Hmong kids Can Cau Saturday Market, Si Ma Cai, Lao Cai
Hmong kids Can Cau Saturday Market, Si Ma Cai, Lao Cai

Lao Cai – Can Cau Saturday Market - Sapa – 3/4 Day

Can Cau Market is among the most interesting ethnic markets in Vietnam. This market is not as famed as the Bac Ha Market due to not convenient access earlier. The 30km road from Bac Ha to Can Cau used to be in bad conditions. 

 Nowadays, the road is in excellent conditions and the travelers to Can Cau will be caught in awe: the sublime and wild mountains, the amazing ethnic people, the market is in a great location with breathtaking landscape all around. There are several ethnic villages and hiking paths that lead you to more great surprises which are absolutely off the tourist track.

The market at Bac Ha was originally a horse market, the Can Cau Market was originally a water buffalo market. They still have the traditional goods nowadays plus several other items for sales. You’ll marvel at the scene of hundreds of water buffaloes gathering at the back of the Can Cau Market and further from the site, the looming dark-green mountains covered in mist... You do not want to miss a few great photographs here.

The market is best visited from 07:00 A.M to 09:00 A.M so it is best you start as early as you can from Sapa or Lao Cai as the drive takes 2-3 hours. The best time of the year to visit the market is from November through February. It is dry and cold and the colorful attires of the ethnic ladies just shine and warm up the great atmosphere. When it is near the Vietnamese Tet, wow, you’ll love it with ladies and kids well dressed up in their most wonderful clothes. And the guys are allowed to drink more at the market during this period, too!

Our trip can be done from either Lao Cai Train Station or Sapa and concludes at either of the two places.

Water buffaloes at Can Cau Market
Water buffaloes at Can Cau Market

 Trip highlights:
1/You’ll be surrounded by ethnic people dressed up in colorful traditional clothes.
2/You’ll be charmed by local people: what they eat, how they do business in the market, items for sales in the market...
3/You’ll have a glimpse of local food and see how people dine and socialize. You may like to taste some yourself.
4/You’ll be absorbed in shooting as many photographs as you can and still feel you haven’t got enough;
5/The amazing vibe and authenticity will be in your mind as a pleasant memory for several years to come.

A corner for selling puppies at Can Cau Market
A corner for selling puppies at Can Cau Market

What is included:
English speaking guide;
Private car for the transfer;
Admission fees;

What is not included:
Insurance;
Food, drinks and personal expenses;
Others not mentioned as included above;

Detailed itinerary
0530-0600 A.M Our trip takes 9-10 hours: Paradissa’s team picks you up from Lao Cai Train Station (or your hotel in Sapa) in the early morning and takes to Can Cau in Si Ma Cai District, Lao Cai Province.

The road goes up most of the time as we climb into the Bac Ha Plateau with averaged altitude of over 1,000m above sea level. Once we have passed through Bac Ha, the landscape gets even wilder and the you’ll have more feel of remoteness. More an more imposing mountains with deep valleys on the way and the road involves steep gradients up and down.

Once we arrive at the Can Cau Market, you’ll be mostly awaken by the exotic scenes, smells and noise. Have time to get absorbed in all that might of interest to you for an hour or so.

After the market, we transfer you back to Bac Ha where you have free time for lunch or we can go back straight to Sapa or Lao Cai. Alternatively we visit a couple of Hmong villages in Bac Ha and the former residence of the Hmongs’ King in Bac Ha. Our trip concludes at either Sapa or Lao Cai later in the afternoon.