Sapa markets are mostly in the wilderness, where local hill tribes leave their isolated homes from early morning and hike for miles on the precipitous mountaintop cornfields to reach their weekly markets. Our Sapa Markets features colorful Sapa markets, and leisurely trekking from the mountain town of Sapa.
Almost every day of the week, somewhere in the area around Sapa, the local hill tribes will be gathering for their weekly market. As well as providing the opportunity to buy and sell local products, from vegetables to buffalo, these are also important social occasions. Those who live in the region’s more isolated villages have the chance to meet friends and family, exchange news, eat, and even indulge in some of the locally brewed spirits - which is well know as “ruou ngo” or corn wine.
There are local markets on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The hill tribe people frequent all markets. All Sapa markets are close to the main road, so no hiking is required to reach them. However, some are more accessible than others and more touristy.
Below is a sample Sapa Markets starting on Saturdays, which includes a visit to Bac Ha Market and trekking from Sapa town. This itinerary is best suited for people who enjoy lively market, trekking and photography.
DAY 1: HANOI/ LAO CAI
From your hotel in Hanoi, we transfer to the station for the overnight train to Lao Cai, with an air-conditioned sleeper compartments and a shared bathroom. The total rail journey is about 8 hours; train is departing at 10h00pm and arrives in Lao Cai about 6h15am.
DAY 2: LAO CAI/ BAC HA MARKET/ SAPA
Arrive in Lao Cai in the early morning and transfer to a local hotel in Lao Cai City for refreshment and breakfast. Afterwards, drive to Bac Ha Town (44miles/70km) for the Sunday tribal market.
For the locals, the week ends with perhaps the most famous of all the markets of this region, held at Bac Ha, around 3 hours from Sapa. This huge gathering of minority people offers everything, from local produce to some of the intricate textiles and handicrafts for which the area is so well known. You can also see many other interesting facets of local life, such as the practice of traditional medicine. This area has a particularly large Flower H’mong community, so called due to the bright and striking colors of their traditional costumes.
Bac Ha is a good base to explore the surrounding villages, as it has an improving choice of inexpensive hotels as well as restaurants, and the climate here is noticeably warmer than in Sapa. There are 14 hill-tribe groups that live around Bac Ha: the colorful Flower H’mong are the most visible, but other groups include Tay, Nung, Phu La, Hoa (Han), La Chi and Dao. One of Bac Ha’s main industries is the manufacture of alcoholic home brews (rice wine, cassava wine and corn liquor). The “ruou” corn hooch produced by the Flower Hmong is so potent it can ignite; there’s an entire area devoted to it at the Sunday market.
After your visit, take a boat ride along Chay River to Trung Do village, where the Tay people live in houses built on stilts. On the riverboat ride, you can experience the magnificent sight of the beautiful mountains and bustling life along the riverbank. Drive to Sapa, a former French hill station, and a center for Vietnam’s tribal people. (B, L)
DAY 3: SAPA/ LAO CHAI/ TA VAN/ OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO HANOI
Today, you will discover Sapa town and its valley. The town is orientated to make the most of the spectacular views emerging on clear days. It overlooks a plunging valley of cascading rice terraces, with mountains towering above on all sides. Views of this epic scenery are often subdued by thick mist rolling across the peaks, but even if it’s cloudy, Sapa is still a fascinating destination, especially when local hill-tribe people fill the town with their colorful dress.
The town’s French colonial villas, built in 1920s, fell into disrepair during successive wars with the French, Americans and Chinese, but following the advent of tourism, Sapa has experienced a renaissance.
From the town, hike down terraced rice fields (or drive) to Lao Chai – Black H’mong village. Along the way, enjoy views of the valley and the surrounding mountains, and meet people from many ethnic groups, including the friendly Hmong, Giay, and Red Dao. Continue to a visit to Ta Van village, where the Giay hill tribes live. After a picnic lunch, take a scenic hike through bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai hill tribe village of the Red Dao. Please note that this itinerary is flexible, and those who don’t wish to hike all the way will be transferred between villages by car. Transfer back to Sapa and on to the hotel near the train station to freshen up before taking the overnight train back to Hanoi. (B, L)
DAY 4: ARRIVE IN HANOI
Arrive at the Hanoi Train Station in the early morning, transfer to your hotel.
What SAPA MARKETS is Like
SAPA MARKETS is Level 2, or Easy to Moderate. The night train on Victoria Express Train is comfortable, the hotel in Sapa - the Victoria is a cozy French style lodging, and the hiking is quite light as we follow local trails connecting tribal villages.
Most of Sapa markets are in the wilderness, where local hill tribes leave their isolated homes from early morning and hike for miles on the precipitous mountaintop cornfields to reach their weekly markets. Our Sapa Markets features colorful Sapa markets, and leisurely trekking from the mountain town of Sapa.
Please contact us for the price.
All costs are per person, based on a private guide and car.
Trip cost includes:
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PAYMENT AND CANCELLATION FEE SCHEDULES
As you are not confirmed on the trip until deposit has been received by our office, please do not make non-refundable air arrangements prior to us confirming your booking. Our payment schedules:
Note: If booked less than 45 days from arrival, full payment is required immediately
If it becomes necessary for you to cancel your trip, the following fees will apply, computed as of the date of receipt of written cancellation notice, which can be sent by email.
We want to help you find the trip that’s right for you. Our Trip Level system ranks each trip from 1 to 5 according to the activity and general travel rigors (1 is the easiest and 5 the most difficult in style).
Our system ranks each trip in two ways. The number gives you a quick reference point, the description is perhaps more important, with activities, hiking, and travel conditions (at the bottom of the long-day-itineraries, there is also a brief description of what this Trip is like).
We are always happy to answer questions, and guide you to the trip that best suits your interests.
1 - Easiest
No hiking journeys, optional walks, little driving hours, leisurely travel, one day trips.
2 - Easy to Moderate
Easy to Moderate: Hotel nights or overnight cruises with other physical activities, such as hikes or bike of 2 to 4 hours on some days, sea kayaking.
3 - Moderate
Half- to full-day hikes (3 to 6 hours) over rolling countryside on most days, occasional steep trails. Many of our hotel-based country walking tours are in this category, as are our hiking adventures.
4 - Moderate to Strenuous
Trips with Full-day hikes (4-6 hours), mountainous terrain, significant elevation gains and losses (hiking up or down as much as 3,000 feet) on many hikes.
Examples: Hiking Mai Chau Pu Luong
5 - Strenuous
Full-day hikes (4-8 hours), mountainous, steep terrain (hiking up or down as much as 3,500 feet) on many hikes. Trips with more than 3-day sea kayaking, hiking at average altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet are in this category.