There's not a great deal of choice in the Bac Ha restaurant scene. Most places near the market are tourist friendly and offer standard Vietnamese dishes at slightly varying prices. At lunchtime on Sunday those attached to hotels, such as the Congfu, Ngan Nga and Sao Mai, fill up with noisy tourist groups.
One option not attached to a hotel is Hoang Yen, next to the parking lot at the end of Ngoc Uyen. Food is average Vietnamese fare but it's likely to be the liveliest place in the evening, as it's linked to Sapa Green Tours so attracts its customers as well as others overnighting in town. Thanh Son, opposite the bus station is another reasonably priced tourist-orientated choice.
If you're feeling brave then head to the food stalls in the market. At the end of the road where the bus station is, locals gather at low tables to eat; just point and pick. Or head to Pho Hien, near the slope up to the livestock market, which advertises that they “Serve with the cheapest Vietnamese food for tourists morning coffee”. Noodle soup is 30,000 to 40,000 VND – see the menu posted on the wall.
The market on Sunday is good for snacking options. Grab deep-fried sticky rice or banana for a few thousand dong, an ice cream cone, or a coffee – but be warned, we were charged 50,000 VND for a coffee by one stallholder so check the price first and go elsewhere if you're being overcharged.
Hoang Yen Restaurant: 9, Street 20 – 9, Bac Ha. T: (0912) 005 952, (0945) 378 198. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanh Son Restaurant: Across from the bus station, Bac Ha. T: (020) 388 0407. Hours: 06:00-22:00.