Photography in mountain markets of Vietnam

Mountain market – a great part of Vietnam travel photography

Markets are a source of life, and in its most authentic meaning, people shop at markets for essential ingredients to sustain living. Market is a lifestyle and among the best places for photography, when it comes to showing a local culture. And the markets in the mountains of Vietnam are brightest examples of how life goes on in mountainous regions of the country.

Wandering in a mountain market of northern Vietnam is a must for anyone who’s intending to do a Vietnam photography tour. It fulfills one’s collection of Vietnam images. These markets are where the locals find rendezvous, apart from buying and selling. And it’s where one would be dressed in her most well-shaped traditional costumes in hope of finding a lover.

Don’t miss the chance of shooting in a mountain market when if you’re doing a multi-days photography tour in Vietnam.

Market photography highlights

Vibes of a mountain grace

Can Cau market – a photography attraction by the mountain side

Mrs. Lo Thi Mai woke up from 4:30 am, her 2 year-old son is still asleep. Today is Saturday and she’s heading for the weekly market of Can Cau. She is a farmer, making a living from growing corn and distilling liquor from corn. Can Cau market is one of her best selling places. Her home is 1.5 hour by motorbike from the village of Can Cau.

Her husband loads up 02 cans, each is of 20 liters onto the back of his old motorbike. After finishing, the couple sit quietly in their home corner, on little stools which barely stand above 20 cm from the ground. They quickly eat some rice and vegetables, preparing to head for the market at dawn. Mrs. Lo Thi Mai finally puts on her most well-kept set of colorful traditional H’mong dress – the set which she keeps for the market sessions only. Their motorbike becomes smaller and finally disappears on the winding mountain road of Lao Cai.

The two are among hundreds of sellers, who join Can Cau market once a week, bringing along probably all what they make or grow at home, that can be sold. Their friends might walk to the market with a buffalo, or a herd of piggies, or bags full of vegetables or fruits…all what needed for life to go on.

The market is crowded from dawn, as many people come for their breakfast. The vibe is incredibly amazing: Group of people checking out a buffalo, some piggies are being measured for sales, some men taste liquor from sellers like Mrs. Lo Thi Mai to test before buying, a long line of embroidery shops with colorful costumes brightens a corner of the market.

Any photographer would find these markets alluring. There seems to be something for every photographer here: Traditional clothes, colorful mountain fruits and veges, domestic animals for sale. But what catches my attention the most are thatched-wooden food stalls with smoke rising from the burning wood, brightened by the early sunlight.

Usually these food stalls are family-run, typically by husband and wife. They would do most of the works in the restaurant: Preparing ingredients, cooking, chopping meats, serving guests. There’s usually another person hired just to do dish washing.

On one of the tables, a group of H’mong man is sitting with bowls of noodle, a plate full of steam-rising pig’s inner organs, a bottle of corn liquor and a cup for everyone. They quietly talk and smiles, and gently wave to passers -by.

Bac Ha market – the downtown Sunday booming flower.

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