Situated about 350 km northwest of Hanoi (Hà Nội) and near the Chinese border in Lao Cai (Lào Cai) Province, the small mountainous town Sapa (Sapa) has attracted tourists and visitors across the world because of its inspiring peaceful natural beauty and unique shopping experiences. Talking about shopping in Sapa, we have to mention some best popular local traditional markets in this town that always have something special. Visiting the local markets in Sapa, tourists, and visitors will have a great chance to immerse in the warm greetings, have good conversations, and of course, some gossips related to traditional markets. It is great to enjoy the wonderful harmony of the splendid backcloth and traditional costumes of this beautiful highland. In this article, we would like to introduce to you some best popular local markets in Sapa, Vietnam that will give you the great shopping ideas when you take the tour to Sapa.
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Discover 12 Popular Local Markets In Sapa, Vietnam
1. Coc Ly Market (Chợ Cốc Ly)
Coc Ly Market, also known as Tuesday market, is a colorful market of Sapa where the Flower H’mong come to exchange their homemade goods. Located about 35 km from Bac Ha (Bắc Hà) Town and near the Chay River (Sông Chảy), Coc Ly Market features the unique and colorful beauty as you can see the Flower H’mong (H’Mông) wearing the bright traditional costume. Coc Ly is the most remote area in Lao Cai Province; therefore, in this place, you can see the more traditional beauty than anywhere in Sapa. That is shown in traditional dress and local life.
In this market, there are shops and stalls selling vegetable, fruit, chicken, and pork, besides a variety of traditional dress and colorful fabrics. You can also see dozens of placid buffalos tethered close to the market for sale. The horse is an important form of transport here as the locals use them to carry the good from the market to market.
Coc Ly Market is more than a trading place where ethnic people come to buy and sell their products. Despite no singing or dancing, Coc Ly Market will become festive and colorful on every Tuesdays as people gather to drink and dine or wander to enjoy the harmony and ambiance of this mountainous market.
The colorful products here are put on sale not only for locals but also for tourists and foreigners; however, you should know how to bargain to have your favorites with an affordable price. Usually, booths and stalls at the beginning of the path have more expensive price than ones at the end. Therefore, keep walking toward the market until you find good deals.
Location: Coc Ly, Bac Ha Town, Lao Cai Province
Opening hours: Tuesday, 7 am – 2 pm
2. Can Cau Market (Chợ Cán Cấu)
Can Cau Market, also known as Saturday Market, is also one of the best popular local markets in Sapa which is open-air and specializes in livestock. Can Cau Market is located about 20 km North of Bac Ha and near the Chinese border? The main audience of this market is H’mong groups from highland villages.
Visiting this market, you will see hundreds of dogs, horses, pigs, cats, and textiles which are on sales. The horse is also an important form of transport in this market as they carry the products from the market to market. Can Cau Market is also the popular market of a large number of Chinese traders, especially people who come for the booming dog trade.
This local market is attracting a lot of photo hunters and nature lovers because of its beautiful surrounding nature and beautiful sight. It is also great to see the local H’mong wearing the colorful and intricate traditional costumes.
Location: Can Cau (Cán Cấu) Commune, Simacai District, Lao Cai Province
Opening hours: Saturday, 7:30 am to the early afternoon
3. Sapa Love Market
Love Market Sapa which opens on Saturday evenings is also one of the famous local markets in Sapa. As the name suggested, this love market of Sapa is a wonderful place for locals gathering to find their love and a partner to get married.
Nowadays, the love market does not organize these activities anymore due to developing tourism. But visiting this market, you will have a great chance to enjoy the representation and unique atmosphere of this love market. You can see the Young Red Dzao hill tribe gathering to sing wonderful songs to their partners or the opposite sex. Nowadays, young locals also sing in the darks but not for a partner. They sing for you and ask for a tip afterward.
There is also the social event of the year taken place in this market. It is when people gather to sing, dance, and chat over grilled cassava, sticky rice or rice dumplings. For example, March 26 is a night of dance and song and these performances express the hopeful wishes for eternal love.
Opening hours: Saturday evening
4. Bac Ha Market (Chợ Bắc Hà)
Bac Ha Market is the most famous and biggest local market in North Vietnam which attracts a large number of locals, tourists, and foreigners for its unique vibrancy.
Taking place every Sunday, Bac Ha Market is the trading place where the local minority tribes bring their wares, livestock and rice wine for sale each week. Moreover, in this market, you can also buy a variety of beautiful souvenirs and handicrafts with good quality and affordable prices. Bac Ha Market is more than a shopping place. It is a great idea for you to visit and watch people take in the vibrancy and energy of this market.
If you are brave, it is recommended tasting a stiff shot of homemade rice whiskey that is believed to kill off any bacteria in your body. It is suggested visiting this market in the early morning before a large number of tourists coming and this market turns busy and crowded. It is okay if you come here with an empty stomach because you can find something awesome, super yummy and delicious in this place. You can try many Vietnamese foods such as Pho Ga (Phở Gà), thick green rice cake, etc.
Location: Ngoc Uyen (Ngọc Uyển), Bac Ha District, Lao Cai Province
Opening hours: Sunday, 6 am – 2 pm
5. Muong Hum Market (Chợ Mường Hum)
Located about 45 km from North-western Lao Cai, Muong Hum Market is famous about the unique original local lifestyle and cultural tradition. Every Sunday, Muong Hum Market takes place and attracts local people to meet and chat over.
Considered as an important and large market in the northwest region of Lao Cai, Muong Hum Market is different from Sapa Market and Bac Ha Market as it is on the land at the bottom of a valley and surrounded by a small river and rice paddies, which creates this market a picturesque attractive sight.
The market-goers are the flower H’mong, Red H’mong, Black H’mong, Zao Tuyen (Dao Tuyển), and Red Zao. Therefore, visiting the Muong Hum Market, you can see the colorful costumes in different styles and ways. For example, you can see the flower H’mong in embroidered red and yellow blouses and skirts, the Black H’mong in dark indigo with some unique decorative features around the neck and at the end of shirt sleeves, and the Red H’mong in light batik customs with the red embroidered patterns on. Zao Tuyen and Red Zao prefer black shirts and trousers with fine yellow embroidered patterns and special decorations on their headgears. Tay (Tày), Giay (Giáy) and Ha Nhi (Hà Nhì) people also join in the market wearing the different styles of beautiful clothes.
Location: Muong Hum (Mường Hum), Bat Xat (Bát Xát) District, Lao Cai Province
Opening hours: Sunday, 7 am – 1 pm
6. Cao Son Market (Chợ Cao Sơn)
Cao Son Market is located in Cao Son (Cao Sơn) Commune, Muong Khuong (Mường Khương) District, Lao Cai Province. Cao Son Market is famous for plenty of goods and a naturally beautiful landscape. Visiting this market, locals and tourists are impressed at the immense space and vast mountains. In this market, they sell, buy, and exchange the good with each other.
There are several areas in this market, including herbs, vegetables, wood ear, mushrooms, wine, honey, rice Princess, corn, jewelry, household appliances, etc. There are sophisticated clothes that are made by the skillful talent people. You can also find poultry and livestock such as pigs, cattle, dogs, chickens, horses, etc.
You can also have a chance to taste many ethnic dishes with seductive flavors such as horse meat, beef, buffalo meat, spicy yeast, etc. In addition, visitors and tourists coming to this market can travel on the riverboat and enjoy the sightseeing of both riversides of the river.
Location: Cao Son Commune, Muong Khuong District, Lao Cai Province
Opening hours: Wednesday, 6 am – 1 pm
7. Lung Khau Nhin Market (Chợ Lùng Khấu Nhin)
Lung Khau Nhin Market is the most ancient market in Vietnam. This market takes place every Thursday and it can be reached from Lao Cai by car, which takes you about two hours to travel.
Lung Khau Nhin Market is loaded with impressive and brilliant colors of blankets, dresses, local’s products, and vegetables. The main audience of this market are all minority people like Nung, H’Mong, Kinh, Man, etc.
In this small market, the minority peoples including the Black Dao, Tay, Giay, Red H’mong come to buy, sell and exchange the products.
The market is located in the remote landscape and surrounded by beautiful scenery. That is not only a wonderful shopping place in Sapa selling seeds, vegetables, and livestock but also a beautiful site that attracts nature lovers and picture hunters.
Location: Muong Khuong District, Lao Cai Province
Opening hours: Thursday, 7:30 am – 1 pm
8. Traditional Saturday Market Sapa
The Traditional Saturday Market is appealing to foreigners because of the traditional beauty and picturesque landscape. In this market, you can see many foreigners who want to learn more about the local life and shopping experience in Sapa. You can also meet the locals in their traditional clothes.
It is recommended visiting this market on a weekend. The market is easy to look for. Visiting this market, you will see two big buildings. One of them sells a lot of souvenirs while the other sells appliances and clothes.
Visiting this market, you can have good conversation and chat over the culture and local life with the locals who are good at speaking English. It is a great idea for you to know how to bargain your favorite products to get a good price.
Opening hours: Saturday, early morning
9. Pha Long Market (Chợ Pha Long)
Pha Long Market has the rustic and characterized beauty of highland. Today, this market still preserves many unique features. On Saturday mornings, ethnic peoples such as Zao, H’mong, Pa Zi, Lo Lo, Tu Lao, and Tu Zi come here to sell, buy and exchange products. This market becomes lively and busy in the new year and at the end of the year.
Pha Long Market is divided into different sites such as cuisine, sale of clothing, sale of agricultural tools, etc. You can also find many highland specialties here like seven colors rice, Seng Gu rice, special spicy chili sauce Muong Khuong, etc.
The colorful traditional dresses and trousers of ethnic people and the impressive sightseeing of forest and mountain have attracted tourists and visitors around the world. Visiting this market, you will have a chance to learn about local life and culture. Therefore, it should not be missed if you take the tour to Sapa.
Location: Pha Long Commune, Muong Khuong District, Lao Cai Province
Opening hours: Saturday, 6 am to 12 pm.
10. Binh Lu (Bình Lư) And Tam Duong (Tam Đường) Market
Binh Lu And Tam Duong Market situated on the other side of Sapa is also one of the most popular markets in Sapa. This market lies on the side of the main road and it is surrounded by the steep hills and mountains with green tea plantation. Although it is not crowded and colorful like other markets in Sapa such as Muong Hum and Bac Ha, it is still worth a visit. If you visit this market from September to April, you will have a chance to see some moths wandering in this market. In this market, it is great for you to see thousands of Thai Kadai language groups like Tai Laos, Tai Lu, H’mong, and White Tai coming here to buy and sell their goods.
Opening hours: Sunday, 8 am – 1 pm
11. Lung Phin Market (Chợ Lũng Phìn)
Lung Phin Market that opens on Sunday is well-known for its rich culture. In this hill tribe market, you can see thousands of ethnic people such as Dzao, H’mong, and Chinese coming every week to sell, buy, and exchange the goods. Local goods are carried on buffaloes and horses like saddlers, blacksmiths, clothing, traditional medicines, and food.
Besides selling and buying a commodity, this market is also a great place for people to meet, exchange, and smile and to drink with each other a few cups of wine.
Location: Lung Phin (Lũng Phìn) Commune, Meo Vac (Mèo Vạc) District, Bac Ha, Lao Cai
Opening hours: Every day of Tiger and Monkey, from 4 am to 4 pm.
12. Sin Cheng Market (Chợ Sín Chéng)
Located near the border area and set in Si Ma Cai District, Sin Cheng Market is less popular than other local markets in Sapa but it is still a great place for you to spend your time on shopping and wandering.
Visiting this market, you will be astonished at the untouched beauty and peaceful atmosphere you can find nowhere in the modern countries.
This market sells a lot of local products and goods. You can also enjoy many specialties with special flavors here.
Location: Si Ma Cai District, Lao Cai
Opening hours: Wednesday, 9 am – 1:30 pm
Useful Tips On Visiting Local Markets In Sapa
1. Spend At Least Half A Day To Visit A Market
Visiting a market is a wonderful, interesting and easy way to help you understand and experience the local culture and life of Sapa. In this market, besides shopping, you will have a chance to meet different ethnic people, ask for the local guide, and enjoy good conversations.
Local markets in Sapa has a huge selection of products and wonderful things to explore and capture. Therefore, if you plan to have a Sapa market tour, make sure that you spend at least half a day in each market. Prepare some good trekking shoes for a comfortable visit.
2. Know The Market Opening Date And Time
Unlike other markets in Vietnam, local markets in Sapa open on a specific day and at a specific time. Therefore, it is important for you to pay attention to these dates and times before arranging your market visit.
Furthermore, it is recommended visiting the market in the early morning. The earlier you visit the better products you can buy. Do not worry about your empty stomach. In this market, you can easily find the cuisine spots where you can taste the delicious Vietnamese breakfast food like pho (phở), bun (bún), or rice cake.
3. Hire A Local Tour Guide
If it is the first time for you to visit local markets in Sapa, you should hire the best local tour guides who are good at Sapa culture and experience.
He or she will be the one who explains you the local culture, customs, and traditions. They are willing to answer your question about anything you experience in Sapa market and the local life.
More especially, bargaining is a common and fun activity in Vietnam that helps you lower the price down. But if you are not familiar with bargaining, an experienced tour guide will help you get affordable deals from the sellers. They also give you some useful suggestions about the souvenirs, gifts and good price on each item.
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Visiting the best popular local markets in Sapa, Vietnam is a great chance for you to understand the local culture and life of people living in Sapa. We hope that this informative article in Vina.com will help you in selecting the ideal market, shopping activities and experience that best suit your schedule and requirements. Any questions can be left in the comment section below and we will answer them as soon as we can.
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