The Khau Pha Pass at Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai, Vietnam
The Khau Pha Pass at Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai, Vietnam

Mu Cang Chai Travel Guide, Yen Bai

Mu Cang Chai is 300km northwest of Hanoi. For not too long, Mu Cang Chai has been famous to adventure travelers for the amazing terraces which have a fluid look and which come in several shapes. People travel to Mu Cang Chai in hope to take photographs of the most beautiful rice terraces in Vietnam in the most beautiful moments.

In the Hmong language, Mu Cang Chai means the dry land or dry forest. Perched on an altitude of 1,000m above sea level and with several steep mountain slopes, local Hmong people can only get most of their water for daily use and for agriculture from rain water. The dry season, also the winter here, is from November through April; it often does not rain and it is normally cold.

Tu Le - Cao Pha Valley, Yen Bai
Tu Le - Cao Pha Valley, Yen Bai

In May torrential rains start pouring down, the Hmong start their work on the rice terraces. They have to fix the broken or leaked bunds and remove grass or wild bushes in their fields, so that they are all flooded with rain water. They have to wait for 3-4 weeks till the soil in the field is soft, then they’ll plow the fields using water buffaloes. This period is among the best times to visit Mu Cang Chai as you’ll get your photographs with shiny terraces on breathtaking mountain slopes. The flooded fields are like several thousand mirrors reflecting sunlight; you’ll adore the scene and your game of light!

If you could get into your photos a Hmong man plowing the field with his water buffalo or a Hmong lady in her usual colorful clothes, you’ll love it for the rest of your life!

The Khau Pha Pass at Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai, Vietnam
The Khau Pha Pass at Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai, Vietnam

For the next 3-4 months the rice in Mu Cang Chai keeps growing changing the colors from light green to dark green, light yellow to burning golden colors… If you travel to Mu Cang Chai in late September and early October, you’ll enjoy the best moments here: mountains slopes become indescribably beautiful studios for you to practice your photography skills. This is definitely the best time to travel to Mu Cang Chai.

Things to do, travel activities, adventure tours in Mu Cang Chai

1/ Photography of the rice terraces
People travel to Mu Cang Chai to adore the most beautiful rice terraces in the best moments of the year. Everywhere you turn and everywhere you go in Mu Cang Chai, you’ll face amazing rice terraces. Different shooting angles offer you different photographs of these amazing scenes. Different moments of the day and different lighting conditions, weather conditions provide different photographs. If you know to be in the right place at the right time, you’ll have the most adorable photos of the rice terraces. The Vietnamese photographers keep traveling back to Mu Cang Chai year after year and still find it anew!

A Hmong lady amid stunning rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai
A Hmong lady amid stunning rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai

Do not hesitate to contact AdventureGreen for a photography adventure to Mu Cang Chai should you want your creativity and photography skills shine!

2/Trekking amid the gorgeous landscape
There are a few trekking routes at Mu Cang Chai which are with different levels of difficulty. Basically you’ll stay at a Hmong village and have day-trek on different paths coming back to the same home in the evening. The trekking routes by AdventureGreen encompass all the best shooting angles of the captivating rice terraces at Mu Cang Chai.

A stunning view of Mu Cang Chai
A stunning view of Mu Cang Chai

3/ Mountain climbing
Lung Cung is among the highest mountain peaks in Vietnam (2,913m) and you’ll start this great mountain trekking adventure in Che Cu Nha – Mu Cang Chai. The trip is for 2 days 1 night at least and can be done only during the dry season (December - April).

A view of Chong Chua Tu Mountain Peak from the trek
A view of Chong Chua Tu Mountain Peak from the trek

4/Mountain bike adventure
A mountain bike tour to Mu Cang Chai from Hanoi is no doubt an adventure of a lifetime! It is physically and mentally challenging, take it only when you are sure of yourself!

5/ Motorbike adventure
A motorbike adventure to Mu Cang Chai can be done fairly easy and the experience is beyond expectations! The tour should take at least 3 days 2 nights from Hanoi and can certainly be extended to encompass Sapa or the whole Northwest of Vietnam.

How to get to Mu Cang Chai

1/From Hanoi via Route 32 (passing through Phu Tho, 300km from Hanoi):
This route offers lovely mountainous roads with amazing tea plantations, scenic valleys and high mountain passes.

Breathtaking valley of Tu Le - Cao Pha during the golden rice time
Breathtaking valley of Tu Le - Cao Pha during the golden rice time

2/From Sapa and Lai Chau via Route 4D and Route 32 (passing through Than Uyen, 130km from Sapa):
You’ll adore the sublime nature at the O Quy Ho Pass between Lao Cai – Sapa and Lai Chau. The valley of Muong Than and the tea plantations at Tan Uyen are lovely spots to stop on the way, too.

Road to Than Uyen Town
Road to Than Uyen Town and Mu Cang Chai