The town of Sapa has no dearth of character, surrounded by mountains and spectacular views of cascading rice terraces on clear days. In the winter of February, it was enveloped in a white cloud that seemed to have descended and settled down right in the center of town. Even as the views became misty, the fog lent a distinct charm to the town. There’s nothing like a good hike to explore the surrounding villages and so one weekend I set off with two fellow volunteers of Sapa O’Chau to Cat Cat Village, 3km south of Sapa.
The hike to Cat Cat is downhill and easy on the legs. There are plenty of xe om (motorbike taxis) along the way that you can get on in case you get tired. The trail offers beautiful views of terraced rice fields and you can see the village homes in the valley below. An entrance fee must be paid by all foreigners entering Cat Cat Village and a ticket (priced 40,000 VND or $2 in February 2014) is issued which must be held onto.
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The path leads into the village and climbs another hill creating a loop and taking you back on the path to Sapa. There are much fewer people (both locals and tourists) to be seen here, or at least it feels like that after being in Sapa which is quite tiny when you consider how many tourists visit it. You can see farm animals and cattle grazing along the trail. In the village, there are a few homes, shops selling fabrics, tribal jewelry and goods carved out of the bark and roots of trees. There’s also a waterfall and a community center that is said to have cultural shows once or twice a day, but appeared to be shut when we went.
For ideas on what to do in Sapa, check my posts about trekking to Lao Chai and the Bac Ha Tribal Market. You can also read about my thoughts on the impact of tourism in Sapa. Or check out my Vietnam Travel Blog. Get your Vietnam visa online here.