Sapa Cultures

Spring is the festival season in Vietnam. It is believed that the time from Lunar New Year or Tet holiday to the end of January is the best time to relax and prepare for a hard-working year. During this time, Sapa is also thrilled with many festivals of ethnic minorities. Visiting Sapa in spring, tourists will have the opportunity to enjoy cultural festivals of local people that is found nowhere.

Banana Flowers Festival of Xa Pho people


Famous for being home of many ethnic minorities. Sapa is the place gathering many rich cultural identities and diversities. Attached to it is the year-round festivals which are expected and participated by a lot of people. One of the unique festival is the festival of Banana Flowers Festival of Xa Pho people. Banana flower festival of Xa Pho people, Lao Cai is held annually on June 9/9 to demand good crops, livestock and poultry development, warm and happy home. Local people believe that, with your mind, they will be rewarded.

In the festival, the most unique thing is the dance featuring the tradition of beautiful and grateful girls, fluid dance movements but exudes vitality. Contents of dance depict the scenes of increasing production and daily life activities of the people. Very close and familiar. These performances are represented by the people in the village so they are expected by many people. 

Tet dancing festival of Dao people.

tet nhay festival
When apricots and peach blossoms are bloomed, Dao people celebrate Tet nhay festival jubilantly. From ancient times, Tet nhay festival has become a unique feature that is indispensible in Lunar New Year celebration of Dao people. Tet nhay festival is held as the gratitude toward ancestors and the wish for the defense of Gods for family members. During the festival time, the host slaughter pigs, make cakes to prepare for a banquet. Participants would enjoy the banquet, drink alcohol, and dancing for several days. Throuh Tet nhay festival, cultural features of Dao people are deeply expressed. Traditional costumes with sophisticated embroidery are dressed by beautiful women. Unique dancing is performed attractively by men of all ages. This is the occasion to hand down traditional chants, dancing, music, and dishes to future generations to keep the soul of the nation.

Gau Tao festival of H’mong people

Gau Tao Festival in sapa
Gau Tao festival is the greatest festival of H’mong people. The intention of the festival is wishing for happiness or longevity. According to the custom of H’mong people, regardless of asking for happiness or longevity, the host has to rely on a shaman to communicate with ancestors or the God. 

Although Gau Tao festival is celebrated in a certain house, it is rendezvous of the whole village. In the last day of the year, the host prepares offerings including pork, chung cake, rice, and alcohol. The shaman would recite the chant and scarify those offerings to the God in front of a Lunar New Year pole. The festival takes place during two days from 3rd to 5th of the New Year. Men and women in colorful traditional costumes altogether sing cheerful songs to praise the village and love. After that, hundreds of people go around paths, hills and hamlets chatting, singing and playing instruments like leaves trumpet, flute, and pan-pipe. Folk games are also organized to contribute the cheerful atmosphere of the festival.


Top 5 must-try-food in Sa Pa

Sa Pa is not only  famous for beautiful natural scenery, the fresh cool climate, but also a place has many special dishes with bold flavors of nature such as Cap Nach pork, Thang Co, salmon hot pot, grilled dishes, 7 colors sticky rice…We will give you some suggestion of what food you must try when visit Sa Pa.

Cap Nach pork or “Armpit” pork

In Sa Pa, local people do not lock pigs in pigpen, they free-range them to find food in the forest or garden since they are piglet. Therefore, after 1 year the pigs weight just about 20 kgs. This kind of pork is very special with fresh thick meat, crispy sweet skin, and favor is pretty fragrant. Under the skillful hands of chef, Cap Nach’s meat was steamed, roasted, grilled … Every cuisine is delicious ạnd hard to refuse.

Grilled food

The weather in Sapa is cool all year, that why every tourists never forget to try grilled dishes when visit here. Specially, there is a street where people sell only grilled food, it is Ham Rong Street.

If you are fond of spicy food, skewers are your best choice.  It is the most common grilled dish here. Chunks of meat are coated with spices, oil, and chili powder and skewered on bamboo sticks and grill. Each skewer has its own spices, you will never feel boring. In addition, you also can enjoy some other perennial grilled food like corn, sweet potato, cassava, chicken, and other birds. All of them are very sweet and fresh, and prices of just VND3,000-VND15,000 (US 15-77 cents) per dish.

Thang Co

If you come to Sa Pa and miss to eat “Thang Co” that mean you did not arrive here. This is the traditional signature dish of the Mong, in Bac Ha, Muong Khuong. Meat used to cook “Thang Co” is made from beef, buffalo meat, horse meat and pork. The Mong chef uses many ingredients which are internal organs parts of those animals such as, heart, meat, liver, blood, bone. They stream all ingredients in a big pan, and then add vegetables and some secret spices.


When eating, the pan still on the stove, we scoop out into bowls to eat near warm kitchen. Winter is best time to eat “Thang Co”, when eating it, you have to drink with corn wine, which is warm, fragrant. When food and drinks blend together will create a sense of comfort and relaxation.

Salmon hot pot

salmon hot pot

Salmon in Sapa brings a unique flavor, flesh-toned, low-fat, fresh red meat which is very nutritious.  Hotpot broth cooked with salmon bones so sweet, will be eaten with fresh vegetables. You can feel the characteristic flavor of fragrant salmon slices, the taste is so delicious. A salmon pot is not too expensive; with about 500000-600000 VND you can have a pot for 3-4 people. Therefore, if you travel here, do not miss this attractive dish.

Seven colors sticky rice


You also have the opportunity to enjoy seven colors sticky rice – traditional dish of Nung ethnic people in Muong Khuong, Lao Cai. Sticky rice is processed into colors: pink, scarlet, crimson, dark green, yellow green, yellow, and white. All of its colors are made from the leaves of forest trees so it is good for health. The Nung ethnic people love rainbow, so they make those kind of sticky rice with meaning of luckiness. In New Year day, every family eats this sticky rice and wish for lucky and happy New Year.