Mu Cang Chai, a rural town in the northern province of Yen Bai lined with mesmerizing terraced rice fields, has been named one of the 19 most picturesque peaks on earth by US travel site Insider.
Also on the list are Japan’s Mount Fuji, Peru’s Rainbow Mountain, Iceland’s Kirkjufell Mountain, which was used to shoot “Game of Thrones”, the world’s longest continental mountain range, the Andes in Bolivia, Europe’s largest mountain chain, the Alps, and the active volcano Mount Rainier in Washington State in the US.
Mu Cang Chai was called “a hidden gem” by Insider, where “terraced rice fields are a shade of green so deep you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a painting.”
Depending on the month, the fields’ colors can vary from emerald green to golden yellow to light brown.
Mu Cang Chai is around a seven-hour drive northwest of Hanoi. It sits at 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level at the foot of the Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range. People from the H’Mong ethnic minority group began carving rice terraces into the mountain range centuries ago and are still harvesting them today.
It resembles a picture from nature, with seasonally-changing colors showing its charm when the new crop begins, green rice grows, and yellow rice ripens.
In April and May, when local people water their fields to prepare for a new crop, the surface of the terraced rice fields shine like a mirror, reflecting the contrast of the reddish brown of soil, the deep blue of the sky, and the green of the surrounding forests. Embankments surrounding the terraces look like threads softly lined by nature.
In June and July, the fields, with fully-grown paddy rice, and forests blanket the entire area with green, from the foot of the mountains to the peak, where it disappears into the mist. The green of the paddy rice grown on the fields may make visitors think of them as a hand-made creation of uniqueness that cannot be found anywhere else.
Visiting Mu Cang Chai in September and October, when autumn ends, visitors will see prosperity all over the area, as the rice ripens and turns a shade of gold. At this time, the terraced rice fields look like golden silk scarves flying in the breeze, making the mountainous landscape astonishingly beautiful.
The terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai coupled with the distinctive cultural practices of local ethnic minority groups have given the locality a certain uniqueness.
Surrounding mountain paths are both a challenge and attraction to visitors. The Khau Pha Mountain Pass has become an ideal destination for paragliding, praised by many paragliders as one of the world’s most beautiful locations. In September, a Paragliding Festival is held at Khau Pha Pass, allowing members of paragliding clubs and Vietwings Hanoi and international visitors who also love paragliding to take beautiful shots while gliding around the area.
The local government in Yen Bai province has paid major attention to promoting Mu Cang Chai’s tourism, holding annual festivals and building good roads and travel facilities such as hotels, restaurants, and community-based travel services like homestays.