Another ecotourism destination – The Flower Hmong (Hmong Lenh) People , gained their name due their use of bright, colorful embroidery work (called pa ndauor paj ntaub), literally “flower cloth”. They are a subgroup of the Hmong ethnic group, themselves a division of the Miao people, who live mostly in Southern China, Vietnam and Laos. www.travelrows.com
Visitors to northern Vietnam may be familiar with the beautiful, colourful traditional dress of the Flower Hmong people, and may even have purchased some of their stunning needlework to help them to keep their traditional art and culture alive.
Where the Flower Hmong Live
The Flower Hmong are mostly congregated in the Ha Giang province in the far north of Vietnam, though some also still live across the border in the Kwangsi province of China. One of the best places to meet Flower Hmong people is at the famous Sunday Market in Bac Ha.
Bac Ha Market
While there is something rather crass about photographing these people in their traditional garb, and you certainly should not do so without there consent, this is also a popular meeting place for Flower Hmong, and a good place to learn a little more about their interesting culture and appreciate their handiwork.
This market, and the other local market of Can Cau, are places to see scenes that have unfolded in much the same way as they have for generations.
While the traditionally garbed women may also have cellphones, and enjoy certain other features of modern life, they are steadfast in wearing their traditional costumes and in many ways, their lives have changed little over the years.
While Sapa, or Hanoi, is more commonly used as a base for travelers exploring the north of Vietnam, Bac Ha, the mountain village at 700m above sea level, is a great base for those who want to get a little off the beaten track. Tourism has definitely arrived here – but this is still predominantly a local market town. Note, if you stay here, rather than just coming on a day trip, you can see the local culture without the tourist hoards, and enjoy the best part of the market. It goes on until noon but is best before 9am.
Home Stay and Trekking Options
If you are really interested in sustainable travel, the Flower Hmong and the other native tribal groups of the area (which include the Tay, Dzao, Tu Zi, Nung, Phula, La Chi and Lo Lo amongst others) then you should definitely consider exploring beyond Bac Ha and enjoying off-the-beaten track home stay and trekking options in this part of the country. On such stays and treks, you can get the opportunity to stay in and visit a wide range of Flower Hmong ethnic villages in the area.
In today’s world of conformity and globalization, it can be refreshing to meet people who have managed to retain so much of their traditional culture. Their beautiful clothes, and the stunning environment in which they live, mean that you may well end up envying them their way of life if you make a visit to this part of South Eastern Asia.