Gau Tao Festival, a unique cultural festival of H’mong ethnic minority in Sapa

For almost foreign tourists, Sapa is always one of the first destination that they choose to visit when traveling in Vietnam. Not only breathtaking natural scenery but unique culture and customs of ethnic groups living in Sapa also enchants any tourist to learn and discover. The spring is the most ideal occasion to make an excursion to Sapa to enjoy a whole white space of blooming peach and plum trees and take part in traditional cultural festivals of ethnic minorities living here. Among traditional spring festivals in Sapa, Gau Tao is considered the most typical festival of the H’mong people, the largest ethnic group in Sapa.


Gau Tao festival is an important traditional festival of H’mong ethnic people

Gau Tao festival has long been considered as one of the most important traditional festival of H’mong ethnic people and been preserved for many years by H’mong ethnic minorities living in the districts of Muong Khuong, Bac Ha, Si Ma Cai and Phong Hai town. The festival is regularly held from 1st to 15th of lunar January to pray for good health, happiness and lucky children. The foot of Fansipan Mountain is usually place to hold Gau Tao festival, where there is Ngu Chi Son beautiful mountain, a destination for tourists each spring.


Young girls and boys perform traditional dances

One day before the festival, the leader of each village will inform to families about the event and in the early morning of the festival’s first day, villagers gather at the area where the festival takes place with new and colorful traditional costumes, necklaces and bracelets of H’mong ethnic groups. Gao Tau festival consists of two main parts: the ritual and the festival. At the ritual, each family will prepare a meal for their ancestors on the family altar and a shaman will help them to connect with their ancestors, call their souls to return and pray for them. In the center of area holding the festival, the shaman will cultivate a high tree with an alcohol bag and a red strip to call for Gods and announce to the whole village that the festival officially begins. Also at the festival part, young girls and boys begin singing their popular songs in praise of the village and the love songs and performing traditional dances. After that, hundreds of people go to fields or hills to take part in traditional games like pushing sticks, catching goats while blindfolded, shooting crossbows and climbing. Moreover, Gau Tao festival is also a special occasion for young girls and boys to meet each other and find their love via cultural activities in the festival.


The vibrant and colorful atmosphere of Gau Tao festival

Travel Advisory:

– For tourists who want to learn and discover the mysteries in ethnic minorities’ customs and habits, traveling Sapa in spring is an ideal option to participate in traditional cultural festivals of ethnic people living here. These traditional festivals will offer tourists a deep insight into cultural life of ethnic minorities in Sapa via rituals and traditional activities.

– When visiting Gau Tao festival or any traditional festival in Sapa, you should take part in traditional activities along with villagers to feel fully the vibrant atmosphere of festivals and learn about customs and habits of ethnic people living here.


Tet Nhay festival of Dao ethnic group  is usually held on the 1st or 2nd in Lunar New Year in Ta Van Village, Sapa

– In addition to Gau Tao festival, spring in Sapa is also an occasion to take place many other traditional festivals such as: Roong Poc of Day ethnic group in Ta Van Village, Giao Duyen festival of Red Dao ethnic group in Ta Phin, Tet Nhay festival of Dao people in Ta Van and so on.


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