Can Cau market is a small Saturday market near the Chinese border. It is very beautiful with colorful ethnic minorities’ costumes. Here you can meet several minorities such as Flower H’Mong and Black Dao, and Nung minorities. The market offers a variety of local products that cannot be found in other areas, as well as Chinese goods.
Sapa, nicknamed the ‘Tonkinese Alps’ by the French, is a wonderful destination if you want to experience any combination of trekking (or light walking), photography, minority village markets, and generally explore a region that’s stayed relatively untouched by modern life.
Located in the far north of Vietnam, just a few miles from the Chinese border, Sapa and the surrounding region offers a completely unique holiday experience, not to be found elsewhere in Vietnam.
This is where those misty, pastoral images of traditional Vietnam are still a reality. Traditional dress is still worn here, with colourful outfits identifying each different hill tribe. Buffalo are farmed in the valleys, while the mountainsides are terraced for miles with lush green rice paddies.
Although most visitors are aware of Sapa’s hill tribes, fewer realise that the region is also home to diverse wildlife. Many rare and unique species live here, in habitats that range from alpine forest to acres of dwarf bamboo, the only vegetation that can survive here above 3000 metres.
During your visit, you’ll travel to remote hillside villages and local markets, which are an essential part of mountain life. Visiting is always a pleasure. Don’t be surprised to find villagers from several minority groups bartering hard over a basket of hens whilst sipping locally brewed rice wine.
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 anything 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 can be up to 55% proof!
Visit Sapa Market 4 Days
Day 1: Hanoi – Night train to Lao Cai (Driver Pickup)
A car will arrive to take you to Hanoi railway station in time to board the 21.10 p.m. overnight sleeper to Lao Cai. You will spend the night on the train.
Day 2 (Saturday): Lao Cai – Can Cau – Sapa (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
You’ll arrive in the early morning, where your guide will pick you up and take you to your hotel for refreshment and breakfast then drive up hill to Can Cau Market Place. The journey takes about 2.5 hours through the lush farmland of Lao Cai plateau and later spectacular mountain scenery of Bac Ha District. Arriving right at its most crowded time, the market is filled with cheerful faces and you will be absorbed into the market by festive atmosphere, colorful traditional dresses, exotic smell of corn wine and herb… until noon when it gets over to realize the beautiful surrounding. In the late afternoon, you will drive back to Sapa for stay overnight.
Day 3: Sapa – Lao Chai - Ta Van - Sapa – Lao Cai – Night train back to Hanoi (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, you will start on a lovely trek that will take us along buffalo paths and trails and through several hill tribe villages Lao Chai and Ta Van, home to Black H'mong, and Dzay people. This is an absolutely spectacular walk through stunning scenery inhabited by some of the friendliest people you can meet. Once on the valley floor, you can really appreciate the wonderful scenery that surrounds you. The walls of the valley are covered with multi-layered rice terraced fields and scattered villages. After that, you will return to Sapa for refreshment before being taken back to Lao Cai railway station to take the overnight train to Hanoi. You will spend the night on the train.
Day 4: Hanoi (Breakfast, Driver Pickup)
You will arrive in the early morning then you will be transferred to your hotel for refreshment and have breakfast. Tour Ends
Please note: hotel for refreshment is upon your request.
Tips: You can choose another market to fit your travelling date
The colourful markets 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 anything 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 can be up to 55% proof!
Some of the most popular markets are:
On Tuesday you can visit Coc Ly Market, a small gathering of the Flower Hmong, Black Zao, Nung and Tay minorities. Among the goods for sale you’ll find vegetables, livestock and local textiles, all the subject of some lively bargaining. We also recommend a boat ride along the Chay River followed by a short walk to the Tay minority village of Trung Do, although in July and August the boat ride is often not possible due to high river water levels.
Wednesday is market day in the hamlet of Cao Son, in the Muong Khuong District of Lao Cai Province. An early start is a must to reach this market, but we think it’s worth it. The trip takes you through beautiful scenery ranging from tea plantations to pine forests, and on arrival you’ll find a bustling market packed with buyers and sellers from all the main communities who live in this area, including Flower H'Mong, Phu La, Dao and Tu Di.
Relatively inaccessible until recently due to its remote location, the small Sin Cheng Market in Si Ma Cai District is arguably the most unspoilt of the markets in this area, and so comes highly recommended by Selective Asia. What it lacks in size is certainly made up for by the stunning rural location close to the Chinese border, along with the extremely photogenic display of traditional costumes from the White H'mong, Flower H'mong, Black Dao, Tay and Giay who live in the area. This is also one of the best places to gain a true sense of the importance of the social role of these markets, as young and old take the opportunity to catch up on all of the local news and gossip.
An option for Thursday is a trip to the small Lung Khau Nhin Market, travelling via the Tram Ton pass, which at 1900 metres is Vietnam’s highest. This tiny market is another of the most traditional in this area, and a variety of minority tribes people gather to sell their wares. Expect to meet the friendly and hospitable Tai Lu, Tai Laos, White Tai, and H'mong amongst others. After exploring the market, you’ll have the chance to visit the Black Dao village of Sin Lung Chai.
The alternative to Lung Khau Nhin is the Thursday market at Tam Duong Dat, which is usually attended by a very photogenic mix of White H'mong, Flower H'mong, Lu, Phu La, Black Zao and Giay - often sporting their traditional dress. Once again, visiting this market involves crossing the Tram Ton pass, offering beautiful views on a clear day. The market has a very authentic feel, and serves as a centre for those who live in the many small villages in this area.
One of Vietnam’s most interesting markets, the small but unique gathering at Can Cau takes place every Saturday. Groups such as the Flower H’mong, Black Zao, Tay and Phu La come from near and far to trade and socialise with each other, and with their neighbours from across the Chinese border. The Flower H’mong in particular are known for their elaborate costumes, which ensure the market is always a riot of colour. Keen photographers will enjoy the chance to capture the picturesque scenes of local life, as well as the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.
Saturday is the day of Sapa’s famous ‘love market’. In the past this was where boys and girls from the surrounding valleys would have come in search of partners, and whilst it’s not really the genuine article anymore, it’s well worth a visit. Young Red Dzao and Black H’mong girls still arrive every weekend to sing songs, although mostly for the tourists it has to be said!
Finally, 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 practise of traditional medicine. This area has a particularly large Flower H’mong community, so called due to the bright and striking colours of their traditional costumes.
- Vietnam Visa invitation letter.
- Private door-to-door pick-up & drop-off services.
- Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
- Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
- Return train tickets: Hanoi – Lao Cai (air-conditioned soft four-berth cabin, good local standard in Fanxipan Train carriage or similar)
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants, or picnics where no suitable restaurant is available.
- All sightseeing tickets.
- VAT and other taxes
- 24/7 hotline support guaranteed
- International flight tickets and airport tax.
- Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- Travel insurance
- Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
- Vietnam visa stamp fee
- Other services not mentioned above.