Custom & Culture
Bac ha Market
Bac Ha is famous for its Sunday market, it is a trading centre and meeting place for couples, friends, and relatives every Sunday.
The Bac Ha market opens every Sunday. All roads lead to the market on this day. From dawn, hordes of people in colorful costumes and baskets on their backs accompany horses loaded with goods to the market.
In the market, one corner may be reserved for clothes and fabrics, while the next is for home utensils such as trunks, and baskets. Some yards away is a section for food--rice, corn, tomatoes, meat--and a bit farther on, one for domesticated animals: pigs, chickens, and horses.
The most exciting place is perhaps the corner for men. Gathered around the flickering fireplace to heat Thang Co, a favorite local soup cooked in a large pan with pork and pig bones and organs, are all sorts of people: the old, the young and couples. People sit together talking, drinking and enjoying their traditional cuisine, and laughter and the sound of the melodic khen (a local traditional panpipe) resounds there.
In other parts of the country, the market is where people purchase and exchange goods, but not so in Bac Ha, where market days are really festive days, representing the distinctive cultural activity of the mountainous community.
After a hard working week, this is a good opportunity for girls to display their best outfits. Only God knows how many couples have been matched on market days.
People continue the exchange activities, men continue to drink their fill and the market keeps the hectic atmosphere till it gets dark. Many intoxicated husbands leave their wives and horses with big loads on their backs to wait a long time.
When dusk falls, hordes of people and goods-loaded horses return home on the snaky paths to the mountaintop hamlets. Among them, one may see some wives walking beside the horses hauling weighty goods and their drunk husbands.
One day trip to Bac Ha market gives tourists a chance to live in a mythical oasis of natural beauty and see with their own eyes the traditional costumes and lifestyle of the ethnic Mong. And the impressions from market day will not easily fade for any visitor.