Peeking out over the balcony, from my room I can watch the bustling activity taking over the town. Blue tarps cover the streets almost entirely, making shelter for the merchant stalls – this is the Bac Ha Sunday market in Northeast Vietnam.
We made it here last night from Ta Phin, the village we stayed near Sapa, with the idea to explore the famous market. Bac Ha is the largest city in the area, and the Sunday market is a magnet for locals and tourists alike.
Thousands gather here every Sunday. I’d say this is not just a place for stocking up, but also a meeting place for families and friends. Villagers from the surrounding hill minority tribes descend to trade, barter, and socialize, and this was the main reason for me to come. I love to photograph local traditions and markets, and what better place to enjoy it than in the most colorful display of the region?
The different ethnic groups come here to get almost anything imaginable; sometimes there are products that can’t be found anywhere else. The crowded market offers a wide selection of produce, meats, clothing, home essentials, and of course, livestock. Pigs, ducks, chickens, cows and dogs can be seen as cuts of meat or alive. There is also a buffalo trading “plaza” that was almost surreal to watch.
Wandering the different sections and taking photos on the way was a great experience; at times I just sat observing the frenzy of activity, from the guy stopping by for a smoke to the crowds howling and bargaining around the sellers.
We stayed here for about four hours and then headed back to Ta Phin. On the route back we stopped near some women harvesting rice on a field and made some portraits. The sun was setting while we were getting to Sapa and we also had the opportunity to take some more amazing landscape photos of the Sapa mountains and valleys with their iconic rice paddy fields.
This was certainly an amazing day. I adored the experience of photographing the market as much as I loved the landscape and the stay in the Sapa region. Like on the rest of the trip, all the photos were taken with Fuji X cameras.
More coming soon, but in the meantime, feel free to leave comments.