Plan for the day
We would trek over to the nearby Cat Cat Village from our hotel in the morning. This village was famous for its pictureque scenery and we had a whole day allocated to enjoy it..
By end of the day
We set off to Cat Cat Village at about 11 am and returned at about 3 pm. Like the day before the sky was misty but luckily this mist stayed up high and did not descend onto the ground. Trekking Cat Cat village was pretty easy and there was plentiful to see such as paddy fields, waterfalls, watermills, shops, farms, local huts and black pigs.
Trekking in sapa
While we were in Sapa Town we were approached by several “ladies” in black asking us if we would need some guided trekking into the villages. Our visit to Sapa was meant to be relaxing and we preferred to do our own free and easy trekking. If we had the time we would visit two villages minimun one.
There were many Sapa trekking trips (4day-3night, 3day-2 night, 2day-1 night) that started from Hanoi. We had reviewed the itineraries and read the reviews which seemed to indicate stressful and tiring trips. We wanted no part of such trips. Even at Sapa we were not tempted to join any trekking trips as we wanted our trekking to be at our own pace. With google map we would not have any problem visiting two nearby ethnic villages, Cat Cat Village and Murong Hoa Valley Village.
Cat cat Village
We did not leave our hotel till about 11 am as we were waiting for the mist to clear up. If we waited any longer we it would be noon so we decided to set off even if the weather looked not promising. From our hotel (Phuong Nam Hotel) to Cat Cat Village was about 1.3 km which took about 30 minutes to walk.
The walk to the start of Cat Cat village was proper tar road and was gently downhill all the way. Along the way we saw several cafes/lodges that overlooked the valley of the Cat Cat villages.
We arrived on the main road bordering Cat Cat Village and it was filled with shops, cafes, hostels and more shops. Many of the cafes faced the valley of Cat Cat Village and would definitely be a great place for our “after – walk” coffee break.
We came to a hut with a signboard “Trạm Bán Vé – Ticket Station”. Looked like a tram station selling tram ticket. The lady selling the ticket did not speak much English so she could not tell us when the tram would arrive and the frequency between trams. We were not keen to take the tram as we preferred to trek.
Studying the map displayed beside Trạm Bán Vé, Cat Cat village looked interesting with many highlights along the walk. We crossed the road to a wooden arch entrance that led to some steps going into the village, but a young man stopped us asking for tickets. Oh.. we had to get tickets to visit Cat Cat village and the ticket station across the road was not selling tram ticket but entry ticket! “Trạm Bán Vé” meant “ticket station” and not “Tram Ticket Station”, now we knew better.
The cost of the tickets was vnd70000 (usd3.00 ,sgd4.00 ) per person not too expensive, so we bought the tickets and entered Cat Cat Village through the wooden arch entrance.
From the entrance we would make a round trip route that would bring us through the village streets and alleys and ethnic houses. And according to the signboard beside the ticket station we should be able to see waterfalls and watermills. The loop would be about two km and would involve downhill and uphill trekking.
Cat Cat village had definitely turned touristic, catering to tourists. Houses after houses on both sides of the steps were shops and shops selling the same local products. After browsing one shop all other shops were the same. If not for the scenic view of the valley walking among shops would surely be boring.
The paddy terraces were beautiful. The crop had turned slight yellowish which added more vibrancy to the colours in the field. Along the path snaking though the village were wooden shades for resting and wooden swings for relaxing.
In middle of the village was a landscaped garden with a funny “yellow coffee cup”. We went to the garden to explore and found a pair Jof newly wed posing for photo shot for their enthusiatic photographer and helpers.
We made the effort to climb every high viewpoints whenever we encountered one. Definitely the view was better above than below. Though the sky was misty the scenery was still captivating.
We came to a doorway with the sign that indicated that insiden was a typical Hmong dwelling and visitors were welcome. We walked in but there was nobody around and the only living things were a piggy mother and its babies. The wooden house looked deserted so we left.
Soon our walk took us to a pond with a narrow skimpy bridge over its surface. Around the pond was a couple of houses. At one end of the pond was a route that led to the Cat Cat Village waterfalls.
From the signboard (waterfalls) we went down another flight of steps, down and down until we saw a river ahead. From a distance we could already see the wooden houses, bridges and watermills by the river. They looked pretty interesting so we went down to explore.
The wooden houses were actually cafes and shops. We had no idea if they were real houses of the locals which were now turned into cafes and shops or they were built solely for the benefits of tourists?
We crossed the river using Cau Si bridge and walked downstream where we saw a waterfalls, though it was not very high it was pretty nice. We followed the river upstream and came upon three tall watermills. The watermills seemed not to be serving any purposes except as a tourist attraction. Further up the river were several bamboo rafts and several tourists were having fun on them.
The river and the waterfalls were the last attractions of Cat Cat village, there after would be to walk back to the main road where we started our trek into the village. We decided not to backtrack but to go forward. We found some steps going up the hill behind the cafes so we trekked up. The hilly route seemed to go on and on, we trekked for about 15 to 20 minutes before we reached “Cau Cat Cat bridge”. Once we saw the bridge we knew we were on the right track.
After the bridge we came to a carpark where bikers asked if we need a ride back to Sapa Town (for a fee). We declined. We reached the main road but the trekking was not getting easier as the road was uphill and it was exhausting walking up. For a while we regretted not riding up to Sapa Town with the bikers. Very soon we were fine as the great scenery distracted us.
It was near to 1.45 pm when we reached the Cat Cat Village Wooden Arch Entrance again and the same young man was still standing there collecting tickets. We had taken about 2 hours to complete the loop of 2 km, though slow but relaxing.
It was a good time for a coffee break so we returned to the quaint cafe we saw earlier when we arrived at the village. The cafe had a upper and lower viewing decks that looked into the Cat Cat Village.
Yat Thong ordered a cafe latte, I ordered a lemon tea and we went up to the upper deck to enjoyed our drinks. The scenery was amazing and to have the entire upper deck to ourselves was fantastic. It was a wonderful place to lift up our feet and chill.
Our two drinks came up to vnd85000(usd3.60, sgd5).
In the evening we had our dinner at The Lizard Restaurant. This was the third cafe/restaurant that we patronised in Sapa that had their names related to house lizard/gecko. It made us wondered if lizard/gecko was a “vietnamese thing.”