Location: Sapa Town, Lao Cai province
Time: Saturday night every week
This is the kermis of the Dao and H’mong ethnic minority group where people gather together to exchange, sell and purchase many kinds of commodities, local products. Sapa market is a unique cultural and economic activity since it would provide you a deeper understanding on the H’mong and Dao’s culture and lifestyle. This is an opportunity for local people, especially the youth, to meet and get to know about each other through exciting songs for courting, through flute tune, khèn, đàn môi (some local musical instruments).
In the afternoon, you will find small groups of Dao and H’mong boys and girls gathering together and glancing at each other. Then when the evening comes, they seat together under the light-yellowed lights singing and talking with each other all night long. When they have found their soul-mates, they give each other a memorable souvenir and promise to meet again in the next kermis. This cultural activity dated back to long time ago and still preserved until now. Sapa market is especially useful for visitors who are interested in cultural activities of ethnic minority groups in Vietnam.
Bac Ha Kermis
Location: Bac Ha district, Lao Cai province, 60km from Lao Cai city and is considered the largest kermis in the mountainous highland of the frontier regions.
Coming to this market, you can freely choose various kinds of brocatelle and feast your eyes with colorful clothing of H’mong and Red Dao girls. Foreign tourists often show their admiration for handmade pictures with vivid vignettes, harmonious beautiful colors. You will also have chance to enjoy the special wine of H’mong people in Pho village which is well-known for the typical strength and intense taste. The horse-selling area attract mainly men who come from remote villages, even from other provinces like Bac Giang, Ha Tay… do come here to purchase horses.
Visiting Bac Ha market, you will not be invited consistently to buy their products, instead, you will find that people there are very friendly in traditional colorful clothes. They come to the kermis not only for business purpose, but also for entertaining, getting acquaintance with people there. In the afternoon, when people visiting the market start to scatter, you will catch the sight of a drunk man unsteadily riding on the horse’s back and the woman take the horse back to the village, such image will last long in your mind as an unforgettable moment.
Coc Ly Market
Coc Ly market is often situated by the suspension bridge which across the Chảy River. This market is not a large one but it is very important to ethnic minority groups in the west of Bac Ha district. The market takes place once week on Tuesdays. This is the place for the Flower H’mong, Black Dao and Nung to meet and exchange goods. Like other highland kermises, you can find all kinds of products at Coc Ly market from local products to commodities taken from the lowlands or from China. Ethnic people coming to this kermis not only to purchase goods, but also to dine, meet others and get acquaintance and find new friends. In the market, there are different separate areas like the site for selling buffalo, horse, fruits, foods, etc.
Mentioned above are several major kermises which take place in or near Sapa. If you have interest in exploring more about the rites of ethnic minority groups there, try to visit these markets and many other markets near Sapa. Your knowledge of Vietnam culture in general and ethnic minority groups in particular will surely be improved once you have set foot to this remote mountainous region.
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