In the rugged mountains of northwestern Vietnam, every Sunday, Bac Ha market attracting thousands of ethnic villagers from the surrounding regions. People come here not just for trading good but more importantly exchanging sentiment and culture – a place for relatives reuniting after a long time, youngsters finding their lovers and the girls demonstrating the beauty of their handmade traditional costumes.
Colorful Bac Ha market
It looks like a living museum representing the quintessence of Vietnam‘s highland. If you love the rustic, untamed rural countryside and wish to explore a unique culture, Bac Ha Market is definitely a place worth visiting.
How to go to Bac Ha market
Firstly, from Sapa (or Hanoi) back to Lao Cai, then from Lao Cai go to Bac Ha (90 km away). You can take the shuttle bus from Lao Cai to Sapa, it takes about 3 hours to arrive Bac Ha market.
In case you travel by motorbike, From Lao Cai, cross the Coc Leu Bridge then follow Highway QL70 about 45 km to Bac Ham crossroads, turn left to Bac Ha (with signposts).
You can make the Bac Ha market trip within a day then come back to Sapa in the late afternoon.
Early mornings in Bac Ha, while mist still shrouds the surrounding mountains, the market starts to hum with laughter and conversations signing a day full of joys and activities. As the sun rises higher, the whole market is adorned with the colorful costumes of ethnic women. According to the belief of local people, shopping is the same as an outing and enjoying the life and going to this market is like joining a fashion festival where the girls wear the most gorgeous patterned dresses with lovely embroidered bags and brightly colored check-patterned headwear. On Sunday, all roads lead to Bac Ha market!
Bac Ha market sapa
Once setting foot in the market entrance, the most prominent is the stalls of brocades, jewelry, shirts and even the graceful rattan basket. Keeping an eye out for clothing and accessories sold in here, you will be able to tell them apart by the contrasts in colors, patterns and realize that various items represent various cultures. Hiding in each item is a long and interesting story about the origin and meaning of each tribe, just ask and the vendor will be more than happy to share with you.
Run your hand over the embroidery and you will feel the love the maker of the item has for their work and culture. Bronze bracelets and earrings sophisticatedly carved also make wonderful gifts for your loved ones back home.
Food in Bac Ha market Sapa
The trip to this colorful market will lack the poetic and perfect if you do not explore and enjoy the culinary here. What could be much more interesting when going to Bac Ha and enjoying “ Thang co” – the only food in the world. “Thang co” is a type of soup which is made of horsemeat, horse’s viscera and horse’s bone. You might feel a little bit panic-stricken when hearing about the ingredients but that feeling will be blown away once you taste it.
Thang Co - especial cuisine in Sapa
Foody Bac Ha market Sapa
Just like the costumes of highland women, Cuisine in here also brings various colors. You’ve probably tried sticky rice with the white version in Vietnam, but have you seen the blue one? The purple one?. This special dish – called “Xoi bay mau” – attracts people by the combination of seven colors using any kind of local herbs and the skillful hands of ethnic women to make. It’s not only eye-catching by the colorful appearance but also have a special taste. Let’s try it and you surely have a memorable experience.
Xoi Bay Mau Bac Ha market Sapa
If you have a chance to visit Bac Ha, plan ahead to fulfill your belly with local foods. There is a long list of stunning dishes and stories behind them waiting for your exploring and enjoying.
Local Ethnic in Bac Ha market
Roaming around the market is like you are entering a whole new world. It’s filled with locals in the colorful textiles and likes a giant rainbow of colors as you look out the crowd. All of the locals bustle around buying their food, farming supplies, tobacco, moonshine, pots. And in the voice of trading activities, you could also hear somewhere the sounds of panpipes and the singing of young boys luring girls. It’s not just a market – it’s a lifeline for everything and everyone.
Bac Ha market
Bac Ha market really is a show of smiles and vibrant colors. What makes Bac Ha market more special than any other markets in the world, is how much joy, smiles and laughter are exchanged. At the Bac Ha fair, there is no distance between the tribes, no language barriers or regional contrasts. Everyone comes together for one purpose – to make an honest living and bring joy to the ones around them.