Can Cau market saturdays Sapa

Can Cau Market: plan for saturdays in Sapa

Can Cau is a busy market which is held every Saturday and is organized in business practices of Dao people. Located just 9 km south below the Chinese border, it is a colourful and vibrant market. You will find different minority peoples such as the Flower H’mong (Red H’mong), Nung, Phu La and even Chinese people from across the border. Their travel is often made by horseback as a way of carrying the heavy loads to and from market.

Can Cau market

How to go to Can Cau Market

It’s hard to find foreigners in Can Cau, compared than other places or markets in Sapa, because you have to spend a large journey to come there. either with a small tour group with a private driver or, you can find more adventurous people, who make the path on the back of a motorbike.

From Lao Cai province, along the national road 4D, visitors will come to Bao Thang district, Lao Cai province. It is far about 100km from the market to Lao Cai city to the northeast, so it’s a 2 hour drive. Down the 4D Highway from Lao Cai City, tourists will reach Phong Nien commune, Bao Thang district, Lao Cai province. Keeping driving along 153 Provincial Highway through Bac Ha town, tourists will set foot in Can Cau Market. If you want to go with public transport, the buses only run at 08:00 or 09:00, that likely means an overnight stay. The bus back from Can Cau to Bac Ha is at 14:00.

From Sapa, you have to spent a 3 hours drive. So you really have to wake up early and spend a lot of time in the road, so this option it’s not the most recommended. One good option, could be travel this market, make an overnigth in Bac Ha and visit Bac Ha Market on Sunday.

Through the town of Bac Ha, tourists will come to the Can Cau fair. From a distance, the fair of Can Cau is very beautiful and vivid. The fair has meeting along roadside 153-the only road connects the town with the town of Si Ma Cai. There have terraced fields around the market with the majestic mountains.
Can Cau Vietnam, Saturday Market
Can Cau Market, Northern Vietnam

Schedule and what you can find in Can Cau Market

As you would expect, the market starts early, around 7:30 am, and closes in the early afternoon so you will want to make an early start to get the most out of the experience.

By 9 am, the market is crammed to capacity. It’s lively and surprisingly fun. The locals are mostly of the Flower Hmong minority group. You can’t miss them and their traditional costume of green checked headdress and multi-colored, meticiculosly stitched and layered garments are simply stunning.

All kinds of goods are traded here, from fabrics to various types of livestock to the powerful local corn wine.

The market is divided into separate areas for all kinds of items. Those goods such as: vegetables, herbs, spices, utensils and other products, which shows the talent of women. However, the most striking is the area where sell livestock because the H’Mong and Giay love livestock and want to select the best cattle. The atmosphere in this area is very vibrant; buyers, sellers have the deal.

Besides, the area for the traditional food of people is quite exciting. Having a multitude of different sounds, visitors will have chance to sit down and enjoy the ethnic cuisine of them. Of all the dishes in Can Cau market, “thang co” will be the most favorite cuisine of ethnic. This dish is combined all kinds of organs of some animals such as: pigs, cows, buffalo…

Can Cau Market local people
Can Cau Market H'mong woman
can.cau market local sellers

Hoang A Tuong Palace front view

Hoang a Tuong Palace: a place for Hmong King

History of Hoàng A Tưởng Palace

Hoàng A Tưởng Palace (Hoang A Tuong Palace for us) was built in 1914 and completed in 1921. Hoàng Yến Chao was from the ethnic Tày group, he was the father of Hoàng A Tưởng. He decided to build this Palace for himself. Is a bizarre palace constructed in a kind of ‘oriental baroque’ style on the northern edge of Bac Ha. After nearly 100 years of existence, it is still standing between the majestic land known as the “White Highland” and the Sun.

These Tay ethnic minority men were reportedly regarded as “kings” of the Bac Ha region and ruled a region where 70% of the population were H’Mong people before 1945.

During his reign from 1905 – 1953, with the protection of France, Hoàng Yến Chao owned much of the fertile land in this area, and had the full right to exploit the surrounding forests and native products. He established a tax regime that required all of the people to pay tax on the products that they grew or made. He also had a monopoly on the sale of salt, drugs, food and other consumer goods, considered essential necessities in the region. During his long reign, he accumulated a huge amount of assets. Based on economic strength, in 1914 he decided to build this Palace to represent his wealth and power.
Hoang A Tuong Palace Bac Ha history
Entrance to the courtyard of the Hoang A Tuong palace

 

Hoang Yen Tchao family history

Hoang Yen Tchao had three wives and total of seven children, including two sons and five daughters. His first wife was of the Tay ethnic. She met Mr. TChao when he was just a regular civilian and they were married out of love for one another. She bore him three children, two sons and a daughter. The eldest son was Hoang A Tien and the second one was Hoang A Tuong. His second wife was the most miserable because she married him for his wealth and riches. She was only his second wife for a short time and then she got sick and died. She did not have any assets and nobody knew that she existed. She bore him two daughters and died while she was still very young.

Mr.TChao and his first wife

Mr.TChao and his first wife. Image from sapa-tourism.com

However, she didn’t die long before, Hoang yen TChao quickly took over as his third wife. She was of the Chinese descent. She went to Bac Ha to do business, with the sharp beauty of Chinese girls, her appearance caught the “eye” of the ” Hmong King”. She was a business woman and was very independent. She also had a successful business in which she was doing very well. She was married to Mr. Tchao for a short time and bore him two daughters. She did not like living in Mr. Tchao’s palace and so she moved to live outside of the palace. There she did business herself and did not rely on him for anything.

The third wife and her daughters. Image from sapa-tourism.com

Among Mr. Tchao’s children, Hoang A Tuong was revered as the most intelligent and was the dearest of Hoang Yen Tchao’s children. He was chosen as his father’s replacement to take over all the work. Mr Tchao was the “Hmong King ” but he didn’t name his palace after the eldest son, but his youngest son.

Leaving Bac Ha and the palace was short lived but the stories of their families still having lasting imprints on my mind. There is still so many mysteries around the palace.

 

Building Hoang A Tuong Palace

In order to prepare for the construction of this Palace, Hoàng Yến Chao had to plan very carefully. First he consulted with Chinese feng-shui experts to find the best location to build the Palace. The site was selected according to the Feng-shui theory of location. It was built on a large hill, facing south east, protected on both sides by mountains, the front has a spring and facing the mountain named “Mother is holding her baby”. Overall the topography in the area is beautiful, a charming “painting”, capturing the picturesque views and perfect Asian climate.

Hoang A Tuong had deliberately prepared materials for building the castle. Cement and steel were flown from the plains, while the bricks and tiles were manufactured on the spot with clay in the heart of the mountain range under the supervision of Chinese experts. The whole edifice was built of baked bricks and employed a binding agent with lime and beeswax. Workers were the best builders from prisons. Surrounding Hoang A Tuong Castle was the thick fence consisting of 3 gates (1 main gate and 2 auxiliary ones). Four side walls were crenellated fences and guarded by 2 platoons. In particular, behind the castle offered a solid and extremely secretive escaping tunnel.
Hoang a Tuong Palace tunnel stairs
The mansion was left uninhabited for many years as Hoang A Tuong had to live in exile in France after the region was liberated by revolutionary soldiers in the autumn of 1945. Nearly a century has gone by since its completion, the building remains intact and its Asian European-architecture still shines under sunshine.

The main two-storey mansion is surrounded by auxiliary houses on the left and the right, and has beautiful decorations on its façade and inside its rooms. Internal structure of the castle is fairly beautiful. Through the main entrance, a large yard inside is former home to organize main activities of the tribal mandarin’s family. Backcourt main building retains two floors with an area of 420m², which is often used for the meeting place of the family. Tourists setting foot in the castle have to walk up 17 stairs from both sides, then to the sheltered lounge. Additionally, the castle also has other construction items such as two auxiliary blocks on both sides. Each has two floors and is lower than the main building with an area of 300m². This is private space of Hoang Yen Chao’s wives and Hoang A Tuong’s wives. There are also two sub-blocks with simpler architecture used as accommodation for soldiers and servants.

The castle covers an area of 4,000m² in which the main building occupies 420m², Occupying a pivotal position overlooking the Bac Ha valley. In front of its arched doors are earthen banks. Its network of walls, bunkers, and battlements were reinforced by a mortar mixed with sugar molasses. In a distance, the white castle jutting out from the valley looks imposing and majestic. At present, this castle is put under a restoration scheme to better help tourists get insight into the changes of the local life.
Hoang A Tuong Castle in Sapa

Visiting this place you have an opportunity to learn about the live of a family of the ruling class and part of Bac Ha’s history in the past.

In adition to the palace, you can also visit Bac Ha traditional market.

Ta Van Village rice terrace views

Ta Van Village what to see & travel tips from Sapa

Ta Van Village is a place where many Vietnam ethnic minority groups gathering and living in harmony with each other. Having a trip to Ta Van, you can explore the cultures of ethnic minority groups and enjoy trips to peaceful villages where many traditional customs of ethnic people in Vietnam are well preserved. Is one of ideal destinations in Vietnam for both domestic and international tourists.

Being one of the most stunning spots in Sapa, far away from Sapa busy streets, about 8 km distance from the town center. Ta Van is home of ethnics living and you can find over 110 households living in this village. So the best way to enjoy is choose to stay overnight at the homestay in Ta Van village to fully experience. Is one of the Sapa day trips that you must do.
Tả Van Village in Sapa
Ta Van Village air view of the town

How to go to Ta Van Village

During the road to Ta Van you can enjoy a great trek amongst the beautiful rice paddy and corn terrace fields. Also, it’s usual than a group of local people join you in the way to the village. Located at the mountain base, Ta Van village is approximated 7 – 11 km away from the center of Sapa, depending what route you take. The road to Ta Van Village is quite small and narrow. Two sides of the village are covered by fertile terraced fields embellished with the green color of corns and rice plants. This fabulous destination owns lots of must-sees for your trip to Sapa, Vietnam like the mysterious Ancient Rock Field

The best choice it’s hire a guide to trek to Ta Van. But if you go during the summertime, you can rent out a scooter and get to Ta Van this way. It’s the best way to avoid the high temperatures in this season. Homewer, tt’s not impossible to do it in other seasons but it’s more dangerous due to  slippery muddy road.

It was built a road for car; however, the trail from Y Linh Ho crossing Lao Chai to Ta Van is the best path to get the most amazing trek and it is definitely recommended. On your trip to Ta Van Village, along with dreamy beautiful Muong Hoa Valley which sometimes looks so magnetic and mysterious under the fog, you also have a chance to witness floating clouds atop of imposing Fansipan Peak.
Ta Van Village bridge
Ta Van Village rice terrace padies

Local people in Ta Van Village

In Ta Van village, there are two major minorities groups: the Giay and the Dao. As soon as you cross over the wooden bridge through the Muong Hoa water stream, which connect Ta Van village to the outside, you’ll be able to meet the Giay community. A bit further up the hill is the Dao community. The people here make their living mainly based on farming and occasionally homestay services.

Ta Van Village was formed by a group of Giay people in Lao Cai province. These people settled in areas having low topography such as foothills and valleys along streams or rivers. Due to living in the same residential locality, in the course of history, Giay people have exchanged and under the influence of different cultures from other ethnic groups such as Tay, Thai, Nung. This intercultural phenomenon has greatly contributed in creating a diverse culture in the village. Ta Van Village has a diverse system of folklore including fairy tales, riddles, and proverbs. This is also a place of many traditional festivals such as Tet holidays in January and July, full moon festivals in May and August, etc.

Growing rice is the major profession of the Giay. Besides, they also produce instruments and engraved silver. They live in both stilted houses and common houses with a solemn central part which is served as a place for ancestor altar and guest reception. The Giay have quite various cultures with fairy-tale, poetry, proverbs and riddles. Costumes of the Giay are simple: women with short eczema, wearing cloth bag with embroidered flowers; man also wears pants and shirt. If having the opportunity to come here, visitors can enjoy some special dishes of ethnic Giay such as: roast fish of Muong Hum, horse meat of Muong Khuong, sticky rice of Van Ban… and enjoy festivals, folk games of the Giay: Nao Cong, Roong Pooc… and participate in tours of the village.

The month of October (according to the Lunar calendar, which often falls in mid-November or December depending on the lunar year) rolls around would mean the wedding season for the Giay community. If you ever visit the village during this period of time, be prepared to be fascinated with the Giay traditional wedding customs which involves a lot of dancing, singing and loud instruments playing.
Ta Van Village local food
Ta Van Village local people harvesting rice
Ta Van Village local people

Homestay in Ta Van Village

Although Giay people mainly make a living by rice cultivation and silver carvings, they also open homestay services to serve the needs of tourists when travelling the village. Homestay is a kind of a special tourism service in Ta Van Village in which tourists will live with local residents in their house. Arriving in the village, many tidy and clean houses hang a signboard “Homestay”, which are always ready to welcome tourists. Using this service may be a memorable experience of tourists because you will have a chance to experience daily activities with Giay people. In these days, Giay people will serve tourists traditional dishes that they often eat every day. The ingredients of these foods are homemade products made by local people such as fresh vegetables, chicken, pigs, fishes, etc. Although these are very popular ingredients, through a special process of cooking, it promises to leave visitors a long lasting impression. In addition, through such a simple meal, tourists may gradually feel the familiar and close connection with local people here. In the next days, tourists will also be served some specialties of Giay people like grilled fishes caught from Muong Hum stream, Muong Khuong horsemeat, Bac Ha pork meat, Van Ban five color glutinous rice, and so on.

Life in Ta Van Village doesn’t get much affected by the booming tourism service in the recent year. The minorities group would go on with their everyday activities as if nothing has happened. Some seldomly get shy to start the conversation with the tourists, making the homestay services in Ta Van special. You get to truly enjoy a day as a part of the real minority group.

Houses here are built along the slope of the rice paddy terrace fields, and are made out of wood entirely. The view from these houses is simply stunning. Anyone who decides to stay overnight here will be speechless to wake up with such an amazing view, a view that you won’t never ever see in your daily city life.

Despite the fact that electricity has been in the village for less than the decade, the people here doesn’t heavily rely on it. They go farming at dawn, and get back home at sunset. The village can actually get really quiet during the day, and becomes exceedingly crowded with all sort of entertaining at night. The people in Ta Van Village would gather together and do their usual nightly musical show routine to celebrate a whole day of hard working. There will be traditional fan dancing, bamboo dancing, multi bamboo flute dancing, etc.,  all are dancing around the huge camp fire. you will not need to worry about the facilities because the locals equip with essential appliances and devices so that it will be always convenient and efficient for you taking a relaxation after a long-day trip.
Tả Van Village local house

Lao Chai Village

Lao Chai Village: discover Hmong culture

Lao Chai village, home to the black H’mong people, is located about 6 km from Sapa town. Just follow the main road for about 8 km, and then you’ll see a path down the valley to the right which will lead you to Lao Chai Village. The village is backed by high mountain ranges and situated near Muong Hoa river. Here you will enjoy the best panoramic view of rice terraces and streams and explore three large villages with over 100 families of the Black H’mong ethnic. Ethnic people in Vietnam are very hospitable and friendly. Going around this village, you will easily make friends and have chance to learn about local culture and customs.

Lao Chai almost lies in the middle of rice and corn terraces, so you also have a good chance to trace along with narrow but fabulous path on the fields to contemplate the whole zone of terraces. Best time to visit it’s from September to next April on which the village is so attractive with the most wonderful rice terraced fields.

Lao Chai Village
Lao Chai Village terrace padies after harvesting

How to go to Lao Chai Village

As you can see, Lao Chai is not too far from Sapa, so you can take a one day trail on your own. If you feel confident, of course.

There’s another good point to visit during this trip, Ta Phin Village.

You may go by car or motorbike to get to the villages but it shall be more stunning if you spend time trekking following the path along with the mountain side to go there. A trek is always the best recommendation to explore Sapa’s ethnic villages and their very culture and customs.

Lao Cai or Sapa and the Northwest of Vietnam in narrow sense often is developed it tourism industry with a form of community-based tourism, so then trekking to Lao Chai village learning about the local’s life and exploring the beauty of the very nature in the village are some of the most interesting and appreciated activities when coming to the upland town. By the way, it is very nice when from a high position on the main road, you can get great panorama of the whole village looming in high mountains along with the most beautiful river.

The trip must be very interesting when you mix with groups of H’Mong people on their ways to the village or to the terraces for work and though they intend to make some business, they do not force you to buy their products but chat with you friendly and share their experience and life. The children in villages love seeing the strangers coming to their homes, they are always happy for such small gifts. You do not forget to take some used comics or newspapers, magazines as gifts for them. However, absolutely do not give them money. It is a kind of unwritten rule.
Lao Chai, Mu Cang Chai, terrace padies
Children in Lao Chai road

Lao Chay Map

Lao Chai Village map

Lao Chai map by CBT Vietnam

 

Local ethnics in Lao Chai Village

 

The Giay

Only 2% of Sapa’s population comes from the Giay ethnic group, and so it can be tough to discover much about this fascinating community that immigrated to Vietnam from China only two centuries ago. A majority of Vietnam’s Giay group live in more northern provinces in the country where a stilted house (the traditional-style home) is common even now. In the sunny and fertile Lao Chai village, though, Giay homes have adapted to be closer to be only one story, usually with a simple interior in a dirt floor.
Distinct from the H’mong communities they live alongside, the Giay wear relatively simple clothing that boasts splashy, vibrant colours but less ornamentation than H’mong textiles. Thanks to their geographic roots, a whole host of Giay cultural elements feel distinctly Chinese, with the group’s clothing and cuisine borrowing flavours from Vietnam’s northern cousin. In Lao Chai, the Giay sustain their livelihoods and health in much the same way as the H’mong – by raising livestock and tending to endless rice terraces and mountain fields.

 

The Black H’mong

Making up a significant part of Sapa’s ethnic minority population, the H’mong community in Lao Chai is one of many scattered throughout the town’s verdant valleys. The Black H’mong are a distinct community within the larger H’mong ethnic group – so named after the deep indigo dye used in nearly all of their traditional clothing. Green, blue and purple is highlighted with splashes of red – and the Black H’mong’s uniquely vivid textiles have become a favourite element in souvenir shops and markets throughout all of Vietnam.

Black H’mong communities remain deeply traditional, with men and women often getting married as young as their mid-teens. It’s not unusual to meet a local H’mong villager of 25 that already has a handful of children. Instead, most families live off of the land and rely very little on income from selling textiles in local markets. Only when buying livestock or home goods will Black H’mong families need money. Most (if not all) of their food comes from their crops and animals.

The locals houses are built on the half side of the mountain to prevent from floods on the wet season. The H’mong here focus their cultivation in rice farming which is carried out on the lower land close to the bottom of the valley and sometimes they cultivate corn on the mountain slopes on terraces as the subsidiary food for life.

 

What to do in Lao Chai Village

With the form of community-based tourism, you will have a chance to experience handicraft manufacturing operations along with the travelling route, in which includes brocade weaving, traditional dyeing and more. Then you are highly recommended buying such products not only for their distinction and beauty but also the practical features with good benefits such as brocade scarves, embroidering cushions, especially ethnic instruments like “Khen”, “Dan moi” for beautiful souvenirs.
You can participate in the local’s routines by staying in their rudimental houses, communicating with such hospital and friendly ethics and mingling with their life which is definitely close with natural space and particularly enjoying their local dishes with exotic but yummy taste that always deserve at least a try. Thus, on your way to Lao Chai, you might receive simple but unforgettable experiences with preserved and precious traditional characteristics and customs of the local here and be obviously impressed with the ethnic’s hospitality and frankness despite the subsistence living.
Family in Lao Chai - Sapa
Black Hmong woman and baby, rice planting, Sapa Vietnam

 

Homestay with local Black Hmong Family

One of the best experiences when travelling to Sapa is a stay in the home of a local Black Hmong family. Thanks to CBT Vietnam training workshops many homes offer homestay experiences and authentic batik workshops. Within the network of trekking routes in the Sapa Region, Lao Chai does offer an excellent option to stay overnight and learn more about the Hmong culture.

You can find a list of homestays with local people.

Homestay with local family in Lao Chai

Cat Cat Village stunning views

Cat Cat Village: trek from Sapa&travel tips

:Cat Cat Village is a mountainous district of Lao Cai province, about 376 km from Hanoi. It is located in a beautiful valley about three kilometers from Sapa Town, at the bottom of the Muong Hoa Valley and near the stunning Cat Cat Waterfall. This is an age-old village of H’Mong ethnic group remaining unique customs and practices that are lots in other villages.

Cat Cat Village stunning views

How to go to Cat Cat Village

There’s nothing like a good hike to explore the surrounding villages, this is good because it is located only 3km south of Sapa. The hike to Cat Cat is downhill and easy on the legs. There are plenty of xe om (motorbike taxis) if you feel tired or lazy about finish the road. The trail offers beautiful views of terraced rice fields and you can see the village homes in the valley below. Along roads to the village, tourists can enjoy the ancient architectural beauty of small houses of local residents.

However, unless you’re with a tour or trekking guide, all the foreigners have to pay an entrance fee and you will need to buy them in advance and not at the door. The current price of the ticket is 70.000 VND. The Government set this tax in order to collect money to mantain the village. You will be disappointed if you arrive without a permit in hand. If you plan to hike this on your own, visit the Tourist Information Center near Sapa Square to pick one up first.
Road to Cat Cat Village from Sa Pa

History & Local People in Cat Cat Village

Cat Cat cultural village was formed in 19th century by the gathering of some families belonging to some ethnic groups living in mountainous areas of northern Vietnam, especially Black H’Mong. They lived next to each other along the mountain side and cultivated surrounding their home. Rice and corn are grown in terraced fields, while traditional handicrafts such as twisting flax and weaving fabric have been well-kept.

You will be impressed with the peacefully picturesque sceneries. You can see women sitting in front of the loom with colorful pieces of brocade, while children playing around with pets or even livestock. From the plain brocade, then women can carefully dye them with special leaves and embroider beautiful patterns of flower and animal on them. When these pieces of brocade are finished, they are dyed and embroidered with beautiful designs. A noteworthy is that H’mong women use plants and leaves to dye these brocade fabrics. And then they roll a round and smooth section of wood covered with wax on fabrics to polish them, making their colors durable.

In addition to the brocade weaving craft, many residents in Cat Cat are good at manipulating gold and silver jewelry. These are very sophistique products, especially jewelry for women.
Young hmong people in cat cat village
Cat Cat Village local H'mong people

Local architecture in Cat Cat Village

The original architect of H’Mong people is interesting as well. The houses of local people are divided into three rooms roofed with wood planks. Walls of these houses are often made from sawn timber. There are three columns standing in round or square stones inside houses. Each house will have three doors including a main door in the middle room and two others in the rest. The main door is always closed and only opened when big events such as weddings, funerals, Tet holidays happened. Besides, in each house, there are indispensable parts like kitchen, altar, places for keeping and food, etc. Houses in the villages are separated with each other by the terraced fields. At the rear of houses there are green and luxuriant bamboos. The most interesting thing that you can see when visiting Cat Cat village is rice mortars using water power from streams to pounding rice.
House in Cat Cat Village
Cat Cat Village Sa Pa Vietnam
Cat Cat Village local Hmong house

Traditions and festivals in Cat Cat Village

Some traditional festivals and customs of local people are often held annually such as Gau Tao festival and customs of “Pulling Wife”. Tourists visiting Cat Cat at the beginning of a year can participate in Gau Tao festival, which aims to bless for people in the village. This is the biggest festival of the village in one year. The festival is an epitome of spiritual and cultural life of H’Mong people. Another special customs of H’Mong is “Pulling Wife“. According to this customs, if a boy in the village falls in love with a girl, he will hold a party and invite his friends participating. He and his friends will make a plan bringing (“pulling”) the girl to his house. He will keep the girl three days at his house, and then if the girl agrees to marry him, they will hold an official wedding. On the other hand, if the girl refuses his proposal, they will drink “a bowl of wine” and just make friend with each other.

 

What to do in Cat Cat Village?

Cat Cat Village gives tourists a chance to have a glimpse into the daily life of local ethnic people, as well as take part in traditional activities such as weaving fabric. It is also a good opportunity to purchase some traditional souvenirs and handicrafts right from the craftsmen. You will find a lot of people trying to sell their products, specially children.

  • Take photos of the splendidly picturesque view of the hills and the terraced rice fields.
  • Look through the houses of the ethnic minorities in the village and discover how people in this area live. You will often see a big family so in one household: can live until 10 members more or less!
  • Visit the school. Currently, the government has made an effort to discourage villagers and tourists in giving of candies. So try not to give candies to kids.
  • Shop. As you go down the village you will walk past a lot of stalls with ladies selling handicrafts.
  • Drink the home-made apple wine. The price of a glass it’s 10,000 VND (50 cents).
  • Talk to the villagers and learn how Hmong say “Look”: “Loke” and “Make”: “Meki“. A little tip is when you don’t want to buy anything you just have say: “I’m only loke Ioke”.
  • Visit Cat Cat Waterfall. As you hike to the bottom of the Muong Hoa Valley you will see the stunning waterfall. There is actually a hydroelectric station, built by the French, that people in Sapa use to generate electricity.
  • Discover the Bamboo Dance. You can go into a small theater to watch the talented locals showcase their traditional dance.
  • Taste the local food to remember the experience.
  • Hike. Cat Cat is an easy and interesting route for trekking. The hike through mountains will offer you the wonderful picture of rice paddies, the waterfall or even water buffaloes grazing leisurely.
  • Nowadays, in order to develop the tourism potential of Cat Cat village, Lao Cai Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism has implemented many tourism programs. Such as Cat Cat Village’s Culture Days, One day becoming a Dao farmer or One day becoming a H’Mong bridge.
Cat Cat Village hydroelectric station

Hydroelectric station

Cat Cat Waterfall Sa Pa Vietnam

Cat Cat Waterfall

bridge Vietnam Sa Pa Cat Cat Village

Hydroelectric station Vietnam Sa Pa Cat Cat Village

Bridge Cat Cat Waterfall
With these activities, Cat Cat village is one of attractive Sapa places to explore folk culture of ethnic minority and immerse you yourself in unspoiled nature.

 

Coc Ly Market Sapa Vietnam

Coc Ly Market: live tradition in Sapa

Coc Ly Market is held on every Tuesday. Is a medium sized market that plays an extremely important role to ethnic minorities in the west of Bac Ha. Every Tuesday this is the place for meeting, goods exchanging and purchasing of the tribes from the surrounding villages. Goods sold in the market is the local products and utensils brought from the plains or imported from China. In addition, the market is a meeting place to display affection and feelings of ethnic minorities. Coc Ly Market, is more than a place where to exchange goods, is one of the few markets in Sapa still retaining its traditional cultural features.

Coc Ly Market Sapa Vietnam

About Coc Ly Market

Coc Ly Market starts around 7am and closes in the early afternoon. The market is divided into separate pavilions: an area for purchasing cattle, buffalo, horses, area for sale of fruit, living utensils and other area for food courts. If you visit this market, you will have a chance to witness the costume of ethnic groups and hear their own languages.

You also could find young Hmong boys and girls carry the baskets containing corn wine and flavors of the mountains such as black fungus, mushrooms, honey,etc. Meanwhile the old members of the tribe bring their buffaloes, cows, dogs, horses… to the market for sale. The widest and most exciting area is probably the place to sell cattle and poultry. From afar, althought there’s no dancing or singing, Coc Ly Market looks like a vivid picture with all of colors, ages from young children, teenagers to middle-aged people and the older.

Ethnic people gather there to buy and sell goods, dine and drink, or just wander to enjoy the ambience of the montagnard market.

You cannot ignore this place if you would like to find a full definition of a pure rural market.

Coc Ly Market in Sapa Vietnam
Local food in Coc Ly Market
Hmong selling buffalos at Coc Ly Market
Local Hmong people buying at Coc Ly Market
The Chickens Lady at Coc Ly Market

 

Ethnics at Coc Ly Market

You will find Flower Hmong (Red Hmong), Black Dao, Hoa (Chinese) Mong, Dao Den (Black Dao), Nung, Giay and Tay peoples in attendance and the goods on offer range from local fruit and vegetables to livestock, handicrafts and clothes.

Hmong girls are tremendously beautiful in colorful dresses and graceful with umbrella passing overhead. They usually concentrate at the bridge to show off their colorful dresses and more importantly to find their partners. This is also distinctive characteristic of Coc Ly Market compared to other markets of ethnic minorities in Sapa.
Shop owner at Coc Ly Market
Family in bike at Coc Ly Market
Girls at Coc Ly Market
Local Hmong people at Coc Ly Market

How to go to Coc Ly Market

From Sapa (90 km):

Theser are the itinerary indications:

  • Follow national road 70 traveling through the lush farm land of Lao Cai province for 42 km to Phong Nien Commune.
  • Turn left and follow provincial road 154 which sneaks through the country side along the Chay river for 17 km to Coc Ly. You can enjoy a beautiful scenery of high mountains, narrow valleys and terraced rice paddies. Enjoy several photo stops along the way, especially of the beautiful tear farms near Phong Hai.

 

From Lao Cai (60km):

From Bac Ha (35km):

It’s the best option because is about 35km from Bac Ha. You can get here via a fairly good road, or by road and river.

Tips to enjoy Coc Ly Market

  • Arrive in the market place at about 09.00am, at crowded time of the market.
  • Join local ethnic peoples to enjoy the exciting atmosphere as well as activities of this weekly market.
  • Walk from section to sections, corner to corners, seeing and smelling of different local product, spices, vegetable, farming tools, handicraft, even medicinal herb…
  • Meeting smiling peoples.
  • Remember to bargain when you want to buy your favorites.
  • The items at the booths located at the start of the path you walk on always have higher prices.
  • Keep walking toward the end of the traditionally ethnic market until you find a real bargain.
  • A good idea is to stroll every corner of the once-a-week bazaar as you listen to unexpected conversations, see nice surprises and learn how ethnic people sell and buy farm produce, life’s necessities and other things.
  • The market is always crowded for the whole morning and over after lunch time.

 

What to do after visit Coc Ly Market

After visiting the market, tyou can comfortably walk along Chay River to experience the tranquility of nature and the people here. The river becomes much more beautiful and poetic thanks to 2 majestic mountains. Both banks of the river are the beautiful sandbanks, villages of Tay, H’mong ethnic people, and wonderful waterfalls looking like flyaway white ribbon in the wind.

Leaving the market at noon, boarding a motor boat and cruising down stream the Chay River for 1.5 hour to Trung Do village of the Tay which is beautifully set on the bank of the river. Spend about an hour walking to explore this charming village before continuing the boat trip briefly to Bao Nhai.

Going to Coc Ly Market is to soak up colorful cultural beauty, experience the meeting place of the loving couples, ascertain the daily activities of the locals; at the same time you are immerse in charming and poetic natural scenery.
Chay River Boat rivet after Coc Ly Market
Bridge to Coc Ly markets
Horse transport to Coc Ly market

 

Not only is it the convergence of goods exchanging among ethnic minorities, Coc Ly Market now is also one of the impressive attractions in Sapa. You can go to the market in order to immerse in the romantic nature, discover unique features and feel to be one more of the locals. But take in mind that is 2 hours away from Sapa, so we recommend you to visit only if your time is not very limited.

Haversting season Y Linh Ho Village

Y Linh Ho Village: trail route from Sapa

Where is Y Linh Ho Village?

Map to show the way to Y Lin Ho village

Y Linh Ho village is located about 7 km southwest of Sapa town, on the west side of Muong Hoa River, on the way to Lao Chai village. Y Linh Ho is a small commune composed by a dozen of small hamlets scattering on the harsh mountain terrain with high and steep mountains.

The only way to get to the commune is the main road on mountain foot. The fresh air in the highland is really great for taking a walk. There are a few hundred inhabitants from the Black H’Mong living in this commune. They live in small houses made of house, bamboo and mainly cultivate corn and dry rice on the steep hillsides.

Y Linh Ho Village stunning views

 

Origin of the Y Linh Ho Village

The rumours said that the name “Y Linh Ho” referred from an old story of the Dao that it was originated from the name of the initial explorer of the land: “Ly Linh Ho” and then though the Dao moved on to other land and it became the Mong’s residence, it has been called “Y Linh Ho” as a kind of the ancient recall.

Black Hmong young girl

 

The road to Y Linh Ho Village

Distant from the main road, the path to the village is winding, tortuous and sloping. Y Linh Ho road is not noisy with crazy transport like in the center zone but being peaceful and quiet. The people here only depend on agricultural cultivation for living, mainly growing rice and corn, then terraces in the village are large and fascinating despite in summer when the green covering all the fields or in late autumn at which the terraces are all silky golden like an arty picture.

This is also one of the best places for best homestay in the nortf of Vietnam to explore the lifestyle and culture, customs of the resident.

Things to do in Y Lin Ho Village

Haversting season Y Linh Ho Village

  • Walk beside the river and valley and enjoy the fresh air.
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch beside the Muong Hoa River. If the weather is good you can go for a swim (it depends of you).
  • Continue the trekking route through the lush rice terraces to Lao Chai village.
  • You can move to Ta Van village to visit the Dzay minority and Ta van.
  • Interact with the Black H’mong people: it’s the best way to learn of their daily life and traditional culture, is an enriching and humbling experience.
  • Meet the Black Mong’s routines such as: weaving, dyeing with their unique method by using indigo.

 

A trekking trail to Y Linh Ho is a must on your trip to Sapa. You can enjoy with its rudimentary but beautiful houses, steep hillsides, the splendid rice terraces and the dreamy Muong Hoa Stream.

Road to Sapa to Silver Waterfall

Tram Ton Pass: the best point view in Sapa

 

Where is located Tram Ton Pass?

Is located about 18 km to the north of Sapa town center. It is very well located, because you can find it on the same way to Thac Bac Waterfall and Mountain Fansipan.  At the height of 1900 meters, Tram Ton Pass is the highest mountain pass in Vietnam, connecting Sapa and Lai Chau Province. In 2012, Globalgrasshopper, the independent travel agency in the UK, put Tram Ton Pass as the number five on the list of the 10 most fascinating destinations in Vietnam.

Heavens Gate

Tram Ton Pass is also referred as Heavens Gate, since its picturesque landscapes and magnificence resemble a gate to the Heaven. The mountains will take your breath away.

Heaven's Gate Road to Sapa to Silver Waterfall

 

How to go to Tram Ton Pass?

It just takes 15 minutes to get to there from Sapa town and it cost about 5$ by Taxi. – If you want to explore the scenery along the road, you can hire a motorbike, it’s just about 1$-2$. However, whatever you choose to go, you have to follow this instruction:

From Sapa town center:

  • Heading southwest on Xuan Vien.
  • Then, turning right at Mobile Store in Xuan Binh Hang to Vienna, crossing Restaurant Yuri (right side) and turning right onto Silver Falls.
  • Continuing to turn right to stay on Silver Falls.
  • Then,turning left at the Villa at Silver Falls to Sapa, acrossing Sapa Summit Hotel (on the left), turning right at US hotels to Vietnam in Silver Falls, acrossing the Radio and Television Sapa (on the right).
  • After that slighting left to Dien Bien Phu / QL 4D and taking continue to highway 4D.
  • Finally, acrossing Kindergarten O Quy Ho (5.8 km on the right way)

In adition, if you rent a bike, check it out before departing. Most of the bikes for rent are Chinese replicas of Japanese bikes, and may give you a surprise before the end of your trip.

 

Tram Ton Pass stunning views

If you are standing in the Tram Ton Pass on a clear day, you can even see the shining and stunning Thac Bac Waterfall. Because is located in a vantage point, it offers an unobstructed view of the magnificent Fansipan on the other side of the valley with immense lush forest. Moreover, Heaven Gate is where you can truly see and feel the majestic grandeur of Mountain Fansipan – the highest peak of Indochina, which can be a great motivation for you to conquer this high and mighty mountain. Aside from magnificent views, visitors can also witness the bizarre climate change.
Tram Ton pass stunning views
View from Vietnam's highest mountain pass at Tram Ton near Sa Pa
 Tram Ton Pass rice terrace views
Tram Ton Pass valley stunning views

 

Special weather in Tram Ton Pass

Through the Sapa side of the mountain the weather is the same, typical climate that more than often attributes to Sapa’s it’s own mysterious atmosphere of cold, misty or foggy. There might be drizzly rain sometimes on the way up since Tram Ton Pass is at a higher place. However, looking down a few hundred metres below on the Lai Chau side you can see crystal clear and an incredible shining blue sky. Ferocious winds come ripping over the pass due to this temperature differences: take in mind that Sapa is the coldest place in Vietnam while Lai Chau is the warmest. Tram Ton Pass is the point that divides this two great weather fronts. So that, it is said that you could literally see the air. It is not a common experience that you can have in other places in Vietnam.
View from Tram Ton Pass
Tram Ton Pass, Sapa the Heaven's Gate

 

Tram Ton Pass road

Trạm Tôn the way to Sapa from Lào Cai.
Tram Ton Pass is a 75 mile road (120km) takes a minimum of three hours to cross by car, not including stops. Most of the Sapa day tours drive a portion of the Tram Ton Pass to take in the views before stopping off for trekking to area villages. Motorbike, scooter or even mountain bike rentals are also available. However, you have to take many caution while you are driving by this route due to the high winds and sometimes bumpy conditions of sections of the road.

Now, it’s time to your decision. Are you going to take Tram Ton Pass road by yourself or are you going to be a passenger?

For example, Huges Laverne rent a bike to make a downhill at his own way.

Most of the people rent a bike and take their own way.

Trạm Tôn pass bike road

What about you? Write us a comment and tell us about your experience in Tram Ton Pass.

Silver waterfall Sapa vietnam

Tha Bac Waterfall – Silver Waterfall in Sapa

 

Thac Bac, the Silver Waterfall, the highest in Vietnam with a 300m drop is located about 12km from the centre of Sa Pa town. The Silver Waterfall is formed by sources of water from the Lo Sui Tong mountain peak. Coming to Thac Bac travellers will sink into the cool weather and extravagant landscape of mountainous surroundings.

If you have time during your visit an ascent to the base of the waterfall will enable you to explore and enjoy the surrounding landscape. Climbing from the foot of the waterfall to the altitude of about 30 meters, will give you the opportunity to feel that the waterfall is flowing toward. The small water flows rumble down in order to catch up with the streams below. At the foot of the slope leading to Silver Falls is the salmon seed production center, which has ambitions to become the Vietnam’s largest research station on coldwater fisheries.

Silver waterfall Sapa vietnam

On the sunniest of days, lying at a height of 500 meters beside National Highway 4D, the waterfall pours down like a giant white dragon descends from the sky. It is formed by sources of water from the Lo Sui Tong mountain peak, roaring and producing white foam to offer a stunning view over surrounding mountains and lush forests. Visitors may climb up the top of the waterfall to enjoy greater sight, which invokes a certain feel of romance. Bring along wide-angled cameras for the mountains, you won’t regret it.

 

The road to Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall) is really an unforgettable experience with terraced fields, lush forests, and flowers blooming. To reach the waterfalls, you can travel from Sapa centre by private car or, if you enjoy the adventure, by motorbike in only 30 minutes. In particular, far only about 2km from Silver Falls, after your visit to the waterfall you are able to set foot on Tram Ton, where departs the journey of conquering Fansipan peak.

Waterfall Sapa Vietnam

Magnificent natural scenery on the trips, the pine forests, the chayote gardens spreading over the hillside, the lush fields of roses year round will make you being immerse in the impressive nature. Discovering Silver Waterfall is one of the most unforgettable things to do in Sapa. Going ahead of the winding roads, breathing in the mountain air, and hearing the birds, will make enjoy the nature and forget the big cities. In Sapa there are four seasons having mist in the early morning. Especially the area around the Silver Waterfall has a chilly summer. So that, this place is a famous spot and is regularly visited by monks to pray.

Silver Waterfall - Thac Bac Giong

In adition, this waterfall is included on the list Top 7 amazing waterfalls in Vietnam.

Sunrise at Tha Pin Village

Ta Phin Village: what to see & travel tips

Ta Phin Village is located in Ta Phin Commune, Sa Pa District, about 15km northeast of Sa Pa Town. The village is surrounded by mountains and owns spectacular rice terraces and corn fields. The best time to visit Ta Phin is in late afternoon when tourists can enjoy amazing view of sunset over the village and the whole surrounding areas.

 

How to go to Ta Phin

Because of it’s isolation there aren’t many ways to reach the village itself.  From Sapa, the best option will take about 30 minutes to reach here by motorbike. The mountainous road can make it difficult for cars to move, so the best solution is to hire a “xe om”, or motorbike taxi, with an experienced driver who will take you to right place, take in mind that round trip with car is around 400.000 VND. Probably, the driver will take you some expert advice to enjoy the village.

If you want to around the trekking roads to the village start from Sapa and the distances are about 12 to 14 km. It depends of the place where you were planning to stop in the village. The easiest way is the one starting around Sapa lake: you need to find the small rocky way that goes through Ma Tra village and it’s rice paddies.

Either you come by foot or by bike you will have to buy a ticket. If you come by walk or by bike  actually costs 20 000 VND, if you come by car 40.000 VND. The best thing is that the money collected is used to repair roads and schools.

Rice terraces in Ta Phin Village

 

Hmong people

In Ta Phin Village there are two ethnic minorities living in harmony: the Red Dao, who make up the majority, and the Black Mong. There differences between them:

  • Red Dao people living there still keep strong customs: arranged weddings where the price of the bride can still reach a decent amount of old Indochina silver piastres. The use of roots and plants to dye silk threads in bright yellow or dark orange. Harvesting medicinal plants in the jungle in order to make their traditional herbal bath. The Dao consider themselves to be the descendants of Ban Vuong (or Ban Ho) a legendary character of the ethnic minority Dao people.
Red Dao,Ta Phin Village, Vietnam

Red Dao people

 

  • Hmong people usually live in smaller houses and grow hemp and indigo plants. They turn these plants into stunning pieces of clothing and souvenirs for the village visitors.

 

A common sight in the village is to see the woman and the girls sitting together, gossiping and laughing, head down focused on a piece of indigo colored cloth. They make embroidery and brocade productssold and traded amongst the villages and visitors. The locals are friendly and will invite the tourists to go to their homes to show how they live and what they own, and try to sell you their things.

Local Hmong people Ta Phin Village

 

Food and drink in Ta Phin

If you want eat or drink something you can find a few shops where you can have a noodle soup or some rice with eggs and vegetables. The favourite place of the locals is the one on the right side of the car parking. They have like 2 big wooden tables outside made of old trunks. On the left side a woman sell snacks like bananas, boiled eggs and sometimes steamed buns or boiled corn.

The gastronomy in Ta Phin is composed by fresh vegetables, chicken and a few shots of home made rice wine are likely to be the base of the meal. If you don’t like that, there are more western-oriented homestays that usually serve french fries and pork-based dishes or pancakes in the morning.

Don’t forget to try the local home made rice wine ! The Dao here is one of the best you can have around Sapa area. Because the typical one is about 30º and the one drank for weddings can range up to 60º, and contrary to some restaurants in Sapa the rice wine brewed here is free of additives like the dangerous methanol.

Fresh vegetables in Ta Phin Village

 

Things to do in Ta Phin village

  • Visit Ta Phin Cave: this place have a special charm for those who love discovering and immersing yourself in nature. Ta Phin Cave have 5 meters in height and 3 meters in width. If you go deeply inside the Cave, can see many stalactites with special and strange shapes, which are hanging down without any arrangement. Tips to visit the cave:
    • It’s quite small so tall persons might not enjoy it.
    • It is said by the locals that it is 15 km long.
    • Bring along old clothes and flash lights if you wish to travel far into the cave.
    • July and August is not a good period to visit the cave as it become very slippery and wet.

Ta Phin cave

  • Visit the ruined old French monastery: it had been established in the early 1940s when Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh began their assaults on the Vichy French colonial establishment and their Japanese patrons. The monastery was a natural target and its occupants are said to have made a swift retreat to Hanoi. The route is plenty of locals.
  • Take a herbal bath: is one of Ta Phin specialities. In adition, Red People are well known because of this tradition. So we suggest you to take one of this. It relaxes your body and renews your energy by enhancing overall circulation. It also offers benefits to you because remove dead skin and impurities and relieves some chronic illnesses like rheumatism. You can try other way to take your skin clean and soft.
  • Take a embroidery lesson: they use a natural plan extract, indigo, to provide the base colour for their wonderful garments.

Dao woman embroidering in Ta Phin village

  • Participate in a Red Daowedding: If you are lucky enough, you can have a chance to participate in a Red Daowedding, seeing how carefully they prepare for the complicated customs for this occasion.
  • See local festivals: there several local festivals such as “dancing festival”, “greeting for the new house”,and “oath-taking ceremony”. That will help you to understand more about the simple but happy life of ethnic people.
  • Other suggestions: if you are friendly and open-minded local people will offer to help them prepare a meal, feed the animals, work in the nature, practice rice culture, work in the fields, make and drink rice wine, attend a wedding, teach them english or help them to clean the village. Or simply take a walk and enjoy the views.

Harvesting rice in Ta Phin village
Buffalo on the rice terraces of Ta Phin

Where to sleep in Ta Phin

Ta Phin village now has around 12 homestays. Take in mid that it’s really hard to make your book in advance because most of them are Dao owned, that’s the reason why they don’t really have websites. You can reach them either in the 1st hamlet where there are some ladies wait for tourists in front of a small house, waiting for potential buyers of their products or the center of the village.

The most common choice it’s to spend a one-day trip from Sapa to Ta Phin and come back to sleep in the homestay in the big town. But if you want to live the real vietnamese experience we strongly suggest you to stay one night in a Ta Phin local homestay.

Tả Phìn village local house

 

A social project in Ta Phin Village

A community tourism training project in the Sapa region of Northern Vietnam operated by Capilano University Vancouver, Canada, and Hanoi Open University, Vietnam, and supported by the PATA Foundation. The project features tourism training to help sustain vulnerable ethnic cultures and maximize benefits of tourism to small and unique villages in Northern Vietnam. Training is done by Capilano and Hanoi Open University students and faculty.

 

Homestay with local Red Dao people

Taphin offers visitors that truly authentic hill tribe experience. More than that, the Red Dao are some of the most welcoming people you may every meet. Thanks to CBT Vietnam training workshops many homes offer homestay experiences and authentic batik workshops.

You can find a list of homestays with local people.