Vietnam is one of the largest rice producers and consumers in the whole world. The country holds the second position in rice production after Thailand and ranks seventh in rice consumption. Rice farming plays a fundamental part in the life of many Vietnamese farmers as their main source of income with most of them going to the farms as early as 5.00 a.m. and departing the paddies as late as 10.00 p.m.
There are wide varieties of rice; they come in brown, red, white, amber or black. The grains may be thin or thick and short or long. Normally rice thrives in flooded areas mainly because it requires a continual water supply. For most Vietnamese farmers, Red River and Mekong Delta are their main sources of water for the growth of rice in Vietnam lowland areas. However, for farmers on the highlands, they must rely on mountain steps and high rainfall to grow rice.
Vietnam has two major rice growing seasons: spring and autumn. The farmers in Mekong Delta also enjoy an additional cropping season during winter. Most farmers use conventional methods of growing rice although the modern System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is becoming a popular method among farmers in the lowland regions.
What’s farming method on highland areas?
Most rice farmers in the country use the labor-intensive traditional farming methods in rice production. Rice farming begins by placing the seeds in a seedbed for about 2-3 weeks until they grow three leaves and a height of 20 to 25 centimeters. The farmers then gather the young plants into handfuls and transplant them in a bunch in the growing field. The farmers have to maintain proper spacing between the seeds to maximize their yields.
Farmers then spend the next two months tending to the rice farms until the plants are ripe for harvest. Weed removal, considered to be women’s job, is one of the common practice during the growth period while men plough the land with the help of a buffalo in the preparation of the harvest season. The farmers also scoop water from the large irrigation channels using crude tools made of bamboo and sturdy wood to irrigate the smaller rice paddies.
Best places to see rice terraces in Northern Vietnam
One of the most Instagrammable scenery in your tour to Northern Vietnam is the golden rice fields during harvesting seasons in Northern Vietnam. During harvesting seasons, our rice fields are covered by mesmerizing yellow color. Tourists will be delighted by the yellow color in harmony with blue sky, white colors, green mountains and rustic ethnic houses. Here are some best places for you to enjoy beautiful rice fields during harvesting seasons in Northern Vietnam.
“Your face to the earth and your back to the sun” is our traditional proverb dedicated to the hard work of our farmers. Wetland rice farming is a prominent farming method in Vietnam. In Vietnam, much of the farm labor is done by water buffalo and seedlings are planted by hand.
Rice needs a lot of water to grow. The flatter the land is, the more rice farmers can grow. With terrace farming, peasants can prevent the water from flowing freely from the hillside. Soil improvement is involved in this farming method and usually done by men. It is crucial to make water flowing constantly in the rice terraces, especially when they transplant rice seedlings. That’s the reason why you see terraced rice fields in mountainous areas and paddy fields in Red River Delta.
Northeastern and Northwestern regions are two best places in Vietnam for you to enjoy unforgettable harvesting seasons and take photos of our mesmerizing terraced rice fields. Compared to other famous rice terraces in Southeast Asia such as Tegalalang Rice Terrace in Bali (Indonesia) and Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao (Philippines), rice terraces in Northern Vietnam have a distinctive feature that once you visit, you will never forget.
The harvesting season that falls in June has attracted most photographers and tourists to the country. That’s the summertime in Vietnam when the terraced rice fields display the stunning green-yellow rice which is a wonder to behold. Consisting of six provinces (Hoa Binh, Son La, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Lao Cai and Yen Bai), the Northwestern region is the best place in Vietnam for you to see golden rice fields. Harvesting season at the end of autumn is the favorable time to travel to this region in your discovery tour to Vietnam.
This beautiful scenery can also be seen until September on the highland areas. Here below are the best amazing places to see rice terraces in Northern Vietnam.
1 Northwestern area
1.1. Ta Leng (Lai Chau)
When to go?
September to October
What to see?
If you find Sapa is crowded in harvest season, Lai Chau is the place for you.
Ta Leng is beautiful in both harvesting seasons in September to October and ‘pour season’ in March and April. From the distance, the rice terraces look like staircases to the heaven. These jaw-dropping rice fields attract thousands of domestic and international tourists every year. Besides the rice terraces, you can visit ethnic tribes belonging to Mong people.
Getting to Ta Leng
Lai Chau in harvest season
Ta Leng town is 8 kilometers away from Lai Chau City and near the 4D Highway. There are two ways to get to Ta Leng:
- You can travel by bus directly from Hanoi to Lai Chau (390 kilometers). You can ask the bus driver to stop at the way to Ta Leng in the 4D Highway.
- You can travel to Sapa, then rent a motorbike to Ta Leng. The journey is O Quy Ho Pass – Binh Lu – Tam Duong – Ta Leng (80 kilometers).
1. 2 Sapa, located in the northwest of Vietnam, is one of the most famous tourist attractions for rice terrace. Due to climate, only one crop per year is produced. You can see the rice terrace fields in the Muong Hoa valley between Sapa town and Fansipan Mountain. The best time to tour around Sapa should be from June to early October, which is also in harvest season when the terraced rice fields turn into yellow bloom.
1.3. Y Ty (Lao Cai)
When to go?
From the end of August to the beginning of October
What to see?
You can find perfect tranquility in Y Ty
Y Ty, located about 100 km away from Lao Cai province, is named “foggy land” with amazing terraced fields and beautiful earth walled houses belonging to Ha Nhi ethnic group. This place was listed among best mystical destinations in Asia by The US’s Thrillist website. The best time to visit Y Ty is in harvest season around September when the land is entirely covered in the bright yellow crop.
It is said that travelers visit Y Ty for two main purposes: hunting the clouds and taking photos of stunning rice terraces. These rice fields are even more grandiose when being put in a background of white clouds, breathtaking mountains and pristine jungles. You can take photos of clouds moving over the fields, which you cannot find anywhere else in Vietnam.
Y Ty is the home to H’Mong and Ha Nhi ethnic people. You can visit Ha Nhi people in their unique ‘mushroom’ house. Unlike any stilted houses of other ethnic groups, this kind of architecture with a 40-centimeter-thick wall helps to protect people from severe weather.
Getting to Y Ty
Undulating rice terraces in Y Ty
You can take a night train or a bus to Lao Cai, and then take another bus to Y Ty. You can also rent a motorbike in Lao Cai to go to Y Ty. There are two routes you can choose:
- Lao Cai – Bat Xat – Trinh Tuong – Lung Po – A Mu Sung – A Lu – Ngai Thau – Y Ty: The road condition for this route is relatively safe except the short one to Ngai Thau.
- Lao Cai – Sapa – Muong Hum – Den Sang – Y Ty: This route is a little bit bumpy and uneven.
1.4. Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai)
When to go?
Mid-September to mid-October
What to see?
The rice terraces are the symbol of Hmong people’s diligence.
Visiting Mu Cang Chai in harvesting seasons is a cannot-miss part of your tour in Vietnam. In 2015, the prestigious American magazine, National Geographic, listed the golden rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai to be one of the most magnificent landscapes in the world. Created by the diligence of Hmong people, terraced rice fields have become their cultural heritage and represented their creativity and indomitable spirit over unfavorable nature.
There are many other attractions for you in Yen Bai, for example, Khau Pha Pass, one of the most magnificent passes in Vietnam and Tu Le town which is well-known for its delicious cốm (young sticky rice).
Getting to Mu Cang Chai
Mu Cang Chai has 2500 hectares of rice terraces, mostly in La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha, De Xu Phinh communes, etc.
The mountainous district Mu Cang Chai is located at 1,000 meters above the sea level and offers some spectacular scenery during the rice harvest season
Mu Cang Chai district is a famous rice growing district and boasts 2,200 ha of terraced fields and beautiful landscapes. Tourists flock to the area during the harvest season, since the colourful range of yellow and green and orange, together with some cultural and authentic practices of harvesting rice are most astonishing.
The area is so marvellous that it has been ranked as the national scenic site by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Mu Cang Chai is 300 km away from Hanoi. This place has a fame for its 700 hectares of terraced rice fields that attracts a stream of tourist and photographers visiting between September- October when it’s in the ripe rice season. Soaking up in the aroma of ripened rice crops and the images of stretching terraced rice fields would be unforgettable experiences for anyone reaching this land.
You can choose some reputable bus brands such as Hai Van or Ngan Ha to travel from Hanoi to Than Uyen, then head to Mu Cang Chai. To be more flexible, we recommend that you rent a motorbike in Yen Bai so that you can travel around some attractions here.
1.5. Mai Chau (Hoa Binh)
When to go?
May and June
What to see?
Mai Chau – an alternative to Sapa
There is a famous Vietnamese verse about Mai Chau ‘Her season of fragrance of glutinous rice in Mai Chau’ by poet Quang Dung, which perfectly described the beauty of this town during harvesting season. Mai Chau is an alternative to Sapa if you are short of time but still want to see our breathtaking rice fields.
Taking a short cycling tour to Mai Chau, tourists will be thrilled by its rice paddies cultivated by Tay and H’Mong ethnic tribes. Lac and Poom Coong villages are the places you can witness the attraction of this town in harvesting seasons. It is tempting to try colorful sticky rice (xôi nếp nương) made by fresh ripen rice and drink can wine with the locals in their stilted houses.
Getting to Mai Chau
Harvesting season in Mai Chau
It is easy to transfer to Mai Chau by a public bus. Mai Chau Ecolodge provides you a private car and shuttle bus from Hanoi.
2. Northeastern area
Two best destinations to relish harvesting seasons in the Northeastern area are Ha Giang and Lang Son.
2.1. Hoang Su Phi (Ha Giang)
When to go?
September until the end of October
What to see?
There is one crop a year in Hoang Su Phi. There is a ‘pour season’ in May and harvest season in September.
There are two best times to travel to Ha Giang – in May when the peasants start their crop and in October when it is the harvesting season. Besides Dong Van, Meo Vac and Yen Minh in this province, don’t forget to spend time enjoying breathtaking rice terraces in Hoang Su Phi. Hoang Su Phi is the home to many ethnic groups: Hmong, Red Zao, Nung and Tay. With their diligence and hard work, ethnic people here had transformed rocky land and dry cliff stones into fertile rice terraced fields 300 years ago.
Hoang Su Phi, located in the west of Ha Giang province, has attracted a great number of tourists by wonderful views of terraced rice fields. This place was recognized as the rice terrace National Relics in 2012. Different seasons portray different colors along these terraces. Apart from a tranquil atmosphere, Hoang Su Phi also remains deep cultural values embodied in the farming experiences.
The terraced rice fields in Hoang Su Phi were recognized as National Heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2012. Coming to Hoang Su Phi, tourists will be mesmerized by staircase-like and vibrant rice fields in yellow bloom.
Getting to Hoang Su Phi
Picturesque view of Hoang Su Phi
From Hanoi, you can travel to Hoang Su Phi either by bus or motorbike.
- By motorbike: You can follow this journey: Hanoi – Ha Giang – Bac Quang – Tan Quang – Hoang Su Phi – Xin Man – Coc Pai – Lao Cai – Hanoi. We do not recommend traveling by motorbike in this mountainous area, especially in rainy seasons (May – August).
- By bus: From Hanoi, head to My Dinh Bus Station. The bus fare from Hanoi to Ha Giang is around VND 260,000 – 300,000 dong per person. When arriving to Bac Quang crossroads, tell the drive and change the bus to Vinh Quang – Hoang Su Phi, the distance is about 58 kilometers.
2.2. Bac Son (Lang Son)
When to go?
The end of July or the end of November
What to see?
Beautiful rice fields in Bac Son
Bac Son Town is located in Bac Son District, Lang Son Province. It is about 70 kilometers from Lang Son City and 160 kilometers from Hanoi. The whole town is nestled in the heart of a large valley, surrounded by charming mountains and beautiful sceneries. The first impression of visitors when coming to this town is a pleasant climate, combined with unspoiled nature and adventurous trails.
Bac Son Valley is the area where ethnic Tay people cultivate their crops. Due to the terrain and weather conditions, people cultivate two crops. The time at the end of July and mid-November were the harvesting seasons here.
The signature feature of Bac Son rice terraces is that the yellow ripen crops are dotted with green ones. The reason is that each crop is grown at different times.
Getting to Bac Son
Bac Son attracts a lot of travelers during harvesting seasons.
You can come to many bus stations in Hanoi (My Dinh, Gia Lam and Luong Yen) to buy bus tickets to Lang Son. The bus fare ranges from VND 100,000 to 170,000 dong. When arriving at Lang Son Station, catch a taxi to Bac Son Valley; this journey will take 60 kilometers.
3. Red River Delta
Different from the mountainous area, rice terraces in Red River Delta have their own irresistible and alluring beauty.
Tam Coc (Ninh Binh)
When to go?
From the end of May to the beginning of June
What to see?
Tam Coc in harvesting season
Tam Coc – Bich Dong is one of the most popular tourist attractions in a Ninh Binh tour, besides Bai Dinh Pagoda, Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, and Hoa Lu Ancient Capital. With its system of caves, limestone mountains, captivating rice paddies, this place is considered as a ‘Ha Long Bay on the land’ and is a famous place for an eco tour to Vietnam.
During harvesting seasons, rice fields in Tam Coc – Bich Dong are filled with the brilliant yellow color of ripening rice, highlighted by the green glimpse of mighty mountains and hills. Sitting on a wooden traditional rowboat is the best way to appreciate the beauty of this place. Along the river’s banks, you can see our hard-working peasants harvesting rice, which is the signature scenery of Red River Delta during the ripening rice season.
Getting to Tam Coc
Tam Coc – Ha Long Bay on land
There are train and bus to Ninh Binh. From Ninh Binh city, take a taxi to Tam Coc, which is 6 kilometers to the south of Ninh Binh. On your trip to Tam Coc, you can visit Mua Caves and Hoa Lu Ancient Capital as well.
In addition, To enjoy the most beautiful sightseeings in Vietnam by your eyes, you can see some itineraries below Halong Bay Cruises – Hanoi Tour – Vietnam Tours – Sapa Tours – Package Tours or book a private car to discover where ever you want to enjoy the Vietnamese taste.