The charm of Bac Ha market
Bac Ha Market is one of the largest markets in the North West and has kept pace with visitors when they have an opportunity to visit this highland. Every Sunday, the meeting day of Bac Ha fair, the market is crowded, bustling and colorful. In the opinion of indigenous people, going to the market also means going to play. The reason for this is that Bac Ha market (Lao Cai) is not just a place to buy, sell and exchange goods, but it also brings spiritual culture, is a place to meet, exchange and confide people’s feelings.
People go to Bac Ha market very early because their house is far away (they are hindered by the mountains, the hills), what is more, they mostly walk to the market, sometimes they have to go from the previous day to come to the market in time. They also bring all kinds of produce such as fruits, shan tea, honey, wine, brocade dress, jewelry, orchids, seedlings or bring horses, buffalos, cows, pigs, or even carry the sacks of corn, potatoes on their shoulder to the market. However, there are also many people passing tens of kilometers to Bac Ha market with only a khèn (pan- pine, the traditional wind instrument consisting of several bamboo tubes arranged close together). Some people carry a rooster, a nightingale bird under their arm. Especially, there are people who go to the market without bringing anything, they do not buy or sell anything, they go to the market to enjoy a day full of fun after a whole week living silently in the mountainside.
Early in the morning, when the sky is still covered with white clouds, all the ways leading to Bac Ha market are filled with colors of brocade items. The groups of 5, of 3 people who are members of a family, old people, young children, boys and girls dressing up go to the market. Domestic and foreign tourists also attend the crowd. The wide market is quickly filled with people. What impresses tourists the most in Bac Ha market is the beauty of the women in colorful traditional clothes. The most beautiful are still the dress of Mong Hoa ethnic women. The spread of the skirt is the tail of the peacocks with two prominent yellows of yellow and red. Each girl is like a mobile flower. The girls and women go in groups and brighten and attract other people’s attention wherever they go. The whole market is like a flower market.
Sections and products in Bac Ha market
Bac Ha market is very large and is divided into zones with specific characteristics of commodity products. The first must- mention section is the area of brocade products embroidered and woven manually by ethnic people here. The colorful dresses, bags, wallets, towels, etc. are put in the booth. Associated with the costume are the necklace, rings, silver and bronze bracelets… with shapes and motifs bearing bold “personality” of the mountains, which always attracts the attention of many visitors.
The next one is the vegetable area where is the colorful world of fresh red and green peppers, yellow beeswax and working tools such as dark black shovels … that are displayed interestingly. Going to the back area, we can find a large area for Bac Ha horse market, Bac Ha buffalo market with hundreds of creatures and men gathering together. Besides, there are of course Bac Ha dog market with breeds of dogs in the highland welcomed by the lovers of pets. Last but not least, there is an area for Bac Ha bird market, where the ” music of the forest ” resounds vibrantly.
Enjoy the unique local food
For the male highlanders, a market is also a place where they can meet each other and drink corn alcohol together around the hot pot of “thang co” – the characteristic dish of the Northwest Highland. Thang co is always cooked in the pan as well as the alcohol in the tank is never empty.
Thang co, which is called Kha Tha in local language and means “meat soup”, is a specialty of the Mong ethnic. According to the village elders in this area, this unique dish appeared several hundred years ago when the Mong, Tay and Nung ethnic groups moved to the North West, but this dish is most famous in the fair sessions of Mong people.
Traditionally, Thang Co is cooked from horse meat, but today, there are many variations with buffalo meat, pork. In the cold air, eating a bowl of thang co with cups of corn wine will give visitors an unforgettable experience.
In the food area, people can also feel the smell of mèn mén (a local dish) cinnamon, anise flowers…, “feed” the eyes with trays of five color sticky rice, green and purple cakes… or share the fun of children in the highlands eating crispy donuts, delicious pho noodle…
Seen from above, Bac Ha Market is like a colorful flower garden of dresses of women of ethnic minorities wearing to the market and the fresh colors of the market stalls. In the trend of commercialization of highland markets, Bac Ha is one of the rare places to preserve the national identity, unique features of the ancient market. Bac Ha market does not have the scene of soliciting or forcing customers to buy goods as can be seen in normal markets; instead, we meet the pure rustic people in colorful ethnic clothes coming to the market, in addition to the purpose of trading, to enjoy the happiness in the market and have fun with other people.
Bac Ha Fair features bold communal activities of ethnic people in the Northwest of Vietnam, preserves the unique values of the traditional cultural identity. Currently, the fair still attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists. It is easy to explain why Bac Ha is voted one of the 10 most attractive markets in Southeast Asia.
How to go to Bac Ha Market?
Normally, the clients go to Bac Ha Market by some major ways such as directly from Hanoi through the highway Noi Bai – Lao Cai, or from Lao Cai Railway Station (after stopping the night train at this railway station through one night on train), or from Sapa town after enjoying some trekking tours around the ethnic villages in Sapa. Nowadays it is also easy and convenient for tourists to go to Bac Ha market by bus.
Weather and nature
Here, there is an invaluable resource that is cool fresh climate with a variety of nuances. Located in the high region of the northern Vietnam, Bac Ha climate more or less brings the shade of a temperate land with the average temperature of 10-25 ° C.
This region’s natural landscape is combined with the creativity of the people along with the terrain of the hills, the green of the forest, of the terraced fields creating an attractive and romantic landscape.