This post was last updated on June 4th, 2020 at 08:10 pm
When it comes to beautiful rice fields everyone knows Ubud in Indonesia, the rice terraces of Banaue in the Philippines, and of course Sapa in Vietnam. But the incredible scenery and breathtaking beauty of the Mu Cang Chai region in Vietnam may just be the most beautiful region our world has to offer.
Mu Cang Chai vs Sapa
Mu Cang Chai is located in the northeastern part of Vietnam just 150 kilometers from Sapa. The region lies 1,000 meters above sea level and the impressive rice terraces here are beautiful to see.
In addition to the fact that the rice terraces here are of breathtaking beauty, the culture here is unique. It is a destination that will linger forever in the heart of every traveler who sets foot in this place.
TIP – Mu Cang Chai is approximately a 13-hour drive from Hanoi.
There are many beautiful rice terraces here, as far as the eye can see!
The Beautiful Rice Terraces
Rice fields are not rare in Southeast Asia. Whether you are in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Indonesia, you will find rice fields everywhere. In Mu Cang Chai, however, there are no single rice fields but large rice terraces, a unique and impressive way to grow rice.
Mu Cang Chai consists mainly of terraced rice fields that run down the mountainside. The locals have created this ingenious way to grow rice and harvest. Normally rice is grown on plateaus. The locals built terraces to prevent their rice from getting too little water. This meant that the water could no longer run off the mountain. The result is amazing!
TIP – The months of September and October are the best months to see the rice terraces.
The Harvest Season
The awe-inspiring rice terraces have ensured that every year many tourists and photographers want to see this sublime beauty with their own eyes. It doesn’t matter much when you are here, there is always something in this region that requires you to grab your camera.
But if you want to take the best photos, it is advisable to visit Mu Cang Chai while they’re harvesting rice around September and October. In this period there are rows of rice as far as the eye can see. It is truly a magically beautiful view!
Sights in the Area
The nicest (and most spectacular) way to see the area is by renting a scooter. With a scooter, you can travel easily and stop anywhere. Some highlights in the area are; the La Pan Tan terraces, the Lim Mong valley, and the Khau Pha mountain pass (the longest mountain pass in North Vietnam).
2 to 3 days
If you want to see everything, you definitely need t stay here for 2 to 3 days. The first day you can discover the beauty of the Khau Pha mountain pass and visit the impressive Lim Mong valley. The La Pan Tan rice terraces are spectacular, they are even more beautiful than the ones in Sapa!
It is close to Sapa, but almost everyone thinks the rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai are more beautiful.
Locals & Culture in Mu Cang Chai
The beautiful rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai are not the only special things they offer. The locals who live here, consisting mainly of Hmong, also make your trip to this region unique. They are hard-working, modest, and friendly people. It’s these hospitable locals who give a visit to this place that little bit extra.
This is a destination that will not disappoint you. It is a place that will forever be engraved in your memory as one of the most beautiful places you have ever seen!
How to Get to Mu Cang Chai
The distance from Hanoi is about 280 kilometers, but the road is very bad so count on at least one day to get there. There are several bus companies running between Hanoi and this region. The buses leave multiple times all day long. The easiest way is to ask your accommodation or a tour operator about bus prices and departure times.
TIP – Count on around 200,000 to 250,000 Dong ($8.60 to $10.75) for the ride that lasts at least 13 hours.
Best Time to Visit Mu Cang Chai
The harvest season usually runs from September to October. This means that the rice terraces are at its best. If you cannot come to Mu Cang Chai in these months, you can also come from May to July when the Hmong people start sowing. Also in these months, there will be very green terraces, with spectacular views.