The festive atmosphere of Khau Vai market in northern Ha Giang Province
The Khau Vai market festival brings not only goods and wares to the remote mountain commune in northern Vietnam, but also love and celebration.
Locals wait for the festival – held on the 27th day of the third Lunar month (often falling in May) in Ha Giang Province’s Khau Vai Commune, Meo Vac District – all year long.
The northernmost province is home to a variety of ethnic minority groups including the Giay, Nung and Muong peoples.
The Khau Vai market is a cultural holiday here, where groups from as far as Cao Bang Province get together to share commerce and fun.
According to legend, the market dates back to the unrequited love between a young boy and girl. They fell deeply in love but were from different tribes that forbade them to be together. A bitter quarrel erupted between the two families and the couple was forced to end the affair.
Unable to bear the thought of never seeing each other again, they decided to meet on the same day every year in Khau Vai. Today, the site of the forbidden rendezvous is home to the love market.
Youngsters travel to the market hoping to find their future spouses while old friends meet up after a year apart and new friends are made.
The social event of the year, revelers chat over sticky rice, grilled cassava and rice dumplings while celebrations of romantic song and dance last all night long.
Ethnic costumes and jewelry – still worn by most local women – traditional instruments and art are all on display at the market, adding splashes of color everywhere you look.
Home stays are available in the tiny enclave near the Chinese border. Goodwill abounds, as does some of the most stunning scenery Vietnam has to offer – jarring limestone cliffs jutting out into the sky, karsts climbing up over rivers to form canyons and valleys made of rock and lush green forest. (Reported by Thuy Nhien)