Bac Ha Sunday market in Lao Cai province

Bac Ha Sunday market in Lao Cai province is considered one of the most exciting, interesting and colorful in the northern border area. Located about 120 km from the resort town of Sapa, the market is open only on Sunday and becomes very crowded just before Tet.

Bac Ha Sunday market in Lao Cai province  - ảnh 1
Bac Ha market

Market goers begin their trip to Bac Ha at dawn or even the evening before. This is the last market session of the year and many people want to sell off their items. Thao Theu De is bringing two back baskets of incense sticks. He said “I stock up on items for sale ahead of the New Year. I’ll use the money earned to buy pork and vegetables for Tet.”

 Travelers can find many kinds of consumer goods, farm tools and animals here. Bac Ha, on market day, is splashed with red as the costumes of the H’mong people are mainly red. Most of the women congregate near the clothing market and the men hang around the cattle market. There are even places for repairing farm tools. To Cui hopes to sell 4 saddles:“I can make 4 saddles per week. I’ll spend the revenue on drink, meat and chicken.”

Giang Seo Sang says he has to prepare 2 pigs for sale: “My stand opens at 6 am.  Each pig weighs 140 kilograms.”

Each household usually buys at least 5 kilograms of meat. Higher demand is inflating price. Pham Van Thuy, the manager of Bac Ha market, says: “They’re 80 pork stands today whereas only 20 or 30 stands operate in off-Tet sessions. The price of a chicken has risen 30%.”

Many people have asked to buy Thao A Dinh’s buffalo. His asking proce is 700 USD: “I have two buffalos and want to sell one for Tet. It’s cold and I have to sell. I don’t have enough room to grow two buffalo. 700 USD will help me buy a lot of thing for my wife and my children.”

Vang A Lo has selected a ploughshare to prepare for the new crop season in the new year: “I prefer using a new ploughshare in the new year in a hope of a successful crop. Then I’ll buy clothes and footwear.”

After selling and buying things, people often have corn wine with their friends in the food stalls and discuss plans for their spring travel.