Muong Khuong Sunday market
Big market with a wide range of ethnic groups: Hmong, Dao, Nung, and merchants from other ethnic groups who come all the way from China to sell their products. Several Pa Zi women sell traditional incense made from the bark and resin of scented trees.
Dragon’s mouth series of waterfalls (Ham Rong) and ethnic Nung villages of Ta Van and Veng Leng. The local houses have roofs covered in traditional baked clay roof-tiles. Three kilometres by road from Mường Khương, then a 1-2 hour easy walk on tracks. The Ham Rong cave, where a river runs through the mountain, is listed in « Vietnam’s natural heritage monuments». It will be open to the public shortly (two-hour visit approximately). In Muong Khuong, taste the local variety of rice called “San Kou”, whose subtle hazelnut flavour will doubtless charm your palate.
Can Cau Saturday market
Every Saturday from 6 a.m. to 12, in the middle of the paddy fields and corn fields, the various hmong groups from the highland villages sell their farming products and buy fabrics, farming tools and kitchenware. The local Hmong wear traditional costumes that are so gaudy and heavily embroidered that the Chinese, the French and the Vietnamese have nicknamed them the « Flowery Hmong ». Numerous Hmong farmers travel back to their villages on horseback, the only way to carry heavy loads in these steep areas.
Bac Ha Sunday market
The biggest ethnic market in the Lao Cai province, where you will find buffaloes, horses, blacksmiths, saddlers, but also traditional medicine doctors, with their thousands of mountain herbs and plants, and lots of traditional clothes and local artefacts. Several groups of deep-coloured Hmong are found there, as well as Dao, Tay, Nung, and Phu La. Make sure to arrive before 9 a.m., the market ends at about 12 :30. Sleeping in Bac Hà, on the Saturday offers an opportunity to watch the preparations for the market and the successive waves of villagers going there. Tasting the local corn spirit is a must, but be prudent, it may be up to 55° proof!
Coc Ly Tuesday market
Still off the main roads. Several Hmong, Dao, Tay, Nung and Phu La groups are there. You may opt for a boat trip on the river Chay, in the middle of stunning landscapes and villages that have remained totally traditional.
Muong Hum Sunday market: every Sunday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This market, the biggest cardamom market in the area, was already there during the French colonial period and serves as a meeting place for the ethnic groups living in the mountains: Giay, Dao, White Hmong, Hani. Those living in the highlands, like the Hmong and the Zao (Dao) come down to sell their specific products such as cardamom and other spices and mountain plants.
In Mường Hum, you should taste the paddy rice brandy (made with unhusked rice) from the dao village of San Lung. Its fruity flavour and mildness have made it famous well beyond the limits of the Lào Cai province.
Pha Long Saturday market
Saturday morning from 6 a.m. to twelve. Very rural seldom visited market, where you can meet ethnic groups that are only found in this particular district of Vietnam, mostly Hmong, Nung, Tou Zi, Pa Zi and Tou Lao. Along the road, in a landscape of mountain peaks, numerous Nung et Hmong villages. Lots of traditional houses with baked earth tiled roofs.