One of the “sacred lands” of rice terrace fields is in Mu Cang Chai, a rural district of Yen Bai Province. A visit to Mu Cang Chai between the end of September and mid-October offers tourists the chance to see spectacular landscapes: rice terraces stretching across the mountainside, endlessly rising layer by layer.
Mu Cang Chai is around 300 kilometers from Hanoi, and backpackers can take an express bus (nighttime) or a “casual” bus (daytime) to go there. The most favorite destination is Tu Le town in Van Chan District, a peaceful and convenient place to rest before renting a good motorbike for their adventure through Khau Pha Pass.
The 30-km long Khau Phạ lying between Van Chan and Mu Cang Chai is the most rugged and longest pass on National Highway 32. If they are lucky enough to go there on a sunny day, tourists can see 360o to enjoy a masterpiece by nature.
Into truly Mu Cang Chai
From the beginning to the end of Khau Pha pass, there are several places that shouldn’t be missed, such as La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu Phin towns full with stunning sights and mysterious local roads.
On that day we chose La Pan Tan to stop by because my friend had fond memories about that place. We turned into a small road and rode up several difficult, steep stretches (I had to jump down and push our motorbike up). But then, you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, can you? After a 30-minute struggle on the road, a jaw-droppingly beautiful painting was revealed.
Among the must-meet people in the north-eastern region are the children. Just a handful of candies can bring big smiles to their faces and their happiness is infectious.
Traveling 50kms to Mu Cang Chai and getting back to Tu Le are full enough for an active day. Just relax and enjoy the rest of the day with fresh-from-the-field local specialties like free-range chicken, black pork, grilled fish from streams, new sweet rice just harvested, and local homemade wine.
A couple of days up there and you’ll think life is so worth living!
· Where to take the bus?
My Dinh Bus Station in Hanoi's Cau Giay District
Express bus: 5 – 6 hours (night time), casual bus: 7 – 8 hours (day time)
· Where to stay
- Pho Nui Hostel (Tu Le, Van Chan District): spacious, nice restaurant, helpful staff with lots of local food. Around VND200,000/pax. Across the street from this hostel is a shop that rents motorbikes for around VND250,000 per day.
-Trang Hostel (Mu Cang Chai): new, great location. Around VND200,000/pax
· What to buy?
Local foods are always great and fresh. New crop sweet rice is the best during this season. Around VND40,000 per kilogram.
· Things to be aware of
- Do not expect a getaway package here. You have to do everything by your own.
- Fill up your vehicle when you see a big gas station.
- Besides that? Enjoy.