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Top Hotels
Tuan Chau Island Resort
Tuan Chau Island, Halong, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 1.740.000 VND ~ $87.00
Hidden Charm
No 22D Tuan Chau Ward, Halong City, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 600.000 VND ~ $30.00
Saigon Halong Hotel
Ha Long city, Halong Road, Bai Chay, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 1.100.000 VND ~ $55.00
Golden Halong
Hung Thang Tourism Area, Bai Chay Ward, Halong, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 640.000 VND ~ $32.00
Top Cruises
Aclass Opera Cruise
Tuan Chau, Halong City, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Price from: 3.200.000 VND ~ $160.00
Bai Tho Junk
Halong Harbour, Halong City, Quang Ninh
Price from: 1.800.000 VND ~ $90.00
Oriental Sails Halong Bay
Halong bay, Halong city, Quang Ninh
Price from: 1.900.000 VND ~ $95.00
Indochina Sails Halong Bay
Ha Long Bay, Halong City
Price from: 2.860.000 VND ~ $143.00
Top Tours
Ninh Binh The King Land 3 days
Hanoi, hoa lu Tam Coc, vietnam capital in 10 Centery, History of Vietnam,Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple,Water Puppet Show, Dinh temple, Le temple, Ta
Price from: 3.800.000 VND ~ $190.00
Halong - Traditional village 2 days
Hanoi, Halong Bay, Halong City, Traditional village, Sung Sot grotto, Kayaking in Halong Bay
Price from: 4.840.000 VND ~ $242.00
Phu Quoc Honeymoon 3 days 2 nights
Phu Quoc Island, BBQ lunch, An Thoi archipelago, Doi Moi islet
Price from: 4.200.000 VND ~ $210.00
Buon Ma Thuot - Lake lake & Watter fall 3days
Buon Me Thuật - Don Village, Ride Elephant ,watter fall, Bao Dai Emperor’s house , Wateter fall, ethnological museum, Khai Doan Pagoda
Price from: 3.960.000 VND ~ $198.00



Population 1.2 million

Provinces       Bac Can, Bac Giang, Cao Bang, Lang Son, Quang Ninh, Thai Nguyen

The Tay, the most populous of the hill tribes, live at low elevations and valleys in the northern provinces. They adhere closely to Vietnamese beliefs in Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, but also worship genies and local spirits. Since they developed their own script in the 16th century. Tay literature and arts, including music, folk songs, poems and dance, have gained substantial renown. The Tay are known for their abilities in cultivating wet rice, tobacco, fruit, herbs and spices.

 They traditionally live in wooden silt houses, though a long history of proximity to ethnic Vietnamese has seen a gradual change to brick-and-earthen housing. Tay people wear distinctive indigo-blue and black clothes, and often don head wraps of the same colors. They sometimes carry machete-like farming tools in belt sheaths.



Population 1 million+

Provinces       Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Nghe An, Son La

Like the Tay, the Thai originated in southern China before settling along fertile riverbeds, once used for irrigation purposes. Theories vary on the Thai’s relationship to the Thais of Siam (Thailand), as do references to colors in the subgroups, such as the Red, Black and White Thai. Some contend that the colors correspond to those of the women usually wear vibrantly colored blouses and headgear, while the White Thai tend to dress in less colorful of modern clothing. Most Thai men dress as the ethnic Vietnamese do.

 Villages typically have 40 to 50 bamboo-silt households. The Thai, using a scripts developed in the 5th century, have produced literature ranging from poetry and love songs to folk tales. Travellers staying overnight in the village of Lac (see the Mai Chau section in the North-west Vietnamese chapter) should be able to catch a performance of some of the Thai’s renowned music and dance.



Population 900,000+

Provinces    Hoa Binh, Thanh Hoa

Found predominantly in Hoa Binh province, the male-dominated Muong live in small silt-house hamlets called quel, grouped into muong. Each muong is overseen by lang, a hereditary noble family. Though their origins lie close to the ethnic Vietnamese and nowadays they are difficult to distinguish, the Muong have a culture similar to the Thai.

 They are known for producing folk literature, poems and songs, much of which has been translated into Vietnamese. Musical instruments such as the gong, drums, panpipes, flutes and two-stringed violin are popular with the Muong. Like the ethnic Vietnamese, they too cultivate rice in paddies; in the past, sticky rice was a staple part of their diet.

 Muong women wear long skirts and short vest-like blouses, while the men traditionally wear indigo tops and trousers.



Population 700,000

ProvincesBac Thai, Cao Bang, Ha Bac, Lang Son, Tuyen Quang

Concentrated into small villages, Nung homes are typically divided into two sections, one to serve as living quarters and the other for work and worship. Form their deep ancestral worship to traditional festivities, the Nung are spiritually and socially similar to the Tay. Nung brides traditionally command high dowries from prospective grooms and tradition dictates inheritance from father to son, a sign of Chinese influences.

 Most Nung villages still have medicine men, who are called upon to help get rid of evil spirits and cure the ill. Their astute gardening skills are known to reap a wide range of crops like vegetables, fruits, spices and bamboo. The Nung are also known for their handicrafts such as bamboo furniture, basketry, silverwork and papermaking. The Nung wear primarily black and indigo clothing with headdresses.



Population 550,000+

Provinces   Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Nghe An, Tuyen Quang, Son La, Yen Bai

Since migrating from China in the 19th century, the H’mong have grown to become one of the largest and most underprivileged of the ethnic groups in Vietnam.

 The H’mong live at high altitudes and cultivate dry rice, vegetables, fruit and medicinal plants (including opium), and raise pigs, cows, chickens and horses. The H’mong are found throughout Southeast Asia and many have also fled Vietnam to Western countries as refugees.

 There are several groups within the H’mong, including Black, White, Red, Green and Flower, each of which bears its own subtle variation on traditional dress. One of the easiest to recognize are the Black H’mong, who wear indigo-dyed linen clothing (which gives off an almost metallic shine) with women typically wearing skirts, aprons, wrap-on leggings and a cylindrical hat. The Flower H’mong men wear dark black and blue. The women wear slightly more elaborate outfits than the Black H’mong, usually with a plaid wool headdress. H’mong women typically wear large silver necklaces and cluster of sliver bracelets and earrings.



Population 190,000+

Provinces    Dac Lac, Gia Lai, Khanh Hoa, Phu Yen

The jarai are the most populous minority in the central highlands, especially around Pleiku. Villages often named for a nearby river, stream or tribal chief; a large stilt house that’s a kind of community center (nha-rong) is usually found in the center. Jarai women typically propose marriage to men through a matchmaker, who delivers the prospective groom a copper bracelet. Animistic beliefs and rituals still abound, and the Jarai pay respect to their ancestors and nature through a host of genie (yang). Popular spirits include Po Teo Pui (King of Fire) and Po Teo La (King of Water), who are summoned to bring forth rain.

 Perhaps more than any of Vietnam’s other hill tribes, the Jarai are renowned for their indigenous musical instrument, from stringed ‘gongs’ to bamboo tubes, which act as wind flutes and percussion. Jarai women typically wear sleeveless indigo blouses and long skirts.



Population 135,000

Provinces    Kon Tum, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen

The Bahnar are believed to have migrated long ago to the central highlands from the coast. They are animists and worship trees such as the banyan and ficus. The Bahnar keep their own traditional calendar, which calls for 10 months of cultivation, with the remaining tow months set aside for social and personal duties, such as marriage, weaving, buying and selling food and wares, ceremonies and festivals.

 A traditional ceremony was held when babies were one month old; their ears were blown into and their lobes pierced, thus making the child a village member. It was believed that those who died without these rites would be taken to a land of monkeys, by a black-eared goddess, Duydai. The Bahnar are renowned for their wood carvings, especially those used to decorate funeral homes. They wear similar dress to the Jarai.



Population 95,000+

Provinces   Kon Tum, Quang Ngai, Quang Nam

Native to the central highlands, the Sedang have relations stretching as far as Cambodia. Like many of their neighbors, the Sedang have been adversely affected by centuries of war and outside invasion. The Sedang do not carry family names, and there is said to be complete equality between the sexes. The children of one’s siblings are also given the same treatment as one’s own, creating a strong fraternal tradition. Although most Sedang spiritual and cultural ceremonies relate to agriculture, they still practice unique customs, such as grave abandonment, sharing of property with the deceased and giving birth at the forest’s edge. Sedang women traditionally wear long skirts and a sarong-like top wrap.



Population 470,000+

Provinces   Chinese and Lao border areas, Sapa

The Dao (or Zao) are one of Vietnam’s largest ethnic groups and they live predominantly in the northwestern provinces along the borders with China and Laos. The Dao practice ancestor worship of spirits known as ‘Ban Ho’ and hold elaborate rituals with sacrifices of pigs and chickens. The Dao’s close proximity to China explains the common use of tradition Chinese-influence medicine and the similarity of the Nom Dao script to Chinese characters.

 The Dao are famous for their elaborate dress; women’s clothing typically features elaborate weaving and silver-colored beads and coins (the wealth of woman is said to be in the weight of coins she carries). Long locks of hair are tied up into a large red of embroidered turban.



Population 24,000+

Provinces   Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dac Lac

The Ede polytheists live communally in beamless, boat-shaped longhouses on stilts. About a third of these homes, which frequently accommodate large extended families, are for communal use, with the rest partitioned into smaller quarters to give privacy to married couples.

The Ede people are matrilineal, like the Jarai: the families of Ede girls make proposals of marriage to men and, once wed, the couple resides with the wife’s family. Children bear the mother’s family name. Inheritance is also reserved solely for women, particularly the youngest daughter of the family. Ede women generally wear colorfully embroidered vests with copper and silver jewelry, and beads.


 Lost of the women and young girls have gone into the souvenir business; the older women in particular are known for their strong-armed sales tactics. One frequent Sapa sight is a frenzy of elderly H’mong women clamoring around hapless backpackers to hawk their goods, which range from colorful ethnic garb to little pouches of opium stashed away in matchboxes. When negotiating prices, you do need to hold your ground, but go easy when it tent, but are not nearly as rapacious as many other vendors. Besides, with the government cracking down on opium crops, and increasing pressure on land, few other employment opportunities exist.

 A word of warning on the clothes; as beautiful and cheap as they are, the dyes used are natural and are not set. Much of the stuff sold has the potential to turn anything it touches (including your skin) an unusual blue/green color – check out the hands and arms of the H’mong for an indication. Wash the fabric separately in cold salt water – it helps stop the dye from running. Wrap anything you buy in plastic bags before stuffing it in your luggage.



There is a small bank in Sapa, but is does not handle foreign-currency exchange. You can use or change US dollars at most hotels, but don’t expect to be given the same exchange rate in Hanoi.

 Internet access is available in many hotels around town, usually for 500d per minute.

 Sapa market

Montagnards from surrounding villages don their best clothes and head to the market most days. Saturday is the busiest day, but the town becomes so crowded with tourists that it’s a much more pleasant experience on other days of the week.

 The market is a big magnet for organized-tour groups from Hanoi, many of which arrive here on Friday night. If you’d rather enjoy Sapa at a more sedate pace, avoid the Saturday market


Vietnam Guide Book

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