LTL’s Guide to Houtong Cat Village: No 1 Destination for Feline Lovers
Forget your cat cafes, Houtong Cat Village is exactly what it says on the tin: a village full of cats! Located just to the North East of Taipei, Houtong is easily accessible by train and so is perfect for a day trip out of the city.
Chapter #1 – Houtong Cat Village: The Name
Chapter #2 – Houtong Cat Village: The Story
Chapter #3 – Exploring the Cat Village
Chapter #4 – Around Houtong Cat Village
Chapter #5 – Cats Galore
Chapter #6 – How to get to Houtong
Houtong Cat Village: The Name
Houtong was originally named “猴硐 – literally Monkey Cave” after a cave inhabited by monkeys near to the village in earlier times. Nowadays however, there isn’t a monkey in sight, most of the village’s inhabitants are instead of the feline nature.
In Mandarin Houtong Cat Village is literally called 猴硐貓村 Hóudòng Māo Cūn:
猴硐 Hóudòng = Monkey Cave
貓 Māo = Cat
村 Cūn = Village
Brush up on your Chinese animal names here:
Houtong Cat Village: The Story
In the 1900s Houtong was a mining village; it was one of the biggest and most technologically advanced sites for coal mining in Taiwan. It developed into a prosperous mining town, and at its peak had a population of around 6000 people.
But when the local mines were closed down in 1990 the village’s population quickly dwindled, as many of the residents moved away to look for working opportunities. There were only a few hundred people left behind.
In 2008 local cat lover Peggy Chien began to look after left behind stray cats. She gathered a team of volunteers to help take care the cats. They won over cat lovers around the nation with photos of the abandoned cats which they posted online.
As the word of “the cat village” spread, the population of cats and the number of feline fans, both local Taiwanese people and international tourists, coming to visit them steadily increased. Tourism also began to provide a source of income for the villagers. Before long Houtong Cat Village became a must-see stop on Taiwan holidays.
Many of the stray cats are now taken care of by the villagers and local volunteers.
Exploring the Cat Village
In addition to Houtong’s furry residents, the ‘Cat Village’ really lives up to its name; pretty much everything in the village is feline-themed. There’s a bridge in the shape of a cat, cat-themed cafes, signs, posters, drawings of cats all around town. You name it, it’ll somehow be related to our furry friends.
There’s plenty of yummy food stands and cute cafes around cat village for whenever you need a refreshment. There are of course lots of feline souvenirs to be bought too, and even cat music (lots of meowing) playing in the shops and eateries.
Don’t forget to revise your coffee vocab so you can order yourself your favourite beverage in Houtong’s cafes:
Around Houtong Cat Village
The village itself is very pretty; it’s located near the source of the Keelung River which runs through the village. The water is a beautiful clear green colour.
There are plenty of hikes you can take in and around the village, just drop into the visitor centre if you’re in need of some suggestions. There’s a an old Japanese shinto shrine just over the other side of the river, or at least what remains of it, that’s worth a look.
And of course, there’s an opportunity to get to know a bit about the village’s pre-cat fame history and culture. You can take a look at the remains of the old coal refinery, dress up as an old-school coal miner in the gift shop, and also take a train ride through the old coal mine.
Some of our favourite furry friends from Houtong 🐈 🐈 🐈
How to Get to Houtong Cat Village
Getting to Houtong Cat Village from Taipei is relatively easy. You can take an Yilan line train directly from Taipei Station. It takes around an hour, and the stop itself is called Houtong (猴硐 Hóudòng in Mandarin). Simple!
Train Ticket Cost: Around NT$50-60 one way
Looking for more trip ideas from Taipei? Take a read of our top 5 recommendations:
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