Bac Ha Sunday Market, Lao Cai Vietnam
Bac Ha Sunday Market, Lao Cai Vietnam

Bac Ha Market, Lao Cai

Bac Ha Market is among the most beautiful ethnic markets in Vietnam. The market has one gathering per week on Sunday morning only. Earlier most people got to the market on foot and by horse, nowadays many go by motorbike while several still go to the market on foot.

While local ethnic groups trade in many things at the Bac Ha Market but the most important part of the market is the trade of horses. They all need horses here, and back in the old days, horses were used for transport, for plowing, for racing… Nowadays they need horses mostly for racing.

Back then and now Bac Ha remains the biggest horse market in Vietnam and it is here that a great horse race is held once per year. Most visitors do not even notice this as the horse area is quite outside of the market, and once you are here you’ll be more likely be absorbed in the amazing atmosphere: the colorful costumes, the amazing visages, the smells…

Goods for sales at the Bac Ha Market change per season. They are mostly agricultural produce, dry food, vegetables, agricultural tools, puppies, poultry, brocades, traditional herbal medicine… Sometimes there is a long line of ladies standing selling rice wine or corn wine. People can come and have a sip of the wine for free to check the quality!

Pork at Bac Ha Market
Pork at Bac Ha Market

 At the entrance, there is a line of restaurants and food stalls for people to have breakfast before or after trade. The food is quite plain but the smoke, smell and the way people dine make the atmosphere so special. If you are interested in getting to know local food, do not miss tasting Thang Co (a kind of hotpot by different ethnic groups in the far northern mountains in Vietnam) and 5-color steamed sticky rice by the Hmong.

You’ll often notice groups of men keep raising toasts to one another waiting for their wife shopping! It is the happiest moments of the week anyway. Many of these men will fall asleep right on the spot and many would refuse to go home with their wife afterwards: they are too drunk to drive!

Bac Ha Sunday market
Bac Ha Sunday market

 

Hmong ladies with brooms
Hmong ladies with brooms

 

Flower Hmong ladies with joss sticks
Flower Hmong ladies with joss sticks

 

Hmong lady with joss sticks at Bac Ha 
Hmong lady with joss sticks at Bac Ha

 Further inside you’ll notice people sell hand-made brooms, joss sticks… should it be the season. Buyers could certainly check the quality of the incense by burning it themselves. You pay closer attention you’ll notice that they are quite the same from one seller to another, but some could sell and some can not!

 

Hmong ladies with dry food
Hmong ladies with dry food

You may like not to miss the herbal medicine shop as they claim to have several good effects: good sleep, healthy and potent power… No can can tell if it is right or not but the honey from wild forest bees is sometimes real and great!

Shoe and clothe shop
Shoe and clothe shop

 

A flower Hmong lady
A flower Hmong lady

 

Young Hmong girls
Young Hmong girls

 

Hmong ladies selling brocades at Bac Ha 
Hmong ladies selling brocades at Bac Ha

 For guys, you may like to spend more time at the brocades and clothe shops as young girls linger here more. They, who are often well dressed up and look gorgeous, spend quite some time around these shops. Many go shopping but several find a chance to socialize and look for a potential lover. Take your chance then!

A lady with fresh chilli and chilli sauce
A lady with fresh chilli and chilli sauce

 

A sleeping Hmong lady
A sleeping Hmong lady

 

 

A Hmong lady at Bac Ha Market
A Hmong lady at Bac Ha Market

 

Fresh chilli at Bac Ha Market
Fresh chilli at Bac Ha Market

 

A Hmong lady with 2 puppies
A Hmong lady with 2 puppies

 

Hmong ladies with chickens
Hmong ladies with chickens

The best time of the day to visit the Bac Ha Market is from 07:00 A.M through 09:00 A.M. After that people start leaving and it is quieter. The best time of the year to visit the Bac Ha Market is about the end of the lunar new year (Tet). The market then is full of goods; people get dressed up in the most beautiful clothes; it is so crowded; the smells are so nice and it is the most atmospheric.