The rice fields in Vietnam offer the promise of enchanting landscapes for impressive photos, but also the opportunity for authentic encounters with the local inhabitants. These green or golden rice fields stretching to infinity are considered to be one of the must-sees in rural areas.
1. Top 10 best places to see rice fields in Vietnam
1.1 Rice fields in Sapa
According to Travel and Leisure, an American travel magazine, the rice terraces in Sapa are among the seven most beautiful in Asia and the world, considered to be the “giant ladders connecting heaven and earth”. It is a true work of art created by the talented hands of ethnic minorities.
Rice fields are found almost everywhere in Sapa, yet the most impressive are in the ethnic villages of Lao Chai, Ta Van, Hau Thao. To immerse yourself in all their beauty, nothing is more powerful than a hike or trek of a few days. After having contemplated these sumptuous landscapes, you will be able to spend the night at the inhabitant’s house and live at the rhythm of the local life.
1.2 Rice fields in Bac Ha
The mountain town of Bac Ha, 70km northeast of Lao Cai, is also home to rice fields carved into the mountainsides. Although less spectacular than Sapa, the rice fields in Bac Ha are still untouched by mass tourism. You won’t be disappointed to trek through this area, amidst the beautiful scenery created by the magnificent rice fields.
In addition to its beautiful scenery, Bac Ha is rich in the cultural identity of the ethnic minorities living there. Once you arrive in Bac Ha, you must visit the weekly Bac Ha market, the largest colourful ethnic market in the country. You will have the opportunity to meet different ethnic groups dressed in their distinctive traditional costumes and taste the specialties of this locality while enjoying the lively atmosphere.
A stay in Bac Ha is only truly complete after staying with local people. An overnight stay and a shared dinner with the host family is always full of conviviality and offers you the opportunity to learn more about the particularities of the ethnic minority cultures.
1.3 Rice fields in Mu Cang Chai
Located at the foot of the Hoang Lien Son Mountains, Mu Cang Chai is known for its spectacular scenery with the most twisting passes on one side and countless rice terraces on the other. A breathtaking view from a pass over the sumptuous scenery of the fields gives the impression that here time has stood still in absolute calm.
The road that takes you to Mu Cang Chai is nicely named “the photographers’ road” and is one of the most beautiful landscapes in North Vietnam. This road leads to the beautiful rice valley of Tu Le commune. From the Khau Pha Pass, a must-see attraction when visiting Mu Cang Chai, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Tu Le Valley.
The three communes of La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu Phinh in Mu Cang Chai district are renowned for their stepped rice fields, which are classified as national heritage. You can go for a walk to contemplate their exceptional landscapes and completely off the beaten track. An overnight stay in the poetic Hmong villages will be very pleasant.
1.4 Rice fields in Hoang Su Phi
Anyone who has ever visited the Hoang Su Phi district of Ha Giang province compares its beauty to a wilderness paradise. One of the most spectacular wonders of Hoang Su Phi is the stepped rice fields, which were listed as Vietnamese National Heritage in 2012. Visiting this place, tourists will be blown away by its untouched, majestic and poetic landscapes.
Hoang Su Phi is known as one of the ideal destinations for nature lovers and hiking and trekking enthusiasts. By hiking here away from the masses, you can contemplate its elegant rice fields while coming into contact with its twenty or so ethnic minorities.
To experience immersion with the locals and better understand their ancestral traditions, it is essential to stay with the locals. It is an authentic experience, difficult to miss.
1.5 Rice fields in Pu Luong
Speaking of rice fields in Vietnam, we can’t forget the Pu Luong Nature Reserve. Considered as the “Vietnamese version of Bali”, Pu Luong offers idyllic landscapes with its vast expanses of agricultural fields, authentic villages and lush vegetation. There is a perfect mix of pristine forests and cultivated rice terraces.
Surrounded by fantastic scenery and located not far from Hanoi, this nature reserve is an ideal place for a short stay. Here, nature-loving travellers can choose to walk or cycle through typical Muong and Thai villages and enjoy the peaceful life of the local people.
After a day of wandering, you can stay in the spacious and airy stilt houses of the ethnic minorities. You will have the opportunity to live unforgettable moments with the locals. It is definitely a unique experience not to be missed.
1.6 Rice fields in Tam Coc
Tam Coc, which literally means “three caves”, remains the only place in Ninh Binh where flooded rice cultivation continues. This seasonally changing destination delights travellers with its lush green rice fields nestled at the foot of towering limestone karst mountains in March and April.
During the harvest season, Tam Coc is overwhelmed by the bright yellow colour of the ripening rice fields, making for a breathtaking panorama.
The best way to visit this magical site is to take a rowboat cruise along the Ngo Dong River. It’s relaxing to be in the middle of picturesque rice paddies that are revealed in harmony with mysterious caves. You can opt for a bike ride to contemplate the breathtaking beauty of its sublime landscapes.
1.7 Rice fields at Y Ty
The misty paradise of Y Ty, located 80km north of Sapa, is becoming increasingly popular with tourists thanks to the stunning beauty of the rice terraces adorning the green mountainside. The harmonious combination of multi-coloured rice fields, deep blue sky, white clouds and fog provide breathtaking scenery that makes you want to immerse yourself in nature.
The terraced fields of Y Ty are miraculous all year round, especially during the rice harvesting season starting in late September. The fascinating path between A Lu and Ngai Thau, the magical The Pa Valley and the charming Lao Than Mountain are ideal places to view the beautiful rice terraces and enjoy the fragrant smell of mature rice.
Hiking along the zigzagging paths, you can meet H’Mong, Red Dao, Giay, Ha Nhi people and discover their distinctive cultural traits. If you arrive in Y Ty at the weekend, you can never miss a stroll through the ethnic market of Muong Hum which takes place every Sunday or the one in Y Ty which takes place every Saturday morning.
In the centre of this commune, near the Y Ty market, there are several homestays where you can stay for more interaction with the locals and a more authentic experience.
1.8 Rice fields in Bac Son
Not to be outdone by the rice fields in Y Ty, the rice fields in Bac Son are also a dream for many travellers looking for a nature getaway. As the rice fields in Bac Son are not cultivated at the same time, the green, golden and waiting to be transplanted plots are intermingled, creating an impressive painting of different colours.
The best way to admire this heavenly landscape is to climb to the top of Na Lay Mountain. Once there, you will see a huge carpet of sunny rice fields and a clear and peaceful river. You can also walk or cycle around the Tay and Nung ethnic villages surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery.
Staying with local people is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the charm of the picturesque landscape, immerse yourself in the daily life of the ethnic minorities and discover their unique cultural identity.
1.9 Rice fields in Hoi An
Hoi An has not only ancient merchants’ houses, but also beautiful rice fields that are a delight for nature lovers and amateur photographers.
To discover this beautiful landscape, it is best to go for a bike ride. It is best to leave either early or late to avoid the crowds of tourists and to avoid getting too hot. Pedalling through the endless rice fields, you will feel as if you are entering a quiet and poetic world, far from the beaten track and close to the local population.
If you wish, you can also take advantage of your precious time in Hoi An to participate in the work of the fields such as ploughing with a buffalo, transplanting rice, harvesting, … depending on the season. Going down to the rice fields, rolling up your sleeves, putting your bare feet in the mud, wearing a big conical hat and working under the sun like a real Vietnamese farmer will leave you more memorable than ever.
1.10 Rice fields in Ta Pa
When you think of Vietnam’s rice terraces, you immediately think of the Upper Tonkin region. Few people know that there is also a rice terrace in Ta Pa in the southern province of An Giang. Although the rice fields in Ta Pa are less well known than those in the North, they never leave you indifferent.
They captivate all those who visit them with a real spectacle for the eyes. The beautiful plots of land follow one another on the horizon and are highlighted by rows of palm trees, offering a sumptuous panorama. The resplendent beauty of the rice fields in Ta Pa will make for one of the most beautiful adventures in the Mekong Delta. This fascinating place is definitely worth a visit.
2. When to visit the rice fields in Vietnam?
It depends on each region, the typical climate and the terrain where only one or two or even three rice harvests per year are practiced.
In the north of Vietnam, farmers harvest rice on average twice a year in the lowlands (Red River Delta) and midlands (Mai Chau, Pu Luong, Nghia Lo). But in the high mountainous regions (Mu Cang Chai, Sapa, Hoang Su Phi,…), where rice cultivation is totally dependent on rainfall, there is only one rice harvest.
In the centre and south of the country, especially in the Mekong Delta, the weather and climate are good for rice cultivation, which allows the inhabitants to enjoy three rice harvests per year.
2.1 Flooded season
The flooded season or the season of poured water is usually from the end of April to the end of May. Farmers use the water from the rains or rivers to feed the newly ploughed rice fields. The Vietnamese rice fields become huge mirrors in which the blue sky is reflected. This is why this idyllic setting is nicely named “the mirror of the sky”.
2.2 Green season
This is the growing season for young rice shoots, which usually lasts from June to the end of July. During this period, rice fields in Vietnam are dominated by all different shades of green, which is simply due to the shift in the transplanting date. The more mature the rice plants become, the darker the green colour. It is in summer that we are more likely to come across this type of colour.
2.3 Harvesting season
When the rice fields turn yellow in the last heat of summer, a new harvest season has begun. From September onwards, Vietnam’s rice fields glow with the golden colour of the vast rice fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. The colour of the ripening rice is the source of inspiration for many photography enthusiasts. The harvest is also a time of euphoria, with village festivals and intense activity in ethnic and minority markets.
Every season, the rice fields in Vietnam have their own special charm. Would you like to see the beauty of the rice fields in the golden harvest, the green season or the flood season? This table below gives you practical information about the best time to discover the top 10 most beautiful rice fields in Vietnam according to your taste:
RICE SEASON IN VIETNAM
|Red River Delta
|End of January – Beginning of February / June 15 – June 30
|March, April, Early May / August, September
|Mid June – End of June / Early October – Mid October
|Mid January – Early February / July – Early August
|March, April, May / September
|End of May – Beginning of June / Beginning of October – Mid October
|Mu Cang Chai
|May June July August
|Mid September – Mid October
|May 20 – May 30
|June July August
|End of August – Mid September
|End of April – Beginning of May
|End of May, June, July, August
|End of August – Mid September
|March, April, Early May
|End of May – Beginning of June
|Hoang Su Phi
|July, August, Early September
|Mid September – Mid October
|Early September – Mid September
|February / August
|April, May, June / September, October
|End of July / Mid-November
|May, June / Early December / Early April
|July, August, September, October / January, February, March / May, June, July
|End of November / Beginning of April / End of August
|End of April / End of October / End of May
|June, July, August / December, January, February, March / July, August, September, October
|End of September / End of April / November
Visiting the rice fields during a trip to Vietnam is a good way to learn more about the country’s rice cultivation and to interact with the local people who designed these true works of art.