Vietnam’s remote mountain gem in CNBC’s 2020 travel list

By Hoang Phong   January 10, 2020 | 05:00 am PT
Vietnam’s remote mountain gem in CNBC’s 2020 travel list
Mu Cang Chai, a rural district in Yen Bai Province, northern Vietnam, is famous for golden rice terraces. Photo by Shutterstock/An Huy.
U.S. business news channel CNBC has urged global travelers to visit Mu Cang Chai in northern Vietnam, famous for its terraced rice fields.

Earlier this week it described the district in Yen Bai Province as "a remote gem deep in the valleys forged by waters of the Red River with a series of colorful mountain villages encircled by fields of towering rice terraces."

"The fields are agricultural feats of precision, rugged mountains blanketed with emerald stairways that, seemingly, ascend to the heavens above."

The site suggested that Mu Cang Chai, which sits at 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level at the foot of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, should be included in people’s travel list this year, saying the poor and relatively underdeveloped district’s iconic rice terraces create a golden carpet during the harvest season in September and October.

Mu Cang Chai is at its most beautiful in September and October every year. Photo by Shutterstock/Hoang Anh.

Mu Cang Chai is at its most beautiful in September and October during the harvest season. Photo by Shutterstock/Hoang Anh.

"Rice terraces have been grown in Mu Cang Chai as the ancestors of northern Vietnam’s local hill tribes centuries ago created this beautiful place for the most basic of reasons to survive.

"To grow rice in vertical conditions, hill tribes created a terraced system to control the downward flow of water. Using ingenuity, resourcefulness and sheer grunt work, fertile fields of sustenance and breathtaking beauty were born and still flourish today."

Locals harvest rice on terraced fields in Mu Cang Chai. Photo by Shutterstock/Anh Huy.

Locals harvest rice on terraced fields in Mu Cang Chai. Photo by Shutterstock/Anh Huy.

There is never a bad season to see Mu Cang Chai since the rice terraces are charming all year round. But in June they are waterlogged as farmers prepare for a new crop, giving tourists and photography enthusiasts more reason to explore the area.

While it is often said that the rice harvest season in September and October is the best time of the year to see the terraced fields as they glimmer a golden yellow, the waterlogged fields are no less stunning as they reflect the bright summer sun.

The farmers flood the fields soon after the first summer rains and start transplanting rice seedlings for the new crop. The watering lasts from late May to the end of June.

One more reason to hike up to Mu Cang Chai in September-October is a paragliding festival that has bolstered its reputation as a new destination for adventurous travelers.

Other popular activities include traversing the breathtaking Khau Pha Pass and exploring the Mo and Pu Nhu waterfalls.

Khau Pha is known as one of the five most dangerous passes in Vietnam due to its foggy winding roads and steep terrain. It rises 1,200 meters, and provides the best views of the 500-hectare golden carpet down in the Mu Cang Chai valley.

Last year Mu Cang Chai was named one of "the most colorful places" on the planet by U.S. magazine Condé Nast Traveler. In 2017 the terraced fields were named one of the 19 most picturesque peaks on earth by U.S. travel site Insider.

Riding motorbikes across Mu Cang Chai is a popular activity, especially among young travelers, but it is not really recommended due to the rugged and dangerous roads.

Mu Cang Chai has homestays services and hostels for visitors.

The terraced fields, spread over the communes of La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu Phinh, were recognized as special national sites by the government last week.

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