Cat Cat Village was founded in the middle of the 19th century by the local Mong ethnic people. The village is located in Northwestern Vietnam about 2 kilometers from Sapa Town and about 376 kilometers from Hanoi.
Cat Cat Village consists of around 80 households that are located in the center of the village and scattered on the nearby mountain slope. It is surrounded by picturesque unspoiled hills and terraced fields. A glimpse of the surrounding hill can be seen in the photo below of the entrance to the village.
The Northwest of Vietnam is famous for its natural beauty and the terraced fields. Cat Cat Village cultivates the hills with terraced fields. My visit was in the early spring when they were preparing the fields for planting. The photos below show the terraces before they start preparation and during preparation before planting.
View of the village
The center of the village is along the convergence of three streams. A view of the village when approaching it from the entrance is shown in the photo below.
The houses of the Mong people typically have three rooms with the walls and roof being made of wood. A view of some of the houses in Cat Cat Village are shown below.
Center of the Village
The center of the village starts where the streams come together and ends at the spillway near the Si Bridge. There are many things that you can do at the center of the village. There are places to sample the local food, have a cup of coffee enjoying the view or wander around taking pictures of the village’s many photo opportunistic spots that include the giant water wheels, elevated walkways, the Si Bridge, the Cat Cat Waterfall and many charming features located in the village.
The most unusual feature of the village are the giant water wheels that are lined along the stream from the beginning of the village all of the way to the spillway. The bamboo wheels are powered by the flowing stream and were utilized to crush rice. The wheels still turn but they seem to be only ornamental and not actually functioning to crush rice.
Getting around in the village is capable by a series of elevated walkways along the stream banks and two bridges that cross the stream. Similar to the houses, the elevated walkways are made of wood with flower filled planter boxes along the side of the walkway.
The Si Bridge is the main bridge that crosses the stream at the base of the spillway and close to Cat Cat Waterfall. The Si Bridge is created to be more than just a functional bridge as it is one of the main attractions of the village. It is wrapped in yellow rope with hanging weaved baskets and lots of hanging flower pots along the side of the bridge and above the handrails.
Next to the Si Bridge is a spillway that creates a small shallow lake in the center of the village. The purpose of the spillway is to create water retention but the water flowing over the spillway is an attractive feature easily viewed from the Si Bridge.
Cat Cat Waterfall
Just past the Si Bridge is Cat Cat Waterfall. The waterfall is fed from water from the Hoang Lein Son Mountain. The water emerges from the forested hills and flows into the rocky creek bed creating a pleasant view for the eyes and the sound of falling water is pleasing for the ears.
Charming features full of local ambiance
The entire village has loads of charming features that give the village an ambiance of a small hill tribe village. The main features of the giant water wheel, the elevated walkways and the Si Bridge are the most noticeable but there are countless smaller features that add to the ambiance of the village like the weaved baskets and light posts, carved wooden statues and flowering plants. Combining the main features with the smaller accents the village oozes with local charm.
Cat Cat Village has several local shops that sell traditional crafts such as weaving, clothes, handcrafts, souvenirs and local cuisine. One of my favorite parts of traveling is to try out foods that I have never eaten. Most of the time it is really good.
Cultural Dance Show
Near the Si Bridge is a show featuring traditional cultural dance of the Mong ethnic people. These kinds of shows are not my favorite activities when traveling but many people enjoy watching them and this show is easy to watch as much as you like.
Cat Cat Village is a place that gets mixed review. Some people love it while others think it not an authentic ethnic village and is just a tourist venue. I can see both points of view.
My opinion is somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed going to the village and I would have been disappointed if I had missed seeing it but if you are expecting to see a working ethnic village then you will probably be disappointed.
Today’s Cat Cat Village is primarily a tourist site but it is a unique place. I have never seen a village similar to it. The giant water wheels are a statement feature, the elevated walkways are fun to walk around on and the Si bridge is really nice.
The natural area around the village is beautiful. I liked seeing the forested hills and the terraced fields. It was nice to be there when they were preparing the fields for planting although it would also be nice to see the fields when they were ready to harvest.
Great place for photo ops
When I travel I like to have authentic experiences but sometimes it is fun to play around and just create some fun photos. Cat Cat Village is a great place for photo ops as there are great backdrops everywhere you look.