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Why Bac Ha Market – Sapa is special ?
Bac Ha market is a local spot for trading activities of local people opening every Sunday. Visiting there, the visitors can explore the culture of ethnic people.
The atmosphere is very different to Sapa, and you can walk the streets freely without being accosted by hawkers. To experience a small untouristy mountain town, Bac Ha is an excellent destination.
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
What to explore at Bac Ha Market – Sapa?
The Bac has market is divided into 7 zones, where each of them sell products of a certain class:
The market area specializing in textile, fabrics and materials for making ethnic costumes
Area of horses (ponies rather)
Market of farm animals (chickens, hens, pigs, buffaloes, etc...)
Area restaurants (Street restaurants of course)
Market of birds
Crafts and forging market
It is not simply a place for buy and sell but also an opportunity for people from different ethnicities to come and meet, for relatives to reunite after a long time missing, for women to demonstrate their beautiful handmade traditional costumes and even for youngsters to find their dates.
How to get to Bac Ha Market – Sapa?
From Sapa, tourists have several alternatives to go to Bac Ha Market: buses or motorbike.
By bus: There are direct buses from Sapa Terminal with the ticket price of VND 80,000; and it will take up to three hours to reach Bac Ha Market.
The Lao Cai to Bac has bus schedules are: 06: 30, 07: 00, 12: 00, 13: 00 and 15: 00. The schedule of the bus from Bac has to Lao Cai is at 06: 00, 07: 00, 08: 00, 12: 10 and 13: 00. The price of the bus fare are 2€ per way. Although the distance are just 60 kilometers, the bus takes 90 minutes, i.e., 1 hour and a half.
We recommend you take the bus to Lao Cai at 7:00 and back on the bus by 13:00.
By motorbike: Tourists can also hire motorbike (Minsk is the most popular) for VND 100,000/day and enjoy the wildly picturesque sceneries on the way to Bac Ha. The route passes through Ban Phiet; then following Highway 70 for about 40-50km, turning left at the three-way crossroad leading to Bac Ha.
Tips: Use our Route Planner Tool (http://routeplanner.vietnamonline.com/) to find the best way to get from Sapa to Bac Ha.
By Minibus tour to Bac Ha market
These tourist minibuses with capacity of 5 to 12 people are hired in Lao Cai travel agencies and hotels. Generallythey tend to leave for Lao Cai around 7: 00 am and return about 12: 00 from Bac has. It takes 1 hour to reach the market and usually minibuses / vans return back to Lao Cai 3 hours later, time more than enough to see the market and do some shopping.
- A nice visit if you stay in Bac Ha
- Interesting local ethnic market
- Colorful commercialized, touristy market but still well used by locals
- A great way to spend Sunday
- Huge, special, beautiful
Bắc Hà District, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Tips for you
Beware of a common scam: Bus conductors will always try to charge you US$10 or at least 150,000VND for the bus ride. Walk into the station, 300m south-west of the train station, down Phan Đình Phùng, where the price is written on the board, there will be no argument. Return buses leave Bac Ha at various times during the day. Last bus back to Lao Cai is at 3pm.Transportation
Being a minority ethnic people market, the town of Bac Ha is famous for its Sunday market which is a trading centre and meeting place for couples, friends, and relatives every Sunday.
This is, just as I read so in my guide and through reviews, the market you would better not miss out in Sapa region. You will see the minorities selling their products or just hanging around. The market is quite big with different sections (meat, fruits and veggies, handcrafts souvenirs and traditionnal clothes and even an animals section). A colorful and amazing market place.
Many big market stalls with sales man and woman not wearing original clothes selling minority tourist stuff, this has nothing to do with a real vietnamese market. And indeed, there are colourfull H'mong people selling their stuff, mostly vegetables and not their own handycraft products. If you want to buy some souvenirs buy them at the real H'mong people.Lots of people trying to sell food and drinks. And if you have been reading information about this market before, you know don't buy their food and drinks. They charge too much and have killed their own business.The atmosphere is not friendly, too commercial.We have been on another market. We had fun with the people, a lot of smiles. And no one trying too sell your things. However there was not much touristic stuff for sale, and that indicates it is a real Vietnamese minority market.
This lively hill-tribe market opens only on Sunday and is the biggest of its kind in northern Vietnam. In early morning, from outlying areas around the town, ethnic villagers in their colorful traditional clothing gather in and bring with them all kinds of goods to trade. Like me, after much walking and circling you might end up buying nothing but that is ok. It is really not about shopping but about watching the local people going about their business. Sadly, the market does not feel as authentic as it once was with plenty of souvenir shops, all claiming to sell "handmade" such as bags/ scarves/ cloth..but a good chunk of their product comes from China. However the town and the market itself is far less touristy than Sapa. I can see locals still outnumber tourists and this gathering so far is still very much a local affair. The prime time to visit is from sunrise to late morning. The market winds down at 2p.m as people start returning to their villages. So if you plan to come from Sapa, you should try to depart early, at least before 8 am as a journey to the town of Bac Ha takes about 3 hours in a minibus (1 hour to Lao Cai plus another 1.5- 2 hours from Lao Cai to Bac Ha). Also don't miss the Palace of Cat (or H'mong- name of an ethnic group) King which can easily be reached by walking.