Bac Ha Market Tips Travel Guide

Thursday, 14/05/2020
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Bac Ha Market Tips Travel Guide.

Bac Ha market has been built on the concrete floor, not on a gentle hill, but the trade remained much traditional feature. Here, tourists can easily look for all essential items for the life of the locals from hoes, shovels to brocade products or even buffalo, horse... All booths are divided fairly obvious for tourists easy to explore and discover.

How to get to Bac Ha Market?

If you would like to experience Vietnamese train, you can book an overight train with solf-sleeper trains departing at 20h00, 21h15 & 22h00, and arriving in Lao Cai- the last stop of train journey at 4h00 a.m, 4h45 a.m and 5h20 a.m respectedly.This mean of transport surely save your time & overnight hotel cost but it is hard to get a proper sleep due to the train’s noices and schedules of early- drop-off, then start with car transfer to Sapa or Bac Ha market.

By bus from Sapa | Bac Ha Market lies 100km (62 miles) east of Sapa. The long drive over unkempt, windy roads takes the better part of three hours by minivan—I expect it would take around 4 hours by bus. There are direct local buses from Sapa to Bac Ha, but I recommend changing buses at Lao Cai for a more reliable journey. Minivans bound for Lao Cai city depart from Sapa’s main square throughout the day. A ticket costs 30K VND.

By bus from Lao Cai | In Lao Cai city, find your way to the main bus terminal and pick up a Bac Ha-bound bus. According to this schedule, buses depart at 6am, 11am and 1pm. A ticket costs 70K VND.

By private transport | Any travel agency in Sapa can organise van transfer to and from Bac Ha. This is essentially what I did with Sapa O’Chau. I was part of a big group, and a ticket cost me 15 USD. Note that this price DID NOT include a guide or lunch.

Bac Ha Market Tips Travel Guide
Expect to pay around 120 USD for a private car, driver and tour guide to take you to Bac Ha Market and back. This can also be organised through a local tour agency or via your hotel. Another option (if you’re feeling brave) is to hire a motorcycle and make your own way to Bac Ha Market. There are plenty of hire shops in Sapa. Expect to pay around 100K VND per day for an automatic motorbike.

Bac Ha Market – A Colorful Space.

Locals from the Bac Ha region and nearby neighboring regions form this little market only once a week on Sundays from early morning until noon. Many elderly and young women and men from the H’Mong and Dao tribes wake up as early as 04:00 a.m. on Sundays to gather their items and set up their stalls so they can display in an attractive way what they have to sell to you. You can find many things here – from local handicrafts of the different tribespeople to colorful fruit and delicious dishes that are definitely worth a try. You’re out here in the mountains of Northern Vietnam, so forget about the bacon and eggs, and try some sticky rice or noodle soup instead.

So many vegetables and…more.

Vegetables and fruits are what you will find in abundance here. Sure you can find these anywhere, but the ones sold in Bac Ha are locally sourced which means they are fresh and non-toxic. You will find sweet potatoes, cassava, cowpea, ginseng, etc., all laid out in contrasting colors along bamboo mats in a stunning display. Stop by each mat and ask the vendor if you can try – they won’t say no.

You can also find other food here that sometimes you can not find in other markets. An elderly woman with a wrinkled yet radiant smile donning the H’Mong outfit sitting aside her aromatic cans of home-baked corn, a gentle girl arranging her fried buckwheat pie, a young man chatting with customers about his barrels full of honey wax.. these are familiar sights when it comes to Bac Ha market.

Keep an eye out for clothing and accessories sold in this market. Various items represent various cultures and you will be able to tell them apart by the contrasts in colors and patterns. If you are not sure which item belongs to which tribe, just ask and the vendor will be more than happy to share their culture with you. Every item is handmade and intricately sown – forget factory-made products. Here’s the real deal.

Run your hand over the embroidery and you will feel the love the maker of the item has for their work and culture. Bronze bracelets and earrings sophisticatedly carved also make wonderful gifts for your loved ones back home. Try not to haggle too much. Prices quoted to you may be inflated, but check twice and do not dip too low. Remember, one US dollar, may seem quite a lot when converted as it is 23,500 VND, however, to us this one dollar is nothing and to them, it could mean two meals for the day.

Bac Ha market really is a show of smiles and vibrant colors. While exchanging goods may be the primary purpose, what makes Bac Ha market more special than other markets found in Vietnam, is how much joy, smiles and laughter are exchanged. At the Bac Ha fair, there is no distance between the tribes, no language barriers or regional contrasts. Everyone comes together for one purpose – to make an honest living and bring joy to the ones around them.

A Special Experience from Bac Ha market

People often say living in the mountains and away from developed cities is a tough life. But not to these people. All you need to do is to come and witness, and talk to them. They have a way of life that may seem hard to us, however, to them, they enjoy it and love it. It’s the life as they know and they are happy. We may be always striving for more, but with the simple life they are living, some say they already have all they need. That is something we need to learn from them.

The ethnic minorities here appreciate the simple details of life. Once a week, they gather to listen to the birds sing or to groom their horses and show simple acts of kindness. They make little art from plants – just break some leaves off trees and within minutes you will have a little handmade horse in front of you. Truly, it’s a wonderful sight to see. If you want to have a new found appreciation for life, for the simple things that you never notice or appreciate, and to learn to love the world as it is, perhaps a visit to Bac Ha market could help you.

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