The US broadcaster described Mu Cang Chai as one of the nation’s remote gems situated deep in the valleys and home to several colourful mountainous villages which are encircled by fields containing towering rice terraces alongside the waters of the Red river. Each of the fields are agricultural feats of precision as they are located on rugged mountains which seemingly ascend to the heavens above.
The history of the area dates back centuries when the ancestors of Northern Vietnam’s local hill tribes started to settle locally and began to farm the fields in order to survive.
While rice thrives in water-logged conditions, such as in the flooded Mekong Delta at the country’s southern tip, growing rice in vertical conditions is far more challenging, with hill tribes creating a terraced system in a bid to control the downward flow of water.
In total, rice terraces cover over 2,200 hectares of land throughout Mu Cang Chai, 500 of which were designated as national heritage sites back in 2007 by the country’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Guests to the region are able to explore three nearby villages, La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha, and De Xu Phinh, which serve as must-see destinations which offer diverse entertainment activities such as cycling, trekking, or experiencing local life alongside ethnic minority groups.
Festivals continue to attract record numbers of tourists each year, including an autumn paragliding festival that is beginning to establish Mu Cang Chai as a fresh destination for adventure travel.
Other popular activities include taking in the breathtaking Khau Pha pass and exploring both the Mo Waterfall or the Pu Nhu Waterfall.
According to statistics, Mu Cang Chai received 90,000 visitors during 2018, a steep rise compared to the 20,000 that visited in 2015. As a result, local authorities are looking at ways of protecting local ethnic groups whilst simultaneously raising environmental and ecotourism awareness.