Cat Cat Village is set in the Muong Hoa Valley near Sapa in the Lao Cai province. Cat Cat Village is widely considered to be the most ‘beautiful village in the north-western region’ of Vietnam. It is known for its natural beauty, and Hmong culture and traditions. The village is home to roughly 80 households which are all located along the mountain slope.
You will find traditional wooden huts, some serving as homestays, overlooking the mountainside rice field terraces. Cat Cat Village was formed in the 19th century after various ethnic Hmong and Dzao families came together from other mountainous areas in northern Vietnam. They started cultivating rice and corn in the region, as well as weaving fabric and creating handicrafts to get by.
Hmong ethnic women wear traditional costumes which are decorated with embroidery. Visitors to the village can take part in traditional local crafts such as weaving and making unique jewellery products. You can rent costumes belonging to the Hmong people for photos if you want.
Getting to Cat Cat Village
There are different ways of getting to Cat Cat Village. You can walk from Sapa (it is about three kilometres away) or go most of the way there by road transportation (scooter, bus, taxi, etc). There is one main road down to Cat Cat Village from the main road. It is steep and twisty. When you arrive at the top of the village, you go to the ticket office and buy an entrance ticket. You then walk back to the main entrance and start walking down many steps. On the way down, you will see many shops selling gifts and drinks, etc.
Walking through Cat Cat Village
As you walk down the stairs, you will see beautiful terraced rice fields and be greeted by welcoming ethnic minority tribes. You can visit a traditional wooden Hmong house too and get a feel for how these people live. visitors pass stalls selling Hmong handicrafts, homemade corn wine, and naturally dyed clothes on the way to the waterfalls. Cultural shows are performed at the Nhà Hàng Dũng Thu centre.
At the bottom of the stairs, you will find the Si bridge leading to Cat Cat centre, where three streams converge: Tien Sa stream, Golden stream and Silver stream. The centre of the village looks truly magical.
The views are truly stunning and breathtakingly picturesque. Tourists can plague this part of the village. There is a long walk back up the other side which also involves steps. If you find this stressful, you will eventually find some motorbike services willing to take your money!
You will find yourself getting out your camera on many occasions. Every spot along the route down and back up has opportunities not to be missed. You will also get educated about a truly unique culture. For example, when a man loves a girl, he will take her to his house for about three days. If the girl agrees to be his wife, they will celebrate the wedding. If not, she won’t get any food! The girl can be as young as 12 years of age! In most modern cultures that would be considered paedophiliac!
You can try the famous Thang Co dish too – which can be made with horse meat, pork, beef, and even goat meat. This dish is unique to Cat Cat Village and Sapa – so make sure you try it. You should also taste the Hmong wine (Corn wine), which is often referred to as “happy water”. It is strong!
To make the corn 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.
The overall experience is wonderful and one you won’t forget. I would firmly categorise this village as a “must-visit”. It is something you will never ever forget. You can easily find accommodation in either Sapa or Cat Cat Village. Our visits to both Sapa and Cat Cat village were all part of our Amazing Northwest trip.