The Tay
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The Tay

Mountain Farmers

Mountain Farmers

Tay people are the second largest ethnic group in Vietnam. Communities can be found all around the country; however, most of them inhabit the northern territories, where the soil is more fertile for agriculture. Because of historical reasons, going back to 1000 years ago, Tay people are very well respected by the Vietnamese, with they share many cultural characteristics, and they contributed to the war against the Tong dynasty from China.


  • Region is Southern Asia

  • Climate here is Tropical

  • The challenge here is Intense

  • This trip has been rated 5 by other travelers



Tay people live off agricultural farming, for which they are known to be very able. Wet rice, dry rice, crops, fruit trees, cassava, sweet potatoes, corn are their speciality, and they also breed cattle and poultry. They usually sell their products in local markets, which is the most important economic activity for a household.


Tay villages are usually built at the foot of a mountain, and the official name is given after a mountain, field, or river. Villages have around 15-20 households, some have over a hundred homes, and houses are built with wooden stilt with tile or palm leaf roofs.


Social Structure

Tay people have a very close relationship with their ancestors and men rule the house; families have a very close-knit bond, and the honorarium of the ancestors and it is an essential aspect of their social life. Usually, the altar dedicated to the family members is the grandest part of the house, and traditional living Tays marry the person in the same parentage.


Most Tay practice Then indigenous religion. Their religious system includes different protective gods, of the natural environment, and they worship the ancestors. The religion has elements of Taoism and the Chinese folk religion.


Tays have a rich tradition of poems, songs, epics, tales, stories, and dance. Folk songs are performed for religious practices, weddings and funerals, and are very important to the communities. The "Dan Tinh” instrument accompanies all these processions.


They speak Tay language which belongs to the Tay-Thai language group.


Tay people are well known to be skilled weavers. The traditional costumes are straightforward; usually, they include indigo-blue clothes. However, their weaved products are very well ornate with intricate patterns.


Long Tong Festival is one of the most important for the Tay people. Usually celebrated from the second to the 30th of Lunar January but dates can differ among other ethnic minorities celebrating the same festivity. In this occasion, Tays pray to the God of Agriculture for a good harvesting year.

Nang Hai Festival is very popular, it starts from the beginning of Lunar January and ends after the second week of Lunar March. Tays believe that a Fairy Mother and other twelve fairies live on the moon and control the weather.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

Alcohol for the Cao Bang area communities is a vital cultural aspect. Members of the community use rice, corn, sweet potatoes, sugarcane and bananas to make alcoholic beverages. Traditionally, when guests arrive at a family house, a drink is offered as a welcoming gesture, especially before starting the conversation!

Photo credits

Ha Giang province, Vietnam Mikkers

"Candid Street" by Rod Waddington is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

"Hmong Woman" by Rod Waddington is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

"File:2007 1202 Tai Dam woman Yunnan.jpg" by Takeaway is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Pho Cao market, Ha Giang

Old house, Ha giang Truc Nguyen