When I travel, I love spending time wandering and seeking local goods to bring home and gift to people I care about. If you also like watching your loved ones’ faces light up as you hand them a gift, you might be wondering what to buy when traveling in Sapa. This article will give you ideas about presents made by the native people in the northern mountains of Vietnam, some specialties to try here, and markets you should visit. 

The Unique Sapa Brocade  

shopping in sapa
Source: thocamviet.com

Brocade is a traditional craftsmanship good of Sapa. The brocade fabrics are handmade by the ethnic people living in the northwestern mountains. Originally, this good was used in daily life. However, with the development of tourism, visitors have a chance to see it and maybe bring home a colorful skirt or handbag. With more and more access to tourism and travelers, visitors bring home these fabrics for friends and themselves. Creating and selling brocade goods has therefore become popular in Sapa.

To make a colorful brocade fabric, local ethnic women must work very hard on the elaborate design. They have to collect the material from the forest, such as linen and cotton. The colors are made with natural ingredients as well. For example, yellow is made from turmeric, black is made from a local leaf, red and brown are made from the rind of local trees, and blue is created from indigo leaves.

When going to Sapa, a brocade bag, clutch, scarf, or a vivid skirt is a unique Vietnamese gift to bring home.

Where to Buy Brocade Items in Sapa

TA PHIN VILLAGE
This place is said to have the most beautiful brocade goods in Sapa. Many brocade items that you see in shops in Hanoi or Saigon are bought from this village.


Location: Ta Chai Village, Ta Phin Commune – (15 kilometers to the east of Sapa)

shopping in sapa
Source: hanhtrinhyeuthuong.thanhnien.vn

SAPA LOVE MARKET
Traditionally, the single Dao and Mong people in Sapa will come to this market on Saturday evenings to find their “other half”. The locals bring products to sell here, including brocade. So if you are in Sapa on Saturday, you should pay a visit to Sapa Love Market (cho tinh Sapa) to explore the culture while doing some shopping.


Location: In the center of Sapa
Opening hours: 12 AM – 12 PM – Only on Saturday

 

BAC HA MARKET
In the bustling market, besides food, you can also find many other beautiful brocade items. Read more about our guide to Bac Ha Market here.


Address: Bac Ha Ward, Lao Cai

If you are in a rush and don’t have much time to visit the market, you can go to these trustworthy shops to buy brocade. Here are some suggestions:

PHO NUI SAPA
Address: 013 Cau May, Sapa
Phone: 020 871712

HUE SKILL SAPA
Address: 024 Cau May, Sapa
Phone: 020 3871050

LAN RUNG SAPA
Address: 029A Cau May, Sapa
Phone: 020 871665 

Sapa Nom Nom  – Best food in Sapa

sapa market guide
Source: Sabishii Osake/Tintucphuot

These specialties are something you shouldn’t miss when in Sapa. From the variety of food to the wine, you will be sure to find good dishes that can make a food traveler feel happy. Here is what you should try and bring home:

Armpit Pork (Lon cap nach)

The Mong people raise a small pig in order to make special pork here, which weighs about 5-6 kilograms. Instead of keeping the pigs in a cage, they let them walk around. That’s why the meat is firmer and tastes better. The pork’s skin is crispy and the meat is juicy. Such a dish is perfect to eat on a windy day.

Where to Find Armpit Pork:

Fansipan Sapa Restaurant
Address: 25 Cau May, Sapa
Phone: 0214 3871 556
Opening hours: 6 AM – 11 PM
Price range: 80.000 – 220.000 VND ($3.70 – $10)

Phong Quan – Lon Met Ban
Address: E17 Phuong Bac Cuong, Sapa
Opening hours: 9 AM – 10:30 PM
Price range: 50.000 – 500.000 VND ($2.30 – $25)

Phong Quan – Lon Met Ban
Address: E17 Phuong Bac Cuong, Sapa
Phone: 0203 872 927
Opening hours: 7 AM – 10 PM
Price range: 80.000 – 220.000 VND ($3.70 – $10)

Docynia Indica Wine (Ruou tao meo)

Docynia indicia wine is an exclusive beverage of Sapa. Hoang Lien Son Mountain is home to the Docynia indica tree. Docynia indca flowers blossom at the end of spring and the fruit ripens when Autumn arrives. Locals pick and ferment the fruit to make wine. It tastes like juice when you take a sip however, you may get drunk if you don’t pay attention to how many drinks you’ve had. The local folks believe that when a single man and woman drink wine in the same glass, they have a crush on each other and will fall in love. This is a good reason to buy some of this wine for your loved one, isn’t it? 😉

Where to Find Docynia Indica Wine
Docynia indica wine can be found in Sapa markets.
Price range: around 60,000 VND/litter ($2.80 USD)

 

Plums and Pearls – Man and Le

shopping in sapa
Source: sapatourist

Sapa has a cool climate, which is perfect for planting fruit trees that can’t survive the tropical heat. Among them, pearls and plums are great gifts from nature to buy in Sapa. The fruit is grown organically in the local garden along the flank of the mountain. You will instantly feel the fresh flesh upon the first bite. The sweet and sour taste also makes it hard to resist having more. The best time to buy plums and pearls is around May.

Where to Find Plums and Pears

You can easily find these two items in a Sapa market or in the ethnic villages.
Price range: fluctuates from 30,000 – 50,000 VND  ($1.70 – $2.30 USD).

Note: Some countries have a law that does not allow you to bring foreign fruits and plants home. Double check before packing.

The local markets are my favorite part of the Sapa tradition. Stop by to experience a culture authentically. Here is a short introduction to markets in Sapa.

 

Markets in Sapa 

Sapa Market – Cho tinh Sapa

Sapa market and Sapa Love Market are both unique features of Sapa. This is where ethnic people bring their goods to trade. It is also a place for the single souls of the village to find each other, they will sing love songs, the men will blow a flute or khen (a kind of flute made of bamboo) to attract the girls. Since long ago, when the sun is ready to go down, people go to the market to enjoy the approaching night. You can hear the rising voices of singers and talkers. When the couples finally find each other, they will exchange a gift to make a commitment to love. The “normal” market is held every day while the love market is on every Saturday evening.

Map

 

Bac Ha Market

This market is famous for being the biggest market in Lao Cai province. Though it is not exactly in Sapa, you should still try to visit to be amazed by seeing many local people wearing the colorful traditional clothes. Ethnic villagers usually come to this market to shop for anything, from utensils to food and clothing.

As I mentioned above, the women love going to the market for brocade goods. You can expect to find a beautiful skirt and bag at a reasonable price (don’t forget to bargain a little bit- it’s the market rules). Also, the brocade tapestries are a good decorative gift to bring home. Meanwhile, the men usually go there to gather with friends, drinking the forest wine and eating thang co (a traditional food of Sapa made of horse meat and its organs). If you are on a food mission, thang co is an exotic food that’s worth a try.

We have a full article on Bac Ha Market, check it out by clicking here!

Map

Muong Hum market

This spontaneous market has a romantic location, next to a flowing stream in a valley, it’s surrounded by mountains that extend as far as the clouds. On the weekend, this market makes for a relaxed day to watch people trade goods while enjoying the view. This is where people of many different ethnicities such as Ha Nhi, H’mong, Hoa, Dao, Han, and Giay meet with each other to trade goods or to just make friends. You should pay a visit to Muong Hum if you want to learn more about the culture of people in the northern regions of Vietnam. 

Map

I hope this article gives you some ideas about what to buy in Sapa and where to go to experience local lives. Check out this article for a transportation guide from Hanoi to Sapa, if you are looking for a place to stay in Sapa, here are our recommended places to stay. Read this article for more recommendations about where to go in the North of Vietnam. Finally, if you are also looking to conquer Mount Fansipan, please check out this comprehensive guide.

Looking for more awesome things to see, do and eat in Vietnam? Check out our other comprehensive articles at the Christina’s Blog!

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