Exploring Cat Cat, a small rustic village in Sa Pa

As one of the most attractive scenic areas in Sapa, the premier trekking base of Vietnam, Cat Cat is a lovely village with peaceful views and distinctive customs and practices of the ethnic H’Mong.

Surrounded by rice terraces and rolling green hills, Cat Cat village is considered a great place for trekking and sightseeing, to experience the way of life in the mountainous area. Along the way 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, and you will never regret your choice. But before packing up, read our complete guide on traveling Cat Cat village for the best experience. 

In the early 20th century, the French discovered and made this land 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 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 tiny and approachable from Sapa town, you can easily spare a day from your Sapa tour to discover the best of Cat Cat village. Feel 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 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 Fansipan mountain, the highest peak of all Indochina; although far, the look is extremely impressive. Keep moving forward, and you will 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.

What to explore in Cat Cat?

1. Enjoy Cat Cat waterfall: As first seen when you walk in, Cat Cat waterfall pleases 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 fresher and chilly. You can stop by, cool off your feet and enjoy a perfect selfie.

2. Admire giant water wheels: As you continue walking along the river, you may see giant bamboo wheels powered by fast-flowing waters that were 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 architecture 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 have barriers with each other with a front terrace field and rear bamboo fence. 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 in 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.

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 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 girls are 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, and afterward, she can decide to marry the man or go home in peace.

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.

If you wish to fully experience Cat Cat village, opt for a homestay. The H’ mong 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 will have 24 hours to be local.

The best time to travel Cat Cat Village

As part of Sapa, Cat Cat village bears the same weather conditions.

September-November/March-May: stable weather, dry sunny days, cold nights. Suitable for picnics and homestay.

April-May: the time for 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: the rice crop season with golden scenery across the hills. With fresh and pleasant air, you can make long-distance trips.

December-February: very cold, and ice can be found and sometimes it snows. This is also the season for peach blossoms. However, traveling through the villages may be more or less difficult.

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Compiled by Le Ha 

Photo: Dan Tri

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