Ban Pho Village - Lovely little village

By Custom Vietnam Travel | Updated 1/5/2019

Despite being surrounded by countryside just as lush and interesting as Sapa, Bac Ha has somehow flown under the radar as a trekking base so far. When tourists get there, they can’t miss Ban Pho village. In town, wood smoke fills the morning air, the main street is completely bereft of hawkers, and chickens and pigs snuffle for scraps in the back lanes where a small clutch of traditional adobe houses valiantly clings on in the age of concrete.

Ban Pho Village - Sapa

Ban Pho village is an upland commune of Bac Ha district, Lao Cai. It takes you about 15 minutes from Bac Ha town you can catch the Taxi or Xe Om (10 minutes) but most travellers want to trek here. It is absolutely great and you can slowly walk and see around, talking with the local people, take interesting pictures to belong with you on the way. Travelling on winding roads clinging to the slopes of Hoang Lien Son mountain range, you will see the verdant valley of corn and tender rice coloured beneath and immense plum forest in both sides, tourists will meet Ban Pho Village. It is home to Mong Hoa ethnic minority, who use “Quan Hoa” language – a kind of language in ethnic minority alongside the northern frontier – in their daily life. Thanks to the charming natural scenery and friendly people, Ban Ho village today becomes one of the new tourist attractions, travellers should go during their Sapa tours in, it is about 100km from the centre of Sapa, it takes around one hour and a haft to go there by car. Normally, it is one of the destinations for tourists when they have been travelling to Sapa for a few days.

A small house in Ban Pho village

Go further pass Tam Hoa plum forest then visit Ban Pho village, tourists will definitely enjoy the wonderful breath-taking view of Bac Ha highland. From a distance, the village looks like a lively picture and simply – don’t expect bright lights and loud music. Despite the lack of material possessions, locals make up for in their extreme hospitality. You can ask them for free accommodations and they always treat you like their relatives. The village is surrounded by mountainous specialities, especially the unmistakable smell of corn wine. From the distance, the rood like the hanging nests on cliffs. It almost looks, but to be there, the travellers must also reserve slope for sweating. As same as other villages in Sapa, It is home to ethnic people, especially Mong Hoa, according to this group, Ban Ho village converges more than 500 households with over 3000 inhabitants. Their houses are built close to the ridge; the floor is often lower and airtight with mostly wooden materials. There is always a fireplace inside, dried meat serving all year round.

The little beautiful children in Ban Pho Village

As I said before, this is the village of Flower H’Mong people. H’Mong people had settled down in this village a very long time ago and built their houses on stilts with Pomu wood. Furthermore, the Hmong villagers are some of the kindest people you’ll meet in Vietnam. If you visit around noon you may be invited to lunch, though that can be a mixed blessing. Perhaps, you can ask them for free accommodations and they always treat you like their relatives.

One of the traditional crafts in Ban Pho Village is weaving with cotton and linen. The locals also dress clothing woven by them. Girls usually wear wide skirts with many brilliant and eye-catching vignettes; meanwhile, boys have on clothing is woven black fabric. Ethnic people in Ban Pho Village live mainly on rice cultivation, weaving, and cultivation of medicinal plants.

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Enjoying the beautiful atmosphere of local people

In particular, Mong people here also own a typical handicraft product which is now well-known in the country and attracts a large number of international tourists. That is Ban Pho corn wine product. If having a chance to visit any family in the village in cooking time, tourists will be certainly surprised at strings of buffalo, cow, goat or meat... which are hung on the kitchen ceiling. That is how to make unique bacon of the locals in Ban Pho Village. In particular, the hosts are really kind to invite tourists to enjoy a glass of freshly distilled wine which is still warm with a delicious bacon dish. The friendliness also contributes to bring Sapa travel closer to tourists. It is so wonderful for visitors who travel to the Sapa at the very first time.

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A woman is making the special corn wine in Ban Pho Village

Ban Pho is very famous for its speciality “corn wine”. Ethnic people here are very proud of corn wine. Bac Ha has many wine villages but the best and famous one is Ban Pho wine. It is no coincidence that in Ban Pho, corn planted area up to 300 ha, while only 82 ha of paddy land. Especially, when you step into any houses of Flower Hmong ethnic people in Ban Pho village, tourists can find easy the place for making wine. The flavour of corn and wine appears throughout the upland space, especially on the occasion of the fair in Bac Ha, Can Cau and days of Tet holiday. Regarding methods, Ban Pho wine does not require any fancy and complicated elements; however, to create the distinctive flavour of Ban Pho corn wine, the makers have their own traditional secret. According to the locals, to get the delicious Ban Pho corn wine, the corn must be grown and cared right at the land and the climate here. Utensil used for making wine is a large cast iron pan which is covered with a wooden bucket and put on stove 3m² wide. The fire has to burn continually to ensure the quality of the wine. On average, 3 kg of corn produces 1 litre of wine about 40-45º. Each family will usually make about 20 litres of wine in the fair. Ban Pho corn wine is one of the indispensable products in the upland fairs in any Sapa Tours.

H'mong musical instrument in Ban Pho Village

In particular, Hmong ethnic people in Ban Pho Village also love using many instruments, the most characteristic of which is the panpipe and "dan moi" (lip lute). On the day of Tet holiday or fairs, Hmong young boys and girls usually use their panpipe to call their lovers and immerse in love singing. Along with plums, pears, peaches, Ban Pho corn wine, the wafting sounds of music, Ban Pho village in particular and Sapa tourism in general always leave a special impression to tourists in mind about the pristine land and the friendly hospitable local people.

If you want to see what a real Montagnard village looks like, coming to Ban Pho village is your chance.

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