Nga, Si La Ethnic Group, Vietnam

Si La Ethnic Group Kids, Vietnam

Study­ing is hard but it is fun. I love going to school. When I grow up, I want to be a singer. Because singers are beautiful!”

We often hang out with each oth­er every day. We wear tra­di­tion­al clothes to school on Mon­day. We all have it.”

Nga, 9 years old
Si La Eth­nic Group
Lai Chau, Vietnam.

Around 150 years ago 7 Si La fam­i­lies left Laos due to harsh con­di­tions and set­tled in Viet­nam. There are few­er than 1,000 Si La peo­ple liv­ing in Viet­nam, mak­ing them one of the small­est eth­nic groups in the coun­try. That isn’t to say they aren’t grow­ing. If you com­pare cen­sus num­bers from 2009 to 2019 the Si La have grown from 709 to 909 mem­bers in Vietnam.

Nga and her friends live in a remote moun­tain vil­lage with a rich cul­ture. Some­times when explor­ing the eth­nic vil­lages in Viet­nam on the sur­face it might not seem like they have a strong cul­ture or own tra­di­tion­al clothes, but we’ve learned that if you get to know them a bit bet­ter it can be a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sto­ry! This was the case when we met Nga and all her friends.

SiLa kids with Trinh
Nga and her friends have fun strut­ting around their vil­lage like mod­els with Trinh. While they all have their eth­nic clothes they don’t wear them in their dai­ly lives. This can lead to a false impres­sion on out­siders that believe their tra­di­tion­al eth­nic clothes aren’t made or worn much anymore. 
Si La ethnic groups kids Vietnam

Si La kids. From front to back: Nga, 9, Thắm, 10, Lê, 11, Nghiêm, 12, Chuyến, 13

Kids from the SiLa ethnic group in northern Vietnam
A “for­mal por­trait” with Nga and her friends in front of a tra­di­tion­al wood­en house of the Si La Eth­nic Group in Lai Chau, Vietnam. 
SiLa Kids jumping with Trinh

One, two, three Jump!” Trinh has fun with the Si La kids.

Tibeto-Burman Ethnic Groups in Vietnam

The Si La are one of the 6 Tibeto-Bur­man Eth­nic Groups liv­ing in the remote moun­tain­ous regions of North­ern Viet­nam, con­nect­ed through a shared ances­try, lan­guage, and cul­ture. Their ancient nomadic lifestyle is reflect­ed in the var­i­ous pieces of dif­fer­ent col­ored cloth and adorn­ments of nuts, shells, and sil­ver coins on the front of their tra­di­tion­al clothes. 

Si La Ethnic Group — Summary

Official Name

Si La

Population (Vietnam)


Location (Province)

Lai Chau

Dien Bien

(North­ern Vietnam) 

Language Group


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