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 enjoying 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!

Although Houtong Cat Village is a popular day trip from Taipei, not many travelers even know it exists! This guide sets out everything you need to know for a Houtong Cat Village day trip. Plus handy tips on what to do in Houtong and 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

Along with Shifen and Pingxi, Houtong used to be one of Taiwan’s most promising coal mining towns. Today, however, Houtong is better known for something entirely different – its cute cats. All over town you’ll be able to spot friendly cats lounging around in pots, baking in the sun or taking a nap in one of the cute teahouses.

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

A unique name

Houtong (which means Monkey Cave) was initially named after a bunch of monkeys who lived in caves nearby. Although it is not entirely clear what happened to the monkeys, today, the town is better known for its cats. Hence the name, Houtong Cat Village.

A deep-rooted mining history

People already started settling in Houtong during the Japanese Colonial era. During the 1970’s coal mining was a lucrative business in Houtong, which soon drew thousands of miners to the area in search of work. Not only was the town a vital pitstop on the Yilan train line, but it also yielded the most coal anywhere in Taiwan. Before the 1950’s, things drastically changed as the coal started to run out. The government was forced to look into more cost-effective ways to run trains which finally resulted in many residents moving elsewhere.

Cats to the rescue

In 2008, things took an unexpected turn when a resident started caring for the multitude of stray cats left here by their owners. To create awareness about the cats’ dire circumstances, she began 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 can adequately care for its furry friends, by providing food, clean 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 the village, while 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

Before setting off on your Houtong Cat Village day trip, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the town’s rules. You will spot clear signage throughout the village, but here are a few essential tips to keep in mind for your visit:

  • Please do not feed the cats your food, as they might get sick. You can buy proper cat food at almost every store in Houtong!
  • Do not overfeed the cats – a few nibbles at a time should be more than enough until the next person comes by.
  • Help the locals keep the village clean. You’ll spot cat bowls all over town. Please use them when feeding the cats. And take your trash with you!
  • This probably goes without saying, but it’s really not nice to tease or pester the cats. Rather wait for the playful one’s to approach 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.
Houtong cat village

What to do on a Houtong Cat Village Day Trip

Shop for Meowsome Souvenirs

When locals realized that more and more tourist we’re visiting Houtong, they quickly began to capitalize on the town’s cat-theme. That’s why you’ll soon notice just about everything in Houtong is cat-themed. From kitty knick-knacks, postcards, hats, socks, stationary, stamps, bags and even cat-shaped pineapple cakes, lollipops and cream cakes await every cat enthusiast out there.

Some of the postcards available in Houtong

Nibble on Local Treats

Most of the eateries in Houtong are near the train station. Don’t expect anything too fancy, though. The stalls sell the usual local dishes that you’ll find everywhere else in Taiwan. For western-style food and drinks head to the cute cafes or tea houses on the hill.

Nibbles houtong cat village

Kickstart your Houtong Cat Village Day Trip

Houtong is only an hour’s train ride from Taipei, so it’s an easy day trip. For a stress-free journey, you’ll want to take the Su-Ao train, which stops right in Houtong. The ride costs NT$56-91, depending on which train you take. But, for accurate prices and train schedules, it’s best to check out Taiwan’s Railway site, 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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Taiwan | Houtong Cat Village | Easy day trip from Taipei | #daytrip #taipei #taiwan #houtongcatvillage

This post was updated on September 15, 2019.

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17 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!

  • I really like that there’s cat signage all over town! I like that you included do’s and don’ts in your post, I feel that’s very important! Glad I heard about this place!

  • 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

  • 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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