Are you looking to discover the rice fields and terraces of Vietnam? This country is blessed with some of the most incredible landscapes in the world – many of which are simple rice fields found in the countryside. In this article, let me tell where you can find the best fields and terraces.
My name is Indra and I grew up in Indonesia. Back in 2015, I was working in the Philippines. I would take weekend trips to discover nearby beaches, waterfalls and hikes whenever I had free time. I wanted to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and the Philippines was perfect for that.
As we spent more time outside reconnecting with nature and taking adventures, I finally decided to purchase my first DSLR camera and teach myself all about photography. My skills grew with each passing day until the point now where I can’t leave the house without my trusted camera!
Falling in Love with the Paddy Fields of Asia
Before settling in Vietnam in 2018, I used to visit other rice terraces in Asia like the Batad Rice Terraces in northern Philippines and the famous Tegallalang Rice Terrace in Bali. I was very impressed the first time I saw rice terraces and immediately fell in love with the lush greenery that surrounded them. The shapes and patterns are often incredible to see.
At the end of 2018, after taking a road trip in northern Vietnam, a friend of mine from Hanoi introduced me to the breathtaking rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai in the Yen Bai district of Vietnam. He showed me photos and I was inspired to go visit myself. I decided to go the following year during harvest season when the terraces change to a magical golden colour.
As well as experiencing the majestic scenery of the rice terraces in northern Vietnam, we also got the chance to visit the villages of the Hmong people who are an indigenous group living in China, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. It was amazing to meet them and see their daily lives. I was impressed by how they manage their paddy fields.
Best Rice Fields and Terraces of Vietnam
There are many beautiful rice fields and terraces right across Vietnam but the most stunning ones are located in the northern regions: Mu Cang Chai, Hoang Su Phi, Lao Cai, Sapa and Lai Chau. These five places are a must-visit for all the paddy field enthusiasts out there! The landscapes are gorgeous.
It would be hard for me to choose a favourite rice field out of those five regions due to the varying topography, shapes and terraces. Each place has its own unique beauty and changes atmosphere with each season. Probably the most hypnotic and majestic place is Mu Cang Chai. This destination would be one of the best rice fields and terraces of Vietnam.
How to Capture the Rice Fields and Terraces of Vietnam
The best way to capture the majestic rice fields and terraces of Vietnam is to find the best vantage point (higher ground) and photograph during golden hour – either between 6am – 8am in the early morning or 4pm – 6pm in the late afternoon. You should scope out the location beforehand, walk around the paddies and get a good understanding of the landscape.
Just wait until the golden sun illuminates the terraces and witness an illusion of depth and colour that is almost unimaginable! For those into night photography, you can capture the stars and milky way alongside the terraces when there is a full moon. Rice Tray Viewpoint Mam Xoi is one of the best viewpoints as well as Doi Mong Ngua in Mu Cang Chai.
Last but not least, visit the rice fields and terraces of Vietnam during the harvest season. This way you will encounter the most beautiful lighting.
Favourite Memory from Visiting the Rice Terraces of Vietnam
I remember the first time my girlfriend and I visited the Mu Cang Chai rice terraces at the start of October, 2019. We just got back from Ha Giang province and were informed that the golden harvest season had finished. I felt so disappointed at the time and had no plan b.
So instead, we decided to explore the villages in Yen Bai. To our surprise, we were lucky enough to witness some of those famous golden rice terraces along the scenic route between the villages! Some of the Hmong people also invited us to rest by their houses, drink tea and watch them perform traditional music. It was such a magical experience!
Need to Know Before you Go
Before visiting the rice fields and terraces of Vietnam, be sure to do research in advance. You want to find out the best season for the place you want to visit and avoid going during winter (November – March). The beginning of September is ideal for harvest season in Lao Cai and Hoang Su Phi, while the ripe season in Mu Cang Chai will be mid-late September.
Thanks for reading! I hope my stories and photos inspire you to explore the northern regions of Vietnam with its incredibly lush rice fields and terraces.