Ethnic minorities in Sapa

1954
Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa is a lovely land and famous for not only the scenery but also the diversity of ethnic minorities living together in the region. Arriving here in the market meeting, visitors will be exciting about various kinds of dresses of ethnic groups such as Black H’mong, Red Yao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho. Each people has different costumes, lifestyles, practices, methods of cultivation and cultural identities.

Hmong (Black Hmong)

Hmong is the largest ethnic group in Sapa, accounting for approximately 53% of the population. Previously, they lived along the Yangtze river (China) and were proficient at rice farming. After the conflict with Han Chinese, the majority of them migrated to the south, and was divided into small groups. The first groups of Hmong to Sapa mainly lived in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range 300 years ago.

Hmong people in Sapa
Hmong people in Sapa

Living in the mountainous region having poor land but with much experience of rice cultivation before, Hmong turned mountain and hill slopes into unique terraced fields where each year they can grow two rice and maize crops. If having an occasion to visit Sapa in the autumn when the rice is fully ripe, tourists will be completely surprised at golden rice terraces stretching layer upon layer winding along the mountain side. It can be said that it is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Northwest high mountain.

In Sapa, the village that Hmong people mainly take up residence is Cat Cat – San Sa Ho which is 2 kilometer from Sapa town. Besides, many H’mong people choose to live in Lao Chai, Seo Mi Ty, and Ta Giang Phinh. Coming here, visitors can witness their daily activities, try local food like thắng cố, tiết canh gà, corn wine and so on.

Red Yao people

Red Yao people has the second largest population, after Hmong, in Sapa. These people originated in Yunnan (China) and was a small part of the Yao ethnic group migrating to Vietnam since the thirteenth century and the 40s of the last century. They mostly live in Ta Phin, Nam Cang, Thanh Kim, Suoi Thau and Trung Chai communes.

Red Yao people
Red Yao people

Researchers show that Yao people have a close relationship with the Hmong. These two groups are believed to have the same origin; however, each one owns distinctive characters which were formed during the period migration from China to Vietnam. Currently, coming Sapa, you can easily realize these differences in appearance, costume and lifestyle.

While Hmong people often choose the mountainous region to live, Yao people usually live at mountain sides to prune maize, grown rice and cardamom. Merchants from other regions usually come here to buy products and bring them to China, which helps local people improve their lives. Many of the houses have good amenities and facilities such as motorcycles, television, cars, agricultural tractors.

Tay people

Tay people left for Sapa quite early, in the late first millennium B.C. This tribe is a branch of the peoples of Tay-Thai. In Sapa, most of them make their home in some southern communes including Ban Ho, Nam Sai and Thanh Phu.These areas are all flat and fertile favorable for fishing and farming.

Tay people in Sapa
Tay people in Sapa

Traditional costumes of ethnic Tay are rather simple compared to other peoples with only one color of dark indigo. Both men and women wear 4-part dresses with two pockets in the front dress flaps and a wide waist belt. On festive occasions, the extra wear long clothing in the body sawed right armpit, bear daisies daisy fabric or copper. Women square scarf folded the scarf cross-breeding ravens mine from Beijing. Today the guests will find a woman dressed like Tay Kinh only the headgear does not change.

If tourists would like to explore the lifestyle of Tay, people can visit Ho village, 15 kilometers from Sapa and Den village, 18 kilometers from Sapa. this road to the two villages is rough but the natural scenery is breathtaking. Tourists will experience sleeping in a house-on-stilt; eat spring fish, enjoy “lợn cắp nách”, grilled chicken; learn how to make brocade and enjoy ethnic dances performed by  Tay girls.