Can Cau market is one of the most fascinating open-air markets in Sapa, specialising in livestock. It’s 20km North of Bac Ha and just 9km south of the Chinese border. Visitors are generally H’mong groups from highland villages. The local H’mong are the famous variegated or Flower H’mong due to the intricate and colourful nature of their costumes, and their colourful dresses makes is a beautiful sight. Almost every Saturday around 8 different minorities are represented at the market. Travel is often made by horseback as a way of carrying the heavy loads to and from market. Can Cau also attracts a large number of Chinese traders, evidenced by the booming dog trade here.
In the perfect light of the early morning, It is not only the colorful market and the peoples but also the beautiful surrounding nature make the visit here an unforgettable trip, especially for nature lovers and photo hunters.The areas is close to China border and in a hidden place, less visitors come here. – Horses, dogs, cat, pigs and textiles…. all on sales! This is of most amazing market you’ve ever seen. What to do?
Set in the mountains near the Chinese border, Can Cau Market is the area where different minority groups in colorful dress exchange local items. You will spend the whole morning there then go to Bac Ha for lunch. Light trekking to nearby villages and visit the old castle of the former Hmong king are also highlights of trips.
You can stay at hotel in Bac Ha waiting for Bac Ha Market next day or return to Sapa for overnight. When to go?
The best option is to take night trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai. From Lao Cai, we take approximately 2- hour drive to reach Can Cau Market.
As you would expect, the Can Cau market starts early (around 7.30am) and closes in the early afternoon so you will want to make an early start to get the most out of the experience.
Can Cau is a busy market which is held every Saturday. Located just below the Chinese border, it is a colourful, vibrant market where you will encounter minority peoples such as the Flower H’mong (Red H’mong), Nung, Phu La and even Chinese people from across the border.
A typical itinerary for a day at Can Cau Market would be:
- Drive to Can Cau (125 km / 3 hours from Sapa, or 87 km / 2 hours from Lao Cai).
- Take time to explore the market. Mingle with the locals and soak in the atmosphere, maybe try to haggle a bargain!
- After the market travel to Bac Ha town to have lunch in a local restaurant where you can try the traditional lunch of Thang Co (horse stew) and corn wine (alternative dishes are available!).
- After lunch we will drive to Ban Pho village and take a short walk around where the Flower Hmong, Tay and Nung minorities live.
- We will see the local people making corn wine in their houses, ready for the Bac Ha market on Sunday.
End the afternoon with a visit the house of Mr. Ho, a local Hmong man who performs traditional music, dance and story telling.