THE MOUNTAINOUS VILLAGE OF BAC HA
Capital of the Flower Hmong region, the mountain village of Bac Ha, perched at an altitude of more than 1000 meters, is renowned for its colourful ethnic markets and increasingly for its many hiking possibilities in serene natural settings, offering a beautiful alternative to Sapa.
The Ethnic Market of Bac Ha
Three hours drive from the Sapa health resort, the mountain town of Bac Ha, every Sunday, is home to one of the most extraordinary ethnic markets in northern Vietnam. The market of Bac Ha is held in the city centre with a part in the open air and another part under busy halls. The Bac Ha market is very well organized in 3 large areas: the food market, the livestock market and the ethnic fabric market. At dawn, many minorities from the region converge on foot to the market with their hoods to come and shop. Among them, the Flower Hmong, the most numerous ethnic group of the region, who are distinguished by the flamboyant costumes that the women proudly wear. A market saturated with colours that awakens all your senses. Sometimes pretexting the purchase of a little victuals or some tools, all the tribes of the region flock to Bac Ha. For the purpose of shopping, of course, but not only that. The meeting, even furtive, with a soul mate, is also on the program.
The ethnic market of Can Cau
The ethnic market of Can Cau, located about 20 kilometres from Bac Ha, is held every Saturday morning. Here you will also meet many ethnic minorities such as the Dao, Nung, Tay, Phu La and of course the beautiful Hmong flower women. The market of Can Cau is known to host a large section dedicated to the sale of livestock.
The ethnic market of Coc Ly
Coc Ly's ethnic market is held every Tuesday. A picturesque market mainly frequented by the elegant Hmong flower women who splash colours in the alleys of this very active market. There again, the stalls compete with surprises and jostle the senses.
Meeting with the Flower Hmong ethnic group
The Flower Hmong settled in the Bac Ha region between the 18th and early 20th century. This environment is favourable for the exploitation of precious woods and for breeding. Arable land, which is scarce, allows the cultivation of corn, rice, vegetables, hemp and cotton. The Hmong are capable of transforming entire hills into irrigated rice terraces at the cost of extraordinary courage and ingenuity. The landscapes thus created are true architectural and artistic achievements. The Hmong are also famous for the cultivation of apple, plum and peach trees that beautifully cover the mountain slopes in February with their flowers.
The Hmong flower or colourful Hmong women are the queens of the market with their shimmering orange-coloured costumes enhanced with superb silver jewellery. It takes between 4 and 6 months to make a complete costume by hand.
The old palace of King Hmong Hoàng A Tuong
The palace of Hoàng A Tuong, once considered the most powerful residence in the northwest region, is a remnant of Indochinese history. This veritable little palace was started in 1914, was completed in 1921 and was given as a gift by the French to Chief Hmong Hoang A Tuong to thank him for his help in fighting Vietminh. The mixture of eastern and western architectural styles gives the whole a very beautiful harmony sublimated by the weather and the monsoon rains.
A paradise for hiking
Although less known and less popular than its neighbor Sapa, Bac Ha still has enough to satisfy all the desires of hikers. Bac Ha and its surroundings, indeed offer superb landscapes of rice terraces crossed by a multitude of small paths. By taking them, you can enjoy magnificent panoramas and visit the ethnic minority hamlets.
How to get to Bac Ha
The mountain village of Bac Ha is only three hours on a beautiful mountain road to Sapa. It is possible from Hanoi to get to Bac Ha with the night train Hanoi - Lao Cai and then with a 2-hour road transfer. With the new highway, it is now possible to reach Bac Ha from Hanoi with a road transfer of about 6 hours.
Best season to get to Bac Ha
We advise you to go to Bac Ha from February, for the flowering of the plum and peach trees, to the end of November. There is only one rice harvest per year in Bac Ha. Rice is planted in June and will be harvested at the end of September.