Travel & Life - June 20, 2018 | 12:03 am PT

When rice fields sparkle in Vietnam’s northern highlands

The famous terraced fields in Mu Cang Chai turn into undulating reflecting pools during the watering season.

For a long time, the mention of Mu Cang Chai evoked images of a far away, remote, untouched place for many travelers; so much so that the name was used as a synonym and idiom for something very far away, almost unreachable.

Well, today, it takes just seven hours on the road to reach the mountainous district in Yen Bai Province, northwest of Hanoi.

And it is well known for the beauty of its terraced rice fields during the harvest season, when they turn golden yellow and glitter in the sunshine. This season lasts from late September to early October.

But, a lesser known fact is that the fields are equally eye-catching when they are waterlogged.

The watering season lasts from early May until late June when local farmers let rainwater flowing into their terraced fields from the Hoang Lien Son mountain range.

The fields then turn into huge, undulating reflecting pools, and are an arresting sight.

Mu Cang Chai is home to the H’Mong ethnic group who started carving rice terraces into the mountain range centuries ago.

The district last year received high applause from U.S. travel site Insider, which called it one of 19 most picturesque peaks on earth. The site called it “a hidden gem” where the “terraced rice fields are a shade of green so deep you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a painting.”

Lim Mong Valley sparkles as though mirrors have been stitched into a wide green tapestry when seen from the Khau Pha Pass, said to be one of the four most dangerous passes in Vietnam. 

Farmers work on a rice field that is a carved masterpiece.

Gliding above the villages and their rice fields is another way to enjoy spectacular views 

                                                                     Nguyen Quy

Photos by Quoc Tuan. Video by Hachi8