Bac Ha market, Vietnam. No more.
Sadly, the famous Bac Ha market in Lao Cai province in Vietnam has been destroyed in the name of "progress" and tourism.... It was a famous market, and very popular with photographers because of the many Hill Tribe groups that would assemble there on Sunday, and because of their brightly colored clothing. It was also a special place because the locals seemed to go about their usual business and socializing, seemingly unaware, or tactfully ignoring the throngs of tourists that show up by tour bus. I was there about 2 weeks ago, and the original area has ben totally destroyed and is under construction, no doubt by the government trying to "improve" the marketability of this place to foreign tourists. A new area is now being used, but it is covered by ugly blue tarps, and (the background / lighting / environment) is not nearly as photo friendly as before. Furthermore, the streets leading to and from the market are now totally crowded with tourist booths run by the Vietnamese, the consumate middleman, selling cheap machine made "hill tribe" crafts. It was a sad surprize for me when I turned up at Bac Ha, but it seems an inevitable turn of events. Often tourism kills or corrupts the very thing that it loves. "Traditional hill tribe market in North West Vietnam", is no more.