Continuing the journey to discover the North Western Vietnam, this time Vietland Journey will introduce to you readers a destination where you can find out the most stunning terraced fields in Vietnam or even the most beautiful in the world! It is Mu Cang Chai, a western district of Yen Bai Province, located about 350 km to the north-west of Vietnam.
Mu Cang Chai holds a pure beauty that has only been exposed to tourism for the last few years. Normally to get to Mu Cang Chai you will have to travel about 50km by motorbike from the city of Yen Bai because the road leading to Mu Cang Chai is very narrow and muddy, it would be quite hard and dangerous for tourists to travel by car or coach. This is a downside but at the same time it is also a plus point, it makes this mountainous district still keep its pristine charm endowed by the nature.
The “specialty” of Mu Cang Chai is of course its marvelous terraced fields which cover over 2200 hectares. Depending on different time of the year, Mu Cang Chai would put on a different dress. Sometimes it is a golden yellow velvet, sometimes it is covered in bright green but sometimes it has a unique appearance when the surfaces of terraced fields are filled with water, shining under the sunshine and reflecting the contrast of the reddish brown of soil, the deep blue of the sky and the green of surrounding forests.
Scattered among the vast terraced fields are small stilt houses of ethnical minorities, which makes the picturesque landscapes of Mu Cang Chai become more lively and vibrant. Every afternoon, when the people prepare their dinner, the smoke would rise from these houses, blending with the fog and the clouds drifting above terraced fields, creating a romantic scenery which can make any tourists breathless.
The smoke rising from stilt houses blends with the ambience, making a romantic scenery.
Not only does Mu Cang Chai’s charm lie in its fantasy nature but also in its locals. The people here hardly make ends meet with their life but they are so rustic and innocent, they would be always happy to help you and treat you like they have known you for years. Coming to Mu Cang Chai you have the opportunity to look closer into the traditions and lifestyle of ethnic minorities here like H’mong and Thai people. You can also taste their cuisine – the colored sticky rice, which is cooked from the rice harvested in terraced fields of Mu Cang Chai, bringing to the dish such an exceptional flavor.
The locals here are very rustic, they hold such a pure beauty.
An innocent ethinic boy
This destination would be a magnet to nature enthusiasts and adventurous travellers.
When is the best time to visit Mu Cang Chai?
Mu Cang Chai exhibits its most alluring charm when the new crops begin and when the whole mountains are lush with ripening rice.
From June to July, Mu Cang Chai would have itself dipped into the green of newly-grown seeds in terraced fields and the freshness of trees in the surrounding forests. Coming to Mu Cang Chai during this period, visitors would certainly be impressed by the endless green running to the coastline of the sky.
Endless green "mountain waves"
Between the middle of September and the middle of October, rice in terraced fields all gets ripe, creating a vibrant yellow appearance for Mu Cang Chai. During the time, the terraced rice fields would look like golden silk scarves flying over in the wind above green mountain slopes, making the mountainous landscape astonishingly beautiful.
Mu Cang Chai in the golden season
Highlight for visitors when coming to Mu Cang Chai is the parachuting festival hold there in the harvest period. The festival “Flying on the the golden season” has been hold annually since 2012 in Khau Pha Pass – one of Vietnam’s four greatest passes, attracting hundreds of both domestic and international pilots. Joining the festival, you will have the chance to get up in the air and contemplate the impressive panoramic view of Mu Cang Chai from above.
The parachuting festival "Flying on the golden season" is usually held at the end of September every year.
Where is the best place to watch the terraced fields?
Khau Pha Pass
You cannot ignore Khau Pha Pass when arriving at Mu Cang Chai. This is one out of the four magnificent passes of the Northwest. Being in the top of the steepest and most serpentine passes in Vietnam crossing Khau Pha Mountain – the highest mountain in Mu Cang Chai, this pass is where tourists always desire to conquer. From the top of Khau Pha Pass, you will have a great view down the amazingly beautiful terraced fields of Mu Cang Chai.
View from Khau Pha Pass - one of four greatest passes in Vietnam
Tu Le Valley
Situated in Van Chan District, Yen Bai Province, Tu Le Valley is the chosen destination of visitors all over the country. Tu Le during the harvest with its poetic scene is not any different from an exquisite mountainous girl in a golden silk dress. Not only does the valley captivate tourists with the September terraces, but it also engages lots of photographers since the landscape here is certainly one of a kind.
Most tourists choose Tu Le Valley to contemplate the stunning terraced fields when coming to Mu Cang Chai.
Things To Note When Coming To Mu Cang Chai
- The weather in Mu Cang Chai is different from the delta area, which can change constantly during the day. You should prepare a jacket as the temperature at night and in the early morning is pretty low, and a raincoat to prevent sudden rains.
- The main vehicles here are motorbikes. When moving on a pass, you must go in one row, maintain the speed and keep the safe distance between your motorbike and others’.
- You should not ride at night because of the limited visibility as well as other security issues.
- If your health is not guaranteed to ride straight from Hanoi (Hà Nội), you can take a bus or coach to Yen Bai and then hire a motorbike to continue the journey.
- About accommodation, you can either choose camping or booking homestays, hotels in Tu Le, Khau Pha, and Mu Cang Chai center.
Mu Cang Chai should definitely be a destination that any nature lovers and adventure seekers should put in their bucket lists when coming to Vietnam. Come to our country and let the journey begin!