San Thang fair, Lai Chau

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San Thang Market is located just 5km from the centre of Lai Chau Province. On market days, every colour in the spectrum can be seen here.

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San Thang Market is held every Thursday and Sunday. It typically runs from about 5am to 9am, but in harvest season it lasts longer, only dispersing near noon.

Many sellers come here with their own commodities, mostly hand-made and natural. With their earnings, they can buy essential products for their families, ranging from vegetables, meat, cassava and sweet potato, to glutinous rice dumplings, sugar cane or cloth, clothes, needles and thread.

San Thang Market is mostly crowded with people from the Mong, Giay, Dao, Thai, Lu and Kinh ethnic groups. They get up early and bring along to the market their traditional products such as towels, rattan chairs, incense, hand-woven cloth, or products they’ve harvested from the forest. Some sellers who live far from the market bring their goods by motorbike, travelling up to 40km. However, the majority of people who come to San Thang Market, even those living some distance away, travel by foot for commodity exchange.

What should be mentioned about San Thang Market is that it still retains the peculiar features of ethnic minority markets in this mountainous region. The market is colourful with the traditional costumes of people and their goods; the shimmering patterns on the towels, bags, shirts, pants and skirts of beautiful Dao and Lu girls; the silver buttons on the dresses of White Thai girls; and beaming smiles of Mong girls. Visitors are very excited at the bustling and colourful atmosphere of this market.

For a certain sector of market-goers, their purpose is not to buy things, but rather to meet and talk with friends, view the crowds, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the market with products being displayed prominently from along the road right into the market centre and village lanes. For these casual visitors to the market, the experience is simply about being there, meeting and making friends.

No one knows for certain when San Thang Market originally started. Local people consider the market not only the place for goods exchange, but also for cultural exchange.

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