MU CANG CHAI – Rice terraces + Nature

mu-cang-chai-rice-vietnam
Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai province) – Northern Vietnam. Travel Guide, Rice Terraces, Nature, Hmongs.

Information — Mu Cang Chai
How to move in Mu Cang Chai
Rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai
When to visit Mu Cang Chai
Where to stay in Mu Cang Chai
Faqs + Tips for Mu Cang Chai
Photos of Mu Cang Chai

Mu Cang Chai – a concert of rice terraces that you will remember for a long time.

    • Northern Vietnam offers a number of places with beautiful rice terraces, listing them all would be a longer list and you will still see them when you travel in the north. One of the most interesting places is in Yen Bai province – Mu Cang Chai District (Mù Cang Chải) with the same name town. This place has already been listed on prestigious travel portals as one of the most beautiful places in the world, mainly due to the fact that there are some photogenic spots.

A city surrounded by rice terraces, mountain areas and the Hmong area.

    • Mu Cang Chai itself is rather a small town along the Nam Kim River and in the valley, but surrounded by beautiful rice terraces and fields. Foreign tourists come to a much smaller extent than those from Asia, so the place cannot be described as a top tourist, such as Sapa, but even in some places and spots you meet tourists, it also depends when you visit Mu Cang Chai. But it is possible that with time everything will change and tourism will grow much more.
mu-cang-chai-town-vietnam
Mu Cang Chai town, a small city center.


Mu Cang Chai area begins at the town of Tú Lệ and majestic Khau Phạ Pass.

    • Mu Cang Chai District is a relatively larger mountain area (see map below), which winds the main road QL32. The district begins at the town of Tú Lệ and the fascinating Khau Phạ Pass (known also for paraglading), rice paddies and terraces starts right outside the city. All this route from Tu Lệ to Mu Cang Chai (about 40km) is a beautiful mountain place and if you can drive a motorbike – I highly recommend it (drive carefully and slowly).

Book Tickets from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai

Hmongs are the largest ethnic group in Mu Cang Chai district.

    • This place is not a place where you get “western” services, it is rather poor typical Vietnamese area, but more interesting. Yen Bai province is mainly an agricultural province. Hmong ethnic villages in high-lying areas, amazing rice terraces, harsh landscapes, but also the hard and demanding work of local Hmong on these terraces. Well, you might even have a chance to try that at the homestay.
    • A beautiful area of Mu Cang Chai District begins near Tú Lệ.
    • Khau Phạ Pass – also known for paragliding.
mu-cang-chai-town2-vietnam
View to the town of Mu Cang Chai from the rice terraces.


How to move and transport in Mu Cang Chai district? Motorbike, car?

    • Again, what else in Vietnam, if you do not have a motorbike or your private transfer, which will take you to places of interest you will be impoverished. E.g. interesting sightseeing spots in the south below the town are about 10 km away and you will definitely not want to walk on foot every day. Many other places, for example, are located a few km in higher altitudes, and you will not be able to get there on the bike because the roads in Mu Cang Chai district are very steep and some are difficult to navigate.

Book your bus tickets from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai online:

(You can change your travel route, e.g. Hanoi > Sapa, Mu Cang Chai > Hanoi…)

Without your motorcycle, mototaxi or private transport it will be hard.

    • Another option is to hire a motorbike taxi (Xe Om) in a place that will take you somewhere. However, you have to arrange it in the city, preferably in the hotel / accommodation, because in the city you will not find any official motorbike rentals, or I have not seen any (it may change over time). It should be noted that some smaller roads to the surroundings are less passable / rather steep and I recommend to avoid these roads in the monsoon season.
    • You should not to stay only in Mu Cang Chai town, it does not make a sense, explore the area.
    • Do not drive to high altitudes in the monsoon / rainy season.
mu-cang-chai-mam-xoi
Mu Cang Chai – Mam Xoi Viewpoint (Raspberry Hill) and rice terraces.


Rice terraces and interesting sightseeing spots around Mu Cang Chai.

    • Probably like most travelers you will come to Mu Cang Chai because there are amazing rice terraces, but that is not all. Another interesting option is to try homestay accommodation with local ethnic residents, even in the area of rice terraces. The surrounding area has a lot of interesting sightseeing places, photogenic places, some are marked for tourists and some are not, everyone will definitely find their nice place. Most of them are located at higher altitudes, eg. Raspberry Hill (Mâm Xôi) or La Pan Tan area.

Book your tour in Vietnam online

Interesting areas in Mu Cang Chai – La Pán Tẩn, Dế Xu Phình, Ku Bao Chay.

    • In Mu Cang Chai, from the better accessible areas, most of the places are located a few miles south below Mu Cang Chai. These are areas of rice terraces – La Pan Tẩn, Dế Xu Phình or Ku Bao Chay, Mo De. There are several scenic spots for beautiful surroundings. Some of these places are charged with a smaller entry fee, eg 1-2 USD. I dare say that most of you won’t go any further (honor to exceptions) anyway. All these places and interesting sites are marked on the Google map in the article about Yen Bai.
    • La Pán Tẩn – a few interesting sites, ethnic villages (Raspberry Hill – Mâm Xôi viewpoint).
    • Dế Xu Phình – another nice places, a little worse roads for motorbike, but you can ride.
    • Ku Bao Chay – several spots already by the road (eg. Mũi Giày Spot, Chòi Vọng Canh…).
mu-cang-chai-la-pan-tan2
Rice Terraces in Mu Cang Chai – La Pan Tan area.


What is the weather in Mu Cang Chai, what is the best time to visit?

    • Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam is an elevated area surrounded by mountain ranges. In winter it can be very cold, but in summer it is very hot. However, the climate in Mu Cang Chai is definitely more pleasant opposite to lowlands in northern Vietnam. Of course, sudden faster weather changes – hot/cold – cannot be ruled out. You can visit this place all year round, but I would rather avoid the monsoon season (summer months).

When to visit Mu Cang Chai, if I want to see beautifully colored rice terraces?

    • Yes, it’s nice at the harvest and just before it. The area plays a yellow-green color where you look and the harvest work is in full production. It’s very photogenic. However, this does not mean that this area is beautiful only at this time. However, if you want to see this beauty in the harvest or just before it, you have to come in autumn and preferably at the months of September-October. Rice is harvested there once a year just in the autumn, in May the rice is still sown.
    • September – October – harvest time, work on terraces, photogenic and colorful.
    • However, you can come all year round (if possible, avoid the monsoon season, the rains).
mu-cang-chai-rice-terrace-vietnam
Rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai – Ku Bao Chay (Chòi Vọng Canh).


What else can I see and visit in Mu Cang Chai, some historical monuments?

    • The town of Mu Cang Chai itself is not so interesting, just a typical Vietnamese town. There are restaurants, small shops, a local market, small guesthouses, but do not look there for historical monuments because you will not find them. What food is available in Mu Cang Chai? Typical Vietnamese dishes, do not look for European cuisine there because you will not find it here. In the area of Mu Cang Chai it is mainly about rice terraces, nature, ethnic villages of Hmong.
    • Mu Cang Chai is not a place where you can visit historical monuments – there are none.
mu-cang-chai-rice-terrace3-vietnam
Mu Cang Chai and rice terraces + women of Hmong ethnic group in Ku Bao Chay.


Accommodation in Mu Cang Chai, what are the options, homestay/hotel?

    • There are several options for accommodation, especially cheaper guesthouses, homestays or motels in Mu Cang Chai town or even south of rice terraces. The prices for accommodation in Mu Cang Chai are low and start at 8-10 USD/per room. Some homestay can be shared with more people, but then it is also a cheap way how to accommodate, somewhere is even for a fee, so you have eg. lunch dinner. Some of these accommodation is also located in the area of rice terraces, eg. in La Pan Tan or you can also stay close to Tu Le valley.

Accommodation in Mu Cang Chai

mu-cang-chai-hello-homestay
Hello Mu Cang Chai Homestay in La Pan Tan (photo: Agoda).

Consider staying south of Mu Cang Chai town, in the area of rice terraces.

    • The advantage of accommodation in the city is the availability of services, meals, etc. However, very interesting areas are located a few kilometers south of the town of Mu Cang Chai, so I recommend to consider whether to stay and use homestay directly at these places, in the villages of ethnic local people, it’s up to you. However, the services are a little bit more limited, the roads somewhere worse, but do not be afraid to get food almost everywhere and in addition you will be in a fantastic area. Please note that homestay is modestly furnished.

Accommodation in Mu Cang Chai (at the rice terraces):

Hello Mu Cang Chai Homestay
Do Gu Homestay
Hong Minh Guesthouse
Mu Cang Chai Ecolodge
Nhu Y Guesthouse

Accommodation in Mu Cang Chai town:

Mu Cang Homestay
Huong Siu Homestay

Accommodation in Tu Le:

Le Champ Tu Le Resort

mu-cang-chai-rice-terrace1-vietnam
Rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai – Dế Xu Phình.


icon-info-circle FAQ + Travel Tips – Mu Cang Chai rice terracces in Yen Bai:

How to get and travel from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai – Yen Bai?

    • You can take a bus from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai (if you are not riding a motorbike), but travel by bus takes about 7-8 hours (it can change). Some buses to Mu Cang Chai depart from My Dinh or Giap Bat stations in Hanoi, check the times on site. Bus tickets from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai cost about 8-14 USD. You can also try to search for tickets at Baolau or 12go.asia. You can also book tickets for minivan from Hanoi to Tu Le on 12go.asia.
    • Book bus tickets from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai on Baolau.
    • If you are traveling from the north – from Lai Chau and Sapa to Mu Cang Chai – there are some local buses, but find out the bus connection in advance before departure. Note that bus transport is limited. Travel by bus from Sapa to Mu Can Chai takes about 6 hours.
    • You can also travel by train from Hanoi to Yen Bai (train tickets you will book and buy on Baolau or 12go.asia), from Yen Bai town to Mu Cang Chai you have to travel by local bus.
    • Train tickets from Hanoi to Yen Bai you can book on Baolau or 12go.asia.

Where is Mu Cang Chai?

    • Mu Cang Chai town is about 300 km north-west of Hanoi in Yen Bai Province, 100 km from Nghia Lo. Mu Cang Chai District is surrounded by the provinces of Son La, Lai Chau and Lao Cai. It is located about 1000 meters above sea level.
cuong-lan-bus-hanoi-to-mu-cang-chai
Cuong Lan sleeper bus from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai (photo: Baolau).

What to see and visit in Mu Cang Chai?

    • Mainly you can see rice terraces, ethnic villages and nice surroundings, nature. Sites and viewpoints in Mu Cang Chai – Mâm Xôi (Raspberry Hill), Mũi Giày, Chii Vọng Canh, Điểm chụp Lúa Sáng Nhù – La Pan Tan Area, Dế Xu Phìn, Ku Bao Chay, Che Cu Nha, Mo De…
    • Amazing and fascinating Khau Phạ Pass (about 40 km from Mu Cang Chai town)

When to visit Mu Cang Chai? What is the best time?

    • You can visit Mu Cang Chai throughout the year (but rather avoid the monsoon season – summer months), the best time to visit Mu Cang Chai is the turn of September to October – colored golden-yellow rice terraces and harvest time.
    • Mu Cang Chai in March – you can see glittering ponds before locals plant rice seedlings from April to May. After May, the hills are covered in green until the fields start to turn yellow with ripe rice in early September. During the harvest in October, the golden rice fields stand out amidst green forests.

How does transport and buses work there?

    • Bus transportation works, but the departure times from the town, eg. to Sapa, Lai Chau, are limited. The local buses often stand on the square in the center of Mu Cang Chai town, but I suggest you check it out before you go, and ask at your hotel/homestay. You do not find timetables anywhere.

How to get from Mu Cang Chai to Sapa?

    • There are some buses, but again, bus connections are limited and some buses are not really comfortable. Check out the departure times in advance, preferably where you are staying. Please note – travel by bus from Mu Cang Chai to Sapa takes about 6 hours (can change).

How to move around Mu Cang Chai?

    • If you can – rent a motorbike on site and follow Google Maps, some small roads may not be included. It does not make a sense to stay only in Mu Cang Chai town, places of interest are located a few kilometers from the city. Another option is to get a mototaxi (Xe Om). Some of the surrounding roads are less passable, poor quality and bad condition.

Where to stay, where to eat in Mu Cang Chai?

    • You can find some accommodation south of the Mu Cang Chai town (La Pan Tan area), where you can find the most interesting spots and the rice terraces. Accommodation in Mu Cang Chai – guesthouses, motels, cheap hotels, local homestays of Hmong or Dao people + restaurants mainly in the city.

How much is Mu Cang Chai tourist area?

    • Mostly Asian tourists and mainly Vietnamese arrive to Mu Cang Chai. It is possible that there will be more visitors on some spots and almost nobody on another spots. It also depends when you come to Mu Cang Chai. Some sightseeing places are also charged.

Why to visit Mu Cang Chai?

    • Although not just rice terraces, this place is indeed one of the most photogenic places with rice terraces in the north of Vietnam. Mu Cang Chai is one of the most amazing landscapes of rice-terraced fields in Vietnam.
    • Local terraces are among the 2,500ha recognised as a national heritage site in 2007 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. Personally, I can highly recommend this place to your visit, you should not miss Mu Cang Chai.

Mu Cang Chai (Mù Cang Chải) – Information:

    • Location: Yen Bai province – Vietnam
    • How far is it: About 180 km from Yen Bai city (300 km from Hanoi)
    • Ticket: There is no admission, but some viewpoints are charged
    • Tourist attraction: Rice terraces, mountains, homestay, nature
    • How to get there: Bus or motorbike, there is no train
    • How to get from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai: Bus or train+bus
    • How to get from Yen Bai to Mu Cang Chai: Local bus or motorbike
    • Opening time: Sunday – Saturday

icon-map-marker Tourist map of Mu Cang district:

(in the article about Yen Bai you will find a detailed Google map with point of interests and viewpoints)

mu-cang-chai-vietnam-map
Map of Mu Cang Chai district in Vietnam.


Current weather in Mu Cang Chai district:

(rainfall, click on the top right corner to see more weather information in this area)

More photos from Mu Cang Chai area:

mu-cang-chai-de-xu-phin2
Rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai – Dế Xu Phình area.
mu-cang-chai-la-pan-tan1
The best way how to explore La Pan Tan in Mu Cang Chai is to rent a motorbike.
mu-cang-chai-food-pho
Pho in local restaurant in Mu Cang Chai town.
mu-cang-chai-de-xu-phin1
Golden-yellow rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai – Dế Xu Phình.
mu-cang-chai-rice-terrace6-vietnam
Green-yellow rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai – Ku Bao Chay.
mu-cang-chai-rice-terrace4-vietnam
Rice terraces and viewpoint – Mũi Giày spot in Mu Cang Chai + Nam Kim stream.
mu-cang-chai-mam-xoi1
Mu Cang Chai – Mam Xoi (Raspberry Hill) in La Pan Tan area.
mu-cang-chai-mam-xoi2
Hard working local people in Mu Cang Chai – Mam Xoi (Raspberry Hill).
mu-cang-chai-la-pan-tan
Mu Cang Chai – Rice terraces in La Pan Tan area.
mu-cang-chai-rice-terrace5-vietnam
Harvest season – Rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai – Ku Bao Chay.
mu-cang-chai-town1-vietnam
Women of the Hmong ethnic group on Mu Cang Chai Square.
mu-cang-chai-rice-terrace2-vietnam
The valley in Ku Bao Chay area and Nam Kim stream.
mu-cang-chai-de-xu-phin
Harvest season in Mu Cang Chai – Dế Xu Phình area.
mu-cang-chai-road-la-pan-tan
The road around the rice terraces at La Pan Tan (Mu Cang Chai).

Hai Phong > Ninh BinhBuses to Ha LongQuan LanNhaTrang > Phu QuocP.Quoc > DaLatBangkok > S.ReapNinh Binh to HanoiPhu Quoc

Yen Bai province icon-angle-double-right

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.9 / 5. Vote count: 17

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Share: