There are many famous destination for North Vietnam tours such as Sapa, Ha Giang, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, etc. However, if someone ask me where is the most beautiful rice terraces in Vietnam, I will say Mu Cang Chai. Mu Cang Chai is a district in Yen Bai province, located in the west, about 300km from Hanoi. The district is located beneath the famous Hoang Lien Son range, with the most famous beauty scene; making the brand of this place is the terraced fields of gold; spreading the smell of copper wind, radiating out all over the sky.
The following blog will guide you to the experience of Mu Cang Chai Vietnam in the most detailed way so that you can easily discover the beauty of this place.
Best time to visit Mu Cang Chai
Thanks to its pleasant and cool climate, you can visit Mu Cang Chai at any time of year. However, for wonderful pictures of stepped rice fields, between May and June and between the late September and early October are two periods of the year considered as the best time to visit Mu Cang Chai. This can be different each year depending on weather, so be sure to check out first.
- From May to June: This is a watering season, so the fields reflect the world during planting season like a mirror.
- During August: It is also no less impressive as the rice fields are green.
- From the late September and early October: This is the time of ripe rice terraces. The weather at that time is nice and convenient to visit.
For those reasons, I decided to visit Mu Cang Chai last September. It is when all mountains slope of terraced rice fields, changing their colors from green to golden in their fullest beauty. It is the best time for great photos of Mu Cang Chai’s breathtaking stepped rice fields.
This is also the time when the fields become full of life as Hmong farmers in their colorful attire harvest the ripe rice, get the grains in bags and shoulder them home through the valleys and mountains. It is quite often to see the children joining in their parent’s work. They are jumping here and there, cutting rices on the fields. Sometimes, you see ethnic mothers using a cloth as a cradle to carry their infants on their back while harvesting the rice.What a breathtaking photos of Mu Cang Chai rice terraces you will have, the color of rice and the farm work of locals.
If you’re looking for inspiration for Vietnam’s stunning rice fields, check out these 9 most spectacular rice fields in Vietnam and recommended activities to do.
How to get Mu Cang Chai from Hanoi
The mountain route particularly suits the young, who love free and adventure some travel by manual clutch motorbike. If you are travelling as middle aged people, you will need a car/minivan.
If you want to get to Mu Cang Chai from Hanoi, there are 4 ways to consider:
- You can go straight to Mu Cang Chai by motorcycle or car.
- Catch the bus Hanoi – Lai Chau which goes through Mu Cang Chai; drop off at Mu Cang Chai. The bus costs about VND 250,000 ~ US$ 11; then rent the motorbike to visit around. It is so convenient that you can contact the hotel for the motorcycle rental.
- There are not many buses go straight Mu Cang Chai, so you can catch the bus to Yen Bai city, then rent the motorbike from there to Mu Cang Chai. The distance between Yen Bai city and Mu Cang Chai is about 175 km
- Train from Hanoi to Yen Bai city and take bus to Mu Cang Chai town.
There are not many options for accommodation in Mu Cang Chai district. If you go there at peak times such as the cultural festival of terraced fields, it is almost difficult to book because the number of hotels/guesthouses are limited. The best place to stay is Mu Cang Chai Ecolodge with 9 rooms, included 5 doubles/twins rooms, 4 family rooms. You will being surrounded by the pure of mountains, birds, butterfly, and the noncommercial of the local. In the hustle life, it would be the nicest time for you to hear the silent sounds in peace.
Otherwise, you can choose to stay overnight in the surrounding area such as Nghia Lo town, Mu Cang Chai town, Tu Le town.
Suggested Mu Cang Chai tour
How many days do you need in Mu Cang Chai?
A suitable time frame to experience the route is 3-4 days. However, this could be longer if you choose to get to villages high upon the mountains. The schedule includes 2 stages, each stage is allocated based on situations.
Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai itinerary
The route from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai stretches almost 350km following National Road No.32. Terraced fields spanning from Tu Le to Mu Cang Chai open fabulous view of majestic passes and captivating valleys. Not only the majestic and beautiful terraces, but you can also learn the unique and rustic life of H’mong ethnic group, a poor life but warm-hearted, a rare thing in the modern world.
You can stop at Tu Le for overnight. Then go to Cao Pha valley under Khau Pha pass. In the beautiful sunset, you can see the valleys from the pass or wander around the valleys and find out about ethnic people. Khau Pha pass is considered as one of the most beautiful passes of Vietnam. Going from Khau Pha to Mu Cang Chai, passing Kim cross, then turning right after about 5 km you will get to La Pa Tan for Mu Cang Chai at noon, you can enjoy enchanting terraced rice field valleys.
After that, you can head to Che Cu Nha and Cau Ba Nha – the places of the best terraced field valleys in this area. It’s great to enjoy the view of majestic and picturesque scenery from a high position.
The area itself is completely untouched by tourism. Therefore, the accommodation options are basic; and you have to be adventurous with your food choice as you will be eating in local restaurants. This does however mean that you will have the rare opportunity to meet the indigenous ethnic minority groups in an area that most tourists never visit.
Discovering the Enchanting Neighbors of Mu Cang Chai
Mu Cang Chai is not only beautiful itself but also surrounded by other amazing places to visit. Here are three nearby destinations that offer you different experiences.
1. Ta Xua: It is a paradise for nature lovers and hikers. Its stunning mountain range, nicknamed the “Roof of Northwest Vietnam,” is famous for its breathtaking landscapes and sea of clouds. Hiking to the mountain peak provides awe-inspiring views above the clouds, creating a surreal experience.
2. Thac Ba Lake: A peaceful retreat surrounded by lush greenery. This large artificial lake, formed by a hydroelectric dam, is adorned with rolling hills and numerous emerald islands. Exploring the lake on a boat ride allows you to enjoy the tranquility and discover the ethnic communities that call this area home, providing opportunities for cultural encounters and homestay experiences.
3. Suoi Giang: It is a hidden gem known for its captivating tea plantations. The region boasts endless rows of tea trees meticulously cultivated on the hillsides. Immerse yourself in the tea culture by visiting local tea houses and witnessing the traditional tea-making process while enjoying the serene beauty of the landscape.
These nearby destinations showcase the diverse natural beauty, cultural heritage, and outdoor adventures of northern Vietnam. Whether you prefer hiking in Ta Xua, seeking tranquility at Thac Ba Lake, or exploring the tea paradise of Suoi Giang, each place offers a unique and enriching experience that perfectly complements your exploration of Mu Cang Chai.
Tips for a trip to Mu Cang Chai
- At this time in mountainous areas the seasons are transitioning so you should bring a coat and a warm blanket.
- To avoid fog, do not drive your motorbike in the evening. Remember to bring all necessary papers and a motorbike repair kit with spare tube and type.
- It is essential to bring a map and know your destinations well
- Prepare personal items such as clothes, coat, gloves, helmet, sleeping bag, raincoat, rain boots, upholstery, personal medical supplies. When packing your backpack, arrange items in plastic bags to protect against rain and moisture.
Last but not least, if you are planning for Mu Cang Chai tour, you should contact Vietnam tour companies for the best arrangement. It is because you will surely need a lot of support for this mountainous trip. So, don’t hesitate to talk with us Indochina Voyages by simply leaving a message here, you will get all answers for your concerns immediately.
Hope you will enjoy the journey!
Nam Lucas – Travel Specialist