4 Best Rice Terraces in Mu Cang Chai – Full Guide 2024

best places to visit in Vietnam: beautiful rice fields and peaceful lakes.

Ready for a natural wonder in Vietnam? Mu Cang Chai was by far the best destination in North Vietnam for us. A dream for nature lovers, hikers, photographers, and motorbikers. What more can we ask for?

Mu Cang Chai is known for having the most beautiful rice terraces in Vietnam. We can absolutely confirm this. It’s a highland district with mountains and hills entirely covered with rice terraces.

In this travel guide, you’ll find all the information you need to plan your trip to Mu Cang Chai, from how to get there, the best things to do, to discovering the most beautiful rice terraces.

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Convince yourself of Mu Cang Chai

8 BEST Hotels in North Vietnam

North Vietnam has many amazing places to visit, each with its best places to stay. Here are some handpicked recommendations.

  • Ha Giang: Connect with adventurous travelers at the Lotus Hostel

Where is Mu Cang Chai located?

Drone view of La Pan Tan rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.

Mu Cang Chai is roughly 300 kilometers and a 6-8 hour drive from Hanoi. It is a rural and remote highland district situated at an altitude of 1000m in the Yen Bai province.

Best Time to visit Mu Cang Chai

La Pan Tan rice terraces with blurred pink flowers in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.

The best time to visit Mu Cang Chai is from the end of September to the middle of October. This is when the vibrant green rice fields from the rainy summer transform into a golden landscape. The ripening season creates a truly breathtaking view. Trust us, if you have the chance, you don’t want to miss it.

If you’re planning your trip in a different period, we’re sure you will enjoy it anyway. Here is the condition of the rice fields you can expect in the other seasons:

  • Dry Season (November to April): the fields tend to turn brown.
  • Watering season (end of May to June): the fields are water-flooded and reflect the sky.
  • Middle of crop season (July to August): fields are vibrant green as the rice plants are growing.

Check the weather before you visit Mu Cang Chai, as Winter can be freezing cold and summers bring heavy rain.

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FACT: In North Vietnam, the dry season stretches from October to April, while the rainy season spans from May to September.

5 BEST Tours in North Vietnam

Check out our handpicked tours in North Vietnam and tick off some must-see attractions.

  • Ban Gioc Waterfall: Explore Ban Gioc Waterfall and more in Cao Bang with this 2D/1N Tour
  • Hanoi Streetfood: Join a local Food Tour in Hanoi with visit to Train Street
  • Ninh Binh: Discover Ninh Binh on this small-group guided Full Day Tour from Hanoi

How to get to Mu Cang Chai?

Rice fields on the mountains in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam

You can travel to Mu Cang Chai directly from Hanoi by car, motorbike, sleeper bus, or van. If you prefer the train, the nearest station is Yen Bai. From there, you can either rent a motorbike or take a bus. There are also direct buses from Sapa if you’re coming from the north.

We highly recommend making a stop at Yen Bai to visit Thac Ba Lake.

We rented a motorbike in Hanoi for nearly two weeks and drove for about 4 hours to Yen Bai as our first destination. After exploring the incredible Thac Ba Lake, we continued to Mu Cang Chai, which took us about 5 hours. This drive was incredibly scenic, passing through beautiful nature, especially the Khau Pha Pass.

How long to stay in Mu Cang Chai?

View of rice fields on a hill with a road at Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.

We recommend staying in Mu Cang Chai for a minimum of 2 nights, and if you have the time, extend it to 3 nights. You’ll want to have enough time to explore this authentic place. Consider combining this destination with other North Vietnam gems, like Thac Ba Lake and Ha Giang.

Stay in the middle of Ricefields!

Experience the stunning rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai at Le Champ Tu Le Resort

How to get around in Mu Cang Chai

For the most adventurous experience, we recommend renting a motorbike in Mu Cang Chai or in Hanoi and bringing it to the north. This gives you the chance to explore independently. This natural wonder is a paradise for motorbiking, from the quality roads to the breathtaking scenery you’ll encounter while driving.

Another incredible option to experience the most in Mu Cang Chai is by trekking.

And if you’re looking for a convenient solution, you can ask your homestay for a private driver.

Where to stay in Mu Cang Chai

Check out top-rated and handpicked accommodations near Mu Cang Chai in different price ranges.

6 Best Things to do in Mu Cang Chai

Mu Cang Chai is an authentic destination with beautiful natural landscapes and a traditional way of life. These are the 6 things you can’t miss.

The La Pan Tan rice terraces with traditional a house in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.

1. La Pan Tan, Mâm Xôi, Mui Giay, and Móng ngựa.

Visit the popular viewpoints: La Pan Tan, Mâm Xôi, Mui Giay, and Móng ngựa.

2. “Noname” Viewpoints

Explore the “noname” viewpoints. Take time to explore without a specific destination in mind. You’ll discover spectacular viewpoints right from the main road, like this one at 21.810545, 104.136870.

3. Khau Pha Mountain

Ride the Khau Pha Mountain. As mentioned earlier, Mu Cang Chai is a biker’s paradise with empty roads offering breathtaking views. If you rent a motorbike, you should definitely ride one of Vietnam’s most stunning mountain passes located just an hour away from town, the Khau Pha Mountain Pass.

4. Black Hmong tribespeople

Interact with the Black Hmong tribespeople. You can visit a traditional village for a glimpse into their hill tribe life, but you can also experience it while driving around.

You’ll witness the Hmong culture with their beautiful, traditional, colorful clothes on the main road and in fields.

Smiling woman at Mam Xoi Viewpoint in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.

5. Hiking

Go hiking. Immerse yourself in the landscapes and culture by hiking through the terraces and forests. There are numerous trails to explore. Consider hiring a local guide for the best hiking routes. One recommended trek is to Rừng trúc Púng Luông for views of the bamboo forest.

6. Paragliding

Don’t miss the paragliding festival in September for incredible aerial views of the terraced fields, if this is something you’re interested in.

Book now a paragliding experience!

4 Best Rice Terraces in Mu Cang Chai

These are popular viewpoints that are worth a visit in Mu Cang Chai, especially if you are into photography.

1. La Pan Tan

Timo is sitting in front of the La Pan Tan rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai.

La Pan Tan rice terraces were our favorite. We aimed to reach the viewpoint indicated on Google Maps, but the road was too flooded for our motorbike. Since you can already see all of the La Pan Tan Hills when driving towards it, we decided to stop at a smaller viewpoint along the road (21.782574, 104.169343). 

We went for sunset and we were the only ones there, so I think it’s safe to say the La Pan Tan Rice Terraces are not very crowded compared to the other popular viewpoints. As said, there was no one, not even a local asking for an entrance fee.

2. Mâm Xôi

one of the best places to visit in vietnam. Mam Xoi, Mu Cang Chai
Scenic view of rice fields on a hill with a winding road in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.

The Rice Tray Viewpoint Mâm Xôi is the most famous and touristy one. This unique hill is entirely made of terraces and is known for its round shape, making it a magnet for photographers. Here is where you pay the entrance fee, which is 30k VND (1.20€) and then you can drive uphill to the parking, where you pay 10k VND (0.40€) for motorbike parking.

At the Mam Xoi Viewpoint, you have the opportunity to wear traditional clothes and take pictures of locals, who were also dressed in traditional clothes.

3. Mui Giay

At the Mui Giay Viewpoint, you’ll discover a terraced field with a distinctive shape, resembling a shoe. You can enjoy this sight directly from the main road. Just be careful when choosing a stopping spot.

We recommend downloading offline maps on google maps, especially if you don’t buy a SIM card. But even if you do, it’s a good idea to have them just in case you lose connection.

Mui Giay Ricefields in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam

4. Móng Ngựa

The beautiful rice field view of Mong Ngua in Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam.

Móng ngựa rice terraces are the horseshoe-shaped terraced rice fields and only 2 kilometers from Mu Cang Chai. The entrance fee is 30k VND (1.20€) per person. 

It’s important to note that the road to drive up is very steep. We recommend either hiking for 30 minutes up and 20 minutes down, or taking a local taxi for 120k VND (4.70€) for the round trip. We decided to hike up from here and left our motorbike and bags at the Hello Mu Cang Chai Coffee, after having a Vietnamese coffee.

Niki is walking on the Mu Cang Chai trekking road at Mong Ngua.
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PHOTO TIP: The best time for pictures is during sunrise and sunset, when the sunlight is soft and comes from a lower angle.

Best Tours in Mu Cang Chai

Many ricefields captured with a drone in Mu Cang Chai in Vietnam

Short on time? Don’t want to plan and arrange everything by yourself? Want to connect with new people?

Organized tours always ensure a stress-free and enjoyable experience. Some tours even combine must-see places, such as Mam Xoi & La Pan Tan, making it possible to explore more attractions in one day.

Discover top-rated and handpicked tours in Mu Cang Chai .

Discover La Pan Tan commune on a half-day Indigenous trek. See stunning rice terraces and the source of every field’s water flow!

Explore Mu Cang Chai in a day! See amazing views, learn about H’mong culture. Perfect for nature lovers like you!

Packing, Tips & Costs ​

After 2 months and 4000 km on a North Vietnam Motorbike Trip, we’ve put together the ultimate packing list, tips, and costs to help you plan your trip.

Where to go after Mu Cang Chai?

Here are some fantastic places in North Vietnam we’ve been to and highly recommend:

Depending on where you’re heading after Mu Cang Chai, you might need to go back to Hanoi first and then catch a bus to your next stop. You can check on 12GO to see if there’s a direct bus option. If not, plan your journey through Hanoi.

If you enjoy riding a motorbike, you could visit Mu Cang Chai as part of a North Vietnam Loop. Our 2-week motorbike tour in Vietnam was one of the most thrilling experiences of our two years of travel in Asia. 

 You can easily rent a motorbike in Hanoi for this adventure.

Conclusion

Mu Cang Chai in North Vietnam is a treasure for nature enthusiasts, hikers, photographers and bikers. Once there, you’ll find the best rice terraces of Vietnam. We haven’t come across another place like this in North Vietnam where you can experience both the unique culture and breathtaking scenery from the main road. Whether by motorbike or trekking, it was a real adventure.

If you have any questions or want to share your experience, just leave a comment below.

A local farmer, wearing a military hat, leads a buffalo in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam.

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4 thoughts on “4 Best Rice Terraces in Mu Cang Chai – Full Guide 2024”

  1. Diese Aufnahmen sind einfach Spitzequalität und die Landschaft zum Greifen nah!
    Der Blog, ist sehr übersichtlich, ausführlich, professionell zusammengestellt und dennoch einfach zu verstehen.
    Bravo!!!

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