Climbing into Vietnam's mountains where rice grows in the skies

By Hoang Tao   September 2, 2017 | 04:04 pm GMT+7
Climbing into Vietnam's mountains where rice grows in the skies
Rice of the Skies.
One of the country's last primitive tribes is still thriving in a harsh landscape.  

Deep in the dense tropical forest of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh lives a small tribe of Arem people.

Their first contact with the outside world was in the 1960s, when the Arem were found living in caves at the border of Vietnam and Laos. At the time, the small group of 18 were hunter-gatherers.

By the 1990s, the tribe had grown to 98 members.


The Arem grow their crop on the hillside and leave it entirely in the nature’s hands, without resorting to irrigation and fertilizers. They refer to it as the rice from the skies.


They plant their seeds in holes dug using bamboo poles and cover them with soil. They camp next to their farms to protect the crops from wild boar and rats.


Whole families often move to the fields.


The rice is known for its tender chewy grains, but productivity is low.


The Arem are also referred to as keepers of the forest thanks to the special bond they have with their green canopy. Every year, the government provides them with a certain amount of rice for protecting 4,000ha primary forest in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.

go to top