Access to formal insurance services is scarce in developing countries. Based on empirical evidence, major risks and risk management strategies of ethnic minority farm households in mountainous Northern Vietnam are presented and analyzed. The paper investigates the theoretical links between poverty, vulnerability and risk. The concept of vulnerability to poverty lays the analytical framework. Results suggest that limited endowment with and access to capital assets and service institutions, as well as human and economic risks are the main components affecting rural livelihoods. Constrained access to adequate risk management strategies increase household’s vulnerability, drowning them more and more in poverty.