The Hill Tribes

Bahnar - Dzao - Ede - H'mong - Jarai - Muong - Nung - Sedang - Tay - Thai

Where To Visit The Hill Tribes


Pop: 550,000
Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Son La, Yen Bai
medicinal plants, opium, livestock
Belief system:
Cultural characteristics:
Since migrating from China in the 19th century, the H'mong have grown to become one of the largest ethnic groups in Vietnam. Numbering around half a million, they are spread across the far north, but most visitors will run into them in Sapa or Bac Ha . The H'mong are animist, and worship spirits.
The H'mong live at high altitudes and cultivate dry rice and medicinal plants (including opium), and raise animals. There are several groups within the H'mong, including Black, White, Red, Green and Flower, each of which has its own subtle dress code. One of the most recognisable are the Black H'mong, who wear indigo-dyed linen clothing, with women typically wearing skirts, aprons, retro leggings and cylindrical hats. The Flower H'mong women wear extrovert outfits, with bright rainbow banding and 70s-style sequins from head to toe. Many H'mong women wear large silver necklaces, earrings and clusters of silver bracelets.
The H'mong are also found in neighbouring Laos and Thailand and many have fled to Western countries as refugees. Their cultivation of opium has made them the target of much government suspicion over the years.