Photo essay: Colours of Bac Ha, Vietnam

Hawkers gather mid morning before it gets busy

Bac Ha Market can be visited as a day trip from Sapa or Lao Cai and is a pure visual treat. The surrounding villages are inhabited by the Flower Hmong people, one of the many tribes that live in the mountains and they set up shop in the market selling everything from clothes and spices to brooms. The Flower Hmong people are dressed differently than the other tribes such as the Black Hmong or Dzao people. Their clothes are very brightly coloured and the women wear a lot of tribal jewellery. I love the colorful head scarves worn by the women and bought a bright blue and pink one myself. The market is frequented by a lot of tour groups but I have to admit that the prices were better than what I saw in the Sapa market where sellers often refused to bargain much. Some of the embroidered Β clothes, bags, handicrafts and other items were also very different in terms of design and quality (often better) from what is available in other tourist shopping areas in and around Sapa and in Hanoi.

Exploring the market can easily take between three to five hours, even longer if you are looking to buy souvenirs or gifts for home. There are separate lanes or areas for handicrafts, clothes, bags, food, spices and even animals. Dogs, roosters, cattle, pigs and even horses are sold in the market and the chaos in there can get quite interesting or annoying, depending on your mood. I absolutely love markets and wandering in them for hours because they tingle all the senses with their sights, sounds, tastes and scents and just have this great energy from all the people, noises, colours etc. I ended up buying a few bracelets for my girlfriends, some scarves, pillowcases and other small gifts.

Wanting to capture all the buzz and activity, I took many pictures, some of which were taken inside a traditional Hmong home. Here is the photo essay, enjoy! πŸ™‚

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

A food vendor prepares quick meals for hungry shoppers

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

A woman performs a prayer ritual to ward off evil and pray for good crop at the start of a new agricultural year

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Painted bowls made of coconut shells

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Living area in a village home

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Traditional kitchen

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Sharing a secret?

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Around the Bac Ha market,

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Village close to the market

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Sharing a quick laugh

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Outside a village home

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Spice sellers take an ice-cream break

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Flower Hmong Barbies

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Star anise, often used in local tea

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Love her silver earrings

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Discussing buffalo business

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Chicken for dinner?

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Adorable puppies up for sale

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Looking down on to Bac Ha market

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

The Buffalo market

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Vegetable sellers

 

Bac Ha, Vietnam

Distracted by market ongoings


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For ideas on what else to do in Sapa, read about trekking to Lao Chai and Cat Cat Village. You may also find my list of top 5 places to eat in Sapa useful. For general tips and info, check out my Vietnam travel blog.

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Photo essay: Colours of Bac Ha, Vietnam

 

47 Comments

  • Yeah! Bac Ha is a must – see destination when you visit Sapa. Concerning the coconut bowels, I think they are not made by local people (hill tribes). Because Bac Ha is near China, I suspect that those products originate from China.

  • Their traditional costumes are so marvelous. I especially loved the photo with the caption “sharing a secret?”

  • Renuka says:

    Cool photos! I like the horse face and the colorfully dressed women in particular. πŸ™‚ Vietnam has so much of character and charm.

  • matheikal says:

    Loved it. Nice to know that Vietnam is this. Still. In spite of its torrid history.

  • Great photo essay! I love the diversity in your collection – from people shots to landscapes – and just how saturated everything is.

  • Great shots! We also visited Sapa and the market, thanks for bringing the memories back!

  • Great photos! I spent about a month in Vietnam but didn’t make it to this area – looks really interesting though!

    • thebohochica says:

      Jon, it was very interesting- the kind of place you can spend hours just watching people, crowds and even animals!

  • Bob R says:

    Nice collection. I spent a few days in and around Sapa and really enjoyed it. Didn’t make it here though. πŸ™‚

  • Milosz Zak says:

    Local crafts is something I always pay attention to. However, in recent years, I’ve noticed there’s been an influx of machine-made items, originating in China, in many countries. I’m seriously worried that globalization will completely wipe out local craftsmen – have to revisit places like Morocco before it changes irreversibly – this fate has already befallen Turkey and Egypt – so many Chinese-made souvenirs, and so few locally-made crafts, really sad.

    • thebohochica says:

      This is true even in Vietnam. In Hanoi and a lot of shops in Sapa, I saw souvenirs and other items being sold as ‘handmade by the tribes’, but I could tell they were machine made, probably a lot of it in China. My students told me what handmade looks like and I could tell the difference in the weaving and embroidery. It is sad that mass made goods are slowly replacing local crafts in the few places that you can still find them. I would happily pay a higher price for locally crafted items than buy a fake handicraft. At least this would benefit the local community and tribes and I would own something truly unique.

  • Love all those brightly coloured clothes. And I’m intrigued by the idea of star anise in tea!

    • thebohochica says:

      Hi Karen,
      Stars in your tea, can you believe that! Obviously a large part of my backpack was filled with packets of star anise on my way home πŸ˜‰

  • I’ll have to head here when I go back to Vietnam, as much as I saw there was a lot more I didn’t! You take some amazing pictures, thank you!

    • thebohochica says:

      Thank you Mike!
      Isn’t it always that there’s so much more to see?!
      I’m sure you’ll enjoy it whenever you make it to Bac Ha.
      Thanks for stopping by the blog πŸ™‚
      Natasha

  • Laura says:

    Can’t wait to go to Vietnam, what lovely photos you take!

  • Very colourful indeed! Sometimes you donΒ΄t need words at all πŸ™‚

  • Susan Aksu says:

    It’s so different from the rest of the busy areas of Vietnam! So beautiful! I’m in Vietnam now and we’re planning to visit Sapa for a few days next week so a trip to the Bac Ha market will be a must!

    • thebohochica says:

      I think you’re really going to enjoy Sapa and will find Bac Ha interesting. Some of the things you see in Bac Ha market cannot be found in Sapa or elsewhere in Vietnam. So if you like something and get it a good price, I’d say go for it. πŸ™‚

  • Emily Luxton says:

    I love markets, and this one looks fab! Love the look of those pretty bowls! Great pics πŸ™‚

    • thebohochica says:

      Thanks Emily! I love markets too and could not resist buying a few bowls for home. I have to admit I left Sapa with a heavier backpack than the one I arrived with. πŸ˜‰

  • Em says:

    Nice read. Some great pics there πŸ™‚

  • This looks like such a cool market! I love going to markets because you get to see so much of the local life. I’m a fan of the colorful head scarves too.

    • thebohochica says:

      Hi Jessica,
      It was an interesting and very busy market. I love all the colors, the clothes, scarves, jewellery and wares, such a beautiful sight really.
      Thanks for stopping by the blog πŸ™‚
      Cheers,
      Natasha

  • Calli says:

    Nice photos – the women’s clothing is so colourful, I really love it. And those bowls! So much colour!

    • thebohochica says:

      Hi Calli,
      Yes, it was an absolute visual delight πŸ™‚
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Cheers,
      Natasha

  • clay weir says:

    i just love the crazy colours and people you see in asian markets – especially vietnam!! great pics and thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  • shussey27 says:

    OOoo I love markets! I love seeing how resourceful local people can be! πŸ™‚ I went to Vietnam in 2011 but didn’t make it to Bac Ha…..:( Maybe next time!

    • thebohochica says:

      I’m sure you’ll enjoy it whenever you make it to Bac Ha.
      Thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚
      Natasha

  • Tracie Howe says:

    Looks like a lovely place! I wish I had been able to visit this area, including Sapa, when I was in Vietnam. Now I really want a collection of those coconut shell bowls!

    • thebohochica says:

      Hi Tracie,
      I do love the colorful bowls!
      There’s always next time, Sapa is a lovely place.
      Thanks for stopping by the blog πŸ™‚
      Natasha

  • Sandra @ Tripper says:

    Absolutely beautiful all the colors in these pictures. Congrats!

  • Dave Cole says:

    This is a fascinating look at a part of the world I’ve yet to visit. The colors are very striking and the visit inside the home was really interesting.. Thanks for the visual tour!

    • thebohochica says:

      You’re very welcome. Do include Sapa in your list whenever you make it to Vietnam.
      Thanks for the support and for visiting the blog.
      Cheers,
      Natasha

  • I once went to a Vietnamese market in the Czech Republic (surely not as nice as in Vietnam) and it also took me hours to go through and see everything, so I understand where you coming from lol.

    I love the coconut bowels, would definitely pick one up.

    • thebohochica says:

      Hi Ben,
      I saw so many interesting, unique and beautiful things in the markets in Vietnam. It was hard to not spend all of my money there!
      Thank you for dropping by the blog.
      Cheers,
      Natasha

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