The Colours of Bac Ha {Vietnam Stories}

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.

IMG_6965WMBags, clothing and handicrafts for sale at the Market entrance.


IMG_6968WMThe hustle and bustle of Bac Ha Market.


IMG_6971WMWater Buffalo for sale.

IMG_6983WMHorses for sale.

IMG_6980WMFlower H’mong women selling vegetables, bamboo and brooms.

IMG_6978WMH’mong women discussing their purchases.

IMG_6976WMTextiles and clothing area of the local market.

IMG_6975WMMedicines for sale.

  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.

2 thoughts on “The Colours of Bac Ha {Vietnam Stories}

    • Thank you! Vietnam has been on my radar ever since I was living in Japan in 2000 but I have only just been. It’s interesting how different places attract different people. How one place will be overlooked by one and revered by another. From my starting point in Australia Asia has always been an easy destination but my list grows longer and reaches into the vastest points of this beautiful Earth the more I have a chance to dream.

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