Mu Cang Chai, a rural district lying at the root of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, is 1.000 meters above sea level. The terraced paddy fields in three rural communes namely La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and Ze Xu Phinh are designated by the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism as a National Monument.

Nghia Lo is a former province, in northwestern Vietnam. Nghia Lo Province was established under Resolution renaming Thai Meo Autonomous Region in Northwest Autonomous Region of the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, through September 27, 1962. Nghia Lo Province inception of 4 districts: Than Uyen, Mu Cang Chai, Phu Yen and Van Chan and Autonomous Region in Northwest. After this set up 2 Tram Tau and Bac Yen district. Its capital is the town of Nghia Lo.

Since December 27, 1975, was merged with the province of Yen Bai, Lao Cai province in the Hoang Lien Son, Bac Yen district except two in the south and Phu Yen provinces of Son La enter. From December 26, 1991, Hoang Lien Son is divided into two provinces of Lao Cai to Yen Bai; most Nghia Lo province (including Mu Cang Chai district, Van Chan, Tram Tau) was merged into the province of Yen Bai. Uyen district into separate provinces of Lao Cai, until 2004, then moved to the new Lai Chau province.

Yen Bai's large forest ranges supply valuable pomu, lat hoa, cho chi wood. Van Yen cinnamon, Suoi Giang tea, Tu Le glutinous rice are special products. The province owns well-known stone-pit in Luc Yen, too.

Yen Bai has artificial Thac Ba Lake, a scenic spot as well as a historical place. The lake consists of 1,331 hill-islands, varies vegetation cover and a diverse ecological setting. In the middle of the lake stands the Mong Son Grotto, home of the Yen Bai Party Committee during the anti-American resistance. Coming to there, tourists are able to relax in the lake, climb the mountain and explore the forests.

Visitors are attracted to Dong Cuong and Dai Cai temples. Archaeologists have found many remains of the Son Vi culture in the Dong Cuong Temple area. Dai Cai Temple was built on a large area covered with many green trees and beautiful riverside roads.


Yen Bai City is 180km from Hanoi. The province is on the railway from Hanoi to Yen Bai then Lao Cai. There is National Highway No.32 linking to Lao Cai and National Highway No.37 connecting to Tuyen Quang. Buses leave daily for Yen Bai from My Dinh Bus Station (Hanoi).

Yellow Autumn' Draws Visitors to Mu Cang Chai

In autumn, the fields of Mu Cang Chai turn varying shades of brilliant yellow and are filled with life as ethnic Mong farmers, wearing traditional attire, harvest the abundance of ripe rice and shoulder bags of the grain home over mountains and hills and across swinging suspension bridges.

Terraced fields, which rise and fall on hills and mountainsides as well as streams and rivers, are beautiful all year round. Visitors in March are treated to the sight of glittering ponds. Locals transplant rice seedlings from April to May. After that, all hills are covered by an everlasting green. Rice fields start to turn yellow with ripeness from early September.

"Harvest lasts from now to mid October. You will see the full beauty of terraced fields during that time," says Vang A Doi, chairman of the De Xu Phinh Commune People's Committee.

Terraced rice fields are visible from virtually everywhere in the district as they expand over 2,200ha, including 500ha in Che Cu Nha, La Pan Tan and De Xu Phinh communes. The terraced fields in these villages were recognised as a national heritage in 2007 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

A trek through these villages offers a fabulous view inside the lives of the Mong people. Young boys are often seen joyfully playing on the roadside. In the distance, huts used to provide cover as farmers watch over their harvest dot the vista.

From Trong Tong Hamlet in La Pan Tan, terraces pour onto each other from above like yellow stairs calling people to heaven. "As I think about the wonder of Mu Cang Chai, I find it hard to restrain my happiness as I take in the beauty before my eyes. In fact, this scene has inspired me to love life and labour. I love my country more because of the simple things it offers," says 20-year-old Bui Xuan Giang, an adventurous traveller.

Rice fields are not only a source of food and income for the Mong; they are an intrinsic part of their culture and of Mu Cang Chai, which is itself a quiet district on the bank of the Nam River. "If any one asks me where I plan to go this autumn, I will reply without hesitation that I plan on visiting Mu Cang Chai, a district in Yen Bai Province, some 300km north of Ha Noi," says Giang.

To reach Mu Cang Chai from Ha Noi, you should follow the beautiful route of Road 32. Do not forget to stop at Tu Le Town in Van Chan District on harvest days to enjoy the outstanding flavour of sticky rice with chicken. In this town, local people harvest unripe rice to make green rice flakes which have the aromatic flavour that speaks of the beginning of autumn.

At this time, some of the rice fields scattered in the valley are turning a dark yellow which brings a sweet-scented ambience throughout the vast valley.

After leaving Tu Le, you will follow the Khau Pha mountain pass to travel the 27km between Van Chan and Mu Cang Chai. The name of the mountain pass literally means "sky's horn". In the morning, the pass is typically hidden in a thick fog, making it impossible to see more than two metres in front of you.

"Sometimes, I have to close my eyes because of the curves. However, when I reach the summit, where cool breezes blow throughout the year, I have a sense that I've reached the gates of heaven and am standing on a cloud. In fact, when I stand at the top of Khau Pha pass, I can barely believe my eyes. Off in the distance, I see rooftops peeking out among tree covered hills and yellow rice fields. The fluffy clouds swirling below me are like a beautiful props from a fairy tale," says Giang.

In addition to terraced fields, Mu Cang Chai was blessed with naturally beautiful flora and fauna and outstanding geographic features, including vast mountain ranges with high peaks which have protected the people for ages, says Doi.

With forest area covering 80,000ha, researchers have found 22 reptile species, 127 bird species and 53 animal species, notably 200 individual black lemurs. There are animal reserves in Mu Cang Chai's Che Tao, De Xu Phinh and Pung Luong hamlets. "I used to think that Mu Cang Chai was an isolated and desolate land with ethnic people living silently near the base of the mountain. However, my mind changed when I finally had the change to visit," says Giang.

Giang recommends a stop at the Giang stream in Van Chan for a soak in the jacuzzi to relax after a long day of adventure. You can also buy some aromatic San Tuyet tea to take home as a gift for family and friends at home.

Source: VietNamNet
Try the highlands flavor of snow Shan tea

Suoi Giang Commune in the mountainous northwest area not only wins the hearts of tourists with its fresh atmosphere, pan-pipes and flute sounds of H’mong people but also with the specialty snow Shan tea.

Located in the northern province of Yen Bai at a height of nearly 1,400 meters above sea level, Suoi Giang is endowed with an ideal cool climate like Sapa in Lao Cai or Dalat in Lam Dong Province.

This is home to snow Shan tea trees, a wild tea tree growing on 800-1,800-meter-high areas in the country’s north, most of which are over 300 years old with huge trunks covering several meters in diameter.

Coated with a white/grey color, tender tea leaves are likened to snow flowers, thus named ‘snow Shan tea’ with Shan meaning ‘mountain’.

In the tea season, the tea flavor pervading throughout Suoi Giang is so strong the tart flavor catches your throat.

Early in the morning, visitors to the region will have a chance to climb century-old tea trees to pick young tender tea leaves with local residents. Tea leaves that are neither infected with insects nor old are recommended.

The next job is to roast tea leaves manually which is not suitable for the inexperienced tea-maker. After roasting, the tea leaves will shrink into fish-hook shapes but their snow spots and pure flavors must be ensured.

Making the tea also requires high-quality skills, with either well-boiled rain-water or deep-well-water selected. Tea drinkers at first are treated with the yellow and green colors of tea water before enjoying the tartness then turning into pure flavor from their tongue tip into their throats.
Mu Cang Chai’s terraced, Yenbai

Photographers flock to Mu Cang Chai district in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai--in the harvest season to grasp incredible moments of the terraced fields.

Mu Cang Chai is about 300km away from Hanoi, to the northwest. The location has been closer and more famous for domestic and overseas travelers. Overseas backpackers and photographers usually tramp to Yen Bai just to witness the terraced fields, enjoy fresh air, taking nice and splendid photos.

September and October are the finest months in Mu Cang Chai and also the most attractive month to tourists and travelers.

The rice terraced fields of Mu Cang Chai have been recognized as a national heritage site.
This artificial lake has an area of 23,400 ha and 1,331 islands and hills with diverse ecological environments. The water in the lake is blue and clear, and imprinted with the reflections of the surrounding ancient forests.

The thousands of hills and islands feature caves such as the Hum, Cau Cuoi and Bach Xa. The Thac Ba Temple always draws visitors.
Thac Ba Lake is not only a beautiful landscape, but it is also a national vestige. In 1285, the Thu Vat Battle took place under the command of Tran Nhat Duat against Mongolian invaders.

There are plans in the works to develop Thac Ba Lake into an ecological tourist centre with entertainment, mountain climbing and hiking.