Sa Pa is a mountainous district of Lao Cai province in Vietnam. Located about 38 km far away from Lao Cai city and 376km from Hanoi city, Sapa inhabited of many ethnic minority groups such as Dzao, H’mong, Tay, Giay, Hoa etc. Each group has their own language, custom, and cultures. This forms diverse and interesting markets
Bac Ha Market (Sunday Market)
Here, visitors can expect to see many items up for sale, including pigs, buffalo, cows, chickens, ducks and dogs. However, as a warning to vegetarians and the faint of heart, while many of these animals are sold live, in one section of the market they are sold as cuts of meat, which can create a graphic display. While these items are not convenient for tourists to purchase, many vendors sell things that will make unique and interesting souvenirs. For example, many locals sell beautiful hand-embroidered skirts, colorful fabric and small wooden dolls. Still, many tourists decide to take home a bottle of Bac Ha’s famous corn whiskey. This potent drink, which is also called corn hooch, is made by the Flower H’mong people and is only found in this area of Vietnam. Since it is so popular, there is an entire area of the market devoted to it.
The Bac Ha Market is not only an ideal location for buying unique souvenirs. It is also known as a tiny cultural hub. It is a weekly spot for individuals from local tribes as well as people from various ethnic groups, including Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Flower H’mong. Many visitors find the Flower H’mong the most fascinating, as their colorful clothing makes them the most noticeable people at the market. With so many different types of people, the market is a great insight into Vietnam’s culturally rich history. Since it is so colorful and diverse, many visitors say that it is also a photographers dream, so guests are advised to bring a camera.
Can Cau market (Saturday)
Can cau market is one of the most fascinating open-air markets in the region, specialising in livestock. It’s 20km North of Bac Ha and just 9km south of the Chinese border. Visitors are generally H’mong groups from highland villages. The local H’mong are the famous variegated or Flower H’mong due to the intricate and colourful nature of their costumes, and their colourful dresses makes is a beautiful sight. Almost every Saturday around 8 different minorities are represented at the market. Travel is often made by horseback as a way of carrying the heavy loads to and from market. Can Cau also attracts a large number of Chinese traders, evidenced by the booming dog trade here.
Cocly Market (Tuesday)
It is the colorful market in a mountainous area where the Flower H’mong mainly gathers to exchange their homemade products.
This Tuesday market is about 70 km from Sapa. You can get here via a fairly good road, or by road and river. Coc ly is a small village on the Chay river inhabited by the Flower H’mong Minority people. The Flower H’mong traditionally wear a distinctive and bright coloured costume. They are a gentle, softly spoken people who live in the steep mountainous country close to the Chinese border. Because Coc Ly is more remote than Sapa, the dress and way of life is more traditional than in the large centers. The market deals in fruit, vegetable, pork and chickens, in addition to colourful fabrics and items of traditional dress. There is a buffalo sale in progress and many of these placid animals are tethered close to the market. Buffalo are still widely used in the growing process, especially in the mountainous regions. Horse are an important form of transport in the North West and a quite a few, sturdy ponies were tied to tree around the market. The horse carry a light timber frame on their back to carry produce to and from the market.After visiting the market, which is the most fresh and unspoiled market of the region, offering a wide range of different colorful ethnic minorities such as Flower C’mon, Black Dao, Tay , Fula, Lachi, Sandui and Nung….there will be an exciting boat cruise winding you through a breathtaking, out of this-world landscape where the mountain grow from water presenting their most hidden mysteries, including caves and tiny minority…