Exploring local markets in the northeastern moun-tainous provinces, such as Ha Giang, could be one of the most interesting memories of foreign tourists who travel throughout Vietnam.
Xin Man District, one of ten districts in Ha Giang, is a small, tranquil place near the Chinese border. It has much to offer tourists, particularly its Sunday market where a wide range of local fruit specialties, such as plum, peach, wild banana and corn, are available at very cheap prices.
Hidden in the mountains about 140 kilometers from Ha Giang Town, the capital of Ha Giang Province, or 75km from Bac Ha District in Lao Cai Province, Xin Man market is considered the most beautiful market in the northernmost area of Vietnam. Far from the town and a little bit difficult to reach because of the bumpy and muddy road, the district is not well-known to mass tourism, but it is worth the effort to get there.
The route from Ha Giang to Xin Man is through beautiful scenery of rice paddies on the mountain sides, affording a rare opportunity to enjoy the picturesque landscape of the mountains and discover the diverse, traditional customs of ethnic minority people who live here.
The name of each ethnic minority group is derived from the appearance of their traditional costumes and this area is mainly populated by Mong Hoa people, including Mong Hoa (Flower H’mong), Mong Den (Black H’mong), Nung, Tay and Dao.
On arriving at Xin Man District, the market is easy to find, as it is located on the edge of the district itself. When in Xin Man, tourists should get up early on a Sunday morning and start the day with an invigorating walk along a small path through numerous beautiful villages and terraced rice fields.
The Sunday market in Xin Man is filled with hill-tribe traders from surrounding villages. The market consists of several narrow alleys lined with wooden stalls offering basic sundries, but its flavor is other-worldly, with all the participants adorned in magnificent costumes.
Picking their way through the crowd, tourists will be met with warm smiles and hospitality from the many different ethnic minority groups who have come there to trade.
Visiting the Sunday market in the early morning is a long-held tradition of the Mong Den and Mong Hoa people. They go to the market as people in Hanoi go shopping at the weekend and eat pho, which is mainly the same as the beef or chicken noodle soup in Hanoi, but served with tofu and vegetables.
Purchasing fresh plums or peaches is easy, just simply choose the fruits and ask the price. It is not necessary to bargain as local sellers always charge the true prices. This is the way they treat tourists at Xin Man market.