Top 5 Things to do in Bac Ha Vietnam

Top 5 Things to do in Bac Ha, Vietnam

By: Heather

Bac Ha, Vietnam is one of those places that got pegged for one thing, and visitors tend to overlook anything else. Most famous for it’s colorful and lively Sunday Market. It’s a shame most travelers only plan to visit Bac Ha during market time.

The little town has much more to offer, and travelers should schedule in at least three days and two nights to explore the area. The local’s hospitality and the views are well worth your time. Plan on arriving on Friday or Saturday to attend the Bac Ha Sunday Market early. Busloads of tourists come from other cities after about 9:00-9:30 am and change the dynamic of the experience.

Bac Ha Sunday Market

Bac Ha’s pride and joy for a good reason. This large, energetic and vibrant market is not like any other Asian market available. The merchants come from villages all around Northern Vietnam to sell their goods or livestock. The most notable groups are Black Dao, Tay, Nung, LaChi, Phu La with Flower Hmongs being the most recognizable because of their traditional multi-colored attire. The clothing and friendly faces lend for an endless stream of photo opportunities.

Don’t get too caught up in just taking pictures. Make sure to stop and talk with some vendors, bargain for souvenirs, eat some delicious food and walk the entire market including the animal and used items sections.

We arrived at 7:00 am and stayed until about noon. The best time was before 9:00 am because we were able to chat with some sellers, ask for photos, move about freely and eat some freshly cooked goods. Between 9:00 and noon the market got quite crowded. We walked around and spent a good amount of time sitting on the main steps people watching. We could have probably sat around longer, but it was time to eat a full meal.

The peppers at the market were a big deal.

The peppers at the market were a big deal.

The famous Bac Ha Sunday Market.

The famous Bac Ha Sunday Market.

Village Trek with Za

To date, this is one of our favorite half day experiences ever! We met Za through our hotel, Ngan Nga, and quickly set up a half day tour with her to trek the mountains, visit her farm & home, & learn more about Bac Ha and the surrounding villages.

She met us at our hotel, and we walked to her village to see several rice fields, vegetable farms, and take in the views from the mountainside. We stopped at her home to meet some of her family who had prepared a bountiful lunch for us. Our particular tour ended up being around 17kms because none of us had anywhere to be later in the day, and we just kept walking and talking.

Za has a handful of different tours available, and she is also open to customizing the tour to your request. Her English is terrific, and she does a great job answering questions. She is very inquisitive, but the best part is she instantly makes you feel at ease with her. We felt as if we were hanging out with a friend we had known for years.

Za and Heather heading back into town after our trek.

Za and Heather heading back into town after our trek.

A horse Za made for us.

A horse Za made for us.

Rent a Scooter and Explore

We are huge advocates for scooter rentals in SE Asia. There is no better place to rent a bike then Bac Ha, because it is not very busy and the roads are long, windy, and the views are lovely. There were a handful of locations to rent scooters. All were the same price, so we recommend asking your hotel if they work with a particular shopkeeper. We paid around $5 USD for a full day rental.

One you’ve gotten set up with your scooter then head for the hills. I recommend getting out to explore the countryside first then on the way back into town do some additional exploring. We headed toward Ban Pho, which is North East of Bac Ha. We stopped at a little waterfall near the road and found some random hiking trails. There was no plan we just followed the road and the scenery and weren’t disappointed with anything we saw.

Bac Ha 04

Looking out over the Bac Ha Valley.

Looking out over the Bac Ha Valley.

The Tuesday or Wednesday Market to experience a real local market

If you can find yourself in Bac Ha on a Tuesday or Wednesday, they have a local market in full swing on each day. These markets are less touristy and entirely geared toward locals instead of tourists. They are smaller and provide a more real vision of daily life in Bac Ha. Ask your hotel for the current weekly location.

Trekking and Homestay

A 2-day trek with an overnight homestay is an excellent way to explore and get to know the area. We did not take one of these tours but wish we had. The mountains around Bac Ha are so beautiful we regret not spending more time trekking.

One of the roads leading to some of the mountainside villages.

One of the roads leading to some of the mountainside villages.

Bac Ha 05

Bac Ha 08

Travelationship Rating

3.5 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives. For the traveler who likes – adventure, romance, relaxation, partier, historical, bucket lister, trekking, outdoors, farming, scootering, markets, culture

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Comments 14

  1. I love the Sound of that village trek. It seems so refreshing and it is good you have a guide… They do point out stuff that you tend to miss out. You guys always have a new way of looking at the old stuff… Cheers

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  2. Definitely a different perspective of Vietnam beyond Halong Bay. The activities are all so immersive in nature that it would provide a close view of the country and its people. The Sunday market looks really colourful. Exploring the countryside on a scooter is really a thrilling experience.

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  3. I love the colorful clothing they wear! Your photos are quite beautiful, too! I agree that tours are a great way to really get to know the culture and the area better, even the history, too! I’ve been hearing more and more about Vietnam as a destination for travel, and from what I’ve seen in posts like yours, it should probably be on everyone’s list of places to see!

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