Bac Ha Sunday Market: Location, History & How to Get There

Bac Ha Market, located about 135km from Sapa Town, is considered as the largest and most colorful market in Lao Cai Province of North-East Vietnam, and is held every Sunday from morning till around 2:00 pm. On weekends, throngs of local villagers from the surrounding hill tribes walk to the market to purchase and exchange products of food, animals, clothes and household goods.

  • Location: Bac Ha town, Bac Ha district, Lao Cai province
  • Opening Hours: Every Sunday Morning
  • Closing Time: Around 2.00pm

Bac Ha Sunday Market

History of the name Bac Ha comes from the Tay language "Pac ha". During the French colonial period, the French translators recorded the sound Pac ha with the Latin alphabet as Pakha. The Vietnamese read the Bắc Hà and became the official name of this market.

Highlights of Bac Ha Sunday Market in Sapa, Vietnam:

Bac Ha Market is the meeting place of different ethnic groups including Flower H’mong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Nung minorities, who gather together to buy and sell their own traditional products (ranging from hand-embroidered clothes to all manner of animals) that cannot be found elsewhere. That’s why the market is always very crowded and bustling.

Bac Ha Sunday Market Photo

Not only being the place for locals buying and selling, Bac Ha Market is also a meeting point for cultural and sentiment exchanging. When you have a chance to catch  the upland fair, you can see lines of people and horses pouring to the market through all paths and mountain roads. Sitting in groups, eating a hot soup pan (Thắng Cố - Traditional Food cooked from Horse) and talking to each other, all are what the locals normally do when they come to the market.

What to Do and Things to Buy in Bac Ha Market?

Bac Ha Market consists of 4 areas, an area for selling livestock, an area for selling groceries such as plows, hoes, shovels and knives. Area selling brocade, jewelry, wool and food area with Lao Cai specialties. Coming here, you can not only shop, enjoy delicious food, but also immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere, freely exchange and learn about the unique cultural beauty of the Mong, Tay, and Nung ethnic groups.

1. Buy Brocade Clothes and Handicrafts:

At Bac Ha Market, one can easily find every item they need for the daily life of the ethnic minority people, from hoes and shovels to brocade, buffaloes, horses,… But the largest and most conspicuous zone is apparently for brocade products such as cloths or clothes.

Bac Ha Market What to Buy

Visitors will be dazzled by colorful dresses and traditional clothing of H’mong and Red Dao women displayed in street shops. There are also myriads of intricately-made items like tote bags, shoulder bags, scarves and wallets. You can easily buy a gorgeous piece of embroidery for yourself or take it as a present for your friends and family. If you are not sure which ethnic group the clothes belong to, feel free to ask the sellers.

2. Purchase Cattle and Poultry:

Located on a high hill, the zone used for cattle and poultry trading seems to separate from the primary market. Here purchasers are offered a multiple of animal choices, from pigs, cows, buffaloes to birds, dogs or horses. Especially, the buffalo market is mainly for male traders and buyers. It is located in a very spacious and sufficient land and serves hundreds of people. Nearby are the dog market of the H’Mong and Dao ethnic people and a market for poultry.

3. Try Northwestern Cuisine:

It would be regretful if you visit Bac Ha Market without tasting its street food and local delicacies. In particular, one visiting Bac Ha Market cannot miss its specialty of the Mong’s traditional dish, called Thang Co, which is processed from horse meat; however presently from buffalo meat and pork. There are over 20 stalls selling this kind of dish in the Bac Ha Market.

BAc Ha Market Food

While savoring Local Dish Thang Co, it is highly recommended to try a few cups of Corn Wine a specialty of Dao and H’Mong people in highland Sapa. This kind of wine is also known as Ban Pho Corn Wine or Bac Ha Corn Wine. Although its taste is a bit strong at first, the smell is very aromatic indeed, the later taste is neither harsh nor sour.

4.  Join the Festive Atmosphere:

Each year, Bac Ha sees a lot of delightful festivals. On these occasions, locals often make wishes for prosperity, favorable weather and bumper harvests. Coming to Bac Ha that time, travellers can witness ethnic minorities dress up in their best traditional outfits and join masses of people drinking and dancing. Some outstanding festivals at Bac Ha:

  • Say San Festival: 2nd 6th of January according to the lunar calendar.
  • Ruoc Dat Ruoc Nuoc Festival: 15th of January.
  • Horse Racing Festival: takes place in early June.
  • Bac Ha Temple Festival: 7th of July.

Where to Stay at Bac Ha Sunday Market?

As hotels and guesthouses are not really ubiquitous in Bac Ha, you can book rooms at some homestays near Bac Ha Market:

1. Nobita Homestay:

  • Address: Bac Ha Town, Bac Ha District, Lao Cai
  • Tel: 0888 613 666 

2. Bac Ha Eco Homestay:

  • Address: Nam Cay Village, Bac Ha District, Lao Cai
  • Tel: 0941 050 178 

3. Cho Family Homestay:

  • Address: Phec Bung Village, Ban Pho Ward, Bac Ha District, Lao Cai 
  • Tel: 0949 423 221

How to Get to Bac Ha Sunday Market?

Distance to Bac Ha Market is about 67 km (1hours 30 minutes) driving from Lao Cai City, 102 km (2hours 30 minutes) driving from Sapa. Thus you can get to Bac Ha Market by Private Car. If you depart from Hanoi City, you can choose one of the following options to get to Bac Ha:

- By train: Vietnam Railways offers two express trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai every day. It may take you 5 hours to reach Lao Cai Train Station. Then you can catch a bus at Lao Cai Bus Station to get to Bac Ha Market and join the dynamic atmosphere here.

- By sleeping bus: On a daily basis, there are two sleeper buses which depart for Bac Ha from My Dinh Bus Station. This way will take you around 6 hours.

- By Private Car: You can also contact any car-hire service to get a vehicle for your journey Hanoi to Bac Ha Town. In particular, if you would like to rent a car, Hoang Gia Trans could be a reliable selection. Address: No. 06 A9, Giang Bien resettlement area, Long Bien ward, Hanoi, Tel: 0963 242 987 

When is the Best Time to Visit Bac Ha Market:

It would be wonderful if you travel to Bac Ha Market in spring time, from Jan to March. At that time, you can contemplate the exotic blooms of plum flowers which dye hills and mountains snowy white. Spring is also the season of festivals, so you can enjoy the festive atmosphere with locals.

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Bac Ha Sunday Market: Location, History & How to Get There Bac Ha Sunday Market: Location, History & How to Get There
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