Visually, we were blown away by Bac Ha market in northern Vietnam. During our winter visit, the women and their brightly-colored clothing provided the perfect contrast to the muted winter landscape. Most of the women who make the trek to Bac Ha market from their hill villages are from the Flower Hmong ethnic group. As you can see from our photos, they dress in colorful head scarves and beautifully embroidered skirts and tops.
This Sunday market attracts throngs of villagers from the surrounding hill tribes. Some walk several hours for the weekly opportunity to trade and barter food, animals, clothes and household goods. Most of the locals ignored us (i.e., tourists) and focused on the task at hand: buying, selling, and trading goods, as there's much to accomplish in this once-a-week opportunity.
There was a brisk trade at the market for everything from hand-embroidered skirts to all manner of 4-legged animals, including water buffaloes, pigs, dogs and cows. The “fresh” meat section is not for the faint of heart and might steer more than a few visitors in the direction of strict vegetarianism.
Video of the Bac Ha Sunday Market, Vietnam
Arranging a Trip to the Bac Ha Sunday Market
How to get to the Bac Ha Market: Hotels in Sapa arrange tours to Bac Ha for around $10 per person, including transport, a guide, and drop off at Lao Cai to catch the train back to Hanoi. Take your motion sickness medicine before the minivan ride from Sapa…it’s a windy road and locals derive great pleasure from descending at breakneck speed.