Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

By Quynh Mai   November 4, 2023 | 02:00 am PT
In Hoa Binh, autumn unveils over the golden rice fields in Lac Village and a sea of clouds in Hang Kia - Pa Co, an idyllic escape for travelers.
Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

Hoa Binh City, located as the entry point to the northwest region, leaves a lasting impression on travelers due to its intricate array of terrains, including rivers, lakes, mineral springs, and national parks.

Situate approximately 71 kilometers from Hanoi, Hoa Binh draws explorers with its vibrant mosaic of cultural heritage represented by the H'Mong, Muong, Dao, Thai, and numerous other ethnic groups.

On Oct. 15, Pham Tu, a 29-year-old photography enthusiast hailing from Hanoi, embarked on a journey to explore the wonders of Hoa Binh alongside his friends, tracing a path through Da Trang Pass, Lac Village, and Hang Kia - Pa Co.

Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

Starting from Hanoi, Tu and his friends undertook a 150-kilometer motorbike journey along Thang Long Avenue towards Hoa Binh. On the way through Hoa Binh, visitors can buy tickets to see the Hoa Binh hydroelectric dam, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia's largest, which was completed in 1994.

Visitors can choose between a VND50,000 ($2) ticket for a complete exploration of the hydroelectric dam or a VND20,000 ticket that grants access to certain areas, excluding the underground mountain installation complex.

For those seeking to venture out onto Hoa Binh Lake, cruise tickets are available with prices ranging from VND1.5 to VND2 million ($60 to $80) for a two-hour daytime trip.

Approximately 50 kilometers beyond the hydroelectric dam lies Da Trang Pass, where Tu and his group made a pit stop. One notable feature of this pass is a cliff displaying the Vietnamese flag. This rest area also offers food and beverage services.

Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

The second destination on Tu's group was Lac Village, nestled in the Mai Chau Valley. With a history spanning over 700 years, the village has preserved its charm and traditional lifestyle of the Thai ethnic community.

Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

When Tu and his friends arrived, the rice fields flanking the road to the village were awash with golden hues, set against the backdrop of lush mountains. It is a serene setting, ideal for cycling and sightseeing.

There are car rental services available to tour the village, priced at VND400,000 ($16) for a group of 8 or VND600,000 ($24) for a group of 12. When it comes to dining options in the village, visitors can find a range of choices, with prices ranging from VND600,000 to VND800,000 for a group of six.

Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

Lac Village provides visitors with the opportunity to explore and shop for a variety of locally produced handicrafts, including clothing, hats, bags, wallets, toys, and traditional instruments. Tourists can also immerse themselves in the cultural activities of the villagers, from weaving to singing, dancing and campfires.

Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

Leaving Lac village, Tu and his group set out for the Hang Kia - Pa Co mountainous region in Mai Chau District. Nestled between four rocky mountains and surrounded by endless clouds, Hang Kia - Pa Co is about 200 kilometers from Hanoi.

These two communes are renowned for preserving the unique culture and traditional crafts of the Mong people, including hand-weaving, brocade embroidery, indigo dyeing, beeswax painting, and blacksmithing.

The journey to the cloud-hunting location in Hang Kia is conveniently traversed by motorbike or car.

Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

This region, nestled between the Xa Linh and Luong Xa mountains, boasts an average altitude of about 900 meters above sea level and maintains a consistently cool climate throughout the year. Arriving here, tourists frequently head to the area designated for cloud hunting.

“The sea of clouds in Hang Kia is so close that it feels like you’re standing atop them,” Tu said.

Clouds cover the mountains halfway, resembling a vast, natural white blanket between the two ranges, forming an infinite view.

Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

With the cloud-hunting season descending upon the northern mountainous provinces, the cloud cover becomes thicker and more widespread. In comparison to other renowned cloud-hunting destinations like Ta Xua and Y Ty in Ha Giang, Hang Kia – Pa Co remains a serene, less-crowded option.

Visitors have the freedom to select their perfect points to capture the beauty that abounds in every photograph.

Hoa Binh, each season unfolds its unique charm. Autumn graces the land with golden rice fields and ethereal clouds. Winter bestows the gift of red persimmons swaying from barren branches. Spring carpets the forest floor with white apricots and plum blossoms, while summer delivers ripe peaches and plums hanging from the trees.

Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

While at Hang Kia - Pa Co, besides exploring the villages, tourists can also explore unspoiled attractions like tea hills and plum gardens in areas like Ta Xong A, Ta Xo, and Thung A.

Other great places for cloud hunting in Hang Kia - Pa Co include the Pa Khom Road leading to Thung Mai Commune or the peak of Sam Tha Mountain, offering panoramic views of Pu Luong Peak in Thanh Hoa Province, and Pha Luong Peak in Son La Province.

Autumn in Hoa Binh: golden fields and cloudy dreams

According to Tu, Hoa Binh offers an ideal experience for travelers seeking simplicity, tranquility, and a more leisurely pace. He notes that the tourist destinations in Hoa Binh retain their authenticity, preserving the region's natural beauty and the warm, welcoming simplicity of its people.

Given the present climate in Hoa Binh, where daytime temperatures are warm but nights and early mornings can be quite chilly, Tu suggests travelers come prepared with warm clothing and maintain good health to fully enjoy the stunning autumn landscapes in Hoa Binh.

Photos by Pham Tu

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