Cats – you either hate them or love them! I count myself to the latter, and if you do so too, Houtong (pronounced hóu dòng) is worth a visit on an extended trip to Taiwan.
At a Glance
- Why? Cute cats
- How? Train (via Pingxi/Ruifang)
- When? Any day w/o rain
- How long? max. 2 hours
Houtong is located in New Taipei’s Ruifang district, and it is easily accessible by train. You may both take a train from Pingxi (about 25 minutes, passing through Shifen, NT$ 20), or from Ruifang itself (about 10 minutes, NT$ 15). I’d recommend you to combine your visit to Houtong with other scenic spots nearby, for example Pingxi, Shifen, Jiufen, or even Yilan or Keelung, depending on how early you get there!
When I went to Houtong the weather was fantastic, and I’m not sure how the cats would react to the rain. However, one of Taiwan’s many cloudy days should be fine as well!
The Cat Village
For a history of Houtong, be sure to check out CNN Travel or Taipei Times. In short: Coal mining town (like so many towns nearby) turned deteriorated former coal mining town turned cat lover town (because, in the age of Facebook, Instagram etc., cats have magically become cuter!).
The cat village itself idyllically stretches on a hill, with green mountains to all sides. Mind you, though, the term cat village doesn’t over-state things. It’s really a small place. You won’t spend much more than an hour or so, so the above-mentioned 2 hours are really a conservative estimate and probably more than account for your waiting time at the train station.
You’ll be able to find many souvenirs which unsurprisingly are cat-themed. Those stands also sell some cat-snacks (feed them if you dare, though they’ll probably be tired/asleep!), and volunteers offer some (Chinese language) information.
And now, I present to you…
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