Bac Ha market in Vietnam

Bac Ha market is a typical cultural space of ethnic groups living in north of Vietnam. Taking place in each Sunday at Bac Ha district, 70 km from Lao Cai, the frontier city with China, the Bac Ha market is a destination not to be missed during the adventure  in high mountains in north of Vietnam. In reality, this is not only reserved for business but firstly it is a place of news exchange, the meeting of ethnic groups as Flowery Hmong, Tay, Phu La ... who come each Sunday in traditional costume that makes the Bac Ha market the most multicolored in Vietnam.

Bac Ha market in Vietnam

Special features of Bac Ha market:

On the road to go to the Bac Ha market, visitors can meet the high mountains, deep ravines and majestic rice terraces. You can stop to take pictures of natural beauty where ethnic groups will come together for the fair. Sometimes, they have to go to there very early, they spend even the night before the beginning of the market day.

In the past, this market happened on a hill. After, the new market was built and divided into different spaces: Plows, hoes, shovels, knives, vegetables, fruits, honey, spices...

But perhaps, the most attractive part for women, ethnic minorities and travelers is selling of jewelry, skirts, shirts, brocade, charming rattan baskets… Here, you can optionally choose products for yourself. You will be dazzled by the bright colors of the dresses of girls of ethnic groups such as: H'mong, Dao. The ornament patterns as the paintings are hand-woven, but very lively and full of color harmony.

Perhaps, the most colorful part is reserved to brocade made by women of Flower Hmong people. From the outside to the entrance, you will see many small stalls selling bags, hand bags, colorful towels…which are handily embroidered. By entering into the inside of the market, you will see the rows of skirts, hats, aprons ... on the ground or hung on poles. Each product requires a month of work, depending on the size, sophistication...

For men, the Bac Ha market or others in the high mountain, is also the opportunity to get together, after a week, in restaurants, bistros for corn alcohol consumption. Soup is always full in stoves with wine that cannot be dried up in the cups. The corn alcohol that is one of specialties of the Ban pho village is well known by the characteristic flavors, even from the plain around Hanoi. The part of the horses attracts many men from villages around.

Bac Ha market in Vietnam

In the animation of the fair, from somewhere, you will hear music performed by men with mouths organs to attract girls. Once at the Bac Ha market, you'll immerse yourself, in particular, in new discoveries about the life and customs of local ethnic groups.

Bac Ha market is one of the few places that still preserves its cultural identity. Here you can also see the goods but also jovial faces in colorful traditional clothes of the ethnic groups who come to have fun together and also with you. At the end of the day, when the market starts to end, the drunken men lying on horses conducted by women is part of the image in the minds of each visitors.

Local people carry also cattle to Bac Ha market for sale. There is enough space for hundreds of people leading these activities. If the part of brocade is the most colorful, buffalo market is an exciting and vibrant place. Here, there are the white buffalo, black, males, females of all sizes. Prices vary depending on the intended use, for field work or for meat. The process for buffalo’s choice is quite strict, almost exclusively with participation of men. You will see some of the people who pass the high mountains on foot to take the animals to the Bac Ha market but must bring them home because they can not sell them.

Besides the buffalo market, this is the part of dogs of ethnic groups like: Hmong, Dao.... Here they sell puppies with many colors and species. Many people from the plains are passionate about these species of the high mountain dogs that are known by the kindness, loyalty...

Bac Ha market in Vietnam

Besides the dog market, this is the part with many species of poultry like ducks, chickens ... that are naturally fed by ethnic groups. These products are so appreciated by people in town, plains ... like in Hanoi...

A specialty not to be missed is Thang Co hot pot in the gastronomic area. This dish, a specialty of the Hmong ethnic group now attracts everyone while going to the Bac Ha market.

The surroundings of Bac ha market:

Bac Ha market is not only a place of commerce, but at first, the one of meeting for ethnic minorities, especially the Flower Hmong people in the most traditional colorful costume. So, this the appointment place where people come to eat, drink corn alcohol, to exchange news…together in a special atmosphere.  But after sharing a sacred moment with local people, you cannot miss these following destinations:

Bac Ha market in Vietnam

Hoang A Tuong's Palace: In addition to the Bac Ha market, you have the opportunity to visit the ancient palace of King Hoang A Tuong. Construction was begun in 1914, but in 1921, this palace was completed. Nearly 100 years later, the imposing palace became a famous destination, attracting domestic and foreign travelers. With the design of both French and Chinese architects, the monument is the perfect blend of Eastern and Western architecture.

The palace is a unique architectural structure compared with other architectural buildings in Vietnam at the time. The palace was not only the place of the home, the workplace but also a fortress. The entire palace is closed architecture with a total area of ​​4000m2, with protective fences, bastions, rooms reserved for different women, guests ... warehouses for the poppy, barracks for bodyguard...

Western architecture is expressed in details like the laurels ornaments at the entrance, a symbol of happiness and prosperity, balusters in shape of vault, elegant columns, round stairs, tiled corridors...Hoang A Tuong' Palace is an interesting address to discover more the local history and culture after visiting Bac Ha market.

The villages of ethnic groups:  Before or after the Bac Ha market which happens on Sunday, we offer walks from 2 h to 2 days in the villages inhabited by ethnic groups like the Flower Hmong, Tay, Phu la...

As the cradle of corn liquor creating the famous Bac Ha, the Ban Pho village is located about 5 km from Bac Ha market. In the village there are more than 500 families who can distill this well known alcohol. There is no special secret. Corn is well selected, just boiled, fermented in 7 days, and then put in a wooden barrel that is put on a pot...

Bac Ha market in Vietnam

Surrounded by the peaks of the mountains, orchards, rice terraces, nestled in the green valleys, these villages are ideal to discover the life of local ethnic groups that you contact in the Bac Ha market.

How to get to Bac Ha market?

Bac Ha market is easily accessible by road from Lao Cai railway station (2 hour’s drive). From Hanoi, you have several night trains to get to Lao Cai and vice versa. The highway between Hanoi and Lao Cai has been made. It would take about 5 hours for this trip by your private car or local bus. But the old road between Lao Cai and Hanoi still exists for those who want to plunge into the deep countryside. The trip can last 8h drive.

It takes about 3 hours drive from Sapa, 4 h from Thac Ba Lake ... to go there. If you can adapt to the lack of comfort (Bac Ha has only local hotels or night in homestay), we suggest you to be there on Saturday to take advantage in maximum of this animated market on Sunday.

After enjoying the Bac Ha market day, on this occasion, we proposes you a walk during 1h/1h30/2h/1day/2days...through authentic villages of Flower Hmong to plunge in their daily life with admiration of the beautiful landscapes of the high mountain in north of Vietnam...

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