Introducing Bac Ha
Long touted as the weekend alternative to Sapa, this small highland town doesn’t have the same dramatic location of its more illustrious neighbour, but it is calmer when Saturday comes. It fills up to choking point on Sunday morning, when visitors flood in to meet the Flower H’mong at the morning market.
Compared with Sapa, tourism is still in its infancy here and during the week the town has a deserted feel. Bac Ha is a good base to explore the surrounding highlands. Around 900m above sea level, it is noticeably warmer than Sapa. There are 10 Montagnard groups that live around Bac Ha: the colourful Flower H’mong are the most visible, but other groups include Dzao, Giay (Nhang), Han (Hoa), Xa Fang, Lachi, Nung, Phula, Thai and Thulao.
One of Bac Ha’s main industries is the manufacture of alcoholic home brews (rice wine, cassava wine and corn liquor). The corn hooch produced by the Flower H’mong is so potent it can ignite! Bac Ha is the only place in Vietnam where you’ll find this particular moonshine; there’s an entire area devoted to it at the Sunday market. Swill some down before deciding whether to buy a buffalo or cow.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009