Lao Cai,Can Cau Market,buffalo market
The buffalo trading lot at Can Cau Market.

This authentic and bustling market attracts hundreds of ethnic minority people who come to sell cattle and local products.

Can Cau Market opens along the side of Road 153, 30 kilometers from Bac Ha Town. It is surrounded by terraced rice fields and a view of rugged terrain that is truly awesome. On display are colorful handmade brocades, wild meats, fresh bamboo sprouts from the forest, farm produce, and farming equipment.

On a large trading lot, hundreds of buffalos are for sale from different districts of Lao Cai and far-flung regions of Ha Giang, Vietnam’s northern-most province. They are sold for breeding, ploughing, or for meat. Sellers and buyers bargain good-naturedly and vigorously.

It may take several market sessions for a buyer to find the buffalo that meets his requirements. A seller may not sell any buffalo when the market is closed. Lu Van Dao takes his herd of buffalos to Can Cau from Bac Ha Town at 4am. He has been a buffalo trader for 20 years. He may sell as many as 20 buffalos at a single market session. Ethnic people sell their buffalos in order to build a house, pay for their child’s marriage, or buy a new vehicle.   

“The number of buffalos traded last year declined as a result of COVID-19. But it has bounced back this year. I’ve never missed a market session in the last 20 years. Ethnic people consider buffalos a treasure, the foundation of their business. Only when they desperately need money do they sell their buffalos,” said Dao.


From shortly after dawn until noon, the Can Cau Market promotes ethnic culture. Mong, Black Dao, Tay, Nung, and Day ethnic minority people dress in their traditional costumes and sell their typical food specialties.

Tran Thanh Linh, a tourist from Hai Duong Province, said, “Can Cau Market is unique. It’s less noisy than Bac Ha Market. I come here not to buy buffalos but to look at everything, admire the beautiful ethnic women in their eye-catching clothes, and try the local food. Today I had buckwheat cakes, corn rice cakes, and ‘thang co’ - a soup made of horse meat and organs. The people here also invited me to drink some wine.”

Ethnic girls and boys come to Can Cau Market to find a partner or at least a date. They sing and dance to the panpipes and play a spinning top to give pique to a partner’s interest. Many ethnic people have found the love of their life in Can Cau Market.


Unique buffalo market in northern mountainous commune

Unique buffalo market in northern mountainous commune

Every Saturday morning, Si Ma Cai District in the northwestern mountainous province of Lao Cai bustles with a large-scale buffalo market on the National Highway 153 in Can Cau Commune.

The enticing sights and sounds of a mountainous market

The enticing sights and sounds of a mountainous market

Though not as busy as Sa Pa Market or Bac Ha Market, Can Cau Market in Si Ma Cai District, the northern province of Lao Cai, has its own unique features that have existed for hundreds of years among locals.