Stirring corn in a big pot on a temporary wooden oven, 32-year-old Sung Dinh Thang, a professional wine brewer of the Mong ethnic group, puts the final touches to the fermented corn before he removes the vapour extract from the sauce to a container.

He is performing a daily ritual: processing corn into traditional wine. But he is not just brewing wine at his local market in the remote Lung Tam commune in Ha Giang province. He is also producing wine for a market held as part of the National Great Solidarity – Vietnamese Cultural Heritage Week at the Culture-Tourism Village of Dong Mo in Hanoi's Son Tay town.

Before steaming the corn for vapour extract, Thang has fermented it for half a month. The vapour is then turned into drops of wine combining the sweetness of corn, the strong taste of fermentation blended with the smoky smell of burnt wood.

Next to him boils "thang co'', a dish which includes horse meat, inner organs, vegetables, special herbs and spices, cooked by another group of Mong people from Son La province.

The smell of food, wine and herbs from dozens of stalls mingles with melodies of traditional instruments from the Tay, Nung, Hoa and Thai groups. Nearby, teenagers laugh as they immerse themselves in folk games and colourful traditional costumes sold at the unique market tucked away in the mountains.

"We have organised this kind of market several times before, but this time, we invited more artisans from northern areas to show off their wine and cooked food to bring a vivid atmosphere of a mountainous market to locals here," said organising board member Duong Quang Xuan.

Retiree Bui The Chuc, who lives near the village, cannot hide his excitement while exploring the market.

"I think this event should be organised more frequently to help ethnic groups understand one another," he said. "This is the easiest and most natural way for people to learn about ethnic cultures."

However, he complained about the lack of maps and signs around the village. "The village is so big and there are activities at many different sites," he said. "The organisers should place more maps and signage around so that visitors can get directions quickly."

Just few hundreds metres from the mountainous market, dozens of boats carrying fruits, food and other goods float on Dong Mo lake. The floating market in the southern province of Can Tho is buzzing with the sound of people haggling prices and laughing to melodies of "dan ca tai tu" (southern folk music) echoing on the lake.

"It is very difficult to bring local boats and goods here," said dealer Nham Hung from Can Tho city. "We want to create a special atmosphere of a typical southern floating market."

Japanese student Akiko Okita is a first-time visitor to the markets. "Markets express vividly the culture of people, I can see here the art of cuisine of different groups, listen to their languages and music, admire their clothes and taste their food, drink their wine and witness their behaviours," she said.

The markets will remain open till the end of the week alongside a sculpture camp featuring 30 artists from the Central Highland provinces of Gia Lai, Dak Lak and Kon Tum and an exhibition of the best of Hanoi's traditional handicraft villages.

Oxen from An Giang province's Bay Nui oxen race will race at the village in the November 23 afternoon while kite-flying takes place everyday until the Vietnamese Cultural Heritage Week will wrap up on November 24.

A Khmer-style pagoda, the first of its kind in Hanoi, will be inaugurated at the village tomorrow, and play host to the famed Ok Om Bok of the southern Khmer group, which worships the Moon for a better harvest, at night.-VNA