„Dinosaur spine“ is one of the most fascinating places in Ta Xua Nature Reserve.
- Ta Xua Nature Reserve and the so-called „Dinosaur spine/backbone“ (Sống Lưng Khủng Long) near Bac Yen (Son La Province) is a fascinating mountain and forgotten place for foreign tourists, it is well-known mainly for Vietnamese tourists and adventure travelers. Ta Xua Nature Reserve is a huge area that is not easy to travel (unless you ride motocross), because it is a high-lying area (the highest mountain 2865 m) and roads are not in a good condition. It is not so hard to get to Dinosaur spine from Bac Yen town.
To explore the area you must have a motorcycle – at least semi-automatic.
- However, this does not mean that you could not look into the Ta Xua Nature Reserve at least in a small way and take a trip to the so-called amazing Dinosaur spine, which is not so difficult to access, but you must have a motorcycle – at least semi-automatic. Dinosaur spine lies at an altitude of about 1500 m and the views from there or from the nearby village of Ta Xua and its surroundings are really breathtaking. Mountains, ranges, hills, nature, rice terraces, clouds (you can be above them, if you go even higher, above the village of Ta Xua) and an area inhabited mainly by ethnic Hmong.
The starting point for a trip to the Ta Xua Reserve is Bac Yen town.
- Ta Xua Nature Reserve is also a popular place for so-called „cloud hunters“. Yes, and if you are lucky, you will see the arrival and movement of clouds quite quickly. At the time of my visit, I was in the whole area all day, I saw here very fast weather changes like anywhere else in Vietnam (sun, clouds, fog, tiny rain…) and very fast clouds movement. And everything is brilliantly photogenic, unless there is fog (or, of course, heavy rain) and visibility of 30 m. Your trip to Ta Xua Nature Reserve starts in Bac Yen town.
Fascinating views and mountain range from Ta Xua village to Dinosaur spine.
- The nearest stop for refreshments and accommodation is Ta Xua village, which is 12 km away from Dinosaur spine. You can also stay in Bac Yen town (I recommend to choose a town). There are a few small restaurants with classic Vietnamese food in Ta Xua Village, do not expect any extra large menu, it is quite limited. From the Ta Xua Village to the Dinosaur spine you will go through a fascinating mountain passage, but be aware that some sections of this road may be destroyed (stones, holes…). However, earlier this road to the backbone was said to be even worse.
How to reach Dinosaur spine in Ta Xua Nature Reserve? On motorbike.
- Dinosaur backbone in Ta Xua Nature Reserve is located about 25 km from Bac Yen town. This is the starting point for a trip to the area. Bac Yen is a typical small town without foreign tourists, with a few guesthouses and many shops/restaurants. To Bac Yen, if you do not have your motorbike, you can get by local bus from Moc Chau with stopover in Phu Yen (my case) or from Hanoi by bus (about 200 km, stopover in Phu Yen, in Phu Yen you can take another bus to Bac Yen), however, you have to check the current schedules in My Dinh or Yen Nghia bus stations in Hanoi. I recommend to connect with a trip in Moc Chau and from Moc Chau take a transfer by bus.
Rent a motorbike in Bac Yen town / at the hotel (where you stay).
- From Bac Yen to Ta Xua and to the Dinosaur spine – whether you are on your own, on a motorcycle. From Bac Yen to the village of Ta Xua it is about 12 km and you drive constantly up a steep hill, even here the road can be variously destroyed and not much, but the road with great views. From the village of Ta Xua you will then take another 12 km section to the Dinosaur spine with other fascinating views, you will see about 3 waterfalls along the way. The road to Dinosaur backbone may have bad sections again, somewhere a rocky road, but on a motorcycle (semi-automatic), I arrived there quite cool. Warning: Drive slowly if you do not want to spill and kill! A motorbike trip to Ta Xua is only for those who already have a motorbike experience.
When to visit and go to Ta Xua Nature Reserve and Dinosaur spine?
- It should be noted that this is a mountain area and it is necessary to expect rapid changes in weather. In the winter months cold/winter, but dry, in the summer months unfortunately the possibility of larger rains and impending landslides (monsoon season). The months of December to March are recommended (even for so-called „cloud hunters“). Personally, I was there in November and I stayed in this area 3 days and I saw very fast weather changes – sunshine, nice, cold, fog, clouds, windy… but overall it was good, the views were nice, sometimes a bit foggy, but no cold, temperature up to about 17 °C.
Before you go to Ta Xua reserve and Dinosaur spine, watch the weather.
- I recommend before the trip to the Ta Xua Nature Reserve certainly to watch the weather as it develops and respond accordingly. If there is a possibility of heavy rain, fog, I strongly recommend not to visit this area, because it would be – yes, for someone an adventure, but you wouldn’t have much of this adventure, no views to the area and most importantly – dangerous road sections, impassable road, landslides. In this case it does not make a sense to go there, wait for sunny weather and clear sky.
Where to stay and where to find accommodation in Bac Yen/Ta Xua?
- Bac Yen is not Sapa and it means that the offer is focused mainly on smaller vietnamese guest houses, no extra luxury, but standard, average quality and cheap. Yes there is also one bigger better hotel (KHÁCH SẠN SAO MAI), but the vast majority of the city are small hotels, called Nhà nghỉ. Prices are therefore quite low. There are plenty of shops in the town and some Vietnamese restaurants with classic dishes, rather do not expect western european cuisine.
- You can also stay in the village of Ta Xua and there gradually arise and will probably continue to create another homestays. There is also a very nice tourist resort – Ta Xua Hills. However, the services in Ta Xua village are very limited, it is a very small village. I recommend to stay in Bac Yen town before going on a trip to Ta Xua and Dinosaur spine. If you want to rent a motorbike, ask where you will be accommodated, at the hotel. There is also a petrol station in Bac Yen, but you can also buy petrol in Ta Xua village. Homestay is also located at Dinosaur spine (Y Xoa Homestay).
icon-home Accommodation in Bac Yen town:
icon-home Accommodation in Ta Xua Nature Reserve:
icon-info-circle FAQ + Travel tips – „Dinosaur spine“ + Ta Xua Reserve:
1️⃣ How to get from Hanoi to Bac Yen and to Ta Xua Nature Reserve?
- There is no train connection from Hanoi to Bac Yen, so the only option is to use a bus from My Dinh or Yen Nghia bus stations (via Phu Yen) or your motorbike. You can also arrive by local bus from Moc Chau town. However, the times and timetables must be checked before departure, they may change in the future. From Bac Yen town to Ta Xua village (+Dinosaur spine) you can go by motorbike.
2️⃣ Where is Dinosaur spine and Ta Xua Nature Reserve?
- Dinosaur spine is a part of the Ta Xua Nature Reserve (Bac Yen District, Son La Province). It is located about 230 km from Hanoi and 25 km from Bac Yen town. Ta Xua Nature Reserve lies between the provinces of Son La and Yen Bai and the cities of Tram Tau and Bac Yen.
3️⃣ How to get from Bac Yen town to Dinosaur spine?
- The only option is to use a motorbike (at least a semi-automatic, no weak scooter) or your private transfer. The journey from Bac Yen to Dinosaur spine through the village of Ta Xua is 25 km long. The road also has damaged sections and can be marked as dangerous, no signs, landslide threats, drive mainly slowly and carefully.
4️⃣ Where to rent a motorbike in Bac Yen?
- The best way is to ask at the hotel stuff in Bac Yen town. If you want to book your motorbike in Hanoi, you can do it online on Bikesbooking.
5️⃣ What is the entrance fee to Dinosaur spine?
- There is no admission fee to Dinosaur spine, but I do not rule out that some admission will be introduced over time.
6️⃣ What is the elevation of the Dinosaur spine and the village of Ta Xua?
- Dinosaur spine in Ta Xua reserve has an altitude of approx. 1500 m. The village of Ta Xua is roughly similar.
7️⃣ Is it possible to buy food / drink in Ta Xua village?
- Yes, in the village of Ta Xua, 12 km from the Dinosaur spine, you can buy snacks, coffee, drinks, Pho noodles, etc…
8️⃣ Is it possible to accommodate right at the „Dinosaur Backbone“ in Ta Xua?
- Yes, there are some homestays close to this backbone, but it is limited. You can try Y Xoa Homestay.
9️⃣ When to go to Ta Xua Nature Reserve and Dinosaur spine?
- The recommended months are December to March. However, the weather here can change rapidly. This does not mean that you cannot come there at any other time. However, do not drive there if there is a risk of heavy rain (monsoon season). In the winter months it is necessary to count on low temperatures in the mountain area.
🔟 What else to see and visit if I go to Dinosaur spine?
- On the way from Ta Xua village to Dinosaur spine, you should see 3 waterfalls (Thác Háng Bla, Thàng Tổ Ong, Thác Phun Sương). The area is unique for its scenery, nature. I recommend to drive about 2 km above the village of Ta Xua where you will be offered from the viewing point another amazing views of the reserve of Ta Xua.
➡️ What else is Ta Xua Nature Reserve popular?
- Ta Xua Nature Reserve is not so visited by foreign tourists. It is also popular for trekking in the mountains or cloud hunting. Various private guides offer 2-3 day treks to the reservation and to the mountains. You need a guide for a deeper exploration, otherwise you have no chance to navigate.
➡️ What is the condition of the roads in the Ta Xua Nature Reserve?
- Not good. Dinosaur spine from Bac Yen is still as it goes (but there are also damaged and unrepaired sections), but if you want to continue deeper into the reservation, for example, on the DT112 road (from Bac Yen to Tram Tau), you should have a motocross bike, there are very bad sections, rocks, streams, holes … However, near the village of Ta Xua you can drive along the DT112 road for a few kilometers, but in time the road will get worse and the terrain will be less passable. It is better to avoid going to Tram Tau.
➡️ What ethnic residents live in the Ta Xua Nature Reserve?
- Ta Xua Nature Reserve is home to mostly ethnic residents of the Hmong (Mong) group. You can often see them in their traditional costumes at the roads. They often live here in very modest/poor conditions.
➡️ What else is the Ta Xua Nature Reserve known for?
- The world-famous Shan Thuyet tea, about 100 years old tea treas, is also growing in the Ta Xua area. You might be lucky to see some ethnic people from Ta Xua on the trees picking this tea.
Dinosaur spine + Ta Xua Nature Reserve – Information:
- Location: Bac Yen district (Son La province) – Vietnam
- How far is Dinosaur spine: About 25 km from Bac Yen town (230 km from Hanoi)
- Ticket: There is no admission
- Tourist attractions: Mountain range, waterfalls, nature
- How to get there from Bac Yen: Motorbike or private transfer
- How to get from Hanoi to Bac Yen: Bus with stop in Phu Yen (there is no train)
- How to get from Moc Chau to Bac Yen: There is a local bus
- Elevation of Dinosaur spine: about 1 500 m
- Original name of Dinosaur spine/backbone: Sống Lưng Khủng Long
- Where to stay: in Bac Yen town or in Ta Xua village
- Road DT112 from Bac Yen to Tram Tau: it is not in a good condition
icon-map-marker Route map from Bac Yen to „Dinosaur Spine“ in Ta Xua:
(this is the main road from Bac Yen to Dinosaur spine, the road is not in very good condition)
„Dinosaur spine“ and Ta Xua Nature Reserve – Photos:
(Photos around Ta Xua village and routes to Dinosaur spine + Ta Xua Nature Reserve)