Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam - Land of terraced rice fields

Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam is the mountainous district of Yen Bai province, about 280 km from Hanoi. Mu Cang Chai est well known by splendid rice fields in terraces. In each season of harvest, this isolated region in north of Vietnam welcomes thousands of visitors from all over the country.

Semantically, in local language "Mu or Mo" means "Forest of Wood", "Cang" means "dry" and "Chai" means "Earth", the space, the regions... Mu Cang Chai is the "Region of Forest of Dry Wood ". As a district of the Yen Bai province, Mu Cang Chai is inhabited mainly by ethnic groups such as Hmong (90%), Thai, Dao, Kinh … Every people has its own unique cultural identity.

Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam

Mu Cang Chai in which season?

From mid-September to mid-October, this is the season when rice is ripe. Mu Cang Chai is covered by the yellow color. In that time, the weather is nice and favorable to visit this area. In May and June, this is the time of watering when the first summer rains start pouring down the mountain. The water flows from the mountains until to the terraces. The water floods the fields. So the soil is softer. This is the time when farmers begin to transplant rice for a new season. Therefore, the rice terraces in Vietnam or in Mu Cang Chai have only one harvest a year. The limpid and flashed water in the sun of the afternoon creates a beauty that can surprise all visitors.

The spectacular rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai: 

Mu Cang Chai has terraced rice fields extending across the flanks of the mountain. Rice fields following each other seem to be endless. Among about 2,200 hectares of terraces, there are 500 hectares in three communes: La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and Xu Phình have been recognized as one of the unique scenery, the National Heritage of Vietnam in 2007.

Because of its topography with steep slopes, terraced fields have a narrow width, so that the difference between plots is 1m - 1.5m.

Mu Cang Chai, a district of the mountainous province of Yen Bai becomes the center of the attention of local and foreign travelers in recent years. Especially in August and September when the rice is yellow on terraced slopes. This is so immense, huge and beautiful.

You do not need to go to the villages. When you are on the road 32 between Mghia Lo valley and Mu Cang Chai, you have the opportunity to admire the terraced fields which are next to each other, yellow like gold until the horizon.

The rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai demonstrate the ingenuity of the human hand in the mastery of nature to create the unique beauty that captivates the heart of all travelers.

Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam

In the foreign press: 

The Telegraph wrote: '' The fields in terraces in Vietnam create the spectacular, green… landscapes in the world '' by comparing it with the well-known tourist destinations in the world.

There are comments of the website When On Earth: "The rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai have breathtaking and one of the most exquisite beauty in the world. With the beauty, culture, rich traditions…Mu Cang Chai is still alive in the heart of every traveler. "

The web site of When On Earth also said: "The culture style of Mu Cang Chai creates extraordinary landscapes that are the source of endless inspiration for travelers, photographers…

September or October is the best time to visit Mu Cang Chai. In that time, the yellow color of ripe rice as silk envelops gently the hills. Rice fields are reflected in the pure and bright sky. Sometimes it is hard to believe that:  this beauty can exist in the world. "

"The splendid and spectacular landscapes in Mu Cang Chai of Vietnam have the exquisite beauty in the world that we can present. Even this beauty can stop your heart."

Archaeological evidence: 

Yen Bai Museum discovered the fields of stone blogs in communes of Mu Cang Chai as: Chế Cu Nha, La Pan Tan, De Xu Phình ... On each block, there are a lot of patterns and most of which are the images of the rice terraces, the phoenix, astrological maps, the Yin and Yang symbol…with the writings of the ancient language. According to experts of the museum, these designs were made by the Hmong people in the 16-17th centuries.

Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam

Mu Cang Chai - Some questions and answers:

What are the best times to go to Mu Cang Chai? Travelers come often to Mu Cang Chai during the rice harvest in September, October and May in the watering season. These are the two most appropriate times for the chance to admire the beautiful scenery of the northwest mountains with bright yellow rice terraces or puddles reflecting in the sky like a surface of mirrors.

What are the characteristics of Mu Cang Chai climate? Unlike the plain, the climate of the mountain is very unpredictable and constantly changing throughout the day. It often rains at night. There is fog in the morning but it’s sunny in the day. Travelers should prepare a jacket or even warm clothes in winter and impermeable to prevent sudden forest rain.

We can travel in Mu Cang Chai alone? Yes, you have to be careful if you go to Mu Cang Chai alone: ​​The topography of Mu Cang Chai is very complicated with lots of high mountains and steep mountain passes such as: Khau Pha, Ach ... You must limit the speed when moving. We advise you not go to Mu Cang Chai at night because of the visibility and safety issues…You have to prepare all the papers and equipment for your vehicles. Note that the speed on National Highway 32 while exiting Hanoi is often controlled.

You should prepare the necessary tools such as warm clothing, windproof, toilet papers, the camera, the ID card, hairdryers ... If you take the bike, do not forget to have helmets of good standards, protective equipment such as: gloves, waterproof ... and candy to give to children of ethnic groups when you stop in the villages.

Where we can stay in Mu Cang Chai?  The accommodation establishments in the capital of Mu Cang Chai are as simple as local guest houses. We highly recommend the night with the local people or home stay. This is ethnic Thais who arranged their wooden houses on stilts to accommodate travelers. The amenities are basic but clean. Especially, the contact, the sharing of local life in Vietnam in general or in Mu Cang Chai in particular will make your trip more interesting and human.

What are the characteristics of local gastronomy? In Mu Cang Chai, you can enjoy typical dishes of ethnic groups as Hmong, Thai... like: sticky rice of five colors, black Banh Chung, Pa Pinh Top grilled fish, grilled chicken with leaves of Mac Mat, dried buffalo meat…These are all traditional dishes of local ethnic minorities.

Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam

Sticky rice of five colors: This is a common dish for party of the populations in northwest of Vietnam, especially Thais people in Mu Cang Chai of the Yen Bai province. According to different requirements, they can use more or less colors but often there are white, black, purple, yellow colors which are the most used.

The ingenuity of minorities is the use of natural materials to create colors. With white, they simply use sticky rice. Blue and red colors…are made from different plants. And with black, they take leaves of Gun to soak rice before cooking…

Black Banh Chung: This is a typical dish of Thai ethnic group in Nghia Lo valley in the province of Yen Bai. Normally, the black Banh Chung is made on the occasion of Tet festival like Kinh people, but if you're lucky, you always see it at the fair in Mu Cang Chai.

The special feature is the shape and color. Thai people make their Banh Chung in cylindrical form or by folding the leaves as in the regions of the plain. Sticky rice is soaked with leaves of Nac Nuc to create the typical black color. Its raw materials are carefully selected, including Dong leaves for packaging, wild pig in the Mu Cang Chai forest…

Pa Pinh Top grilled fish: Pa Pinh Top grilled fish is an indispensable dish in the cuisine of the Thai ethnic people in Vietnam. Depending on the language of this people, this name means "folded and grilled fish." They often use stream carp for grilling. The cooker takes typical spices in the gastronomy of Thai people in Mu Cang Chai to marinate: Seeds of Mac Khen, ginger, garlic, aromatic herbs of different kinds…

The fish is placed directly on the coals or in a grid. The fish has a mild flavor, firm but not dry .Thanks to spices mixed in fish, this dish remains always and especially in the minds of guests.

Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam

Grilled chicken with leaves of Mac Mat: For grilled dishes of Thai ethnic people in general in Vietnam or in Mu Cang Chai in particular, the leave of Mac Mat is a really important spice. Grilled chicken with leaves of Mac Mat has sweet and sour taste. This dish is served with Cham Cheo - A kind of sauce mixed of salt, fragrant herbs of different kinds of ethnic groups in the northwest of Vietnam.

What do you buy in Mu Cang Chai as gifts? If you want to buy gifts in Mu Cang Chai, you can choose wild apples, bamboo shoots. These products are sold on roadside, in Tu Le market or in the central market of the capital of Mu Cang Chai.

In addition, the traditional textiles of various kinds of ethnic groups are at affordable prices. Most of the costumes are handmade products of women of ethnic groups. You can buy it at Mu Cang Chai market open all day.

Getting to Mu Cang Chai:

With the improvement of the road network, Mu Cang Chai is accessible by car or motorbike from Hanoi. The trip takes about 7 hours drive. To better enjoy the splendid landscapes, we recommend you a night with the Thai ethnic people in Nghia Lo valley located about 100 km from Mu Cang Chai. From Sapa, Thac Ba lake ... you can go there with a trip during 4-5 hour drive. You can send us an email to: info@guideduvietnam.com to enjoy our free services if you want to know more about Mu Cang Chai.