Every Tuesday, in the mountainous northern Vietnamese region of Sapa, area residents from several ethnic tribes come together to socialize and barter produce, livestock and everyday wares along the Chay River. Aside from the growing section of the market offering locally-made handicrafts, the best reason to come to Coc Ly Market (Chợ Cốc Ly) is the people watching and the chance to interact with several different remote ethnic populations. For them, market day is an occasion to get dressed up and the Flower Hmong’s electric pink and green traditional tartan prints dominate the dusty, brown landscape. Dzao in embroidered robes and red headdresses, Tay women in black headdresses and Nung women decked out their silver ornamentation also regularly frequent the bustling market—just remember if you’re taking photos of people to ask permission first.
Bring your bargaining skills for backpacks, headbands, hats, dolls, scarves, trinkets, colorful fabric and more.
The Coc Ly Market runs only on Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. til 1:30 p.m. It is a short 5-mile drive from the popular hill-tribe trekking destination of Sapa (Sapa holds its own market most days; Saturdays are the largest and most comparable to Coc Ly). Tour operators arrange market day trips, sometimes including village visits, and depart from both Sapa and Bac Ha further east.