Houtong Cat Village day trip from Taipei

Houtong Cat Village day trip from Taipei

Are you looking to explore the outskirts of Taipei? If so, you’re in luck. This guide highlights everything you need to know about taking a Houtong Cat Village day trip from Taipei.

Taiwan is a fantastic destination that is slowly becoming more and more popular among travelers. Although most people hardly make it out of Taipei, this little island has so much more to offer. Whether you are a foodie, a culture seeker, or an adventurer – Taiwan has something for everyone!

Wander the streets of Taipei, snack your way through one of the lively night markets, or immerse yourself in nature at Alishan, Sun Moon Lake or Taroko Gorge. Yes, this little island is full of scenic, culinary, cultural, and quirky surprises! Moreover, it’s also home to the charming mountain village of Houtong Cat Village (猴硐貓村).

Houtong Cat Village is hidden in the hills of Ruifang District and based along the Keelung River. Apart from the scenic mountain views, you’ll also be able to witness the cute cats strolling around town. A Houtong Cat Village day trip is a huge must for any cat lovers or travelers wanting to experience something new!

Houtong Cat Village might be one of Taiwan’s best-kept secrets – sure, locals enjoy coming here. But very few travelers actually even know it exists! Which is why, we set out all the amazing things a Houtong Cat Village day trip offers, here in this guide! Get tips on what to do as well as how to get there.

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Taiwan | Houtong Cat Village | Easy day trip from Taipei | Planning a trip to Taipei? One of the most amazing day trips to take from the capital, is a visit to Houtong Cat Village! Spend the day frolicking with cats, learn about Taiwan’s gold mining history and enjoy some ‘oh so delish’ street food. #taiwan #taipei #houtongcatvillage #daytrip #aroundtaipei

About Houtong Cat Village

Taiwan | Houtong Cat Village | Easy day trip from Taipei | Planning a trip to Taipei? One of the most amazing day trips to take from the capital, is a visit to Houtong Cat Village! Spend the day frolicking with cats, learn about Taiwan’s gold mining history and enjoy some ‘oh so delish’ street food. #taiwan #taipei #houtongcatvillage #daytrip #aroundtaipei

Once a prosperous coal mining town, Houtong is today better known for something quite different; its furry inhabitants. Cats of all shapes, sizes, and colors are found lounging in pots, baking in the sun and even dozing off in the many small cafes lining the mountain. Which is why Houtong is an excellent spot for cataholics and shutterbugs.

A unique name

Houtong, which means ‘Monkey Cave’ was literally named after a group of monkeys which inhabited one of the caves in the area. Although it is not quite clear what happened to the monkeys, Houtong is a popular tourist spot today, thanks to its purring friends. For this reason, the town was renamed Houtong Cat Village.

A deep-rooted mining history

Houtong came into existence during the Japanese Colonial era and was an important stop on Taiwan’s Yilan Line. The small village played a vital role in Taiwan’s coal mining industry during the 1970s and attracted thousands of miners to the area. At its peak, Houtong yielded the largest amount of coal in any single area of Taiwan. Towards the 1990s however, the town began to spiral down. As the coal ran out, officials were forced to seek more cost-effective and sustainable resources to fuel these trains. Soon after, residents started looking for better opportunities elsewhere. This led to a rapid decline in the population. So much so, that only a few 100 people remained here.

Cats to the rescue

In 2008, things took an unexpected turn when a local resident started caring for the multitude of stray cats left here by their owners. In an effort to create awareness about the cats’ dire circumstances, she started sharing posts of the town’s fur balls online. This led to an instant buzz and attracted cat lovers, volunteers, and tourists from near and far. Today, Houtong is able to properly care for its furry friends, by providing food, fresh water, shelter, vaccinations and lots of tourist love.

The town has grown so fond of its furry friends, that it even embraced a cat-theme. You will see cute cat signage displayed throughout town, whilst cats and pawprints are painted on walls, footpaths, and stairways. There is even a cat-themed footbridge with an elevated “catwalk” ensuring both visitors and cats can cross the train tracks safely.

Kitty Do’s & Don’ts

If you do decide to do a Houtong Cat Village day trip, be sure to follow the town’s rules. There is clear signage throughout the town, but here are a few essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Please do not feed the cats ‘human’ food, as it can make them sick.
  • Most shops sell cat food, but please try not to give them too much food. It’s best to only feed each cat a few nibbles.
  • To ensure the village stays clean, please use the provided cat bowls when feeding the cats. You can find them throughout the town.
  • Do not bother, chase, tease the cats. Instead, wait for the more friendly and playful ones to come to you.
  • Please don’t bring any pets with you on your trip.
  • Don’t use your camera’s flashlight when taking photos of the cats.
  • Wash your hands regularly for hygienic purposes.
  • Keep the area clean and always remember to take your garbage with you.
Taiwan | Houtong Cat Village | Easy day trip from Taipei | Planning a trip to Taipei? One of the most amazing day trips to take from the capital, is a visit to Houtong Cat Village! Spend the day frolicking with cats, learn about Taiwan’s gold mining history and enjoy some ‘oh so delish’ street food. #taiwan #taipei #houtongcatvillage #daytrip #aroundtaipei

What to do on a Houtong Cat Village Day Trip

Shop for Meowsome Souvenirs

With the influx of tourists, locals started to embrace and even capitalize on the town’s cat-theme. Whilst exploring the many galleries, gift shops, and cafes, you will soon discover just about everything in this little town is ‘kitty-fied’. A treasure throve of kitty knick-knacks, postcards, hats, socks, stationary, stamps, bags and even cat-shaped pineapple cakes, lollipops and cream cakes await every cat lover out there.

Some of the postcards available in Houtong

Nibble on Local Treats

You can find a strip of eateries and food stalls selling Taiwanese favorites, such as noodles, dumplings and fried foods at the train station’s entrance and the small street lining the train tracks. For a good cuppa and a variety of desserts or light meals, head to the cottages and houses on the hill – here you will find a number of cute cafes, tea houses, and small eateries.

Nibbles houtong cat village

Kickstart your Houtong Cat Village Day Trip

Houtong is roughly an hour’s train ride from Taipei Main station, making a Houtong Cat Village day trip easily achievable. The ride will set you back NT$56-91 depending on which train you take. Generally, take the Su Ao train which stops in the heart of Houtong. Alternative if you are coming from Jiufen, it is only a 10-minute ride from the Ruifang Station. Check the Taiwan Railway website for the most accurate times and prices, here.

Nearby attractions

If you do plan to visit Houtong, be sure to add one of these nearby villages to your trip.

  • Pingxi (平溪): 29.6km from Houtong
    Pingxi is most famous for its sky lanterns and the annual International Sky Lantern Festival. Don’t forget to take a ride on the old Pingxi train.
  • Shifen (十分): 26.4km from Houtong
    Shifen’s Old Street is a great place to snack on street food. Alternatively head to the Shifen Waterfall, at 40m wide, it is the widest waterfall in Taiwan.
  • Jiufen (九份): 7.2km from Houtong
    A picturesque town, famous for its narrow alleys and tea houses. Jiufen is also a popular international film shooting location.

Have you ever been on a Houtong Cat Village day trip? What tips do you have for first-timers?

And finally…

What’s your favorite day trip from Taipei? Let us know in the comments below.

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This post was updated on September 15, 2019.

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19 thoughts on “Houtong Cat Village day trip from Taipei”

  • As a kitty lover, it’s always great to hear a story like this — the person who saved the cats helped save the community, and now taking care of the cats is the town’s lifeblood. Yay kitties! And great post!

  • All these animal cafes in Asia are definitely something that I am curious to try! I love dogs more than cats but this looks like a fun destination. This is the first time that I’ve heard about this cat village so you definitely piqued my curiosity.

  • When I’m travelling, I’m always on the lookout for cats. Sadly, most of those I encounter are not at all amenable to affection. There was one in Barcelona that responded very poorly!

    Glad that the original cats were looked after and the opportunity taken to keep them in food and shelter. What a great story!

  • Cats are cute and scary at the same time, I can’t imagine staying in a place full of cats, on the other hand it must be nice just to visit 🙂
    Love the street art and cute kitty postcards

  • I found myself laughing the entire time while reading this. I’m severely allergic to cats but the bf is obsessed with them and wants to get one… not happening while I’m still around. I’m sure he would appreciate this post because anytime I am abroad I send him photos of cats I might see hanging out.

  • This is such an unusual place and I loved reading about how it came around. Amazing information and a well written one. Sharing it with a friend who is an absolute cat lover. This will suddenly be on top of her list of places to visit.

  • This is really interesting. Cat wall art, cat graffiti , real cats…cats in pictures…it’s like where ever you turn your head, you will find cats all around. I would love to check this place out, at least once in my life 🙂

  • Houtong Cat Village looks unique and of course the reason is the cat inhabitants. Would love to visit this place and experience the cat inhabitants. Taiwan is just now emerging as a tourist destination and it has so many pristine locations that are not too commercialized, this way they retain their allure and I think it is time that more travelers head towards this lovely country.

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