Few travel guides mention the beauty of Mu Cang Chai. This is because this spectacular landscape with rice terraces is beautiful. According to the people who have been there, you’ll find beautiful panoramas here than in nearby Sapa, so reason enough for a small detour. In Mu Cang Chai you can see a piece of real Vietnam. Here are just a handful of tourists and witness the ancient farm traditions of the locals. In harvest months, you will see the locals working on the rice terraces and make the most beautiful pictures of the golden slopes.
Rice Fields of Mu Cang Chai
The most famous rice fields in Vietnam are in Sapa, but whether they are the most beautiful are doubtful. Many travelers find Mu Cang Chai rice terraces a lot more attractive. These rice fields are a little south of Sapa but are less frequented by travelers. The trip to it has quite a few feet in the world, and the overnight stays are spartan, but once you get there, it’s forgotten soon. The rolling mountain ranges are covered with hundreds of rice fields that walk upwards. An impressive sight, as the terraces, reaches as far as the eye can see.
The Harvest Season
The best time to visit Mu Cang Chai rice fields is during harvest time: in September and October. Not only did the rice fields have a beautiful golden color, but you can also see how the local people are working on the land. According to ancient traditions, the rice plants are cut and handed to wooden bins to release the rice grains. Is not it possible to take a look in the fall? Plan your visit between May and July when the rice plants are put into the moist soil by hand.
Rent a Scooter
The area over which the rice fields are spread is quite large and extensive, so the best way to see all the highlights in this region is to rent a scooter. Drive from one point of view to another and stay on a regular basis to see the people below you. Along the way, you will find little huts that lie hidden between the terraces, but also entire villages where you can take a closer look at the daily lives of the inhabitants. Be sure to take a quick stop to meet you and even eat a snack. By scooter, it is also easy to see other attractions nearby, such as the village of La Pan Tan, Lim Mong Valley, and the Khau Pha Pass.
Nearby Sites to Visit
When it comes to rice terraces and meetings with the H’mong in Vietnam, almost everyone thinks about Sapa and the surrounding area. In the northwest of the country, however, Mu Cang Chai District (Yên Bái Province) is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful places, which fortunately is not yet known to the general public. In that regard, Mu Cang Chai is a dash on Sapa, which is much touristy. It offers the best opportunity to learn more about the rustic life of local H’mong, a weak but extremely friendly and generous nation. It’s best to walk you through the breathtaking rice terraces and explore the area by scooter. At about twelve kilometers from Mu Cang Chai itself lies the village of La Pan Tan, which also houses beautiful rice terraces. You can reach this via motor taxi or bus.
From Hanoi, it is a four-hour drive to Mai Chau. After you have the urban environment. Leave the high, pointed green mountains. Between these mountains lives one of the largest indigenous peoples of Vietnam, the White Thai. This population lives in houses built on poles. The bedroom, living room and kitchen are all on the first floor, high and dry above the sometimes flooding village streets. Mai Chau is located in a beautiful, fairytale-like valley. The valley is filled with rice fields where men and women grow the land and rhyme music from the nearby houses across the fields. Buffalo do the hard work; children play in the mud and birds darts whistling around. In the afternoon you will enjoy a nice bike ride and discover the surroundings. You travel along different White Thai villages and may be invited to take a look at a traditional palace house! Children will stretch their hand before and “High Five” and older will wow you from their home. You will experience the kindness of this particular population.
- La Pan Tan
La Pan Tan is a small mountain village about 15 kilometers from Mu Cang Chai. Here is the H’mong tribe, the people you’ve seen on the rice fields. The H’mong has ancient traditions in agriculture, and the ingenious rice terraces have been used for hundreds of years to grow crops. Visiting this particular village is an absolute must while traveling to this area and the easiest way to get there is by scooter.
- Khau Pha Berg pass
If you visit Mu Cang Chai, you will not escape the Khau Pha Pass. This tallest mountain pass of Vietnam is 30 kilometers long and twists over high mountain peaks. The road has many hairpins turns and is poorly maintained, so be careful when driving over this path. Despite the bad condition of the road, the view is beautiful. The road is regularly dense, but when you reach a higher point, the view over the valley with clouds is unforgettably beautiful. Lim Mong Valley At the end of the Khau Pha Berg Pass is one of the most beautiful places to see the rice terraces. Here you will find a viewpoint from which you have a great view on the Lim Mong Valley on a bright day. A beautiful valley completely enclosed by green peaks and covered with rice terraces. It’s a popular place for tour groups to stop and take pictures. The chance is that you will encounter a lot of other tourists, but that makes the view no less impressive.
Travel to Mu Cang Chai – How do you get there?
The easiest way to get to Mu Cang Chai is to take a bus from Hanoi, 280 kilometers further. Although easy relative, because the route is so bad, it makes it a day’s travel. From the My Dinh bus station in Hanoi you either take the Hai Van bus, or the Anh Tu or Khanh Thuy. From Giap Bat, you take the Hoang Anh bus. Please note that most buses depart in the (before) evening. Most buses to Lai Chau Province also stop in Mu Cang Chai, but always ask for the security in advance for the bus driver.
Mu Cang Chai – Best travel time
Mu Cang Chai has a tropical monsoon climate with a dry and rainy season and an average 19-degree temperature. Best to visit the rice terraces during September or October, as these are the harvest months. This creates great color power. From May to July planting occurs, which also produces wonderful scenes.