Guidebook Inside the world of northern Vietnam’s ethnic minorities

Sense of Place

Inside the world of northern Vietnam’s ethnic minorities

The Hmong are “concentrated in the mountainous north of the country and usually live at high altitudes,” explains Scribol. The Hmong people are one of Vietnam’s largest ethnic minorities (around 900,000 people) and are one of different ethnic categories that co-exist and “can easily be identified by the way they dress and their traditions.” The Black Hmongs are “best known for their handicraft and their traditional indigo blue dress,” while Flower Hmongs wear colorful clothes, “and it is not difficult to find them during market day.” The H'mong are “famous for their embroidery and also batik,” explains Global Wanderings.    

Another ethnic minority in the north are the Dao, reports the UK Telegraph, an ethnic minority that is one of 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. They live in a remote, mountainous region 50 miles from the Chinese border and have a distinctive look -- the women wear “black tunic and trousers embroidered with red-and-white patterned panels, red scarf and headdress.” Both the Dao and the Hmong, who are found most densely along the Lao and Chinese borders, “build their houses on the ground rather than stilts,” says Global Wanderings.  

Many tribes are so assimilated they don’t “even dress in traditional garb,” says Off Road Vietnam. “Most of those who do are found in the remote villages of the far north, and even there it is often only the women who do so, while the men more typically have switched over to Vietnamese or Western-style clothes,” while modernisation like the introduction of electricity, modern medicine and education have “brought about the abandonment of many age-old traditions.” Another outside influence on the ethnic minorities is “the effect of tourism … in some areas, such as Sapa and Bac Ha, adorable children who used to just stare, laugh or run away at the sight of a foreigner have begun to warm up, often expecting handouts of money or candy.”

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