Places - October 2, 2018 | 07:13 pm PT

Yet another northern highlands district emits a golden glow

The terraced rice fields in Hoang Su Phi are dyed a golden yellow with hints of green, right now.

It is harvest time, and now’s the best time of the year for outsiders to check out Hoang Su Phi, in the mountainous province of Ha Giang, especially on motorbikes.

The road that winds through several mountain passes is impossible to cross without stopping every now and then to take in the amazing sight of terraced rice fields glowing golden in the sunlight.

It is a spellbinding sight that will beckon you hither, time and again, from late September to early October.

For many travelers, Hoang Su Phi is often the final stop on "rice tours" through northern mountainous provinces during the harvest, as the fields are at their beautiful best in early October.

Though the rice terraces in Hoang Su Phi are not as well known as those in Lao Cai Province's Y Ty and Yen Bai's Mu Cang Chai districts, but they are not less striking in their looks. 

This year, the district's famed terraced rice fields began to brighten in the middle of September, signaling the start to a month-long harvest season.

The rice terraces in Hoang Su Phi are said to be around 300 years old; the fruit of non-stop, creative labor by the La Chi, Dao and Nung ethnic groups.

Hoang Su Phi is also home to other ethnic minority groups like the Red Dao, H’Mong, Nung and Ca Chi. 

Each ethnic group has its own spiritual traditions, ritual worships and festivals that are observed and celebrated at various times of the year. Such cultural diversity is difficult to find elsewhere in Vietnam. 

There are two ways to get to Hoang Su Phi: one begins in Hanoi and cuts through Tuyen Quang Province, while the other snakes through Lao Cai Province. Both routes are around 300 kilometers, starting in downtown Hanoi.

Ethnic minority girls stand amidst a yellow rice plants. 

The terrace rice fields in Hoang Su Phi cover six villages: Luoc, San Sa Ho, Phung, Ho Thau, Nam Ty and Thong Nguyen. 

Most agree that the stunning views are worth the journey.

Since the terraced rice fields were recognized as a national heritage site in 2012, Hoang Su Phi has been attracting increasing numbers of local and international tourists. 

And unlike the tourism hotspot of Sa Pa, Hoang Su Phi still remains off the beaten track. Visitors will have to find lodging in downtown Ha Giang for around VND250,000 ($11) per night.

Story by Nguyen Quy

Photos by Kieu Duong and Ngoc Thanh