Sapa is home to many ethnic minorities such as Tay, Giay, H’mong, Red Dao, Xa Pho, Ha Nhi, etc. Their enticing life and long-established cultural identities arouse curiosity among visitors. Apparently, one of the most expecting and attractive activities you never want to miss out when visiting Sapa is to discover the local life. As a common idiom, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Before visiting the local house, let learn some basic information with these Sapa travel guide to have the best Sapa trip. Keep on exploring!
- 1. When entering the village – Sapa travel guide to have the best Sapa trip.
- 2. When visiting the house – Sapa travel guide to have the best Sapa trip.
- 3. Ethnic minorities abstain from whistling in the house – Sapa Travel Guide.
- 4. Daily life – What to notice when visiting local’s house?
1. When entering the village – Sapa travel guide to have the best Sapa trip.
Before coming to an ethnic house, we need to enter their village right? Read on some Sapa travel guide when entering the ethnic village to behave properly.
On the way entering Ha Nhi’s house, if you see a temporary gate hanging with wooden knives, swords, chicken wings, etc. that is when the villagers are holding a ceremony to drive away evil spirits.
The common ceremonies for worshiping the village gods, expelling evil spirits of the Tay, Thai, Giay, Lao, Bo y and Xa Pho, etc. are usually held annually in February or June and July of the lunar calendar.
Keep on reading this article on Ethnic groups in Sapa to learn more about them.
When worshipping, villagers put taboo signs that forbid strangers from entering the village like hanging green bunches of leaves at the high pillars on the road to their village or hanging bones of pig, buffalo and cow on fox’s eye shaped plates. No villagers go to work, nor allow strangers to enter their village.
If strangers unintentionally carry things, wear hats, use umbrellas, wear backpacks, etc. they will be punished by submitting a full number of offerings to remake the worshipping ceremony. In case of an emergency, if visitors want to enter the village immediately, they have to remove their hats, backpacks, shoulder bags and all belongings must be carried by hands. Note down these travel guides to behave properly.
There are forbidden forests in each ethnic village for worshipping supernatural forces. The worship place may be in a big tree or a big stone in the forest. The forbidden forest is the shared forest of the whole village. Villagers voluntarily protect the forest. No one is free to cut, defecate there. Boys and girls are not allowed to go there for chitchatting.
2. When visiting the house – Sapa travel guide to have the best Sapa trip.
And now you are around to enter an ethnic house. Check out the explicit Sapa tips when entering their house to have great Sapa tours.
Before visiting ethnic minority houses, visitors need to observe carefully. If there is a branch of green leaves or a branch of thorns or a fox’s-eye-shaped plate, all signals that the family doesn’t want the strangers to enter their house.
In the house of a Black Ha Nhi family, you can find two layers of doors. Guests are allowed to enter the first layer of door. If you want to enter the second door, you must get approval from the family. Thai people’s house has stairs, women can only go upstairs with the right yard (on their left-hand side), not up the stairs on the right-hand side. The most important position in the house (the wall of the middle room or the first corner of the house) is the place for worshipping ancestors.
The decoration for worship place of each ethnic group is different but sharing the same concept: the place of ancestor worship is the most sacred place. Guests are not allowed to place hats, accessories and other belongings there and do not touch worship objects.
When sitting, do not turn your back to the worship place. In Black Thai area, women are not allowed to go to the first room of the house – the place for ancestor worship. Black Ha Nhi Black family has two layers of doors, guests should only enter the first layer of the door. This travel guide helps visitors act suitably on their Sapa journey.
About the kitchen in their house:
There is a fire in the middle of the ethnic house which is the place for both cooking and welcoming guests. This place is considered a sacred place to worship the Kitchen King and the Fire God. Here comes the things you should remember: don’t place your foot over the fire or move the stone in the fire. Because these stones are the residence of the god of fire, according to the ethnic groups.
If you observe thoroughly when cooking, the Tay, Thai, Nung, Giay, Bo Y, Lao, Lu, etc. don’t turn two pans and pots to the way of the house’s crossbar (because that is the laying direction of the dead) but place them in the direction of the roof. In the Hmong, Dao and Ha Nhi areas, when putting firewood in the kitchen, do not put the tops first, because it is feared that the host daughter will later be born backwards. When sitting near the kitchen, do not turn around and stomp on the kitchen, do not use your feet to push wood into the kitchen, do not bake rice because ethnic people believe this action will lead to crop failure. Jot down this tip to enjoy a comfortable Sapa tour.
Refer to this Sapa trekking tour with homestay in Giang Ta Chai Village to directly experience how locals conduct their way of life.
3. Ethnic minorities abstain from whistling in the house – Sapa Travel Guide.
Another notice you should add to your own Sapa tips when visiting the ethnic house is that the ethnic minorities avoid whistling in their house. In the house of the ethnic people, the main gate and pillar are also sacred places to worship the god of the door and the pillar. Therefore, do not sit on a sill or hang a hat and lean on your back. In Thai, Tay, Khang, La Ha and Phu La abstain from bringing green leaves, green branches and green vegetables to the main door. People abstain from whistling in the house, because it is a signal to call ghosts and storms.
4. Daily life – What to notice when visiting local’s house?
If you meet any ethnic people on the way coming to their house, you should actively greet them with sincere attitudes, honest smiles and slightly nod your head. That will help erase the language barrier. When leaving, guests can shake hands, do not need to say goodbye but always smile. Do not rub your hands on the head of the Hmong’s and Dao’s children, because according to them, the souls reside in the head, when strangers touch the children’s head, the fearful souls will flee, making the children sick.
Besides, you need to avoid calling vulgar words like Cat, Man. You should call them with Mong, Dao. Do not speak too loudly with harsh, non-controversial gestures with the elderly, women and children.
When eating and drinking:
Each ethnic group has different opinions about the sitting position, so it should be noted not to sit in some special positions such as: in the row of chairs near the altar (in the Giay and Dao areas ) which is set aside for the oldest and the most valuable guest.
In Hmong community, when their parents die, the place at head of the table (near the altar) always leaves as vacant with the idea that the place is for their parents’ souls.
Thai, Tay and Muong people place two bowls next to the house-owner’s window with the intention of giving the ancestors their reception so that guests do not sit in that position. Moreover, be careful not to sit side by side with the most elderly in the house (if the host does not invite you), do not sit in front and turn your back on the altar, do not pick up the chicken head, the chicken feet, the chicken liver before the host asks and avoid talking to loudly when eating.
Before eating, you need to listen to the host to conduct the rituals to invite the ancestors, to bless the good things. Guests do not pour the wine first, do not pick up the food first, when finishing eating, absolutely do not put the cup, bow down the tray.
Follow this Top Sapa food to have more ideas about what we should eat when in Sapa.
Do not lie down along the roof of the house (only the dead can lie like that way). Do not use white mosquito net, don’t get up too late, don’t sleep under the altar.
Each house of ethnic minority people in Lao Cai has separate sleeping places for guests, so it is necessary to follow the arrangement of the owner, not to lay your feet on the altar. In some areas, the Mong, Dao, Thai, La Ha and Khang abstain from white curtains in the house.
You may feel a bit confused with these notices when visiting the ethnic house. Don’t worry, you can gradually get used to it when staying in homestay with locals.