From Sa Pa: Visiting Cat Cat Village – Is it Worth it?

Cat Cat Village
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Finding myself traveling through Vietnam for a month, I was set on visiting the Sapa region in Northern Vietnam.  With the beautiful rice terraces, enticing homestays, and trekking opportunities throughout the Hoàng Liên Son Mountains my only question was where do I start?  I decided to base myself in Sa Pa, a town in Sapa, and came across a nearby village – Cat Cat Village.  With beautiful photos splashed across the internet, I knew I had to see Cat Cat Village for myself (spoiler alert, it is REALLY, REALLY pretty).  This post will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Cat Cat Village from Sa Pa, including – is a visit really worth it?




How to Get to Sapa

Located in Northwestern Vietnam, Sapa is most easily accessible from Hanoi (however you can visit from other places like Ha Giang).  Because Sapa is a mountainous region, there is no airport and it’s only accessible by road.  There are two main options when traveling from Hanoi to Sapa (by far the most popular way to get to the region) and that is by bus or by train.



Beginning in 2015, busses started to operate daily from Hanoi to Sapa to meet the demands of travelers visiting the region.  In my opinion, this is the best way to visit Sapa because it’s actually faster than taking the night train.  The ride from Hanoi to Sapa will take around six hours and includes a couple of stops along the way so that you’re able to get out and use the bathroom (at time of writing, this will cost 3000 VND so make sure to have cash on you).  You can choose an overnight bus or a day bus depending on your preference.  The easiest way to book is through Bookaway, where you can compare options from all of the bus companies traveling to Sapa.





Since tourists have begun to flock to Sapa, the trains traveling between Hanoi and Sapa have been updated with AC, bathrooms, and beds – not a bad way to travel ;).  Of course depending on what you’re willing to pay, you can book the cheapest option (less amenities) and the more expensive the ticket, the more amenities you get.

The train departs Hanoi station and arrives at Lao Cai station near the border of China.  There are seven different rail options to choose from, the earliest departing from Hanoi at 9:40pm and the latest departing from Hanoi at 10 pm.  The train ride lasts eight hours and you can also book a ticket on Bookaway.






How to Get to Cat Cat Village from Sa Pa

If you want to go straight from Hanoi to Cat Cat village, you’ll have to pass through the town of Sa Pa first.  (Lào Cai Province is the province, Sapa is the region, and there is also a Sa Pa town).  If you’re planning to stay in Cat Cat Village overnight, once you get off the bus in Sa Pa you can take a taxi straight to the village.  This should cost about 100,000 VND – although the price quoted to you will probably be much higher and you can negotiate down.

If you’re staying in Sa Pa, I suggest dropping your bags at your hotel and walking to Cat Cat Village.  (You can take a taxi, but the walk is downhill, easy, and beautiful!).  Cat Cat Village is only about a half a mile from Sa Pa (depending on where you’re staying), and should take about 30 minutes to walk there.  If you’re worried about getting lost, there are signs everywhere so you really can’t miss the village or go the wrong direction.


History of Cat Cat Village

The region of Sapa has many different villages with local tribes – each having their own traditions – in each village.  Cat Cat Village houses the Black H’mong tribe who originated in China and have spread out through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar.  (“Hmong” means “free people”).  One way to tell if someone is from the Black H’mong tribe is by the way that they dress.  The Black H’mong are known for dying their clothes deep indigo blue.  The women wear long dresses decorated with flowers over short trousers, and wrap scarves around their legs; they wrap their hair around their heads and wear a blue turban.  I also noticed many women wearing large hoop earrings, but I’m unsure whether or not that is tradition for the tribe.

The other tribes throughout Sapa include the Red Dao, Tay, Xo Pho, and Giay.


Why is it Called Cat Cat Village?

The reason that the village is called Cat Cat has to do with the history of the village.  Cat Cat Village was founded in the 19th-century by the local Mong people, and in the early 20th-century the French discovered the village turning it into a vacation resort.  In the village you can find a beautiful waterfall, which the French named “CatScat”.  After the fall of the French in 1954 the village was called Cat Cat, derived from CatScat.


Cat Cat Village Entrance Fee

You do need to purchase a ticket to visit Cat Cat Village.  The price for an adult is 150,000 VND, the price for a child under 1.3 m (4.3 ft) is 70,000 VND, and the price for a child under 1 m (3.2 ft) is free.


The Best Things to Do in Cat Cat Village

There are many things to enjoy when you visit Cat Cat Village!  Not only are the views incredible (walking around in itself is a treat), but you can stop at a cafe for a local meal, browse handmade goods at the outdoor shops (make sure to bring cash), watch a free show at the center house (times are 0900, 1000, 1100, 1400, 1500, 1600), and visit the Tien Sa waterfall.

Another thing that you can do when visiting is dress like the local H’mong people and have them take photos of you.  While this puts money in their pockets, I had a bit of a sour taste about doing this because of cultural appropriation.  Instead, I’d encourage you to put money in the locals pockets another way by purchasing their handmade goods and eating at their restaurants.


What Time does Cat Cat Village Open/When is the Best Time to Visit Cat Cat Village?

Tickets to the village sell between 0600-1800.  While you can visit the area at any time, I’m not sure whether or not you’re able to enter the actual village outside of those times.

The best time to visit the region of Sapa (and subsequently Cat Cat Village) is between March-May and September-November.  Spring brings beautiful flowers, and autumn brings golden rice fields.  The coldest month of the year is January, and rainy season lasts from May-September with the wettest months being June, July, and August.  (I visited the region in September and it was absolutely breathtaking).


What to Wear to Cat Cat Village

The weather in this part of Vietnam can change drastically throughout the day, so it’s important to come prepared!  While it can be incredibly hot and humid, it can also be raining and chilly.  Depending on the time of year, I would recommend appropriate clothing (shorts and tank tops in the hot months; pants and a light jacket in the cold months), comfortable walking shoes, and I’d highly recommend bringing a rain jacket or umbrella.  If you don’t have these things with you, you can always buy a plastic covering in the village.


Should You Stay in Cat Cat Village?

There are different accommodations in Cat Cat Village, however I wouldn’t necessarily recommend staying there.  Again – it’s very touristy and a bit overwhelming.  I suppose an upside to staying in Cat Cat Village would be that you would have the mornings and nights with much fewer tourists, so that might make you want to stay.

I chose to stay in Sa Pa (which is only a 30-minute walk to Cat Cat) and would recommend it due to the amount of things to do in town.  If you want to stay in Sa Pa, I stayed at two different hotels and would recommend both of them.  The first was Heart of Sapa Hotel which is a no-frills, budget friendly option.  And the second was Sapa Relax Hotel & Spa which was a bit nicer and more expensive.  They are right next to each other and both great locations.


Is Cat Cat Village Worth it?

There is no doubt that Cat Cat Village is beautiful – but does that make it worth it?  Personally, I would say – no.  Not only was the “trek” to get to Sapa incredibly crowded and overwhelming with tons of people walking in the streets and tons of cars and motorbikes whizzing by, but it was very overwhelming once you entered the village too.  The region of Sapa is rich with culture and diversity, and it seemed as though all of that has been stripped away from Cat Cat Village due to the overwhelming number of tourists that visit.  I totally respect that everyone needs to make a living, but for me, it was overwhelming and overpriced; so much so that my boyfriend and I left pretty quickly.  If you have ample time in Sapa and you still want to go – don’t let me deter you!  I would encourage everyone to form their own opinions on whether or not visiting Cat Cat Village is worth it.  But if you’re short on time, I would encourage you to venture out to a village that is further away so that you can learn about the locals and experience a more raw side of Sapa.




For more information on things to see and do in Sapa, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlight reel by searching “#ppinvietnam” or under my highlights for “Vietnam”


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Kylee is a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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