Terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai

Nga Do
At 1,000 meters above sea level, Mu Cang Chai district in Yen Bai province is particularly beautiful with terraced rice fields winding around mountain sides. Covering more than 3,500 ha, the terraced rice fields are attractive tourist destinations.

Terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai
Photo by Ves Pa
Mu Cang Chai district, 300 km northwest of Hanoi, is at its most beautiful in September and October when the rice ripens. From Trong Tong hamlet, visitors get a panoramic view of terraced rice fields stretching throughout Mu Cang Chai district to the horizon. During the early days of the year, local farmers plant their rice, not an easy job because the hillside and the mountain sides steep. It’s a meter climb from the one narrow field to the next. It’s difficult to ensure enough water for all the fields. Giang A Trinh is a Mong farmer in La Pan Tan commune: “The techniques for farming terraced rice fields have been handed down through generations. I learned them from my grandparents and parents. It’s difficult to plough the hard soil

Local farmers make bamboo pipes to conduct water from mountain streams to irrigate their fields. The water in the highest field is spread to the lower fields via a beautifully effective irrigation system. Vu Duc is a photographer: “Mountain people have grown rice on terraced fields for a long time. They have developed their own specialized growing techniques. The mountainsides are steep but they have managed to make level fields which are very beautiful.”

Addition to the rice ripening season, many tourists like to visit Mu Cang Chai in May and June, when the local farmers irrigate their fields. At that time, the terraced rice fields are like giant mirrors sparkling under the sunlight. In 2007, terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai were officially recognized as a national scenic spot of Vietnam. Giang Thi Xuan is a Mong ethnic woman in De Xu Phinh commune: “In recent years, we have applied science and technology in growing rice on terraced fields to increase the average yield to 5 tons per ha. The beauty of the terraced rice fields gives us additional opportunities to boost our incomes. Our family organizes homestay service and tours of neighboring hamlets. Tourists stay in Mong houses and explore Mong culture and cuisines.”

A Culture and Tourism Week of Mu Cang Chai Terraced Rice Fields is held in mid-October drawing crowds of Vietnamese and foreign visitors.

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