It is the most famous market in the mountains of Vietnam. It only takes place on Sundays at 6 am in the morning, until 3 pm in the afternoon. There is a wide variety of stalls. The clothes are different from one stall to another, as well as the dialects between flower Muong, Tay or Dao. The ethnicities are all centered for a few hours on the same day, to sell.
In this market take place various trades like the basic daily products like vegetables, clothing, hygiene. But there are also cattles or porcs and other animals. It is not unusual to see many young people to go there and seek for the potential love of their life. These Sunday markets are a real platform for encounters and to have conversations between ethnicities.
The Bac Ha market’s location
Between Sapa and the Bac Ha market there are 110 kms. From Lao Cai, however, there are only 76 kms. The Bac Ha market is between 1000 m and 1500 m in the altitude.
Before, it took place at the top of a hill in the wide-open air. Nowadays, it is located on a designated area with some concrete parts. But the atmosphere around remained the same: traditional and simple.
The market evolves around 4 different sections: animal trade, house products, farming tools and clothing. Another nearby area is for restauration only.
To access the Bac Ha market
Overall the roads are doable but in a poor condition. They enable motorbikes to pass, even when they are loaded. The road is very sinuous. This short adventurous path makes you see many wonderful views, so typical in the North Western part of Vietnam. You will then see the Muong and Dao people in their colorful clothes, carrying their basket on the back. Some of them walk and others ride on the back of their buffalos. They all go to Bac Ha market in the hope of selling, even though they live in some remote areas.
The items at the market
You will find a wide diversity of products: animals, vegetables and clothing. They are in general primary needs basic products, that their lifestyle and weather conditions demand.
For instance, a very important animal in the mountains, is the buffalo. They carry goods, people and help to plow the fields.
This market, as well as any traditional markets in Vietnam has a lot of local food. It is freshly cooked. There are approximately 20 stalls with a large choice of things to taste. Yo uwould be able to try the Thắng cố, a traditional dish in the mountain that contains horse meat. But recipes tend to get reinvented. So now you can actually find Thắng cố with pork or buffalo meat.
- To buy local souvenirs and handmade clothing: you will find typical objects, resulting from the traditional know-how of local ethnicities. It is a meaningful gift, which contributes in preserving and passing traditions from one generation to another.
- To visit the Pho village. This little village of the flowers Muong is located at 2 km from the Bac Ha town. It is a chance to learn more about their indigenous traditions in the comfort of their traditional houses.
- The visit of the border’s gate between Vietnam and China named Ha Khau. It is very amusing to be at the limit between such two big countries.
- Discovering the local traditions among the various ethnic groups in the mountains. You need to get to know them, as they are playing an important role in their daily life. It also plays an important part in the cultural identity spread of Vietnam around the world.
- The Hoang A Tuong palace, built between 1914 and 1921, arises from the calm hill surrounded by mountains. It is an amazing construction in a euro-asian inspiration style which total deserves a visit.
- The Bac Ha temple, known as an historic and cultural monument on a national level since 2003. The Bac Ha temple celebration, usually occurs on the seventh day of the lunar month. There are several shows in the traditional folkloric style (Mua Xoe – a Tay traditional dance, roosters fights, rope pulling … )