With 54 ethnic groups living in different parts, from the north to the south, from the east to the west, Vietnam, therefore, becomes a country with various cultural diversity and identity. Tourists coming to visit Vietnam have been familiar with most of Kinh people in big cities such as Ha Noi or Ho Chi Minh. However, there is somewhere else apart from those big and luxurious cities that travelers can find a unique feature that is not the same as anywhere. It is the life, the area of ethnic minor group. One of them that is so famous and well known to tourists, is Sapa in Lao Cai Province. What makes them outstanding is their customs and festivals, especially Sapa Love Market – the name that tourists can hardly forget or ignore in their top lists.
Sapa is a one of Vietnam’s most popular destinations, but with no nearby airport the only option for getting there is to travel by road or rail and, despite being only 380 kilometres from Hanoi, it’s a time-consuming exercise whichever route you take. But eventually, it would be worth to travel and experience life of mountainous people. Sapa Love Market is so special, thanks to its name as well as its activities.
There is an interesting paradox in the name Love Market. Market is for trading: buying and selling. But no one there buys love or sells it. So why do they call it Love Market? Ironically, lovers take advantages of the market to see each other. Therefore, in a nutshell, Love Market is the place where people date and express their affection. However, it is also the place where cultural activities of people in the highland occur. Locals say that the love market is a unique tradition of the H’mong and Dao ethnic minority people in Lao Cai province. Even after market-days, many couples have got married.
The market just is held on Sunday morning for people coming here to exchange or buy and sell the necessary utensils for daily life so it is always very crowded. Because villages in Sapa are sparsely populated, people living in far-away villages had to go in advance from Saturday to be able to join the market on Sunday. They arrived at the town on Saturday evening, and took a rest. In the market, young villagers would have a chance to get to know others by joining activities such as playing traditional games, playing leaf-horns, singing and dancing… The performances of them were full of romantic melodies expressing wishes for an eternal love. Not until the market finished, happy memories were left in the minds of many mountain people. After that night, some were lucky to find out the match and made a promise to date on the next market. Many of them later became husbands and wives. From then on that night was known as the Love Market – a beautiful cultural feature of the Sapa region.
Once joining in the market, tourists can notice many girls dress up in colorful costumes and silver ornaments. They hang little bells on their outfits in order to add festive atmosphere. They look for the guys dressing in traditional clothes of the same colors who hold in their hand small radio blaring cheerful songs. People stand in groups, singing and dancing their traditional dances until the night comes.
Being a uniquely traditional and cultural feature of the ethnic minor group of people in Lao Cai Province, Love Market is nowhere but only in Sapa. Following the crystal clear and the deep blue sea of the beaches, going up or hiking through a wide range of mountainous area, travelers will nearly reach Sapa and enjoy a wonderful moment with fresh air under cool or even cold weather. In addition to love market, there are a lot of traditional markets in Sapa to which tourists should pay a visit.