YEN BAI – Travel guide + Rice terraces


Yen Bai – Vietnam (Travel guide). The rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai.

Information icon-info-circle How to get to Yen Bai Weather icon-sun-o Accommodation    Interesting places icon-search-plus Map

Yen Bai is an agriculturally based province with great potential.

    • Yen Bai (Yên Bái) shares its borders with six provinces: Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Son La, Phu Tho, Tuyen Quang. The province is inhabited by approximately 750,200 people. The train runs from Hanoi to Lao Cai pass the Yen Bai town. From Lao Cai town you can continue to Sapa, Lai Chau or Bac Ha and Ha Giang. Yen Bai province is not exactly a place where there are thousands of foreign tourists , which may be an advantage.

Yen Bai province is visited mainly by Vietnamese tourists.

    • The history of Yen Bai is known for its French colonization, the most well known episode being the “Yen Bai mutiny“. This was an uprising of Vietnamese soldiers in the French colonial army on February 10, 1930 in co-operation with civilian supporters. These supporters were members of the Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang (Vietnamese Nationalist Party).

People on the rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai district.

The region is inhabited by 30 different ethnic groups, mainly Thai+Hmong people.

    • The Kinh people, who form the majority of the provinces population settled here together with local minority tribes. There are approximately 30 ethnic groups in this area, 4 of the groups are the Yao people. The Thai and Hmong people are the biggest ethnic groups of this province. Forestry and agriculture form the main economy of the province.

The large Thac Ba lake is easily accessible from the town of Yen Bai.

    • Approximately 15 km from the town of Yen Bai is the well known Thac Ba lake. Thac Ba lake is a great natural wealth of the country, and is an important source of hydroelectric power. It is also called a “ Small Ha Long“ with hundreds of islets and it is a convenient place for ecotourism. This lake has almost 1,300 islands and a lot of caves. Dong Cuong Festival is an important festival of the province and is held every year after the Tet festivities. You can see lots of popular games and traditions with your own eyes. The main attraction of Yen Bai, is however, the mountains and rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai.

Thac Ba Lake, 15 km from the town of Yen Bai.

Mountain ranges and beautiful valleys with rice terraces and fields.

    • Beautiful scenery and landscapes can be seen mainly at the Mu Cang Chai and Nghia Lo town, also between these 2 cities. In Nghia Lo and Mu Cang Chai, you can see the second largest rice fields in northern Vietnam. In autumn / fall, the rice paddies start changing into a yellow-gold colour. The Harvest runs from September until the end of October. These fields are recognised as a national scenic site as well as the unique cultural identity of the Hmong ethnic group.

Rice paddies close to Nghia Lo (on the route to Tram Tau), about 10 km from the town.

Suoi Giang – the place where hundreds of year old special tea grows.

    • The area is also surrounded by small villages and wooden houses of the Thai and Hmong ethnic people. The town also holds a general market where you can buy almost anything. You can visit the area near the village of Suoi Giang, where you can see the tea trees which are 100-400 of years old. Local people of the area call this tea “medicinal tea“ (Zie Sua) and believe that it has curative properties .
    • The altitude is approximately 1,500 – 2,200 meters above sea level, and there is a mild climate with an average annual temperature of 20 °C. Suoi Giang is only about 15 km from Nghia Lo and you can travel by motorbike

Road to Suoi Giang, about 15 km from Nghia Lo.

Mu Cang Chai area offers several amazing viewpoints from the rice terraces.

    • In the vicinity of Mu Cang Chai there are several very interesting sightseeing points on rice terraces or directly from rice terraces. Some of these places are only accesible on motorbike (or mototaxi) or walking. We can name the fascinating photogenic tourist site Mam Xoi Viewpoint (Sticky rice tray hill) or Mui Giay, both spots easily accessible from the road. Other beautiful place of rice terraces with viewpoints are located in the La Pan Tan area (near Mam Xoi).

Accommodation in Mu Cang Chai (La Pan Tan area):

▶️ Hello Mu Cang Chai Homestay
▶️ Do Gu Homestay
▶️ Hồng Minh guesthouse
▶️ Mu Cang Chai Ecolodge


Mam Xoi Viewpoint / Sticky rice tray hill (Đồi Mâm Xôi) in Mu Cang Chai.

Mũi Giày or Mâm Xôi viewpoints are eassily accesible photogenic places.

    • Mũi Giày is a well known photogenic spot, about 15 km from Mu Cang Chai town. This place is practically at the main road and is therefore very easily accessible. Here you can easily observe a very hard work of local people, mostly from the ethnic Hmong group. Rent a motorbike in Mu Cang Chai and explore these nearby places on your own.

Mũi Giày spot, about 15 km from Mu Cang Chai town.

Tu Le (Tú Lệ) is the entrance gate to the stunning Khau Phạ Pass.

    • Tu Le is a small town about 40 km in front of Mu Cang Chai. It is suitable as a short stopover if you travel from Nghia Lo to Mu Cang Chai, you will not actually miss this place. Again, this place offers beautiful valley, rice fields and terraces and you can also accomodate there in Nha Nghi or homestay. Approximately 3 kms from this town, the first passage of the fascinating Khau Pha Pass starts, which is about 30 km long and you can continue to Mu Cang Chai through this stunning photogenic place.

Tu Le is only about 3 km before the Khau Pha Pass (Đèo Khau Phạ).

Cheap guesthouses and hotels can be found in the Mu Cang Chai area.

    • In Yen Bai city, Nghia Lo and Mu Cang Chai you can find a variety of cheap vietnamese guesthouses. Prices are very low, around 6 USD / person. For a short stay these are quite sufficient, in Yen Bai you will not find any luxury hotels. If you travel to the north of Vietnam (Lai Chau, Sapa), you can take the bus that leaves at 7:00am from Mu Cang Chai in the city center (this time can change, ask at the hotel).

Luc Yen district with the gem market in Yen The town.

    • In the northern part of Thac Ba lake is the small inconspicuous town of Yen The (Luc Yen district). At first glance it isn‘t any different from other towns in northern Vietnam. In this town, however a small market with precious stones and gems takes place every day in the morning (7.00 – 10.00 pm). Some stones found in this area fetch high prices, but some stones are also cheap. The whole area is well-known for mining and prospecting for these stones, for example ruby and sapphire. Yen The town is a little out of the way from Yen Bai town (about 80km, see map), but if you plan your way around, its worth a stop here.

The Gem Market in Luc Yen – Yen The town (photo:, licensed under CC by 3.0).

  How to get from Hanoi to Yen Bai and Nghia Lo (train+bus):

    • From Hanoi to Yen Bai – by bus (My Dinh and Giap Bat bus station in Hanoi) to the town of Yen Bai and Nghia Lo.
    • You can also travel by train to the town of Yen Bai (in the direction of Lao Cai) and in Yen Bai town you can take a local bus to Nghia Lo (or to Mu Cang Chai).
    • Use a search engine of transport links where you can buy train tickets to Yen Bai town.
    • Book and buy train e-tickets from Hanoi to Yen Bai on Baolau icon-external-link-square or icon-external-link-square

🚍  How to get from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai by bus:

    • From Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai – you can travel by tourist sleeper bus to Mu Cang Chai from Hanoi, however, it is a long road, about 300 km and the journey can take up to 8 hours (it might be even longer). The roads are not in good condition. You can use for example a sleeper bus of Cuong Lan, this bus goes from Hanoi to Mai Chau. Bus tickets from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai cost about 8-14 USD. Some buses depart also from My Dinh bus station in Hanoi. You can also book bus tickets from Hanoi to Tu Le on
    • If you are traveling from Sapa (or Lai Chau town) you can use local buses to Mu Cang Chai or Nghia Lo town. For the current timetable ask at your hotel or at the bus stations in Lai Chau or Sapa. Mu Cang Chai and Khau Pa pass are the most beautiful places with huge rice terraces and view in Yen Bai.
    • Book bus e-tickets from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai on Baolau icon-external-link-square

Sleeper tourist bus of Cuong Lan from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai (photo: Baolau).

How to get from Nghia Lo to Mu Cang Chai:

    • From Nghia Lo to Mu Cang Chai town (about 100 km) – you can travel by local bus from Nghia Lo to Mu Cang Chai town. The exact times you need to find out in Nghia Lo or ask at the hotel where you are staying.

Rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai district.

Weather in Yen Bai:

    • If you like trekking it is recommended in the months from September to November and March to May.
    • In these months its very good weather and temperatures are from 15 to 28 °C and a night temperature from 10-18 °C.
    • The average temperature in Yen Bai is from 18-22 °C.
    • The best time to visit Mu Cang Chai are the planting season (June) and the harvesting season (The end of September to the beginning of October).
    • The peroid where the Rice is getting yellow is from 15 September to 20 October (it can change).
    • The coldest period in Mu Cang Chai and Nghia Lo is from December to February. There is often thick fog in the winter, but then it can be a very nice sunny day, everything changes rapidly.
      Current weather in Yen Bai

Accommodation in Yen Bai:

    • The offer on the booking portals Agoda and Booking in the province of Yen Bai is a little bit limited.
    • Try Airbnb, there are lots of typical homestays in wooden houses.
    • But it is not a problem to stay in Mu Cang Chai but also in Nghia Lo.
    • There are some cheap hotels, hostels but also typical homestay.
    • In larger cities like Yen Bai, Nghia Lo or Luc Yen you can find a few hotels and hostels. In the area of the rice terraces – Mu Cang Chai, Tu Le – there are a few cheap guesthouses, but homestays of the ethnic residents.
      Accommodation in Yen Bai / Mu Cang Chai

  Places of Interest in Yen Bai:

    • Thac Ba Lake (10 km from Yen Bai town)
    • Nghia Lo town and surrounding villages
    • Suoi Giang village and old tea trees (about 15 km from Nghia Lo)
    • Muong Lo – the second largest rice field in northwestern Vietnam
    • Mu Cang Chai (mountains and rice terraces and fields)
    • Mam Xoi viewpoint, Mui Giay viewpoint in Mu Cang Chai district (views to the rice paddies)
    • La Pan Tan district in Mu Cang Chai (rice terraces and valley)
    • Tu Le – rice fields, terraces, valley
    • Phu Luong Nature Reserve and Ta Chi Nhu mountain (2979 m)
    • Tram Tau district (Ta rapids church, Ban Mu, ethnic villages…)
    • villages with ethnic people in Mu Cang Chai (Che Cu Nha, De Xu Phinh…)
    • Rice terraces and fields in the rural mountain valley
    • Dong Cuong palace and neighborhood
    • Hac Y mountain with Dai Cai citadel and palace
    • The Gem Market in Luc Yen town

 Yen Bai / Mu Cang Chai – tourist map:

Frequently asked questions about Yen Bai / Mu Cang Chai:

How to book tickets from Hanoi to Yen Bai or Mu Cang Chai?

    • You can book bus tickets to Mu Cang Chai or train tickets to Yen Bai online on Baolau or

How to search and book a tour to Yen Bai province?

    • You can search and book a tour to Yen Bai province + Mu Cang Chai online at Tourradar. With Tourradar you can book trips in northern and central or southern Vietnam.

How to move in Yen Bai province?

    • The best way is to travel on your own or take a private transfer, because buses are limited, e.g. rent a motorbike. IDP is necessary if you want to rent a motorbike in Vietnam. You can book your motorbike in Hanoi online with Bikesbooking. It is good to know, roads in Vietnam are dangerous, drive carefully and slowly.

What is the travel time from Hanoi to Yen Bai / Mu Cang Chai?

    • Travel by train from Hanoi to Yen Bai takes about 4-4.5 hours.
    • Travel by tourist bus from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai takes about 7 hours.

How much does it cost to get from Hanoi to Yen Bai / Mu Cang Chai?

    • Travel by tourist bus from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai costs about $8-14/pp.
    • Travel by train from Hanoi to Yen Bai costs about $6-10/pp.

How far is Yen Bai and Mu Cang Chai from Hanoi?

    • Travel distance from Hanoi to Yen Bai town is about 160 km by road and about 320 km to Mu Cang Chai.

 Where to go from Yen Bai town:

You can continue to Mu Cang Chai, Sapa (Lao Cai), Hanoi.

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Pro 5, 2019 | Posted by | Komentáře nejsou povolené u textu s názvem YEN BAI – Travel guide + Rice terraces