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Famous Ethnic Markets in Ha Giang

Like many other mountainous regions in the North of Vietnam, the ethnic markets in Ha Giang are not only a special economic practice but also a traditional lifestyle of the locals. They represent the rich and profound culture of the ethnic communities which is a part of traditional values in Vietnam.

Ha Giang is unique for its ‘descending’ ethnic markets which usually take place in the communes. They are called ‘descending’ as these markets are not held in a specific day of the week; instead, the garthering day will descend each week. To illustrate, this week the market garthers on Sunday then next week it will take place on Saturday, and the following week on Friday, etc.

The mountainous ethnic markets in Ha Giang is not simply the place for goods exchange or serving the needs of consumption. More importantly, these are the exclusive symbol of the cultural identity of the ethnics in Ha Giang. This latter meaning is always an appealing characteristic for tourists to explore.

The markets surrounding the district center usually take place every Sunday.

  1. Quyết Tiến market in Quản Bạ district

+ Location: about 7 kilometers from the town center of Tam Son, and 38 kilometers from Ha Giang city.

+ Garthering time: every Saturday and usually end at noon.

+ Features: The market is adjacent to Highway 4C with a scale of 1,000 square meter.

+ Local specialties: corn wine, soybeans, brocade.

  1. The central market of Quản Bạ district

+ Location: at the town center of Tam Son, Quan Ba district.

+ Garthering time: every Sunday and end at sunset.

+ Features: This is the largest ethnic market of the district and gathers weekly on Sunday.

+ Local specialties: Thanh Van corn wine, soybeans, meat, brocades and silver jewelry.

  1. Tráng Kìm market in Quản Bạ district

+ Location: 12 kilometers from the town center of Tam Son.

+ Garthering time: every Thursday and usually end at noon.

+ Features: The trading activities and commodities exchanges in Trang kim market are relatively busy and bustling as this venue is contiguous to many neighboring communes and adjacent to the Highway.

+ Local specialties: corn wine, brocades, medicinal herbs, vegetables and ‘au tau’ – a type of tuber which is distinguished in the Northwest highlands and is usually used as medicine.

  1. The central market of Yên Minh district

+ Location: at the town center of Yen Minh.

+ Garthering time: The main market takes place weekly on Sunday and usually ends at noon.

+ Features: This is the largest market of Yen Minh district; thus, it also takes place on weekdays. The market composes of one main part and the surrounding booths. This is the place for locals to exchange goods as well as spiritual values of the communities.

+ Local specialties: wine, agricultural products, buffalo meat, medicinal herbs, fruits and vegetables.

  1. Mậu Duệ market, Yên Minh

+ Location: at the center of Mau Due commune and next to the road connecting Yen Minh – Meo Vac.

+ Garthering time: weekly on Wednesday and Sunday, usually end at noon. This market is most crowded on Sunday.

+ Features: This is one of the largest communal markets in Yen Minh district thanks to its convenience in transportation and telecommunication.

+ Local specialties: corn wine, soybeans, brocades.

  1. Du Già market in Yên Minh district

+ Location: about 65 kilometers to the Southeast from the town center of Yen Minh, along the road connecting Mau Due (Yen Minh) to Minh Son (Bac Me).

+ Garthering time: weekly on Friday and usually end at noon.

+ Features: The market takes place right at the commune center where the terrain is relatively flat. Thanks to its pristine and unspoiled features, this market is extremely rich in ethnic culture. Cultural and art activities are usually organized when the market is garthered.

+ Local specialties: corn wine, ‘thang co’ – a special mixtured soup made from animal meat and viscera, brocades, weaving and knitting products.

  1. The central market of Đồng Văn district

+ Location: right at the district center, next to the District People’s Committee.

+ Garthering time: every Sunday and usually take place for a whole day.

+ Features: Regarding the scale, this is the largest ethnic market in this mountainous region and also among the first to be constructed and developed. Up to now, the market has been moved to another wider venue. The old market with hundreds of years old booths and unique architects is now transferred for preservation.

+ Local specialties: corn wine, agricultural products, beef, honey, ‘thang co’, medicinal herbs and fruits.

  1. Phố Cáo market, Đồng Văn district

+ Location: 25 kilometes from the town center of Dong Van.

+ Garthering time: This is a descending ethnic market which takes place every 6 days and extends until noon.

+ Features: The market is next to Highway 4C with the scale of 1,000 square meter.

+ Local specialties: corn wine, soybeans, brocades.

  1. Lũng Phìn market, Đồng Văn district

+ Location: 35 kilometers from the town center of Dong Van, and 15 kilometers from the town of Meo Vac. It is next the the road Dong Van – Meo Vac – Yen Minh.

+ Garthering time: This is a descending ethnic market which only takes place on Tiger day and Monkey day (according to the lunar calendar).

+ Features: This market is considered the largest, the most unique and also deeply infused with mountainous culture. The market is the opportunity of garthering, meeting and exchanging among 16 ethnic communities in the region.

+ Local specialties: mint honey, Lung Phin tea, corn wine, dried beef, ‘thang co’ and brocades.

  1. Chợ trung tâm huyện Mèo Vạc

+ Location: at the town center, near the stadium.

+ Garthering time: on Sunday every week. However, the locals usually show up the night before and market usually takes place a whole day.

+ Features: This market lies right at the district center and is one of the largest ethnic markets on this highland. It is comprised of a broad main marketplace and many surrounding temporary ones. Commodities traded here are abundant and diversifying. Particularly, Meo Vac market is famous for its cow market as this is the major trading hub of beef and farming cows of the whole region, or even of the plains of China.

+ Local specialties: beef, goats, corn wine, ‘thang co’, honey, brocades, fruits.

  1. The central market of Hoàng Su Phì district

+ Location: at the town center of Quang Vinh, opposite the District People’s Committee.

+ Garthering time: every Saturday and Sunday.

+ Features: The market scale is comparatively large with a 2-storey main marketplace.

+ Local specialties: Nang Don rice wine, bamboo shoots, tea.  

  1. The central market of Xín Mần district (Cốc Pài market)

+ Location: at the town center of Coc Pai.

+ Garthering time: every Saturday and usually end at noon.

+ Features: a scale of over 1,000 square meter.

+ Local specialties: corn wine, tea, buffalo meat.

  1. Khau Vai love fair

Khau Vau love fair is held in Khau Vai commune, Meo Vac district. It is 24 kilometers from the town center of Meo Vac.

This unique love fair is considered as a cultural phenomenon of Vietnam in particular and of the World in general. This market takes place once a year during the night of March 26th to the early morning of March 27th, according to Lunar calendar. Khau Vai market is held in a comparatively broad and flat valley.

At first, Khau Vai market used to be the dating place for those whose love story is incomplete. This traditional love market was the opportunity for them to find their partner. It used to be common among H’Mong ethnic community, however, its effect later expands with the participation of other ethnic groups. Till now, Khau Vai becomes a dating market where people usually come with a view to find their love, regardless of whether they are single or married. The market is distinguighed with various dazzling colors from the dresses of many ethnic groups such as H’Mong, Dao, Giay, Tay, Nung, etc., just like thousands of beautiful flowers garthered at one place.

Khau Vai is referred to as a market, however, there is neither buyer or seller. Men and women come here each year to meet and express their love to each other. The old come to reunite with their ex-lovers, the young come to find their new love, everyone is nothing but too excited and choking up. Men sit down blowing their handmade trumpets from tree leaves or their own lips; women sit beside the fire singing folk songs during the night. Accordingly, Khau Vai love market is not simply a trading and exchanging market for consumption need. It is truly a cultural center, traditional festival and a tourist attraction which is highly representative of the national traditional values.

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