Home Travel Guide Sapa Town Must-Know Taboos Of Local Ethnic Villages in Sapa

Must-Know Taboos Of Local Ethnic Villages in Sapa

Sapa is a great place to visit if you plan to discover the Northwest area of Vietnam. Sapa become one of the must-see places in the list of many travelers because once visiting Sapa, you will be never able to forget not only the natural beauty but also the uniquely featured culture and custom of the local ethnic minorities such as H’mong, Red Dao, Tay, Thai, Xa Pho, Dzay people who are well-known for their hospitality and generosity.

There is a famous saying: “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Similarly, when you visit the local ethnic minority villages in Sapa, you need to abide the rules and their customs. Therefore, it’s useful to put the below suggestions in your travel guide in order to avoid the unexpected trouble during your visit there.

 1. When you enter someone’s house

One of the taboos when visiting Black Ha Nhi’s house, you can see two door layers, in this case, you should only walk through the first door layer. And once the landlord agrees, you will be allowed to walk inside.
The other important note, you need to respect the ancestor altar, putting any personal belongings on the altar, even touching it or sitting with the back toward to the altar is not allowed also.
In Mong’s house, there is often one highest pillar and it is said that there is a ghost living in that pillar. Tourists are not allowed to hang clothes on it or lean against that “soul” pillar.


2. Strangers visiting villages in God worshiping moment are tabooed

Walking around villages is a common interest of many travelers; however, sometimes you can see a bunch of green leaves being hung on the top the tall pole inside villages such as Cat Cat, Ta Van, Ta Phin … That is a signal of recommending you not to go into the village. It means that, the local is worshiping gods or dispelling the evil spirits and they do not want other people to come in or bother. If the visitors commit the taboo, he or she has to submit everything to worship the gods of village again.


3. Visiting holy worshiping areas without permission

The fact, there are several holy public worshiping areas in the village such as a forbidden forest, a luxuriant old tree or a god worshiping stone where are really clean, beautiful and cool. And nevertheless, tourists should keep walking, should not stop to take a rest, chat, eat and drink or throw the rubbish in the village.

Also, you should avoid making noise when visiting the ethnic villages because the local ethnics consider whistling as a sound of calling the devils back to the village, also it may break the peaceful and quiet atmosphere of the village.


4. Communicating with a warm-hearted attitude

If you are strolling around the village or get invited to visit someone’s house in Sapa, it’s better to actively greet the local people with a warm-hearted attitude and a happy smile to eliminate the differences in language. Shaking hands for saying goodbye is highly recommended.

If you have chance to communicate with H’Mong people, you should not talk with pointing toward the landlord, he/she will think you are not satisfied or do not respect the person you are talking to.


5. In the meal

The seat position is also important for the ethnic minority people in Sapa. And it will be easy for the visitors to meet this unexpected troubles if they do not know about the local’s taboos such as when you get invited to have lunch/ dinner with the local, for example the Dzay or Dao people, they consider the seats next to the altar are for the oldest and the honored guests. While H’Mong people leave those seats blank for their parents who have passed away. In Thai, Tay or Muong custom, people often put two little cups next to the window, which means their ancestors will come back this way to welcome guests. Therefore, before starting the meal, you need to listen to the rituals of inviting ancestors and blessings patiently and carefully and especially should not take the food or drink before the owners start.

To sum up, whenever we go, there will be some rules or taboo that we need to avoid the unexpected troubles when visiting that place and Sapa is one of the examples. Hopefully, you find that information useful and if you need additional info about the tours in Sapa, please contact us.

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