Fiona Travels from Asia

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

It’s September. Let’s go to Mu Cang Chai!

If you happen to be in Vietnam this autumn, Mu Cang Chai should certainly top your travel bucket list. During September and October every year, Mu Cang Chai welcomes thousands of travellers who come here to adore its gorgeous yellow rice terraced fields shining under the sunlight.

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Terraced fields in Mu Cang Chai

Where is Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam?

Located 280 km from Hanoi, Mu Cang Chai is a district in Yen Bai Province in North Vietnam. This is where a large number of Hmong ethnic minority groups live.

Hmong girls wearing their traditional skirts

House of a local H’mong family

When is the best time to visit Mu Cang Chai?

The best time to visit Mu Cang Chai is during the harvest season from the end of September to the beginning of October. During this time of the year, you will be able to see yellow terraced fields stacking on top of each other like this. You can also visit Mu Cang Chai in August when the rice terraced fields in are still green.

Mu Cang Chai Rice Terraced Fields in harvest season

At the end of September, the annual Mu Cang Chai travel festival will take place with interesting activities such as traditional games, traditional food events and most fascinatingly, GLIDING! Yes, imagine doing gliding above these gorgeous terraced fields! That’ll be an awesome experience!

Alternatively, you can travel to Mu Cang Chai in May – June, which is the irrigation period. During this season, you will have the chance to observe the beautiful scene of water running down vast terraced fields.

So where exactly can we see yellow terraced fields in Mu Cang Chai?

Places where you can see yellow terraced fields in Mu Cang Chai include Tu Le Valley, Lim Mong Village and the 3 wards La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and Ze Xu Phinh.

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Other tips for traveling to Mu Cang Chai:

Mu Cang Chai’s scenery also features mesmerising valleys and rivers, despite not being as spectacular as Ha Giang’s. On the way to Mu Cang Chai, you will go pass Khau Pha Pass – one of the most challenging passes of North Vietnam. Sceneries along Khau Pha pass are truly stunning!

In addition, the local H’mong culture is a fascinating attraction of this area. If you expect the local H’mong here to speak English fluently and try to sell you whatever they have in their baskets just like in Sapa, you’re totally in the wrong place. The benign locals here might appear shy at first when being approached, but they will be willing to smile back at you in the most friendly way once you have exchanged the first few lines.

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I bumped into the scene of local H’mong children playing boisterously by the river on my first day here. It was one of the most beautiful moments I captured during my trip.

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On the way to Mu Cang Chai, you might go pass Phu Tho Province where there are some beautiful tea farms. You can drop by and take some photos there.

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Me at one of the hill farms in Phu Tho

My trip to Mu Cang Chai

In October 2015, I had the opportunity to travel to Mu Cang Chai with Go to Know Club – a responsible travel club for young people in Vietnam – and Think Playground – an organization aiming to build playgrounds for children using recycled stuff.

During the trip, we spent the night at Lao Chai Elementary School. The majority of students here belonged to the Hmong ethnic group. Our activities were building the playground for this school, designing the school walls and organizing educational games for the students. It was an awesome and rewarding experience that I would never forget.

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Smiling girl in Mu Cang Chai

Here’s how it looked when we first arrived. The kids were already excited about the recycled tyres that we would use to build their playground.

Want some concrete travel tips to Mu Cang Chai? Don’t hesitate to write to me or comment below! 🙂

Note: All photos in this post were taken by me. Please link back to my blog post if you would like to use any of them. Thanks and happy travelling! 🙂

 

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