The market takes place almost every day of the week. The weekend is the time for the locals. There are various ethnic groups everywhere. People arrive early morning to eat horse soup and steamed corn wheat, as well as savour some corn wine. This is the time to find most stalls open and ready for business. It is also the most crowded period for the market. You can find local goods here.
The Sapa Market has grown and become much more of a commercial hub in recent years. You can also find imitations of local goods which have come across the border from China. You can get supplies for hiking, biking and other activities you might want to do around Sapa. There’s a bigger selection of goods here than in the shops. The locals are modernising quickly. You’ll see Hmong and Dao drinking eating soup while playing on a smartphone. There are no set prices. You’ll need to haggle. Find out the process you expect to pay and bargain hard.
Bac Ha Market and Coc Ly Market are much more localised markets and places to find a wider range of authentic produce. Bac Ha is brimming with villagers on Sunday morning, who do their weekly shopping. Coc Ly opens on a Tuesday morning for those who missed the Sunday shop. It’s a nice experience to visit a mountainside market with locals. It’s quite a trip. Be prepared to leave before sunrise if you want to go to any of the mountain markets.
Sapa market is open every day. The market gets busy at weekends. The other markets are around 2-3 hours drive. A private driver or a tour is recommended for this.