Sapa love market – where love begins
Sapa has long been a magnet for travelers for its beautiful natural sceneries and unique culture and customs of local ethnic minority groups. This is home to various ethnic minority groups: H’Mong (who account for more than 50 percent of the town’s total population), Red Dao or Tay. The diversity in ethnicity makes Sapa a land rich in culture and an attractive destination for those who love to learn about locals’ life.
Talking of Sapa travel, one may have heard of its love markets, a unique custom that has been observed for years and generations. Visiting traditional markets will be a highlight of a trip to Sapa and a not-to-be-missed social event here.
Traditionally, Sapa love market, as the name may indicate, is the place for one to find their partner and get married. Young girls and boys come here to meet up, get to know each other, date and express their feelings and affections if they find a match of their own.
This is one of the customs of ethnic groups that has been observed for long and well-preserved till today. More and more visitors, both domestic and international, come to visit the place where locals meet the love of their life.
Vietnam’s oldest love market
Love markets are quite popular in the northern mountainous areas of Vietnam. Khau Vai love market in Ha Giang or Moc Chau love market (Son La), just to name a few, both held once a year, are popular ones and like Sapa love market, they have become a major tourist destination.
Among them, Sapa love market is said to be the oldest. No one knows exactly the time when this love market was first held yet its origin is very interesting to learn about. According to local people, in the old-time, the market in Sapa was held once a week on Saturday. It was when people from all the villages in the neighborhood came to meet. Because they all lived far from the venue of the market, they had to stay up the night and got back home the following morning. So gradually, it became a custom that people would gather here at night and this became a place where the boys and the girls meet, chat… and find the love of their life.
Nowadays, Sapa love market still opens every Saturday night in the square in front of Sapa stone church. Local ethnic people who live far from the town, would leave their home on Saturday afternoon to join the market in the evening.
Sapa love market is a unique tradition and custom of people in Sapa including those from H’Mong and Dao ethnic minorities. Here in this market, there is a wide variety of activities: dances, instrument playing performances, singing, folk games, and trading.
The main purpose of this market is a place and opportunity for local ethnic people to find a match. Young men and women in local villages have the chance to meet up and get to know each other. Coming to this market, they learn and interact with each other. They share stories, sing or play khen, a typical instrument of this northern mountainous region. If they feel that’s the right one, they will confess with their partner.
Though Sapa love market is widely known among tourists, many don’t fully understand what it really means. Despite being called a market, this is mainly the place for locals to find a partner while trading is just a minor activity.
This unique custom is still observed today and its culture makes many visitors excited and evokes curiosity to learn.
This is the place that has enabled many to find the other half of their life. As a social event, they come here to make friends, find each other’s partners, build affection and gradually move on to a long-term marriage.
People in mountainous areas are well-known for their honesty, simplicity and authenticity. They are not picky in the meeting – men would wear traditional brocade clothes and silver bracelets as the accessories, bringing along khèn, a wind instrument consisting of several small bamboo tubes arranged close together with one end connected to a wooden soundbox (Khèn is very popular with various ethnic groups in Vietnam, such as the H’Mong, Muong, Thai).
Meanwhile, women don their traditionally embroidered dresses and beautify themselves with sparkling silver jewelry. In addition, they prepare a special gift which will be presented to the person they want to give their love to. The gift could be a ring or a bracelet.
Meet the love of their life
The venue for the Sapa Love Market is in the square in front of the Sapa stone church. This is not only a place for the love market but also a popular tourist destination that charms many tourists.
The most interesting thing when coming here is to witness firsthand the unique culture of local people confessing love to their loved ones.
The boys and the girls, hereafter having a few drinks, would gain the courage to confess their love. First, they perform musical instruments to express their love and then dance in order to impress their partner.
If the girl accepts, she will come towards the boy and put the gift she had prepared in his hand and they will find a place to talk to get to know about each other. If the girl rejects, she will run away.
In the Yao ethnic minority group, there is one interesting custom that all people including married couples can participate in the Sapa love market. Therefore, all Dao ethnic people can join this social event. One can catch the sight of girls as early as 13 years old follow her sisters to this market to learn about their culture.
It is well said that “Travelling leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller”. Experience Sapa with an open mind and open heart then it will leave you with breathtaking memories.
Traveling Sapa by motorbike to the markets and villages
Joining Sapa motorbike tours to discover the raw beauty of nature, the hidden charm of Sapa villages, and the culture of the ethnic minorities through Sapa love market or Sapa Sunday Fairs in a very special way. More than that, you will witness the majestic mountains, the towering peaks, and dense forests on the way to Sapa poetic town.
We, BM Travel Adventure, are Vietnam’s leading motorbike tour operator with 10 years of experience in organizing motorbike tours. Annually, we have operated hundreds of Vietnam motorcycle tours, Vietnam dirt bike tours, Vietnam enduro tours from north to south (Northern Loop Vietnam, Northeast Vietnam Motorbike Tours, Northwest Vietnam, Ha Giang Motorbike Tours via Hoang Su Phi, Sapa Motorbike Tours, Vietnam motorbike tours on the Ho Chi Minh trail…), and also motorbike tours to the neighboring countries like Laos, Cambodia, Thailand. We are sure to offer visitors the best places to travel to matching their lifestyle for a fun experience and the most unforgettable motorbike tour.
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