I’m serious! In Vietnam, there is a unique market in which every individual participates to find their other half! It’s Love Market in Sapa, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern Vietnam and an emerging spot in every Vietnam culture tour.
The beautiful Sapa shrouded in fog
How the market was started
Most Vietnamese ethnic groups such as Mong, Dao, Tay, Giay, etc., in Sapa reside along Muong Hoa valley, in which there is Muong Hoa River fed by small streams on the top of Phan Xi Pang Mountain. Water from the river supports the ethnic minority communities’ crop cultivation as well as their daily activities. The roads here are pretty rugged, mostly used by people and cattle. Moreover, the villages of ethnic minority people are often far from the heart of Sapa Town. Therefore, getting to the market through the rough trails usually takes half a day. Thus, the local residents typically depart on the previous day which is Saturday and spend the night in town to attend this highland market on Sunday. This is the reason why Sapa on Saturday night is very crowded and joyful. The elderly pay visits to friends while young people jump at this opportunity to meet and get to know one another. Interestingly, some people even make friends by means of flutes and pan flutes which conveys the feelings that they want to disclose.
People using Pan flutes to make friends
Since then, Sapa love market takes place every Saturday evening. As the sun sets behind the mountains, Sapa is covered in a blanket of fog. In the air spread the alluring aroma of wine together with some folk melody. Passing through this enchanting atmosphere, you can finally reach the no less magical love market where the love of your life might be waiting. Over time, this love market has become a popular spot in any Vietnam culture tour.
A place to treasure love and memories
A market is meant to be a place to sell and buy things. However, Sapa love market is considered a place to find life partners or at least, to ignite long-lasting friendships. In brocade fabric clothes, sparkling necklaces and accessories, the local women join the market. The men carry rice liquor in plastic bottles together with flutes. In addition, bamboo cups and tubes are also brought to the market. Without being there, you can already visualize a lively picture of a local fair in which everything is traditional and rustic. In that atmosphere, love is shared between two people upon their first encounter.
Sapa love market – a romantic place (Source: Google)
This market lasts past midnight despite the cold weather and thick layers of fog. The night sends back echoes of inviting sounds, folk songs, instrument sounds and intimate conversations. Girls at the age of 13, 14 come with their sisters. Without a doubt, young and beautiful women often attract a lot of men. Therefore, the men have to try very hard to ‘’win’’ the beauty. They surround the pretty woman, turn on cassette and start talking to her in a very cajoling way before giving her presents. If the woman does not like the man, she will reject the gift and run away. But in most cases, the man does not give up! He will hold her hands back, showing his sincerity and persistence to pursue love. This has become a prominent cultural gesture in Sapa love market. Once the woman accepts the love confession, she will give the man an engagement item which can be a ring, a bracelet, or a comb. The crowd then gradually disperse and the woman is led to the man by her close friends. After that, only the woods know where they go.
A traditional market that sustains with time
Having existed for quite a long time, Sapa love market still preserves its unique features and cultural value. This is a lucky thing since hardly anywhere else in Vietnam can you find such a special market where trading goods is not the major activity.
Sapa love market at night (Source: Google)
The attendants are not only the local people of ethnic minorities but also people from urban areas and foreigners who are passionate about exploring Sapa love market. Joining the market, you’ll see that it has more to offer people than a place to find life partners. Here you will be fascinated by the sophisticated way in which couples get to know each other, the fierce competition among the men to attract the women, the varied melody played with folk instruments that contains all stages of emotions. Furthermore, this is an opportunity to observe traditional dance and colorful costumes that are also powerful ‘’weapons’’ particularly used in Sapa Love Market.
Maybe it is not exaggerated at all to say that a Vietnam culture tour to the northern provinces will not be complete without visiting Sapa Love Market. If you still don’t believe this, try coming once, and you’ll see!
Lưu Nhật Vy