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Whilst we were staying in the old mountain town of Jiufen, we used the Pingxi train-line to explore much of the nearby Riufang region (also easily accessible from Taipei). One of the places we were most excited about (yes, we need to get out more!) was visiting the self proclaimed ‘Cat Village’ in Houtong. You know you are going to be in for something very different when one of the first things you see as you arrive at the station is a massive metal footbridge, shaped like a cat.
Arriving at Houtong cat village
The experience starts as soon as you arrive at Houtong Cat Village Station, with the station and platforms adorned with various cat-friendly hangouts, scratching posts and even a huge plastic figurine depicting a cat with a station master’s hat.
Alas, no cats were here as we arrived so we made the short walk across the road where we had our initial furry encounters. There were several kitties sunning themselves near to the river, plus others play-fighting near one of the cafes. Most of the cats we saw all appeared well look after (perhaps too well as some were really fatty cattys).
Exploring Houtong cat village
To head into Houtong Cat village itself, go back to the station and take the pre-mentioned cat footbridge across the railway tracks to explore the village. Our first sight was several cats being fed by one of the locals (we think) plus several large cat models you can sit and pose with.
Here, you can wander aimlessly around the various hillside walkways, discovering cats in every nook and cranny (some wanting attention and some just wanting to be left alone to sleep, fair enough).
You will also find several cat themed cafes and shops, of varying quality. There is one main mini-strip of cafes and shops that all seem to be pretty good quality – some of the others on the outskirts are a little less salubrious and a tad run-down.
One of the shops also played constant ‘miaow miaow’ songs (famous hits played back as cat sounds – y’ouch and an attack on the ears!). We bought a couple of mini souvenirs, including a model of the famous Houtong station cat, complete with train driver’s cap.
What is nice (and possibly unexpected) is that whilst Houtong is primarily famous for its feline side, it is a gorgeous town with mountains serving as a perfect backdrop and also right next to the river. It has a large bridge that spans the gorge which allow for some fantastic views (almost reminiscent of Ironbridge in Shropshire, UK).
As a former mining town, there are other non cat-themed attractions like a mini-train ride on a former mining train that goes through all manner of tunnels (not really our thing but the tour groups seemed to like it).
Houtong Cat Village seems to have embraced its status well, with enthusiastic locals setting up cat baskets / huts in all manner of places around the village, including a little sheltered section right by the river.
Obviously they are very reliant on the cats for tourism and trade so it good to see they have taken steps to look after the cats. Roughly half of the cats we saw had collars (especially on the upper levels by the shops and cafes) so we assume that some have homes whilst some are strays.
If you go to Houtong Cat Village with the understanding that this is a real working place and not a large, clean and neat cat cafe, you should have a fun time exploring.
Houtong itself isn’t massive so we’d recommend you visit as a part of a day trip that takes in Shifen, Pingxi and Jingling (all along the same Pingxi train line). You can buy a day pass from Riufen station for 100 TWD and make a ‘purr-fect’ day of it (sorry couldn’t resist one pun)!
Other Asia blog posts
- Jiufen – a day trip from Taipei, Taiwan
- Top things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- The Cat ‘n’ a Cup café in Chiang Rai, Thailand
- Eating at the Modern Toilet restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan
- Tasting Taiwanese food on a Taipei food tour
- Guide to Taichung, Taiwan
Here are some highly rated accommodation suggestions for all types of budget in Taipei!
Hostel accommodations that come highly rated include:
If you are looking for something mid range then these hotels are in excellent locations with great reviews:
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Pocket WIFI rental in Taipei
Having a pocket WIFI device was super handy during our trip. We pre-ordered one online with Klook and collected the device at Taipei airport and dropped it off at Kaohsiung’s airport. The rental cost was pretty cheap at only £1.25 per day, and we were both able to connect our phones to it.