Bac Ha

Bac Ha is township of the same name rural district of Lao Cai province in the Northeastern region of Vietnam, not very far from the border with China.

Bac Ha is more than 300km from Hanoi, 100km from its sister town in the same province – Sapa. The Bac Ha district is the main living region of one of the most colorful hill tribe of Vietnam – Flower Hmong people.

Though can not be compared with Sapa in the number of tourist stay due to lack of infrastructure, Bac Ha is famous for its weekly hill tribe markets, the Coc Ly Market (35 kms from Bac Ha Town) on Tuesday morning, Can Cau market (18 kms from Bac Ha Town) on Saturday morning and the Bac Ha markets (right in town) on Sunday morning, all call flocks of tourist to come for discovering and taking pictures of some most typical and colorful hill tribe markets in the mountainous north Vietnam.

These markets are like vivid painting of local scenes that have been going on every week for generations, where cattle, horses, goats and dogs are bought and sold, as well as many traditional goods like saddles and plowshares, along with elaborate textiles, handbags and other trinkets made by the local hill tribe people. Their intricately woven daily costume is one of the main drawing points in itself. The markets, not only the places for people to sell and buy but to meet, enjoy the time, exchange culture and look for lovers.

a lady wearing a red flower unbrella in love market in Bac Ha on a rainy day
A lady visiting Bac Ha love market on a rainy day

You will find here not only the colorful scene but the party atmosphere and the authentic life style and culture that make the area typical. It is also the place you will have chance to sharpen your shooting skill with stunning photos of natural scenery and the local hill tribes.

Bac Ha’s main crops are corn, plum and rice that are grown on hill slopes and shallow valley around the district. During the Spring, valleys in the district covered with pure white color of plum blossom and it is so eyes catching and tasty when you walk along plum gardens during its harvesting season.

The corn wine brewed by Hmong people here is the strongest alcoholic drink you can try in the country and one or a few cup of it will work as igniter for inspiration :)

The Bac Ha town itself is rather small and laidback during the week. There are some good accommodations and standard foodie choices around the town. It is nice to walk around and visit to local attractions such as the old Hmong King palace, Bac Ha temple, local villages.

Bac Ha town is also a good base to explore the surrounding highlands that still retain very well the authentic local atmosphere and scenes. There are quite many adventure options to take less-traveled trekking and home stay with visits to a variety of ethnic villages such as Nung, Tay, Dzao, Hmong, La Chi, Lo Lo and so on…

Bac Ha can be visited as a part of your trip to Sapa (for just a market visit) or as one of your overnight destinations on longer trip to the Northwest or a mountain loop adventure that can be done with different mean of transport including bus, jeep or motorbike. 

Around 900m above sea level, it is noticeably warmer than Sapa. The weather here is likely to be more clement in winter months, with an average year-round temperature of 19 degrees Celsius.

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