Ethnic Minority Groups in Sapa

Sapa is among the well- known beauty spots in Vietnam. It is famous not only for its landscapes but also convergence of many ethnicities living together. Coming there, visitors will enjoy vibrant dresses of ethnics as H’mong Black, Red Dao, Tay, Giay, etc. Each ethnic is different in dress, lifestyle, customs, and farming methods.

The H’mong

The H’mong is the largest ethnic group in Sa Pa, accounting for about 53% of the population there. Previously, they lived along the Yangtze River (China), in a conflict with Han people. Most of them migrated to the South and divided into small groups. The first Ethnic Hmong mainly lived in Hoang Lien range, 300 years ago.

Among the traditional festivals of the H’mong, the Gau Tao Festival is held from 4th to 6th January of lunar month.  This festival is usually held in large fields or hills to wish peace and prosperity. During the festival, there are many competitions taking places, namely horse racing, dancing, etc.

In Sa Pa, most of H’mong people live in Cat Cat – San San Village which is 2 km far from the Sa Pa, Lao Chai, Seo Mi Ty and Ta Giang Phinh town. Coming here, visitors have a chance to experience their daily activities, enjoy special and unique dishes like Thắng Cố (a dish made from buffalo meat, beef, horse and pig, the viscera and bones of these animal are mixed together and cooked well), corn wine, corn cake and other strange dishes.

The Dao Đỏ (the Red Dao)


The Red Dao ethnic group ranks second after the H’mong. Most of them concentrate in Ta Phin, Nam Cang, Thanh Kim, Suoi Thau, Trung Chai villages.

The Red Dao ethnic group ranks second after the H’mong in Sa Pa. Most of them originated from Yunnan – China. The Red Dao is a small part of the Dao ethnic migrated to Vietnam since thirteenth century. They live mostly in Ta Phin, Nam Cang, Kim Thanh and Suoi Thau, and Trung Chai commune.

While Hmong people often choose high area to live, the Dao choose valleys or the middle mountain to plant cones. Nowadays, their life has been improved a lot. Many families have good amenities and facilities such as motorcycles, televisions, even cars, etc.

The Dao also has many featured festivals such as Tet Nhay which is held on the 1st or 2nd of January, and Hat giao duyen festival which is celebrated on 10th of January in Ta Phin village, a small village of the Dao and H’mong. This village is famous for various kinds of brocade designed by skilful H’mong and Dao women. Especially, all your tiredness after a long trip will disappear as taking a bath with wild leaves remedy of the Red Dao.

The Tay


After Hmong and Dao ethnic groups, the Tay ranks the third in term of population in Sapa. The Tay appears in Vietnam since early days, possibly from the late of the first millennium BC. This ethnic is one branches of the Tay-Thai language groups. This language group extends from Southern China to Northern Vietnam, Laos, Thailand through Myanmar, even India has an ethnic group of San, belongs to Tay-Thai group. In Sa Pa, the Tay are often concentrated in some communes, such as Ban Ho, Nam Sai and Thanh Phu.

Coming to Sa Pa, tourists will be interested in exploring daily activities of the Tay. You can visit Ban Ho which is 15km from Sa Pa or Ban Den is 18km from Sapa. Although the road is quite difficult, the surrounding landscape remains its primitive feature. You have a chance to sleep in stilt houses, enjoy stream fish, pork or grilled chicken, besides you can learn way to make brocatelle with ethnic people and enjoy dances performed by Tay girls.

The Giay


The Giay live mainly in mountainous areas to the far-north. The total number of the Giay people is over 25 thousand accounting for only 2% of the whole population in Sa Pa, concentrated in the Ta Van, Lao Cha valley. After Tet holiday, they celebrates Xuong Dong festival called ” Giong Pooc” on January to wish a good crops.

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