Pa Co Market – Meet H’Mong and Thai Ethnic Minorities

Pa Co Market is the gathering point of two ethnic minorities, Hmong from Moc Chau and Thai from Mai Chau. Both come here to trade goods and socialize. You can find a lot of their craft and traditional clothes, all of which are very colorful.
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Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

Croatian-Slovenian full-time travel duo, photographers, bloggers and travel journalists for over 4 years. We write in-depth travel guides about destinations we have personally visited, providing practical travel tips and recommendations.

About Pa Co Market

Like many more remote markets in the north of Vietnam, Pa Co Market also serves as the best possible insight into the life of the ethnic minorities of the area. Locals come here to sell and buy all kinds of products from clothes and food to tools needed for work.

Hmong in Vietnam primarily reside in the mountainous northern part of the country and are among the most significant ethnic minorities there.

Like Hmong, the Thai ethnic minority also mostly lives around the northern mountains of Vietnam and is also one of the largest ones, with over 1 million people.

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How to get to Pa Co Market

Getting to Pa Co Market is not too hard, but it requires a 40 minutes drive from both Moc Chau and Mai Chau, as it’s right in the middle between both of them (📍). Tours are going to the Pa Co Market from Mai Chau as the market is quite touristic, but the easiest way is to just drive there yourself with a motorbike. It’s a nice scenic route, so you won’t regret driving yourself.

TRAVEL TIP: We usually rent a bike through our homestay in smaller places as it’s the easiest that way. The price for an automatic one should be around 150k VND per day ($6.5).

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What to do

Try traditional costumes

This is the best place to try on some beautiful traditional clothes. There’s probably a chance to pay only to try the clothes on and take photos in it as we saw a few tourists doing that. However, the costumes aren’t too expensive, so go ahead and buy a piece. I, Arijana, really loved their colorful skirts and still regret not buying one.

Local clothes at Pa Co Market, Mai Chau
View of the Tu San Canyon

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Grab a breakfast

We had ourselves a nice breakfast with the snacks from the lady just at the entrance to the market. She sells wonderful fried “market snacks,” some of which are filled with bananas and other delicious goodness. One costs like 2 000 VND, which would be like 8 cents.

Snacks at Pa Co Market in Vietnam

Buy some fruits

They have a great selection of fruits here, and we bought a kilogram of tasty persimmon and a watermelon.

Buy souvenirs

With all the colorful crafts, there’s surely going to be something that catches your eye.

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Best time to visit Pa Co Market

Pa Co Market takes place every Sunday morning, so definitely visit on a Sunday; the sooner, the better. If you want to avoid bus tours, come right before/after sunrise. This is the time when the market is the most “raw” or “local,” so to say.

We came before sunrise, and as we were jumping around shooting and filming the locals, we got to see all the action of preparing the stalls for customers. Matej has sold plant seedlings on markets for many years, and he loves the vibe of the preparation time the most.

Also, keep in mind that the market usually finishes at around 11:00, when it gets too hot, and people have to return home to continue working on other stuff.

Additionally, if you come at the rice harvest time, count on the market finishing even sooner.

Pa Co Market, Vietnam

Is there an entrance fee for Pa Co Market

No, there is no entrance fee or ticket for Pa Co Market. It’s a regular market. You are supposed to buy something anyway. 😀

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Overall experience

We loved Pa Co Market. Even though it’s pretty touristic, it still feels so real and raw, with many locals coming to the market to buy stuff they need. Everyone there was so friendly, and we loved the atmosphere, so we stayed almost till the end. If you go to Mai Chau, Pa Co is a must!

Want to know what else to do in the area? – Read more in our Mai Chau Valley Guide.

To see a bit more of the atmosphere of Pa Co Market, check out our video on YouTube.

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Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

Full-time travelers, photographers, bloggers and travel journalists.

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We're Arijana and Matej, a couple and travel blogging duo from Croatia and Slovenia who thrive while slow-traveling. And we have been doing it for over 4 years.

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