Houtong cat village is an abandoned mining town home to more than 100 stray cats and various gift shops and cafés. Keep reading to learn more.
I’ve visited Houtong many times. To help you determine whether it’s worth seeing, I’ve compiled some information based on my experience.
I’ll cover the following:
What Is Houtong Cat Village?
Houtong Cat Village, located in New Taipei City’s Ruifang District, is a small village that has become a popular tourist destination due to its large population of stray cats.
There are also various cat-themed shops and cafés. The souvenirs in these shops can get pricey, though.
But they’re worth it. Since they’re (purr)fect.
Houtong is also a functioning community. Ensure you respect people’s property. Because you’re around or sauntering through people’s homes. And don’t mess with the cats. They don’t have special protection.
I’ll emphasize later.
How to Get to Houtong Cat Village
Take the Taiwan Railway Association (TRA) train to Houtong Station if you’re coming from Taipei. Coming from other areas may require you to take the train to Ruifang Station and transfer to reach Houtong Station.
The journey should cost you NT$56–NT91.
You could also rent a car or scooter.
Houtong Cat Village Entry Fee
It’s free to enter Houtong cat village.
You’ll need to pay NT$150 if you want to participate in the Houtong Mine tour, though.
Things to Do in Houtong Cat Village
Houtong doesn’t have the most activities. You could peruse the village, visit the cat-themed cafés and souvenir shops, and feed the kitties. The walk would take you about an hour or 2.
Explore the area. It’s more peaceful than most tourist destinations. And gives you a chance to breathe in fresh, unpolluted air.
Bring insect repellent, though. You won’t want a bunch of mosquitoes biting you. Also, don’t let the cats lick areas you applied bug repellent.
Find other things to do in the area and collect a tourist stamp. The stamps don’t do anything other than serve as memorabilia to remember when you visited Houtong.
The folks here speak English. Ask them any questions about Houtong.
Houtong Mine Tour (Minecart Ride)
The Houtong Mine tour costs NT$150 and will put you in an 85-year-old diesel-fuel cart used during Japan’s occupation. The tour lasts around 30 minutes. And the tour guide can speak English.
They didn’t speak English during my visit, though. And the carts move at a turtle’s pace.
When riding the cart through the tunnels, you will breathe in the cart’s gas. I’d avoid this ride if you’re sensitive to that.
The tour will stop at an area where they’ll let you play with the tools the miners used for around 10 minutes.
A free-to-enter museum that presents:
- Old photos
- A diorama of the mining village
- Mining relics
- Tools used for mining
It’ll probably take you (at max.) 10 minutes to get through the museum. There’s also a gift shop here.
Houtong Shrine Relics
The Houtong Shrine Relic is one of Taiwan’s few remaining torii gates (entrance of a Shinto shrine). You’ll need to leave the village, ascend stairs, and descend more stairs until you reach a roadside.
You’ll eventually reach this shrine.
There isn’t anything to do in this area except observe one of the remaining relics from the Japanese Empire’s occupation.
I find it fascinating. And it’s on my bucket list to visit all the torii gates in Taiwan.
Visit this address: No. 61, Houdong Rd, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, 224
Upon leaving the village, you’ll need to cross a bridge, and then you’ll see an obvious hiking path.
What Can You Do Around Houtong Cat Village?
Drive for around 16 minutes from Houtong to Jiufen. Or take buses 808 and 788. Once there, explore the old street, hike along the Teapot Mountain Trail, and check out the Yin Yang Sea.
Once the sun’s close to setting, take bus 788 to Keelung City. Visit the night market, then walk off the calories at one of the many shopping centers.
If you’re staying in Taipei, take a train from Keelung Station to any of the stations in Taipei City. Or find a hotel with a harbor view in Keelung.
Those activities, combined with Houtong, will fill your entire day and only require a little money. Aside from food and transportation costs.
Hotels Near Houtong Cat Village
Houtong doesn’t have any hotels, since it’s a community. You’d find all “nearby” hotels in Keelung, Jiufen, and Ruifang.
I listed some Jiufen hotels in a separate piece. Check it out.
Houtong Cat Etiquette 101: How to Keep the Cats Happy
Out of my 20 times visiting Houtong, I’ve seen many tourists do what they can to piss off the cats. Don’t do this. They’re living beings that want to enjoy their lives.
Here’s what to know:
- Don’t pick up the cats
- Refrain from chasing the cats if they don’t want you to pet them
- Don’t touch the cat houses
- Wash your hands before & after petting them
- Don’t touch the cat’s mouths
- Don’t overfeed the cats
- Turn off your camera’s flash function when taking pictures
- Don’t tease the cats
- Place cat food in the cat bowls throughout the village; don’t litter
- There are cat food shops everywhere; don’t feed the cats human food
- Cats don’t want to deal with additional animals, don’t bring pets
If you notice an issue with the cats, notify someone at the information center. Let them deal with cat-related problems.
These are also animals susceptible to diseases. Tourists often infect the cats with whatever they’re stuck with. Leading to the village temporarily shutting down. That way, the townsfolk can vaccinate and medicate the kitties.
Houtong Cat Village History
It was once a thriving coal-mining community, but when the mines closed in the 1990s, the population declined, and many buildings deteriorated.
A group of cat lovers started feeding and caring for stray cats in the village. This caused the number of cats to increase and eventually led to the creation of a cat sanctuary, cat-themed cafés and shops, and the village becoming a popular tourist destination.
Houtong cat village doesn’t have much to do. But it’s a low-cost way to learn more about Taiwan, pet some cats, and burn a couple of hours. Once you’re done, venture to Keelung and/or Jiufen and spend the rest of the day there.
It’s a great day trip I’d recommend for tourists. So long as you like cats.
Find other things to do in northern Taiwan. Check out my recommendations and use them to craft your itinerary.