Sunday is the most anticipated day for ethnic minorities in the Sin Ho district of northern mountainous Lai Chau province, as it is the day when they traditionally gather together and buy necessities at their local market.

The last Sundays before the lunar year are the busiest and most crowded times in the market.

Waves of ethnic people coming from numerous distant villages, including H’mong, Dao, and Day, walk or ride horses and motorbikes to the town centre, loaded up with farm products destined for the Sin Ho market.

The market is filled with the colours of traditional ethnic costumes, the smoke of boiling pots, and the savoury fragrance of noodles, fried cakes and maize wine.

Phan A Long, nearly 80 years old, has never missed a market day during the Tet holiday even though his house is more than 10 kilometres from the market.

“The Tet market is different from others; it’s more crowded and has more products.” Long said, “I hope to stay healthy and continue coming to Tet markets in the coming years”.

Medicinal herbs are also a typical feature of the Sin Ho market. On the last day of the year, the Dao traditionally take a bath with medicinal plants they pick from the nearby forest, so stalls selling the plants are always bustling and busy.

The Sin Ho market is more than a trading place, but also a venue for cultural exchange among locals.

Situated on the Sin Ho plateau of Lai Chau province, Sin Ho town is located on the highest peak, over 1,500 metres above the sea level, and surrounded by verdant mountain ranges and puffy clouds. The small town is colloquially called the Roof of Lai Chau or the second Sa Pa of the northwest.-VNA