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Inside a Traditional H'Mong Community Home in Sapa, Vietnam

Traditional H'Mong Community Home
Traditional H'Mong Community Home | Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Picture of Matthew Pike
Writer
Updated: 4 April 2018
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For visitors going to the mountainous areas of northern Vietnam, a trip into a H’Mong village is an absolute must if you want to see traditional life in the region. We were fortunate enough to be invited into the home of local family, and here is what we saw.

The H’Mong village of Tả Van

The family lives in Tả Van Mong, which is just south of Sapa. There are three sons and two daughters in the family. Both daughters work as tour guides — a popular job in the region — while the youngest son is still in high school. The oldest son has a family of his own now, and while the mother and father were away when we visited, their fourth son, Trà, showed us around their home.

View of H’Mong home from the road, near Sapa, Vietnam
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
View of H’Mong home from the road, near Sapa, Vietnam
Firewood for wintertime and the upcoming Vietnamese new year
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Firewood for wintertime and the upcoming Vietnamese new year
A figure eight to help their mom practice her motorbike driving skills
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
A figure eight to help their mom practice her motorbike driving skills
Trà’s mom hangs dyed cloth in front of the house
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Trà’s mom hangs dyed cloth in front of the house
Rice bags in storage to get through to the next harvest
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Rice bags in storage to get through to the next harvest
Looking out the front door in Tả Van Village
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Looking out the front door in Tả Van Village
Living room to welcome relatives and guests, and to have family meals
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Living room to welcome relatives and guests, and to have family meals
Image of President Ho Chi Minh, along with certificates of merit and photos of relatives
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Image of President Ho Chi Minh, along with certificates of merit and photos of relatives
The kitchen in a H’Mong home
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
The kitchen in a H’Mong home
Dishes and utensils in the kitchen
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Dishes and utensils in the kitchen

It takes a family

Everyone in the family has a role. The father does most of the farm work, while their mother — in addition to her tasks around the home — makes H’Mong clothing to be sold in Sapa center. To make the clothing, she must dye the linens and do the embroidery by hand. The famous colorful garments of the H’Mong people take a lot of effort to make because of the intricate colors and patterns.

View looking in the main entrance
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
View looking in the main entrance
The traditional kettle
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
The traditional kettle
Rice stored in a plastic container for daily meals
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Rice stored in a plastic container for daily meals
There are five bedrooms in the house, most separated with curtains
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
There are five bedrooms in the house, most separated with curtains
Tools used by Trà’s father for forest trips and gardening
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Tools used by Trà’s father for forest trips and gardening

Tourism and the H’Mong people

One of the most popular activities for foreign tourists is a stay with a H’Mong family. Sapa city is developing quickly and already feels a world apart from the surrounding mountain villages. To really experience the area, arrange a visit with one of the many H’Mong people who work in the city. Trà, who was kind enough to show us around, works at a homestay in town. He makes the arrangements for tourists and cooks excellent meals. It’s his dream to open his own homestay in a few years.

Making warm drinks in the kitchen
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Making warm drinks in the kitchen
Warm family time
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Warm family time
Family dogs taking a nap
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Family dogs taking a nap

H’Mong fashions

Below, we see Trà’s sister-in-law wearing her traditional H’Mong outfits. She only wears these clothes for special occasions, such as a wedding or the lunar new year. She wears an older outfit for work because her new one costs almost 20 million VND ($880 USD). Her silver necklace is equally that expensive.

Traditional H’Mong clothing
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Traditional H’Mong clothing
Traditional H’Mong jacket
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Traditional H’Mong jacket

Visiting their home

To visit this home, it takes approximately 40 minutes to travel there from Sapa center. Skip the right turn to Tả Van Village and drive straight for five more minutes to find Tả Van Mong. Ask for Thao A Sinh’s House at a convenience store named Giang Su (Giang Sự) on the right hand side. They’ll point you to a small road leading into the valley.

Family photo: Mr Thao A Sinh and his family
Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Family photo: Mr Thao A Sinh and his family
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