Mu Cang Chai in the high mountains of the Northwest is the best place to admire the beautiful terraced fields in Vietnam. Besides the majestic and overwhelming natural scene, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the diversity of national and cultural identity as well as discover the life of the ethnic people there.
Mu Cang Chai Overview
Considered as “the paradise on the ground” - Mu Cang Chai is one of the extremely attractive destinations for those who are interested in adventure tourism when coming to Vietnam. Mu Cang Chai is a small mountain town located 180km from Yen Bai city center and more than 300 km northwest of Hanoi capital. This place is famous for its beautiful terraced fields like the “fingerprints of heaven”, an architectural and artistic work full of creativity from the hands of the Mong people
The majestic natural scene of Mu Cang Chai from above - Source: vivu.net
The best time to visit Mu Cang Chai is from September to mid-October or around May to June.
You surely don’t want to miss the harvest season, which is between September to mid-October. This is when the rice is ripe, and at this time, Mu Cang Chai is filled with dazzling golden color, dyeing the mountains in the northwest with a brilliant shade of yellow. You will be amazed to see the terraced fields system, which looks like a ladder to heaven. This is also the time when the destination welcomes the most visitors of the year.
The terraced field in Mu Cang Chai - Source: kenh14.vn
From May to July is the pouring-water season, the time when the locals start planting a new rice crop. Visiting Mu Cang Chai this season, you will be surprised by the reflections of the earthy brown terraces under the blue sky, and the iridescent water under the bright golden sunlight.
Pouring season in Mu Cang Chai - Source: laodong.vn
Mu Cang Chai See And Do
The road to Mu Cang Chai is far and difficult but it’s an interesting experience. Tourists will have a chance to enjoy the natural scenery and clearly feel the change of altitude when going through the windy mountains and passing on steep hillsides. From the vast “golden rice fields” to the lovely little stilt houses with blooming white flowers (Ban flowers), which is a unique beauty to the northwest highlands. In turn, all the beautiful scenes appear in front of the visitors.
The first destination to discover this paradise is Tu Le Town. This graceful small town located among the rice fields is the favorite place of tourists to take photos, contemplate the natural scenery and enjoy delicious food. Tu Le Town is also the starting place of Khau Pha pass, which is known as one of the “four great peaks” of the Northwest covered in a sea of clouds and nice weather all year long.
A view of one of the “four great peaks” Khau Pha - Source: tintuc24h.org
Khau Pha means “the sky’s horn”, this dangerous windy pass is the steepest mountain pass in the North of Vietnam. Standing from Khau Pha pass, tourists will be overwhelmed by the majesty of nature because of the wild features of the mountains and forest. Khau Pha pass is a place not to be missed for tourists who love to explore and conquer nature.
In addition, tourists shouldn’t miss the moment of the sunset in the Mu Cang Chai fields. Nature, though wild and majestic, still has some gentle and poetic features. The sunset in the fields creates a beautiful scene, a unique and memorable experience that you will never forget. By the way, the Horseshoe and Mam Xoi Hill are also two famous attractions for tourists to take photos.
Mam Xoi Hill in the morning - Source: baolau.vn
Coming to Mu Cang Chai, there are not only the overwhelming landscapes, but also the characteristics of the culture as well as the warmth of the local inhabitants. People in Mu Cang Chai live a simple and rustic life so they are very friendly and hospitable to tourists. 90% of the population is H’Mong people, there are also Thai, Kinh people and other ethnic groups. Mu Cang Chai is also known as an intersection of a lot of unique folk art culture and regional specialties.
The children on the high mountain in Mu Cang Chai - Source: vietnamexpress.net
If you visit Mu Cang Chai during harvest season, paragliding is a must! The paragliding festival "Flying in the golden season" is held every year at the highest point on Khau Pha pass. Those who love thrilling activities can buy tickets to experience and enjoy the fresh air and the magnificent view of the terraced fields from a very unique position.
Paragliding over Mu Cang Chai in the rice harvest season - Source: wecheckin.vn
Hot springs bath
Besides the terraced fields, Mu Cang Chai is also known for its hot spring bathing experience. This is one of the typical cultural characteristics of Thais. The hot water from underground is stored in a large pond created by the community. The average temperature is from 35°C to 50°C. After a long day on the fields, there’s nothing more relaxing than soaking in a hot bath. Thai people see the hot springs as a good way to stay healthy.
You can experience this cultural feature in Ban Luot, Ban Hoc Hot Spring, or Tu Le Hot Spring.
Ngoc Chien hot spring in Ban Luot - Source: vietmountaintravel.com
The fair market in Mu Cang Chai is not only a vivid symbol of ethnic culture but also a typical community space of the Mong ethnic group. This is where they trade and exchange goods. There, you can find everything you need on a daily basis, from agricultural products to traditional food or clothes. The market is one of the indispensable experiences during your visit to the Northwest mountains. At the market, you will feel the rhythm of life of Mong's people and the cultural characteristics that can only be found there.
Fair market in Mu Cang Chai - Source: taybactravel.vn
Food and Drink
The natural scenery in Mu Cang Chai is very wonderful, but the food of this highland is also a reason to keep visitors to stay. The specialties attract them by the charming hometown flavor and special recipes of the locals.
Most tourists will stop to enjoy a special dish named “five-colored sticky rice Tu Le” when coming to the town. Nourished by the water of the upstream water on the top of Khau Pha, the rice grains bring in the taste of hometown that you can only enjoy at Mu Cang Chai. The sticky rice tastes very soft and delicious with a pleasant fragrance, which impresses visitors easily.
The dish “five-colored sticky rice” at Tu Le Town - Source: todata.vn
“Five-colored sticky rice” also brings precious traditional values of the ethnic people in Mu Cang Chai. That's the reason why they are very careful and a bit strict from the selection of ingredients to the step of cooking sticky rice and decorating the plate. That shows how they cherish their homeland's specialties.
Mu Cang Chai is becoming a more and more attractive destination for travelers, so there is a variety of accommodation types for you to choose from based on your needs.
If you come to relax, I recommend Mu Cang Chai Resort or Le Champ Tu Le Resort Hot Spring & Spa, where you can enjoy the four-way landscape surrounded by terraced fields. In addition, Mu Cang Chai has many homestays for tourists who want to experience the indigenous life of the ethnic people, stay on stilts, and explore local features. There, homestays are mainly located in the Thai village area, with a capacity of several dozen people, which is very suitable for large groups.
Here are some of our recommendations: Mu Cang Chai EcoLodge, A Chong Homestay, Mu Cang Chai New Homestay, Homestay Tu Nguyet Mu Cang Chai.
5-star Mu Cang Chai Resort
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Published on the 9th September
Written by Thu Ha and Ha Phuong