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What to do and see! Where to visit in Sa Pa! (part 1)

 

1. Bac Ha Market

Being a minority ethnic people market, the town of Bac Ha is most famous for its Sunday market which is a trading centre and meeting place for couples, friends, and relatives every Sunday. Travelers often come here to discover its attraction and uniqueness.

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. Some walk several hours for the weekly opportunity to trade and barter food, animals, clothes and household goods. It is about 80km from Sa Pa, Bac Ha Market is not only the place for buying and selling, but also for cultural and sentiment exchanging. On the market days, right from the early morning, all paths and mountain roads are full of people and horses pouring to the market. People usually sit in groups around a soup pan ( called "thang co") eating and chatting.

 

 

Many different ethnic groups such as Flower H'mong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Nung minorities gather to buy and sell local famous products that cannot be found elsewhere. The market was very crowded, local products for sale or barter are carried on horseback.There was a brisk trade at the market for everything from hand-embroidered skirts to all manner of 4-legged animals.

Rounding the corner and pungent fumes of alcohol accosted your senses of smell, from corn whiskey, a Bac Ha specialty. The potent moonshine is decanted by vendors from large white plastic jugs to used bottled water containers. If you doubt the ability of a vendor's hooch to peel paint or light your senses on fire, you can try a shot for free.

At the fair, adventurous gastronomes can try “thang co” blood porridge, a popular dish of the H’Mong and other local people. The Flower H’mong minority is the most common here, and their colorful dresses make a uniquely beautiful sight.

 

2. Cat Cat Village

Cat Cat Village is 2km from Sa Pa, This is an age-old village of H'Mong ethnic group remaining unique customs and practices that are lots in other villages.

Visitors to Cat Cat have an opportunity to admire a lively and colorful picture. That is the image of young women sitting by looms with colorful pieces of brocade decorated with designs of flowers and birds. 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. Their products are fairly sophisticated, especially jewelry for women.

Tourists to Cat Cat are most attracted by its unique customs, including the custom of “pulling wife”. A man can ask his friends to lure a girl he likes to his house and keeps her there in three days. During these days, if the girl agrees to become his wife, a wedding will be held. However, the girl can happily go home after three days if she does not like him.

 

 

Traditional houses of H’Mong people in Cat Cat have three rooms with three doors and covered with po mu wood roof. In the house, there are three columns that stand in round or square stones. The walls are made from sawn timber. The main door is always closed and only opens when people in the house organize important events. Altar, inlaid floor containing food, places for sleeping, kitchen and receiving guests are indispensable parts of the houses.

Visitors to Cat Cat Village can discover countless unique features of H’Mong.

 

3. Sin Chai village

Sin Chai village is 30 kilometers trekking from Sa Pa town, it located at the foot of Fansipan Mountain, 'the highest roof of Vietnam and Indochina'.  From here, you can enjoy huge stunning landscapes before climbing up on the way a jeep to return to Sa Pa.

Sin Chai is a village of the Dao ethnic people, whose women wear beautifully embroidered clothes with distinctive silver jewellery and an enormous red turban.

The trekking  is short but the more funny is to stay in Sin Chai village to discover. Sin Chai is a community village. Here the locals will take the time to teach textile weaving and dying, will take the group on a locally built trail to explain the names and function of the local flora. There will be the opportunity to participate in the village community, there will be a traditional sporting activity and tree planting.

The village offers an amazing vista across the valley. Cat Cat Village with Sin Chai village are becoming attractive to visitors.

 

4. Lao Chai village

Lao Chai is a village of black H'Mong ethnic group. Located 7 Kms from Sa Pa, it is quite approachable from Sa Pa for travelers who do not have much time.

View from air, Lao Chai lies in between mountains and grass hills, with houses that look like colossal mushrooms on all sides, The village at 2,660m above the sea-level, you will see Lao Chai village where the black H'mong people are living, it is also the beginning of a valley which is called Muong Hoa valley, here you will enjoy the fresh air, see terrace fields, stream, visit and discover some of the H'mong's families.

Visitors to the village are also able to enjoy the traditional music of boys and girls playing the game 'hire and seek in a blanket' and exchange songs overnight even after the festival, the boy can bring the girl they played with to their home and marry her. In this village which you will have a welcome feeling  at any house of the hospitable people there. You can interact them, learn about their culture and customs.

 

5. Ta Van village

Ta Van is a small village set within a picturesque valley, not far from the northern mountain resort of Sa Pa. The area is renowned for its colorful ethnic minorities and Ta Van is home to two such groups. A stay with one of the farmer families here will give you a close-up experience of the lifestyle and typical culture of the area. Trekking in the surrounding area is most satisfying, including access to a 3-day route up Mount Fan Si Pan( the highest point in Indochina at 3.143 m.)

A picturesque hamlet surrounded by terraced rice fields, Ta Van Day has become a new tourist attraction in Sa Pa. The name originated because it is home primarily to Day ethnic people who have been living together since long with amity and unity. So far, this is the sole hamlet in the commune of Ta Van providing homestay facilities.  A stay with local families will help you get to know about rural village life in the North-West of Vietnam as well as enjoy the cozy atmosphere of a Day peasant family.

Just a short distance from Sa Pa, the atmosphere in Ta Van quite different. It is not active without luxurious hotels, restaurants, and high-rise buildings. Simply, it is a quiet place for relaxation and isolation from daily busy life. You will stay in brick-roofed houses with earth floor on the mountainsides amidst terraced rice fields and primitive scenery. Yet so peaceful that you feel you are in quite different world. Perhaps, that is why visitors are especially interested in this attractive destination. Not only you can admire the beautiful landscape, but you also can live the daily life of Day people during your stay at their homes ( home stay). Again, you can feel relaxed, the peace of mind and have affection for the hospitality, warm reception and sincerity of the locals.

 

6. Ban Ho village

Located 30 km from southeast Sa Pa. Ban Ho village is settled by ethnic minorities as Tay, Dao, H'mong... Ban Ho village is one of the most interesting places of Sa Pa. When coming here, Visitors get chance not only to view wonderful spots, enjoy fresh air but also to see natural beauty. Visitor will have opportunity to see water fall, go swimming in hot water pool or cold water stream, find out traditional weave fabric, make brocade... and take part in community activities.

 

7. Ta Phin village

Ta Phin village of the H'Mong and Red Dao minority people, a remote village around 12 kilometers from Sa Pa which still retains traditional customs and lifestyles of ethnic minority groups. Something special awaits visitors at Ta Phin. The villagers will invite visitors to visit their homes to show how they live and what they have and tell about their families. When heading off to Ta Phin village from Sa Pa, hiking up and down the 12 kilometers of hilly terrain is a good choice as travelers will see local people working in terraced paddy fields or traveling back and forth from the market to their homes or tourist can stop to see an old French monastery. Especially after a long day of walking on the windy roads and hills around Sa Pa town, tourist can soak your bones and muscles in a traditional Red Dao herbal bath at Ta Phin.

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