September 21, 2014

1236 VIETNAM (Northwest) - The pig market in Sa Pa

Located in Lào Cai Province in northwest Vietnam, close to the border with China, at 380 km north-west of Hanoi, Sa Pa is a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. Besides the Kinh (Viet) people (15%) there are mainly 5 ethnic groups in Sapa: Hmong 52%, Dao 25%, Tay 5%, Giay 2% and a small number of Xa Pho. Approximately 7,000 live in Sapa, the other 36,000 being scattered in small communes throughout the district with the same name.

The Kinh never originally colonised this highest of Việt Nam’s valleys, which lies in the shadow of Phan-Xi-Pǎng (Fansipan - 3143m), the highest peak in the country. Most of the ethnic minority people work their land on sloping terraces, and the unique climate in Sapa, with sub-tropical summers, temperate winters and 160 days of mist annually, has a major influence on their lives. Famous for its natural beauty and landscapes, cool and fresh air, the town is best known as one of the main market ones in the area.

A specific merchandise in the area is pork cắp nách (pig carried under armpit), so called because it has maximum 10kg. Actually It is “home pig”, but it’s raised in the field or in the forest. Such a pig, spiced before frying, is very tasty and the meat is tender and fatless, but sweetish. It is very thin: the first layer is a crisp skin then a soft sweet layer of pulp, just 2 centimeters thick. Not long ago, this type of pork was almost wiped out because it couldn’t be sold and no one wanted to feed it anymore.

All of a sudden, piglets are now promoted and become a specialty of Sapa which is admired by tourists. If visitors want to buy piglets, just go to the edge of forests and take whichever piglets that they can catch. Strangely, the big and small piglets are at the same price. The owner says that: when the customer comes next time, the small ones will have become the big ones, so small and big ones aren't different.

About the stamps

The stamps are part of a series of Bears, issued on April 1, 2012, and depicting the two bear species which live in Vietnam. Both species are listed in the Vietnamese Red Book as Endangered, and the publishing of these stamps aims to raise public awareness on bear and endangered wildlife conservation in this country.
Moon Bear / Ursus thibetanus (2000 VND)
Sun Bear / Ursus malayanus (4500 VND) - it's on the postcard
• Sun Bear / Ursus malayanus (8500 VND) - it's on the postcard
• Moon Bear / Ursus thibetanus (10500 VND)
• Moon Bear / Ursus thibetanus (14500 VND)

This is a post for Sunday Stamps #188, run by Viridian from Viridian’s Postcard Blog. The theme of this week is: mammals. Click on the button to visit Viridian’s blog and all the other participants.

Sa Pa - Wikipedia
Lon Muong Cap Nach - Sapa -
Lon Muong cap nach - Hoang Ha Sapa Hotel official website

Sender: Chu Manh Trung
Sent from Ho Chi Minh City (Southeast Region / Vietnam), on 12.03.2014


  1. First catch your pig! I think them cute whatever size so wouldn't want to eat them. I've never associated bears with Vietnam, interesting.

  2. They have long tongues! Why do I always thing of the USA for bears, except for the polar bear of course. I rarely see stamps from Vietnam. I found that even the chimpanzee is an endangered species now.

  3. Thank you for taking us on a trip to rural Viet Nam. It's sad to hear of yet another endangered species.

  4. I didn't even realize Viet Nam had bears, so these stamps have helped raise some awareness! I like how they are called Sun and Moon bears.

  5. That kind of animal look like a combination of monkey and bear. so unique.

    Willa @ Postage Journal