The Most Famous Harvest Route: Mù Căng Chải

Nga Do
Mu Cang Chai is the perfect alternative to using the night train to or from Sapa. Surrounded by luscious green rice terraces that dominate the landscape, it is a great chance to take in the breathtaking scenery and rest en route.

The Most Famous Harvest Route: Mù Căng Chải
Photo by Ves Pa
The area itself is completely untouched by tourism and therefore the accommodation options are basic and you have to be adventurous with your food choice as you will be eating in local restaurants. This does however mean that you will have the rare opportunity to meet the indigenous ethnic minority groups in an area that most tourists never visit.

Approximately 300 km northwest of Hanoi, Mu Cang Chai is famous for its terraced rice fields. Every season of ripe rice, where this is an unforgettable destination on the journey to explore the Northwestern ripe rice.

The Most Famous Harvest Route: Mù Căng Chải 1
Photo by Ves Pa
In the fresh, dew-drenched dawn, hundreds of stepped rice paddies, carved into the contours of steep valleys, are illuminated by the autumn sun. The gold-green and toast-brown colours of the ripe rice are luminous. The curving terraces, although man-made, appear to be in complete harmony with the landscape, creating a hypnotic patterning across the hills and valleys. I call this spectacle the ‘Theatre of Rice’.

The Most Famous Harvest Route: Mù Căng Chải 2
Photo by Ves Pa
Although extremely well-known among domestic travellers and Asian tourists, strangely Mù Cang Chải doesn’t get a mention in many popular English-language guidebooks. A good way to see the ‘show’ is to ride or drive along the scenic section of Highway QL32 between the small towns of Tú Lệ to Mù Cang Chải, via the lofty Khau Pha Pass. I call this the ‘Harvest Route’, covering 50km of picture-book scenery, which, in the right weather conditions, will fill your camera’s memory card within minutes.

A wonderful trip to Mu Cang Chai from Hanoi will take you to the iconic North of Vietnam - the majestic rice terraces and the rich culture of the hill tribes. Do not hesitate, because do not know when you have the opportunity to explore, go when possible!

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