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Other names: Cao Lan, San Chi, Man Cao Lan, and Hon Ban


147,315 people


They live mainly in Tuyen Quang, Thai Nguyen, and Bac Giang provinces. In addition, there are communities of San Chay in Quang Ninh, Yen Bai, Lang Son, and Vinh Phuc provinces.

Customs & Habits

Ancestral worship is widely practised but is influenced by Buddhism, Taoism, and also Confucianism. San Chay people usually build their houses level to the ground. In fact, the San Chay house resembles the “Buffalo Genie”, the four pillars of the house symbolize the four legs of the buffalo. The paths around the house represent the ribs, and the roof represents the backbone. One of the two corners of the penthouse is usually used as the altar for the ancestors and is regarded as the holiest section of the house.

The San Chay inhabitants belong to various family lineages, each lineage having several branches. The father is the head of the family. After a wedding, the wife lives with her parents and she settles permanently at the husband’s house only after her first childbirth.


The language of the San Chay is classified with the Tay-Thai Group. The San Chay have many old tales, folk songs, proverbs, and sayings. A particularly popular cultural activity is the “sinh ca”, an alternating love song chant. Their musical instruments include castanets, small copper bells, cymbals, wind instruments, and drums.


The modern attire of the San Chay tends to resemble the Kinh or Tay.


The San Chay cultivates wet rice and agriculture, which plays an important role in their livelihood.