The famous love market, Khau Vai, is located in Meo Vac district, the northern province of Ha Giang, which is known as home to ethnic minority groups of Giay, Nung, and Muong. Khau Vai love market festival, annually organized on the 3rd lunar month of 26th and 27th, sees the participation of a huge number of ethnic locals.
Visiting the market on its festival, you not only enjoy the ethnic food and drink culture, song performances, and folk games, but buy some ethnic costumes, jewelry, musical instruments, and culture and art publications as well.
- Location: Khau Vai, Meo Vac, Ha Giang
Opening hours: 6 am to 8 pm
1. The Origin of Khau Vai Love Market
It can be said that the beauty and power of love is the basic factor to maintain the existence of Khau Vai love market for such a long time. In the market area, there are two temples called Ong and Ba (Mr and Mrs) temples.
The story concerning these temples tells that, once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl born from two different places of the Dong Van Plateau. Since forbidden to get married by the two families, they, side by side, decided to leave home to come and settle down together in Khau Vai, a prosperous land with green plants. In honor of their merits in cultivating the wild land into a rich land, the local people built the two temples to worship them.
Another local myth tells the story of a young couple from different tribes who fell in love with each other. The girls belonged to the Giay group and the boy to the Nung group. The girl was so beautiful that her tribe did not want to let her get married with any man from other tribes.
Consequently, violent conflict arose between the two tribes. To stop the blood shedding, the two lovers sorrowfully decided to part. However, they planned to meet once a year on that day, lunar March 27th. The place where they used to meet is Khau Vai, which thereafter became a meeting place for all those in love.
2. Activities in Khau Vai Love Market Festival
The first day of the market session is for the ceremony to turn into the new calendar period. On this day, at a selected hour, people take a bath and put on their best clothes in anticipation of the New Year. They bring incense, lamps, flowers, and fruits to a pagoda where they join the great calendar-receiving ceremony.
Then the official ceremony is carried out inside the sanctuary. After that, every participant prays to Buddha and chant prayers for a happy new year. Young people walk out to the pagoda yard and join fun activities till late at night.
The second day is for the ceremony to offer boiled rice and heap up a sandy mountain. Every Khmer family cooks rice and offers it to Buddhist monks at the pagoda in the early morning and at noon.
In the afternoon, people start to heap up a sandy mountain for seeking happiness and luck. They make small mountains in eight directions and one in the middle reflects the universe. This custom originates from an age-old legend. It displays people’s aspirations for rain.
On the third day of the market, there comes the ceremony to wash the Buddha’s statue and Buddhist monks. In the afternoon, they burn incense, offer sacrifices and use scented water to wash the statue in order to pay tribute and gratitude to the Buddha. This is also to get rid of the old year’s misfortunes and wish all the best for the New Year.
After that, people return to their house and wash the Buddha’s statue at home. They offer dishes, confectionery and fruits to ask for happiness for their parents and grandparents and being forgiven for their mistakes made in the previous year.
3. How to Get There
If you are staying in Hanoi, it is better to start your journey through the Red Delta region. Turn into Quan Ba district. The roads may be a little bit sweeping so you need to be careful. Next, cross Ma Pi Leng Pass and you will reach Meo Vac. Follow the signposts on the roads or stop for asking the local people, you will get to Khau Vai Market.
4. What to Eat
When coming to Khai Vai Market Festival in Ha Giang, you will have a chance to enjoy a number of delicious food such as Au tau porridge, grilled alga, steamed egg rolls, buckwheat cake, carried-under-arm pork and so on. You can easily find these kinds of cuisine in any food stalls here.
5. Where to Stay
Ha Giang province owns a wide range of different hotels, motels or homestays for tourists to stay. Here are some suggestions for you.
Lila Inn Hotel
Location: 113 Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang, Vietnam
Tel: 093 913 7306
Location: Pho Quang, Vi Xuyen, Ha Giang
Tel: 0398 635 369
Maison Teahouse Homestay
Location: Phuong Do, Ha Giang
Tel: 0865 133 885
With the assistance of Ha Giang Culture and Information Department, Meo Vac district and Khau Vai commune authorities hold the traditional love market of Khau Vai frequently for the purpose of promoting the cultural identity of ethnic minority groups in the locality.