Northwest mountains.

4.5. Si Bridge

In the center of Cat Cat Village, many small bridges have been built to connect both sides of the stream. Among them, Si Bridge stands out for its poetic and romantic atmosphere. This suspension bridge across the Fairy Stream is dreamy, built with thin wooden planks, sturdy rope cables, and adorned with lovely forest flower baskets and simple lanterns. On Si Bridge swaying in the wind, you’ll feel each step swaying and capture photos for a memorable check-in moment.

4.6. Cat Cat suspension bridge

Cat Cat Suspension Bridge is located on the way to the village from ticket gate 2. Unlike grandiose bridges in the lowlands, this bridge appeals to the adventurous souls with its rustic charm. The small suspension bridge is made of fragile wooden planks, with rusted cable ropes on either side. With each slow step, you’ll feel like floating in mid-air. To ensure safety, strict limits on the number of people allowed on the bridge at a time are enforced (maximum of 8 people).

4.7. Cat Cat Village cultural center

Cat Cat Village Cultural Center is built based on the old cultural house, with its walls painted in a bright yellow color, catching the eyes of passersby. Bold red letters “Cat Cat Village Cultural Center, Hoang Lien Commune” stand out against the classic font, reminiscent of Dalat’s Windmill Bakery. Additionally, this attraction is decorated with colorful incense sticks, cherry blossoms, and plum blossoms, creating an interesting check-in corner in the Northwest village.

4.8. Cat Cat theater

Cat Cat Theater, located opposite the Tiên Sa Waterfall, is where the local indigenous people perform various artistic acts with no fixed schedule. The theater’s seating capacity is not large, approximately 80 seats, but it creates a cozy cultural exchange space among ethnic groups.

Artists in meticulously crafted traditional costumes skillfully recreate the customs and practices of the highlands through activities such as farming, cloth weaving, and weddings. Traditional musical instruments such as H’Mong flutes, leaf flutes, jaw harps, bamboo flutes, and graceful dances contribute to a comprehensive performance that appeals to both the eyes and ears.

5. Exciting Experiences When Visiting Cat Cat Village

Besides its rich sightseeing spots, Cat Cat Village offers many exciting experiences deeply rooted in the local ethnic culture, waiting for you to discover.

Source: Pinterest

5.1. Boat rowing on the stream

On the stream flowing through Cat Cat Village, adventurous travelers can try their hand at rowing boats to experience the slow drifting sensation on the meandering water and enjoy the fresh, cool air. These rudimentary boats are made from long bamboo tubes and can withstand the weight of 3-4 adults. However, you should be cautious not to row near waterfalls to avoid danger.

5.2. Exploring traditional craft villages

In addition to tourism development, Cat Cat Village also focuses on preserving traditional craft villages that are at risk of fading over time, such as linen weaving, indigo dyeing, blacksmithing, and silver jewelry engraving. Through this, you can witness the detailed process of creating intricate brocade fabrics or silver necklaces worn by the H’Mong people. These exquisite products not only showcase the talent of artisans but also convey the traditional cultural values passed down through generations.

5.3. Trying beeswax painting on traditional clothing

In the process of creating traditional clothing, beeswax painting requires skillfulness and meticulousness. Artists use bamboo/wooden pens dipped in melted beeswax, then carefully draw lines of flowers, leaves, sun, animals, etc., on linen fabric to ensure even wax flow. When the fabric is dyed and dried, the layer of beeswax peels off, revealing beautifully patterned designs. Instead of just observing, you can ask the locals to let you personally create vibrant beeswax paintings that bear your own mark and take home as souvenirs.

5.4. Participating in the unique Gau Tao Festival of Cat Cat Village

The Gau Tao Festival (or Sai San Festival) is a significant event of the H’Mong community in Cat Cat Village, usually held from the 1st to the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. According to legend, when a family has no children or has sick children, they should climb Gau Tao Hill to pray to the mountain deity. If their prayers come true, they will hold a lively festival to thank the spirits. To this day, the Gau Tao Festival is maintained to worship the heavens and the earth, pray for favorable weather, abundant crops, happy households, and prosperity in the new year.

5.5. Renting ethnic costumes & taking instagram-worthy photos

Almost all reputable ethnic costume rental shops in Sapa are located in Cat Cat Village because the demand for check-ins and cultural experiences of tourists at this destination is increasing. Wearing colorful brocade fabrics, sparkling silver jewelry is an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in the local culture and contribute to preserving the sacred values of the region. Moreover, ethnic costumes also help you capture stunning “insta-worthy” photos amidst the nature and people here.

5.6. Enjoying cultural performances at Cat Cat Village tourist area

Strolling around the tourist center of Cat Cat Village, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy vibrant performances by veteran cultural teams. The melodious solo flute, lively jew’s harp sounds, graceful folk dances vividly portray the cultural identity of the Northwest region at the foot of the majestic Hoang Lien Son mountain range. The schedule for cultural performances at Cat Cat Village is as follows:

  • Morning: Set 1 from 8:00 AM – 8:40 AM, Set 2 from 9:00 AM – 9:40 AM, Set 3 from 10:00 AM – 10:40 AM, Set 4 from 11:00 AM – 11:40 AM.
  • Afternoon: Set 5 from 1:00 PM – 1:40 PM, Set 6 from 2:00 PM – 2:40 PM, Set 7 from 3:00 PM – 3:40 PM, Set 8 from 5:00 PM – 5:40 PM.

5.7. Buying handicraft products

In Sapa’s Cat Cat Village, you can easily find many handicraft stalls along the stone-paved road, ethnic clothing shops, or traditional weaving craft villages. You can buy these handicraft products to keep as souvenirs or bring them as gifts for family and friends. They could be a brightly patterned shirt, a unique headscarf, a cute scented handkerchief, or a durable cross-body bag.

6. What To Eat in Cat Cat Village?

Source: Pinterest

6.1. Thang Co (Meat Soup)

When exploring the Northwestern region of Vietnam, particularly Sapa, one dish stands out as a must-try: Thang Co. In the local ethnic minority language, “thang co” translates to “meat soup.” This hearty soup features horse meat, although variations may include beef, pork, or goat meat. The broth, simmered for hours, derives its rich flavor from horse bones, complemented by an array of vegetables and unique spices indigenous to the area. Traditionally reserved for special occasions, Thang Co is now readily available in local food stalls and restaurants, offering visitors a taste of this regional specialty.

6.2. “Khang Gai” steamed meat

In Cat Cat Village, lean cuts of buffalo, pig, horse, or goat meat are seasoned and smoked in the kitchen, yielding “khang gai” steamed meat. Without any preservatives, this delicacy maintains its original flavor over the years. The steamed meat can be grilled or cooked with vegetables or bamboo shoots, providing a savory treat for visitors. Those venturing to Cat Cat Village should not miss the opportunity to sample “khang gai” steamed meat and perhaps purchase some to take home.

6.3. Frog cooked with bamboo shoots

Fresh frog and bamboo shoots, sourced from the neighboring forests, lend a natural and flavorful touch to this traditional dish. After being rinsed thoroughly, frog meat is boiled and seasoned with bamboo shoots and various vegetables. A favorite among the Mong people, frog cooked with bamboo shoots is considered a must-try specialty for travelers exploring Cat Cat Village.

6.4. Grilled stream fish

The fish found in the streams of Sapa, situated nearly 2000 meters above sea level, boast a distinct flavor due to their high-altitude habitat. These small fish are often grilled over charcoal to preserve their delicate taste. Grilled stream fish in Cat Cat Village is typically served with fresh vegetables and a special sauce, providing a satisfying culinary experience for visitors.

6.5. Chicken blood (Tiết Canh Gà)

Exclusive to the Mong community in Cat Cat Village and Sapa, chicken blood holds cultural significance, symbolizing luck. Prepared similarly to other raw blood dishes found throughout Vietnam, chicken blood is considered a delicacy reserved for honored guests. Although the initial notion may be daunting, the delicious taste of this specialty is undeniable, offering visitors a unique culinary experience.

7. Accommodation Options in Cat Cat Village

For budget travelers or those seeking an immersive experience, staying with locals in Cat Cat Village is an excellent choice. However, if you’re traveling with a group or prefer more amenities, nearby homestays and hotels offer convenient options for a comfortable stay amidst the mountainous surroundings.

Here are some homestays and hotels near Cat Cat Village to consider:

Cat Cat Garden Hotel

  • Location: 79 Fansipan, San Sa Ho Commune, Lao Cai (0.4km from Cat Cat Village)
  • Price: Starting from 700,000 VND/night (approximately $30 USD/night)

Sapa Vista Hotel

  • Location: 70 Fansipan, Sapa Town, Lao Cai (0.7km from Cat Cat Village)
  • Price: Starting from 400,000 VND/night (approximately $17 USD/night)

Aira Boutique Sapa Hotel & Spa

  • Location: 30 Hoang Lien Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai (0.8km from Cat Cat Village)
  • Price: Starting from 1,000,000 VND/night (approximately $45 USD/night)

Sapa Green Hotel & Spa

  • Location: Hoang Lien Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai (1km from Cat Cat Village)
  • Price: Starting from 520,000 VND/night (approximately $27 USD/night)

Chau Long II Hotel

  • Location: 24 Dong Loi Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai (1km from Cat Cat Village)
  • Price: Starting from 630,000 VND/night (approximately $32 USD/night)

Sapa Relax Hotel & Spa

  • Location: 19A Dong Loi Street, Sapa Town, Lao Cai (1km from Cat Cat Village)
  • Price: Starting from 670,000 VND/night (approximately $34 USD/night)

8. Experience Exploring Cat Cat Village with Jackfruit Adventure!

Cat Cat Village is definitely a must-visit destination when you come to Sapa, offering you the opportunity to get a closer look at the lifestyle and culture of the H’mong ethnic people, amidst the breathtaking backdrop of lush forests, endless terraced rice fields, and serene beauty. Hopefully, you’ll have an unforgettable journey, and don’t forget to bring along your jackfruit to accompany you on your exploration of Sapa!

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