VnExpress International
The most read Vietnamese newspaper
Get Newsletter| Contact us |
Follow us on       

Hunting for clouds in Vietnam's remote northern highlands

By Huynh Phuong   February 26, 2020 | 07:55 pm PT
In the northern highlands, photographers gather in droves in spring to capture images of popular tourist destinations that are shrouded in thick clouds.

Thick white clouds have become a hallmark of Sa Pa, a cool resort town in Lao Cai Province, which is at its mystical best from January to March.

Photography enthusiasts Bui Xuan Viet of Dong Nai Province and Tran Minh Dung and Ao Kim Ngoc of Ho Chi Minh City made a long trip to Sa Pa to take photos before and after the Lunar New Year holiday (January 23-29).

Sa Pa, situated around 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Hanoi, has grown in popularity as a highlands tourism destination where one can walk around at leisure or go on strenuous mountain treks.

It is home to the famous Saturday night "love market", a colorful exhibition of local ethnic minority culture. A gothic stone church in the center of the town built by French missionaries, Mount Fansipan and terraced rice fields are sights that draw thousands of visitors year after year.


One of the most beautiful places to hunt clouds is on top of Ham Rong Mountain in Sa Pa, 1,850 m above sea level.


O Long tea hill near O Quy Ho Pass, around seven kilometers from Sa Pa Town's center, is covered in thick clouds and mist. Cherry trees bloom along the hill bloom in December and January.


O Quy Ho Pass early one morning.

The 50-km pass, situated 2,000 meters above sea level, links Lao Cai and Lai Chau provinces. The pass, seven kilometers from Sa Pa at its nearest point, is dangerous due to the steep gorges that lie along it.

It is named after the legend of the Love Waterfall about a rendezvous between a fairy and a woodcutter named O Quy Ho.


Clouds swirl around Sau Chua Village, six kilometers from Sa Pa's center. Sau Chua is considered the Cinderella of Sa Pa because it has escaped the tourism boom that resulted in overcrowding and never-ending construction.


A Buddhist pagoda at the top of Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina at 3,143 meter (10,311 feet) height. Fancipan is 9 km southwest of Sa Pa in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, Lao Cai Province.

The pagoda is a microcosm of Vietnamese Buddhist architecture, drawn from styles found in various famous pagodas around the country. Visitors can see a grand Buddha, the tallest bronze statue in Vietnam at 21.5 meters, made from thousands of bronze pieces.


Fansipan is a Mecca for Vietnamese trekkers. But now, for amateur trekkers, a cable car has come to the rescue. The station is in Muong Hoa Valley, and the cable car operates from 7.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m every day. A round-trip ticket costs VND700,000 ($30) for adults and VND500,000 ($22) for children.


Terraced rice fields in the northern highlands are covered in thick clouds.


Sunset at Mount Chu Va.

This mountain is located in Phong Tho District, Lai Chau Province. From Sa Pa, it is around 30 kilometers to Chu Va on Highway 4D.


Yellow cabbage flowers seen from the top of O Quy Ho Mountain.

Photos by Bui Xuan Viet, Ao Kim Ngoc, Tran Minh Dung

Enjoy unlimited articles and premium content with only $1.99 Subscribe now
go to top