Each Sunday, in the dusty streets of Bac Ha, thousands of local people from neighbouring villages come to market. People from the minority groups of the Flower H’mong, Tay, Black Dao, Nung, La Chi and Dhu La all come to buy and sell goods, livestock and clothing. But it is the hundreds of women from the Flower H’mong tribe that create a rich, colourful landscape.
These women are adorned in elaborate skirts and embroidered jackets of cobalt blue or black with threads of lime green, orange and electric pink. Their heads covered in scarves of all colours, bright and beautiful.
When I first started planning my trip to Vietnam, I knew that the Northwest would be on my itinerary. I had seen photos of the many hill tribes and was drawn to the beauty of their intricate dress. When I ventured into the Bac Ha market I was instantly overwhelmed. No longer were there photos in my mind but a mass of daily activity buzzing before me. There were men selling straw brooms , water buffalo, horses, birds and dogs. There were women with babies fastened to their backs in beautifully embroidered backpacks.
I was awestruck. I couldn’t believe that this much colour, this much vibrancy and life truly existed.
Our guide, Su, from Sapa O’Chau took me through the tourist end of the market where stalls sell minority handicrafts and textiles to the heart of the market where, livestock is traded, local women go to buy textiles and where vegetables, sugar cane, medicines and all kinds of food are sold. I hardly clicked the shutter of my camera. I looked in every direction. I smelled every smell and I held tight onto my heart.
Bac Ha Market Musts Enjoy – It’s a sensory feast. Be prepared for lots of people. Get past the tourist areas and see what the locals are buying. Take some time to watch what is going on around you. Travel ethically and responsibly in this region. I travelled with Sapa O’Chau, it’s a socially responsible organisation that offers trekking tours, has a community café and runs a school for disadvantaged minority children.