Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

By Quynh Mai   July 11, 2023 | 04:34 am PT
Atop To Bo in northern Son La Province, visitors can encounter four seasons in a day and marvel at a vast sea of white clouds during the early morning hours.
Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

To Bo Peak, situated in Van Ho District of Son La Province, is a hidden gem within the Moc Chau tourism complex. It is located approximately 35 kilometers from the center of Moc Chau and 170 kilometers from Hanoi.

At an altitude of nearly 1,2000 meters above sea level, To Bo peak maintains a cool climate all year round, surrounded by green landscapes. This location, featuring panoramic views, is perfect for cloud hunting, camping and sightseeing.

According to the Son La province's Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism website, Moc Chau was honored with two esteemed titles at the World Travel Awards 2022 for Asia & Oceania. It has been recognized as "Asia's Leading Nature Tourism Destination 2022" and "Vietnam's Leading Nature Tourism Destination 2022" by the World Travel Group.

Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

On June 29, Vu Quang Kien, a 28-year-old local from Moc Chau, embarked on a cloud-hunting camping trip at To Bo Peak. Kien journeyed by motorcycle from the center of Moc Chau Town, taking the Moc Chau - Hanoi Highway for approximately 30 kilometers before turning into Long Luong Commune to ascend To Bo Peak.

Despite the short distance of 5 kilometers, the challenging journey along a rugged dirt road, strewn with stones and steep inclines, consumed over an hour for Kien and his group to reach their destination.

“Along the way, we passed through peach and plum orchards in the midst of fruit-picking season. However, due to the challenging road conditions, we decided not to make any stops. We promised ourselves to savor some fruit during our next visit,” Kien shared.

Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

The top of To Bo Peak remains untouched, devoid of tourist facilities. Only a small wooden shack, lacking a roof, stands as a potential spot for visitors to rest. Local villagers' buffaloes, cows, and horses roam freely, adding to the tranquil ambiance.

Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

While Kien had previously visited To Bo Peak a few times, his previous visits were limited to the afternoons, with same-day return trips. Inspired by the locals’ sharings of the sunrise at To Bo, where the mountain peak surpasses the clouds, Kien decided to check the weather forecast to choose the perfect time visiting the spot.

Equipped with camping gear for an overnight stay, Kien and his group aimed to experience both the sunset and sunrise amidst the clouds at To Bo.

At the moment, there are no tourist services, ticket fees or specific regulations at the peak, allowing visitors to camp free of charge. However, Kien hopes that visitors remember to collect their garbage to preserve the pristine environment of To Bo.

Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

When nighttime falls, with the wind blowing hard, accompanied by the soft moonlight, revealing layers of clouds drifting beneath. Further away, the town’s shimmering lights blended with the starry night sky.

Kien enjoys the refreshing breeze and peaceful atmosphere, closing his eyes to cherish the moment.

Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

At the summit of To Bo, visitors can experience the essence of all four seasons within a single day. The morning welcomes a warm spring-like atmosphere, followed by the scorching sun of summer at noon. As the afternoon approaches, the air cools down, reminiscent of autumn, leading to a chilly night until dawn.

The evening weather sets the stage for delightful barbecue parties. The flickering fire from the grill keeps the cold at bay. Kien emphasized, "If you were to hold a barbecue during these days in the lowlands, you would undoubtedly break a sweat."

The evening weather is perfect for hosting barbecue parties. The warmth from the grill helps keep the body comfortable in the higher elevation at night. Kien said, "If you were to have a barbecue in the lowlands during these days, you would definitely start sweating."

Around midnight, the wind intensified, accompanied by heavy rainfall, causing the temperature to drop to approximately 18 degrees Celsius. Caught off guard by the sudden cold, Kien’s group layered on additional clothing and huddled inside their tents for warmth.

Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

After a night of heavy rain, the following day’s sunrise unveils a sea of dense and captivating clouds. Drawing from their experience of successful cloud hunts, Kien predicted that they would witness this view at To Bo Peak for the first time that day.

At around 2 in the morning, the rain subsided. The group got out of their tents to have breakfast together and await the ascent of the clouds. In the morning, thin clouds swirl around the base of the mountain, gradually layering and thickening over time.

Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

During summer, around 5 a.m., the first sunlight brightens the day. True to the locals' words, To Bo Peak stands above the clouds. As the sun climbs higher, a white sea of clouds drifts beneath, sparking joy and excitement within the group.

The dawn lasted merely 30 minutes, prompting the group to seize the opportunity, capturing the scenery through their cameras and smartphones. Kien said, "No device can fully capture the untamed, majestic, and poetic beauty of that moment." This priceless moment made up for the previous day's challenges.

Dinh Van Phuc, a member of the group, mentioned his past failed attempts at cloud hunting. "To Bo Peak is the first place where I successfully hunted clouds. Perhaps due to its elevated position, the success rate of cloud hunting here is higher."

Beyond the clouds: Unveiling nature’s majesty at To Bo Peak

Compared to other cloud hunting spots in the center of Moc Chau Town, To Bo Peak boasts thicker, longer, and more captivating clouds, owing to its higher position.

However, due to the road conditions and harsh weather, visitors eager to hunt clouds at To Bo Peak should accompany locals and diligently prepare camping gear, suitable clothing, food, and water for a safe journey.

Kien also advises tourists to choose manual motorcycles with strong engines to ensure a secure trip. He issues a strong warning against visiting during rainy days due to the dangerous conditions caused by slippery slopes and muddy roads.

He also advises that those who have already faced the slope on the way to Hang Tau Village in Moc Chau should be prepared for an even more challenging series of slopes at To Bo.

Story by Quynh Mai

Photo by Quang Kien

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