One of the best ways to learn more about the unique ethnic minority cultures is by visiting a market. Ha Giang is the province with the most ethnic minorities in Vietnam, so obvious also the best place to visit a market. The markets of Ha Giang are one of the most unique markets in Vietnam.
What to expect when visiting a minority market in Ha Giang
The markets in this province are mainly for the ethnic minority to sell their local made products and buy the goods they need for the whole week, as most markets are held just once time a week. They sell all kind of goods, including farm equipment, clothes, herbs, food, cloths, home made jewelry and embroidery, house hold goods and even farm animals, such as cows, buffaloes and ducks.
It is not only a place for buying and selling, the markets that are often held one time a week are also a place to socialize. Ar the markets in Ha Giang you will see man drinking rice wine (in the morning!), kids playing with each other and woman chatting with their friends. The man often wear their black jacket with pants and the women colorful skirts, shirts and scarves and some with a large basket to carry the purchased items. These are traditional closing from the different etnic minorities in the area such as the Hmong, Dao and Giay.
Make sure to wake up early, as most of these mountain markets start in the early morning around 5 and starting to get less crowded around 10. Despite how crazy the markets looks, they have a surprisingly good atmosphere and should be one of the highlights during your Ha Giang loop. It feels like a weekly festival, where people dress up at their best and go out to enjoy and socialize.
Overview of the best markets in Ha Giang
Almost each village has there own market in Ha Giang, counting that there are over 50 markets in the whole province. For that reason, we made a list of the 10 best markets in Ha Giang you should visit, based mainly how big and unique they are.
|Khau Vai love market||–|
|Meo Vac market||Sunday|
|Dong Van market||Sunday|
|Sa Phin Market||–|
|Hoang Su Phi Market||Sunday|
|Quan Ba central market||Sunday|
|Trang Kim market||Thursday|
|Xin Man market||Friday|
|Du Gia market||Friday|
|Yen Minh Market||Sunday|
1. Khau Vai love market
The most unique market, not only of Ha Giang, but it is fair to say of whole Vietnam, is the Khau Vai love market. It is not a market where they trade goods like food and equipment. It’s a love market, a place where ex-lovers, old relationships that did not work out, get back together to spend time. During two days, hundreds of exes from hill tribes such as Tay, Nung, San Chi, Lo Lo, Dao, Giay and Hmong come to this market. This love market is held one time per year, on the 26th and the 27th of the next month of the lunar calendar.
2. Meo Vac market
The Meo Vac market is the biggest minority market in Ha Giang and held every Sunday. Thousands of minorities from villages around com here to trade and to develop friendships. Already the day before the market Meo Vac is getting busy and you will notice cafes are getting fuller and karaoke places more noisier. The market is devided in a few sections, you have an indoor area with mainly food stalls where you can eat breakfast and stall where they sell meat, vegetables and fruit. Outside the indoor market on the streets they sell almost everything, from clothes to phones and farm equipment to herbs. There is another section where you can see animals such as cows, buffaloes and pigs.
3. Dong Van market
The Dong Van market in Dong Van is the second biggest market in the area, not too far from Meo Vac. You can even visit them both, as the Dong Van market is also held each Sunday. The market is close to the Old Quarter where you just have to follow the crowds into the street to find the market. The market area is smaller than in Meo Vac, but it is very packed with people. You can see people getting a haircut right on the street, next to the place where some one else is selling their buffalo. There are many stalls with clothes and other goods and some locals bring their dog or small pig to show off.
4. Sa Phin Market
The Sa Phin Market is close to the HMong King Palace and 15 km from Dong Van. There is no fixed day of the week when this market is held, instead it is count backwards each week. Meaning, if the market is held on a Saturday this week, next week it will be on A Friday and the week after that on a Thursday. This market is reasonably smaller then the two previously named markets in Ha Giang of Meo Vac and Dong Van, but still very unique with lots of colorful minorities.
5. Hoang Su Phi Market
There is not actual one Hoang Su Phi Market, as there are many markets in the district of Hoang Su Phi, but the biggest one and often referred as the Hoang Su Phi Market is the Vinh Market in Vinh Quang Town. This market in Ha Giang is located in one of the most remote areas of the province and hardly visited by any tourist. The landscape around the market is unique with some of the most stunning rice fields in Vietnam. The market is held once a week on a Sunday and plays an import role in the lives of the Dao, Tay, Mong, La Chi and Nung who are living in the Tay Con Ling Mountains.
6. Quan Ba central market
The Quan Ba market is another market in Ha Giang that is held on a Sunday. The location of the market is in the central market building in Tam Son town, the capital of Quan Ba district. It is the largest etnic minority market is this district, where they sell their local specialties such as Thanh Van corn wine, soybeans, meat, brocades and silver jewelry.
7. Trang Kim market
Trang Kim is another market in Quan Ba district, around 12 km from the center of Tam Som town. The market is open every Thursday and usually ends at noon. There are many neighboring communes and it is located next to the highway, which makes this place a busy and bustling venue. Local specialties here are corn wine, medicinal herbs, vegetables, brocades and ‘au tau’ – a type of tuber which is often used as a type of medicine.
8. Coc Pai market
The Coc Pai market is also called the Xin Man market, as it is located in Xin Man district. The market is held each Saturday morning and end around noon. The area is quite isloated, altough it attracts a large number of locals that come here to exchange goods. Local Hmong come here to purchase buffaloes, horses and cows. It is here also famous for the local wine.
9. Du Gia market
This market is located in the picturesque town of Du Gia in Yen Minh district and held every Friday. You can find it right at the center of the commune, where the terrain is relatively flat, in the mountainous region. This market is rich in ethnic cultural and you can find a lot of art activities around.
10. Yen Minh Market
There are lots of markets in Yen Minh district, but the main market is in Yen Minh town. In the town center you will find the market area, which is open daily but the main day is Sunday, starting from the morning and ends around noon. Some local specialties here are wine, agricultural products, buffalo meat, medicinal herbs, fruits and vegetables.