Every year, into grain season, millions of tourist and photographer come to mountain areas in Northern Vietnam, where owns the most majestic rice terraces in the world. Mu Cang Chai (Mù Căng Chải), Yen Bai province, is one of most attractive places. Personally, I think Mu Cang Chai’s rice fields are even more beautiful than Sapa.
Not only the majestic and beautiful terraces, but you can also learn the unique and rustic life of H’mong ethnic group, a poor life but warm-hearted, a rare thing in the modern world. The highlights on Mu Cang Chai trip that you must enjoy: majestic riceterraces as high as 9 storeys of cloud, Tu Le sticky rice, Tu Le hot stream and feeling the unique life of H’Mong ethnic. In this article, I will share my experiences, tips and things to do in Mu Cang Chai.
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Best time to visit Mu Cang Chai
Time of grain season usually start from September 15 to October 20, however there’s a bit of change every year. You can also call few hotels at there to ask the rice status, or leave your questions in the comment section, i will find out for you. If you can’t visit on the grain season, you can visit on May to July, when H’mong people start sowing, to sightsee green terraces, very beautiful too.
Get Mu Cang Chai by bus from Hanoi
Distance Hanoi – Mu Cang Chai is 280km (about 180miles), but the route is very bad so you have to take about 1 day to arrive by bus. (starting from early evening, and arrive at late affternoon of next day). Few bus firms run the route Hanoi – Mu Cang Chai:
1. Hung Thanh bus. Add: 162B Tran Quang Khai – Hanoi city, tel: +8443.9274.285. Start from Hanoi at 7.45pm and arrive at 3.pm
2. Hai Van bus, start from My Dinh bus station (at 20 Pham Hung street – Tu Liem – Hanoi) at 7pm. Tel: +849188.8.131.52 or +8443.7223.588
3. Hoang Anh bus, start from Giap Bat bus station (on Giai Phong street – Hanoi) at 5pm. Tel: +84984.971.999 or +84912.317.515
4. Anh Tu in My Dinh station, start at 5.30pm or 6.45pm. Tel: +8498.6025.569 or +8416.9928.6488
5. Khanh Thuy start from My Dinh at 7.pm, Tel: +84988.976.321 or +8497.6652.400
There’re many other buses in Giap Bat and My Dinh bus station. The most of buses run the route Hanoi – Lai Chau also pass Mu Cang Chai.
Mu Cang Chai itinerary for 3 days by bus
The first day, get Mu Cang Chai by bus (start from previous night) and arrive at late affternoon. You can pick resting and taking overnight in Tu Le (Tú Lệ) or Mu Cang Chai town, evening stroll the mountain town.
The second day, you spend all day to wander on the beautiful terraces, you should rent a motorbike to travel (you can ask your hotel or contact: +8429.6263.064 or +84166.568.4574). The region has most beautiful terraces is La Pan Tan village (bản La Pán Tẩn), where is on the route from Tu Le to Mu Cang Chai. To get there, you can rent a motorbike, or take a motortaxi (hugged vehicle) or bus from Tu Le or Mu Cang Chai to La Pan Tan town. Then trekking on the mountains to watch freely.
The third day, catch a bus to back Hanoi.
Mu Cang Chai travel itineraries motorbike
Motorbike is best choice to travel Mu Cang Chai, you can easily travel and stop at anywhere that you feel beautiful. Some highlights in this itinerary: La Pan Tan terraces, Lim Mong valley (thung lũng Lìm Mông), Khau Pha pass (đèo Khau Phạ – the longest pass in Northern Vietnam).
Specially, you should deeply go into La Pan Tan area. On the route, there’s a small trail run along valley, turn into that trail and more deeply go, you can take extreme unique photos (i found this place according to guidance of a H’mong guy).
If you travel for 2.5 day by motorbike, there’re 2 itineraries:
Itinerary 1 (2.5 day):
The first night, ride to Nghia Lo (Nghĩa Lộ – a town on the route Hanoi-Mu Cang Chai) from Hanoi (190km or 120miles). You should start soon because night travelling by motorbike is not safe.
Second day. Explore the beauties in Khau Pha pass, Lim Mong valley, La Pan Tan then take overnight in Mu Cang Chai town.
Third day, Strolling to visit few rest places and back to Hanoi soon.
Itinerary 2 (3 day):
First day, go straight to Mu Cang Chai. Rest time of the day, you explore Lim Mong valley and Khau Pha pass. Overnight in Mu Cang Chai.
Second day. Daytime, exploring La Pan Tan village. Evening, resting in Nghia Lo town, remember to try specialty snake near Mien Tay hotel.
Third day. Morning, you can go to Suoi Giang (Suối Giàng). Afternoon, start backing Hanoi.
Hotels and motels
>> Learn More: Reviews of 35 good hotels in Nha Trang city – Vietnam
In Mu Cang Chai
1. Suoi Mo motel, i vote for this motel, they have very cute double room. Tel: +8429.3878.643 or +84915.842.789
2. Moon motel, tel: +84293.878.929 or +84184.108.40.206 or +84165.6782.888. The motel has wifi, breakfast and leasing motorbike.
3. Son Ca motel, contact +84293.878.185 or +84988.981.675
4. Buu Dien guesthouse (Post Office guesthouse), contact Mr.Thanh +84975.644.965 to book, or ask him contacting people if you want to stay in a house.
There’re few others along the highway. You should book soon if travel on grain season.
In Nghia Lo town
This’s big town so you have quite many options. I knew just 2 hotels:
5. Nghia Lo hotel, Tel: +8429.3870.106 or +8429.3870.428 or +84985.563.563
6. Mien Tay hotel, Tel: +8429.3870.698 or +8429.3871.223
Hotel prices in Nghia Lo range from $8 to $10 / double room.
In Tu Le town
7. Hoang Quan motel has drug-leaves bath service, very interesting. Prices from $8 – $10 / double room. Tel: +84293.897.126
8. Xom Vang motel at beginning of Tu Le toward Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai, $9/double room. Tel: +84293.897.205 or +84918.177.325 or +8498.2385.440
9. Chuyen Dung hotel + restaurant is quite famous, $11 – $13 / double room. Foods in the hotel are usually sold out very soon, you have to book in advance. The restaurant is famous for sticky rice and chicken.
10. Pho Nui motel, tel: +8429.3897.115 or +84986.308.761
Combine travelling Mu Cang Chai with other places
You can make a long trip, from 4 to 6 days, combine 2 beautiful places Sapa + Mu Cang Chai.
In Northern Vietnam, there’re 3 places have beautiful terraces: Sapa, Mu Cang Chai and Hoang Su Phi (Ha Giang).