The Tay Ethnic Group in Vietnam


Most of Tay ethnic people live in midland region and North Vietnam’s mountainous areas. For example: Cao Bang, Lang Son, Cao Bang, Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang, Bac Kan, Yen Bai, Thai Nguyen… Recently, the Tay have emigrated to the central highlands.

So, on trips to Ba Be Lake or Ban Giooc WaterFalls (Cao Bang) or Mai Chau (Hoa Binh) you will meet Tay people in Vietnam.

The Tay Ethnic Group in Vietnam


Tay language belongs to the Tay-Thai language group (Tai-Kadai language family).


Tay traditional dress is made from homegrown cotton that is indigo dyed. There is usually not much embroidery or other decorations. Women wear skirts or trousers, with short shirts inside and long one worn on the outside. The Ngan group wears shorter shirts, the Phen group wears brown shirts, the Thu Lao group wears conical-shaped scarves on their heads, the Pa Di group wears hats that look like house roofs, and the Tho group tend to dress like the Thai in Mai Chau (Hoa Binh province).


The Tay have settled in valleys in the Northeastern part of the country: Quang Ninh, Bac Giang, Lang Son, Cao Bang, Bac Can, Thai Nguyen, Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai. Their villages are characteristically large and crowded, and there are villages with hundreds of houses.
The Tay traditional house is built on stilts with a frame of rafters and 4, 5, 6, or 7 rows of columns. A house has from 2 to 4 roofs made from tiles, straw, or palm leaves. Wood or bamboo is used to make the walls.


Young Tay men and women are free to love and to date each other. However, the decision to become husband and wife depends on their parents and whether their fates match each other’s suitably. That’s why in the marriage proceedings, the groom’s family asks for the bride’s fortune to be read and then brings it home to compare it to the fortune of their son. After the wedding, the wife stays with her parents until she is pregnant. It is only before giving birth that the wife goes to her husband’s family to live.


The culture of Tay is very diversified. They usually hold various kinds of ceremony regarding production, human life, wedding, funeral…. There is a rich folklore with many poems, dances, songs.


The villages of Tay ethnic group are often located by the base of the mountain or stream. The name of villages is often given after a hill, mountain, rice field, or river. Each village has around 15 or 20 households. The large villages are divided in to small hamlets. They live in thatched stilt houses.

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