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Sapa ethnic market tours

Most rewarding to see Vietnam local ethnic markets.

sapa-can-cau-market

Highlights

  • Markets differ greatly accross Vietnam, from the water markets of the Mekong to the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s old quarter, but nowhere are they as diverse, nor as interesting, as they are in the mountains of Northwest Vietnam.
  • Here we provide a list of markets which you may wish to consider visiting as part of your Vietnam experience.  Whether you are here for a day or a week we can likely find a market for you to visit. If you have the time, consider adding a homestay to your itinerary to maximize your enjoyment and experience.

Description

  1. Bac Ha Market – Sunday
  2. Phong Hai Market – Monday
  3. Coc Ly Market – Tuesday
  4. Cao Son Market – Wedneday
  5. Lung Khau Nhin Market – Thusday
  6. Can Cau Market – Saturday

Itinerary

Bac Ha Market – Sunday

Sapa or Lao Cai —> Bac Ha —> Ban Pho —> Sapa or Lao Cai

Bac Ha Market is held every Sunday and is the biggest minority peoples market in Northwest Vietnam. Alive with the bright colours and extravagant costumes of the local people, here you will meet Flower Hmong (Red Hmong), Black Dao, Tay, Nung, La Chi, Phu La and other minority groups who come from far and wide to buy and sell a wide variety of goods and livestock, to exchange news and to renew friendships. In the past the market was a centre for trading horses but now that motorbikes have replaced them it is more common to see buffalo, cows, goats, fish and other livestock being traded. The market opens at around 7.30am and closes mid-afternoon, so an early start is advisable. A typical itinerary for a day at Bac Ha would include:

  • Drive to Bac Ha (110km/ 2.5 hours from Sapa, or 72km/ 1.5 hours from Lao Cai).
  • Take time to wander around the market, enjoy the atmosphere and have fun trying out your trading skills with the friendly local people.
  • Have lunch in a local restaurant where a variety of foods are available for your delectation and delight. You can even try the traditional local lunch of Thang Co (horse stew) and strong corn wine!
  • After lunch you will be driven to Ban Pho village where you can take a short walk around the village where Flower Hmong, Tay and Nung minorities live.
  • Enjoy an hour long horse carting trip from Ban Pho village to Na Hoi village. *NEW*
  • Drive back to Lao Cai or Sapa.

Of course we are more than happy to try and arrange an itinerary which is tailored specifically for your needs.  For example, you may wish to visit Can Cau Market on Saturday, have a homestay with local people on Saturday night and then attend Bac Ha Market early on the Sunday morning?  Do feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements.

Phong Hai Market – Monday

Sapa or Lao Cai —> Phong Hai —> Chinese Border Gate —> Sapa or Lao Cai

The Phong Hai Market is held every Monday and here you can meet with Flower Hmong (Red Hmong), Giay, Black Dao and Kinh people. The market traders sell clothes, handicrafts, vegetables and livestock.

The market opens at 6.30am so an early start is advised (it also closes early at 11am). This market is a little closer to Sapa and Lao Cai than others, so there is less travel time involved.  If you are on a short visit to the Northwest then you may wish to come straight from the train at Lao Cai and stop at the market en route to Sapa?

A typical itinerary for a trip to Phong Hai Market would be:

  • Drive to Phong Hai ( 65 km/ 1h 30m from Sapa, or 30 km/ 45m from Lao Cai).
  • Wander around Phong Hai Market and experience the sights and sounds. Why not engage in the experience by buying some fresh vegetables or barter for some handicrafts?
  • After the market visit the Chinese border gate then have lunch.
  • If you have come straight off the sleeper-train from Hanoi you will want to check in your hotel in Sapa and then perhaps choose to spend a half day at the Pumu House, Grande Vista or hill top locations (ask for details)?

Coc Ly Market – Tuesday

Sapa or Lao Cai —> Coc Ly —> Chay River —> Trung Do —> Bao Nhai —> Sapa or Lao Cai

Coc Ly a is a medium sized minority peoples market where every Tuesday the tribes from the surrounding villages come to buy and sell goods and meet friends. You will find Flower Hmong (Red Hmong), Black Dao, Nung, Giay and Tay peoples in attendance and the goods on offer range from local fruit and vegetables to livestock, handicrafts and clothes.

The market starts around 7am and closes in the early afternoon. A typical itinerary for a day at Coc Ly would be something along the lines of:

  • Drive to Coc Ly (95 km/ 1h 45m from Sapa, or 60 km/ 1 hour from Lao Cai).
  • Enjoy your time at the market, walk around, bargain and take in the sights and sounds of local life.
  • After exploring the market take a short drive to the Chay river. Sail down the gently flowing waters, lined by corn and vegetable fields,  passing beautiful villages, impressive waterfalls, gorges and caves as you journey downriver.
  • Stop halfway down the river to visit Trung Do, a village of the Tay minority people. Take time to explore the farms where they grow exotic chillis and jack fruit.
  • Sail a further 15 minutes down stream to Bao Nhai village and have a late lunch in a local restaurant.
  • After lunch drive back to Sapa or Lao Cai.

Cao Son Market – Wedneday

Sapa or Lao Cai —> Cao Son —> Muong Khung —> Sapa or Lao Cai

Cao Son Market is a small/medium sized market held every Wednesday. Set among beautiful rolling mountains this is a colourful market full of local products and handicrafts. Here you will find Flower Hmong (Red Hmong), Phu La, Black Dao and Chinese traders engaged in business.

As with most markets, it starts early. So an early start is advised. A typical itinerary for Cao Son Market would be:

  • Drive to Cao Son (120 km/ 2h 45m from Sapa, or 85 km/ 2 hour from Lao Cai).
  • Enjoy spending time walking around the market taking in the sights and sounds (not to mention tastes) and perhaps engage in some business with the local people.
  • After the market, stop in Muong Khung for lunch and then pay a visit to pineapple and tea plantations.
  • Drive back to Sapa or Lao Cai.

Lung Khau Nhin Market – Thusday

Sapa or Lao Cai —> Lung Khau Nhin —> Muong Khung —> Sapa or Lao Cai

Lung Khau Nhin is a small market very close to the border with China, close to Muong Khuong town. The Black Dao, Giay, Tay, Flower Hmong (Red Hmong) minority peoples all attend this market.

Lung Khau Nhin market is held every Thursday starting around 7.30am and closing in the early afternoon. The market is set in beautiful scenery and is very remote. It is a very ‘authentic’ market with few tourists visiting. The market mainly sells vegetables, seeds and livestock for the minority peoples.

A typical itinerary for a day at Lung Khau Nhin Market would be:

  • Drive to Lung Khau Nhin (110 km/ 1h 45m from Sapa, or 65 km/ 1 hour from Lao Cai).
  • Spend time walking around the market taking in the sights and sounds and perhaps trading with the local people.
  • On the way back we will stop in Muong Khung and pay a visit to pineapple and tea plantations.
  • Depending on your itinerary you can have lunch either in Muong Khung or Lao Cai.
  • Drive back to Sapa or Lao Cai.

Can Cau Market – Saturday

Sapa or Lao Cai —> Can Cau —> Bac Ha —> Ban Pho —> Sapa or Lao Cai

Can Cau is a busy market which is held every Saturday. Located just below the Chinese border, it is a colourful, vibrant market where you will encounter minority peoples such as the Flower Hmong (Red Hmong), Nung, Phu La and even Chinese people from across the border.  All kinds of goods are traded here, from fabrics to various types of livestock to the powerful local corn wine.

As you would expect, the market starts early (around 7.30am) and closes in the early afternoon so you will want to make an early start to get the most out of the experience.

A typical itinerary for a day at Can Cau Market would be:

  • Drive to Can Cau (125 km/ 3 hours from Sapa, or 87 km/ 2 hours from Lao Cai).
  • Take time to explore the market. Mingle with the locals and soak in the atmosphere, maybe try to haggle a bargain!
  • After the market travel to Bac Ha town to have lunch in a local restaurant where you can try the traditional lunch of Thang Co (horse stew) and corn wine (alternative dishes are available!).
  • After lunch we will drive to Ban Pho village and take a short walk around where the Flower Hmong, Tay and Nung minorities live.
  • We will see the local people making corn wine in their houses, ready for the Bac Ha market on Sunday.
  • End the afternoon with a visit the house of Mr. Ho, a local Hmong man who performs traditional music, dance and story telling.
  • Drive back to Sapa or Lao Cai.

Price

From $40 USD per person, small group of 6

Tour Class

Group – double/twin sharing

1 2 3 4 5 6
Bac Ha Market – Sunday 105 81 76 68 63 55
Phong Hai Market – Monday 89 66 61 53 48 40
Coc Ly Market – Tuesday 95 71 66 58 53 45
Cao Son Market – Wedneday 98 73 68 60 55 46
Lung Khau Nhin Market – Thusday 92 67 62 54 49 41
Can Cau Market – Saturday 115 88 83 75 70 62

Included

Tour guide, private transport, lunch, village entrance fees, snack, water, horse carting trip

Not Included

Drinks, personal travel insurance, tips

Trip notes

What to bring

  • A hat & sunscreen, mosquito repellent.
  • Appropriate clothing for the season
  • Comfortable walking shoes/clothes
  • The itinerary can be changed due to weather, tide levels and operating conditions.
  • Special request (diet or vegetarian …) should be sent before your departure date.

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FAQs

Why Private tour – What are difference between Join-in-group tour and Private tour ?

Join-in-group tour: You join the tour some other tourists. You share the bus, boat, tour guide, so the price is cheaper. You have to be on time and follow the fixed itinerary and timetable.

Private tour: The bus, boat and tour guide is reserved for your group only. The timetable and itinerary can be flexible. (For private overnight trip to Halong bay, when booking please confirm if you want to take private boat or group sharing).

Terms of Tour