Colorful Meo Vac Market

HCMC - Meo Vac is a small town in the extreme north of Vietnam, close to the Chinese border, that stretches out as far as the eye can see. It’s an unavoidable stop behind the massive limestone mountains surrounding this region of the increasingly popular Ha Giang loop.

The indoor section of Meo Vac Market full of food stalls – PHOTOS: ADRIEN JEAN

My first passage in Meo Vac left me quite indifferent. After the magnificent 22 kilometers of zigzags through the mountains of Ma Pi Leng Pass, I found Meo Vac a bit dull. I got feeling of crossing a ghost town that would make a perfect setting for a post-apocalyptic movie. But this was before discovering the very bustling Sunday market on my second visit.

Every Sunday, Meo Vac market gathers the ethnic groups of this remote area in northern Vietnam. At that time, the town takes on a whole new look for an open-air theater. The area’s different ethnic groups, including Lolos, Daos and H’mongs, drape themselves in their most beautiful traditional costumes to turn the town into one of the most colorful rendezvous in Vietnam. Vegetables, fruits, medicinal plants, rice or corn alcohol, kitchen tools, clothes, cow or a chubby pig… There is nothing you cannot find in this market. The local ethnic groups do not only meet for business, but also share the latest news of their village or take one (or a few) drinks together.

Clothing booths in the market’s indoor section
Women sewing and selling clothes
Women sewing and selling clothes
A group of women selling rice alcohol
A group of men is selling dry fish and sharing a good moment
A view of Meo Vac Market
A man leaves the market with his umbrella
A playful little boy
Two men discussing around a glass of rice alcohol
The cattle market
A woman is putting a little pig in a bag