Inside a Traditional H'Mong Community Home in Sapa, Vietnam
Traditional H'Mong Community Home | Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
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 Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Front yard full of firewood for wintertime and upcoming Vietnamese new year Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
A figure eight to help their mom practice her motorbike driving skills Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Tra’s mom hangs dyed cloth in front of the house Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Rice bags in storage to get through to the next harvest Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Looking out the front door in Ta Van Village Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Living room to welcome relatives, guests, and also a place for family meals Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Image of President Ho Chi Minh, along with certificates of merit and photos of relatives Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
The kitchen in a H'Mong home Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Dishes and utensils in the kitchen Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
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 from the main entrance of the house Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
The traditional kettle Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Rice stored in a plastic container for daily meals Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
There are five bedrooms in the house, most separated with curtains Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Tools used by Tra’s father for forest trips and gardening Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
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.
Working in the kitchen Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Warm family time Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
Family dogs taking a nap Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
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 jacket Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip
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, his wife and their three sons Vu Pham Van / © Culture Trip