Fansipan mountain in december

Guide to visit Sapa in december

If you are planning to visit Sapa in December, you must read this guide with some tips and reasons to show you what to do during this month during your visit to this stunning town located on the spectacular valley of the Hoang Lien Son Mountains in the North West region of Vietnam.

 

The weather

The best time to visit Sapa is from March to May and from September to November. At these times, the weather is relatively stable with sunny days and cool nights. The view of Sapa’s terraces is at its best between September and October, during the fall. The weather is more cold and misty the whole time but still wonderful views and certainly still green, than in other seasons of the year. The weather in Sapa it’s really special and hard to predict, mornings and afternoons are specially foggy and temperatures are colder. But no so cold as Vietnamese people are going to tell you. So, probably, you can enjoy a sunny day in Sapa in december. As you can see in the following pictures.

 

The daily average temperature for Sapa in December is approximately 10 °C.  However, it’s generally slightly warmer than the weather in some parts of Europe. As in November, it’s a great time to enjoy the outdoor activities that your are able to practice in the area like walking or cycling. Humidity for the town can reach 82% but due to the cooler temperatures, visitors shouldn’t expect any discomfort.

If you need more to know the weather with more precision, you can check the weather prediction for Sapa in December.

 

What to wear in Sapa in December?

Trekking it’s the main activity, don’t forget to pack all your equipment to be comfortable during this activity. You have available different kinds of trekkings, so you have to be prepared to achieve your goal. There you have a few tips:

  • Don’t forget your rain jacket. Weather changes a lot, so it would be required if you preffer to come back to your homestay dry. Also, if a rain jack it’s too hot to wear during your way, you can carry a cheap plastic raincoast (the cheapest option) or an umbrella. In adition, waterproof jackets are a good option to avoid the cold because it’s a way to stop the humidity.
  • Pack at least a fleece Jacket or/and a light sweater. Night time in sapa begins to get colder than normal, and it’s the best way to avoid a cold. If you are very sensitive to cold wear a warm sweater could be a good option.
  • Shoes with very good tread are a must, because trails can get very slick with mud after it rains.
  • Insect repellent.
  • During the day you could have a warm temperature, so wear T-shirts or shorts under long clothes it’s a good recommendation. Specially, if you choose a intensive trek.

Sapa trekking in December in Ta Van Village Local guide with umbrella

Tips to visit Sapa in December

Most of the people come to visit to admire the views of the rice fields, but after the haverst and with the new plant the views are also stunning. In December, they already had finished the haversting, and you can see the curvy terraces filled with water and that looks pretty amazing. All the rice are collected and waiting for the new season.

 

Fansipan Mountain

Probably you think that it’s not the best moment to hike to the top of the “Rooftop of Indochina”, but probably you are not right. In December, the weather it’s colder but that’s good when you are hiking. The views are going to continue being amazing, because you are above the clouds… A really amazing sensation! You are not going to feel warm and the same sensation of fatigue than in a warm day. If you have the choice, don’t hesitate to go to the top!

Fansipan mountain in december

Views from Fansipan in December

Visit Sapa Market

Located in the center of Sapa, Sapa Market is the convergence of goods exchanging among ethnic minorities in the region. Sapa is seemly situated in the center of villages in whole region at the foothills of Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range. This is also the junction of the roads from villages located in valleys to the north, namely Ta Giang Phinh, Ban Khoang to southern village such as Ban Ho, Suoi Thau, Ta Van, Lao Chai. In a large area, Sapa is an ideal convergence for trading activities and exchange of goods among ethnic minorities; simultaneously, it is also the perfect rendezvous in the unique cultural feature of the upland people.  Sapa Market is usually held on every Sunday. Those who live in the remote region often have to start their journey from the previous day to catch up with the fair. On Saturday night, many people early come to the market gather and cheer together with the folk songs of boys and girls in Hmong and Dao villages along with the sounds of lip lute, flute, panpipe… All seems much closer to each other though they have not ever seen before. They chat together under the flickering firelight. And, of course, you can try the most famous local food. You know that you are near the market when you begin to smell the barbeque food. In conclusion, Sapa Market is an opportunity to immerse in the idyllic life with this unique culture.

Sapa market traders

Sapa market fruit

Bac Ha traditional Market

If you enjoy walking around markets you should visit Bac Ha Market, one of the biggest and most well know in all of North Vietnam. Bac Ha Town is a three hour drive from Sapa and the market occurs every Sunday. Is not really the best place for shopping, but is a great location to visit if you are happy to people watch and take in the energy and vibrancy of the occasion. There, you could find many different ethnic groups such as Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Nung minorities gather to buy and sell local products that cannot be found elsewhere. The best way to enjoy the market in all its glory is to arrive early and leave before the crowds of tourists arrive on the buses between 10am and 11am.

Bac Ha Market

Flower H’mong at Bac Ha Sunday Market

 

 

¿What are you going to in Sapa in December?

 

 

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.

Bac-ha-market-feast-for-your-eyes

Bac Ha market – highland culture feature

Every Sunday, Bac Ha hosts the biggest fair near the mountainous highlands and the Chinese border. It is the largest and most colorful market in the area and attracts throngs of villagers from the surrounding hill tribes.

Sapa area is very well known for its mountains and trekking trips, but there are more things to do apart from trekking. One of those things is the Sunday market in Bac Ha village. Bac Ha is located about 80km away from Sapa, 60km from Lao Cai, near the Chinese border, and is a small village famous for its market.  

Even if Bac Ha has stunning landscapes and mountains, it hasn’t become a trekking point as Sapa has, it is only famous for its market. During the week, Bac Ha is a peaceful village without tourism, however at Sundays noise and color fill the town, making it a must see for the tourists in the area.  

Bac Ha Market in Sapa

Bac Ha market is the most colorful market

Bac Ha market is the most colorful market in all Lao Cai province and is less touristic than the market in Sapa town. Every Sunday morning, ethnic minorities from the mountain area of Bac Ha, groups of Miao, Hmong, Dao Do, Tay and Giay minorities go to the village market. Here, the ethnic groups dress up with their traditional clothes and meet in the village to buy and sell all type of products, such as spices, tobacco, food, craft-work, clothing,… all kind of local area products. The market area is divided into 7 parts, each of the specialized on one product: 

  • textile area, where you can buy all kind of materials and fabric you need to make ethnic clothes. 
  • food market 
  • horse area 
  • farm animals area, where you can buy chicken, hen, pigs, buffaloes,… 
  • street restaurant area 
  • poultry area 
  • craft and blacksmith area  

For the locals, this market is not only a place to trade and make business, it is a place where they sit, meet and eat with friends that they only see on Sundays, show off their handcraft clothes, find a couple, … to socialize in general. Even if they sometimes have to walk a long way to get to the market, for them it is worth the walk, as the Sunday market is the biggest event of the week. 

Local clothes and Bac Ha Market

Location and timetable of Bac Ha market

It is a street market, even if it is said that a building is going to be built to host this growing market. You can find the market in the right side of the main street of the village, Ngoc Uyen street, in the south part of the village. 

The market only takes place on Sunday mornings and starts very early. It is opened from 6:00 am until 14:00. The best moment to visit it is around 9:00 because at around 12 many ethnic groups start picking up and leave.  

 

How to get to Bac Ha market

There are no many ways of getting to Bac Ha, as it is a small village in the mountains. However, there is a regular bus line that will take you from Lao Cai or from Hanoi to the village. This is the most economical way of going to Bac Ha, about 3$ the way, but it will take you 90 minutes to drive the 60km that separate Lao Cai from Bac Ha.  

Buses from Lao Cai leave at 6:30, 7:00, 12:00, 13:00 and 15:00 and from Bac Ha back to Lao Cai at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 12:10 and 13:00. The most recommendable option is to take the morning bus at 7:00 to Bac Ha and come back at 13:00. This way you will have enough time to see everything and even buy some souvenirs.  

If you decide to go from Hanoi to Bac Ha, you may want to take the train to Lao Cai and then the bus to Bac Ha. If you take this option, you should book in advance, as the train tickets for Sundays are very popular.  

The most comfortable way of going to Bac Ha is the mini bus service. Some agencies and hotels offer mini-bus or van services for tourists, with 5-12 seats, depending on the service, that for a little more money than the regular bus line, will take you to the market and back. For about 12$ round way, they will pick you up around 7:00 in Lao Cai and bring back at 12:00. This way it will take you 1 hour to get to the market, and they usually leave 3 hours later, after you have had enough time to visit the market.  

Another way of getting to Bac Ha is renting a motorbike and riding on your own. This will take you around 3 hours from Sapa, but it is a good way if you want to stop and admire the landscape along the way. Even if this option will be more expensive than the regular bus line, it will allow you travel on your own pace and enjoy the trip in a different way, even if the road may be challenging because of the curves and the heavy traffic.  

If you don’t want to ride a motorbike or go on a busy bus, there is always the option of taking a taxi, but this, of course, will be the most expensive way, because even if you take it in Lao Cai, it is 60km.