Marvel at the magnificent beauty of terraced fields at Northern Vietnam

Nga Do
One of the main characteristics about the landscape in Northern Vietnam are the terraced rice fields. It's attracts tourists for its unspoiled beauty and winding nestled in the valleys and mountain slopes. Terraced field have become a typical feature of local inhabitants.

Terraced fields, which look like “ladders to the sky” from the mountainous villages are always wonderful attractions for foreign tourists. The fields, created by talented and diligent ethnic farmers, have remained there for hundreds of years.

Marvel at the magnificent beauty of terraced fields at Northern Vietnam
Photo by David McKelvey

The history of terraced fields

The history of terraced fields is associated with the history of residence of ethnic groups in Vietnam’s northern mountains.

Terrace farming is the way that people adapt to their environment. Think of a steep-sloping hillside. If this is the only land you have to grow crops on, how do you then grow crops without everything sliding down the hillside? Since ancient times, mountainous farmers have built terraces to shore up a hillside, creating several levels of farms. In a small, seemingly inhospitable place, they can grow the crops they need to grow to survive.

Instead of flowing freely down the hillside, water stops on the level plain. In this way, the lower terraces are not eroded and, also, the higher terraces get enough water. On a straight, steep slope, water would tumble down the hillside, carrying crops and much-needed soil with it, letting nothing grow. But add the element of a terrace, and you have flat areas on which to farm.

A terraced field has many levels in series and each level is a small field. The more levels there are, the more farming techniques the owner has. Given the scarcity of flat land, wet rice growers use hillsides to create an even and flat plot of land which looks like a three-step staircase. That’s the way terraced fields were created, a rare feature of Vietnam’s wet rice civilization.

Marvel at the magnificent beauty of terraced fields at Northern Vietnam 1
Photo by Ves Pa

When is the best time to see the rice terraces?

Unlike the delta region with several crops annually, in the mountainous areas, there is a single rice crop each year. Consequences, visitors only have 2 occasions to see the best sight of terraced rice paddies in Vietnam. They are pouring water in May and harvest season from the end of September to early October.

In each time, the rice terraces will own different beauty. If in pouring water season, the terraced field appears as a huge mirror reflecting the blue sky and drifting clouds of summer, in harvest one, it looks like a colorful and magical picture among grandiose mountains.

Where is the right place to see terraced field in Northern Vietnam?

In Vietnam, there are many rice terraces and top 3 from them we recommend: Sapa, Hoang Su Phi and Mu Cang Chai.

Rice terraces Sapa, Lao Cai province (320km from Hanoi)

Sapa is not only famous for the highest mountainous town in Vietnam or the picturesque town in mist, but also the stunning rice terraces named Ta Van – Hau Thao – Lao Chai among Muong Hoa valley. It is the biggest terraced field community in Sapa with 1,000 hectares in area.

The owners of the terraced rice paddies are the ethnic minority H’mong, Ha Nhi and so on who have live there for hundreds years. Travelers visiting Sapa often take part in trekking tour Sapa to enjoy the beauty of rice terraces and explore unique culture of local residents.

Marvel at the magnificent beauty of terraced fields at Northern Vietnam 2
Photo by Vietnam Typical Tours

Rice terraces Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai province (280km from Hanoi)

Mu Cang Chai is an upland district of Yen Bai province which is 280 km (appromixately 180 miles) from Hanoi capital. The district is famous for 500 hectares of magnificent rice terraces located in La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu commune. The terraced field is recognized as a National Vestige and also one of the most unique tourist attraction in Vietnam.

It is formed by the ethnic minority H’Mong from hills with average slope to take advantage of rain-water and spring water for rice cultivating.

Rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang province (300km from Hanoi)

Rice terraces Hoang Su Phi is known as the most beautiful one in Vietnam with bright yellow in majestic mountains. It is located in 6 communes: Ban Luoc, San Sa, Ban Phung, Ho Thau, Nam Ty of Xin Man district, Ha Giang province. The best ones is in Ban Luoc and Ban Phung commune. Standing in the center of Ban Phung province, travelers can see the panorama of terraced rice fields with colorful stairs stretching from top of mountain to the small stream.

The masterpiece has made by skillful hands of the ethnic minority people: Nung, La Chi, Dao for hundreds of years.

You can now start planing your trip, you can choose the place and time which is most suitable for you to visit these stunning rice terraces Vietnam. If you spend a lot of time in North Vietnam, the trip to combine these destinations is definitely a memorable experience for you.

Take a look at some of the trekking tours in northern Vietnam:

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