Little Hmong kids at the Can Cau Market – Lao Cai Vietnam
Little Hmong kids at the Can Cau Market – Lao Cai Vietnam

Can Cau Market, Lao Cai

Can Cau Market is among the most beautiful ethnic markets in Vietnam. The market is in Can Cau Commune of Si Ma Cai District, Lao Cai Province. The market of Can Cau is 20km north of Bac Ha Town and 120km from Sapa, 90km from Lao Cai City.

 The Can Cau Market has one gathering per week, on every Saturday morning. Traditionally the Can Cau Market was the biggest market in Vietnam that traded in water buffaloes. People still buy and sell water buffaloes here nowadays, but there are plethora of other goods for sales here nowadays.

The water buffalo market of Can Cau
The site of water buffaloes at the Can Cau Market, Lao Cai, Vietnam

The landscape around the Can Cau Market includes imposing mountains and deep valleys. You travel from Bac Ha to Can Cau you’ll be on a mountain slope with breathtaking scenery all the way. The road is in excellent conditions nowadays. A part from the amazing market, there are several paths leading to secret places with unbelievable scenery.

A Hmong family at the Can Cau Market
A Hmong family at the Can Cau Market

Normally buffalo traders and food stalls or restaurants owners have to come a day before the market. The restaurant owners have to prepare the site, the cover and the food. The water buffalo traders bring their buffaloes either on foot or in huge trucks. People do not use much water buffaloes for plowing nowadays but amazingly the demands for them are still huge!

Water buffaloes at the Can Cau Market
Getting closer to the buffaloes at the Can Cau Market

Anywhere in Vietnam that you may need a water buffalo, then you’ll go to the Can Cau Market. You’ll be lost in interest observing buffalo traders do business amid hundreds of water buffaloes around you! Do not miss shooting a few great photos here. The site for buffalo trade is outside of the main market area in the back, on a lower mountain slope than the market. The smell may not be nice but you would not notice as the scene is spectacular!

A gorgeous Hmong girl at the Can Cau Market
A gorgeous Hmong girl at the Can Cau Market

 

A happy mother and her baby at Can Cau
A happy mother and her baby at Can Cau

Most local ethnic people would go to the market by scooter nowadays but many still do it on foot. Many of them want to get up early and wrap up the trade and go home for some more work. Many just go to the market early and have more time to socialize and have a chat with their buddies or even finding a good potential match…. Whatever their purpose might be, they’ll make it early to the market anyway. And they are all well-dressed. It is the only opportunity of the whole week only!

A cute Hmong kid at Can Cau
A cute Hmong kid at Can Cau

 

Another little angel at Can Cau
Another little angel at Can Cau

Near the front entrance into the market there are lines of Hmong ladies selling sugar canes, vegetables, herbal medicine, dry food (dry bamboo shoots, cardamom, anise seeds…). There is a site to the left that you’ll find little kids with their mothers bringing puppies, piggies, goats...to the market to sell. The animals often get out of control and all of them look just cute.

Stalls at the entrance of the Can Cau Market
Stalls at the entrance of the Can Cau Market

On another side near the entrance, you’ll notice a line of restaurants steaming and smoking. The smells are tempting. Some people prefer an early breakfast before entering the market, some want to sip some tea and have some puffs on a water pipe...

Inside the market, there are heaps of everything ranging from food to brocades, shoes,… you name it! Watching little Hmong girls picking their favorites is just a wonderful experience. Some families have several kids each of them interested in different things and they all try to sneak off on their own hunt!

The best time of the day to visit the Can Cau Market is from 07:00 A.M through 09:00 A.M. The market should be quiet around 11:00 A.M. The market is more atmospheric in the winter in the dry air and lovely natural landscape. The best time to visit the market is a couple of weeks before the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet). It is a sensational experience getting lost in such an atmospheric scene with so much goods and with locals in their best clothes.