The walk to Cat Cat Village starts at a check point which is itself easy walking distance from Sapa town centre. From the check point to the end of the walk where you can take a motorbike back to Sapa it’s 1.3 km, although it feels a bit longer than that because of the hilly terrain, windy path, and the warm climate.
Cat Cat Village is an interesting, if slightly touristy, place to visit. The village dates back the 19th Century where a collection of different hill tribe groups, particularly different branches of the Hmong ethnic group, live side by side. Originally the settlers relied on subsistence farming and some basic manufacturing of clothes and other products to survive. Now they make a lot of their income from selling food, drinks and hand made souvenirs to tourists, most of whom are Vietnamese. The scenery along the way to Cat Cat Village, however, is the real point of interest in doing this walk.
About the Walk to Cat Cat Village
From Sapa town centre you need to follow the Fansipan Road out of town to start the walk to Cat Cat Village. I normally stay at the Phuong Nam Hotel when I am in Sapa, which has fantastic views of the 3,143 metre high Fansipan Mountain and is at the top of the Fansipan Road making it a convenient base from which to do the walk to Cat Cat Village.
The walk out of Sapa Town to the check point to start the walk itself is 1.7 km, but its downhill all the way with fantastic views of the mountains and the surrounding valleys.
The Fansipan Road gets quite steep as it comes out of Sapa Town and a bit slippy when the road it wet. It doesn’t have any pavement either which is very poor considering the large number of people who walk this route. You can choose to get a taxi or motorbike down, but if you are fit enough to do the walk to Cat Cat Village then you should be fit enough to cope with the 20 minute walk down to the check point. There are places to stop and have a drink on route with great panoramic views.
The walk to Cat Cat Village starts at the check point. The entrance fee is 70,000 VND for adults and 30,000 VND for children. I bought my ticket at the checkpoint, although some travellers advise that you need to buy a ticket in advance at the Tourist Information Centre on Sapa Town Square or you won’t be allowed to enter. This may be the case during the peak tourist season.
The best way to do the walk to Cat Cat Village is to go anti-clockwise around the looping walking trail. The reason for this is that you get to the village at the end of the walk and not the start. If you have difficulty walking long distances on uneven surfaces you can, as an alternative to doing the walk, take a motorbike taxi from the checkpoint to very close to Cat Cat Village and then you only need to walk over a bridge and a then a fairly short distance along a path to see the village.
The start of the walk to Cat Cat Village is along a wide concrete road. There is very little traffic on this road, just the very occasional motorbike, and its a pleasant stretch past some farm houses and a few small shops and restaurants.
A short distance along the concrete road you come to a small village on route to Cat Cat Village.
This small village has a fish pond in the centre with a wooden bridge over it. There also some shops and restaurants here, with local hill tribe people selling things.
To continue the walk to Cat Cat Village follow the road, which now becomes more of a path, around to the right. There is a turning to the left after the pond which takes you in the wrong direction up to a different village.
The path changes then to series of stone steps which take you down to Cat Cat Village. This is the most difficult part of the walk and if you are walking quickly you may find yourself having to wait whilst groups of people in front of you walk slowly down the steps. Be patient as its only a short way before the path opens up again.
Just outside Cat Cat Village is Tien Sa Waterfall, which has a near vertical drop of about 10 metres which is fairly impressive particularly if you visit during seasons with more rainfall, just at the start or after the rainy season is good time.
Cat Cat Village has a fast flowing river running through with another set of smaller but wider falls just outside the village. You enter the village by walking over a wooden bridge near to the falls which provides a great vantage point for taking photographs. It’s a nice feature. The main focus of the village is the widen area of river at the foot of village where three waterwheels have been built. Traditionally these waterwheels were built to drive mill stones to grind the husk off rice, but I don’t think much of grinding of rice goes on now but they are interesting and picturesque.
The path continues along the main street in Cat Cat Village, which is robustly constructed out of large stones. As you might imagine, there are lots of shops and places to eat here and these are the major income earner for the people of the village. To be fair there was no ‘hard sell’ going on and prices where not particularly inflated. I was not not approached to buy anything.
The path of the village is well constructed and fairly level. Its an easy walk from here.
The last part of the walk is over Cat Cat Bridge. Cat Cat Bridge is not a precarious bridge of the kind you will find in remote parts of Nepal which looks like it might break at any time and will give even the bravest walker bouts of vertigo. Cat Cat Bridge is a wooden suspension bridge that is well constructed and maintained a few metres above a stream running below.
Motorbike taxi swait at the other side of Cat Cat Bridge. The going rate for a trip back to Sapa Town was 40,000 VND when I went in September 2018. You can walk but its not that interesting as the walk is along the road facing away from the views and when you get to the Fansipan Road its uphill all the way. I recommend paying for a motorbike taxi.
Location of Cat Cat Village
Cat Cat Village is located 3.3 km walking distance from Sa Pa Bus Station.