YEN BAI - rice terraces and ethnic cultures

Rice terraces in Yen Bai

Yen Bai is agriculturally based province with great tourist potential.

Yen Bai shares the borders with six provinces: Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Son La, Phu Tho, Tuyen Quang. The province is inhabited by approximately 750 200 people. Train from Hanoi to Lao Cai (Sapa) pass the Yen Bai town.

History of Yen Bai is known for its French colonization, especially consequential „Yen Bai mutiny“. It was the uprising of Vietnamese soldiers in the French colonial army on February 10, 1930 in cooperation with civilian supporters. These supporters were the members of the Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang (Vietnamese Nationalist Party).

Vietnam - Mu Cang Chai - rice terraces

Region is inhabited by 30 different ethnic groups, mainly Thai people.

Kinh people, who form the majority population of the province settled here back together with local minority tribes. There are approximately 30 ethnic groups in this are, 4 groups from this number are Yao people. The Thai and Hmong people are the the biggest ethnic groups of this province. Forestry and agriculture are the main economic factors of the province.

Thac Ba lake is a natural wealth of the country, very important is also hydroelectric power plant. This lake has almost 1300 islands and a lot of caves. Dong Cuong Festival is an important festival of the province and is held every year after Tet festivities. You can see lots of popular games and traditions with their own eyes.

Women of Dao ethnic group in the market in Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai, photo: Nguyen Anh Tuan)

Mountain ranges and beautiful valleys with the rice terraces and fields.

Beautiful sceneries and landscapes you can see mainly at the Mu Cang Chai and Nghia Lo town. In Nghia Lo and Mu Cang Chai, you can see the second largest rice fields in northern Vietnam. In the fall the rice paddies are changing into yellow-gold color. The Harvest run from September until the end of October. These fields are recognised as a national scenic site as well as the unique cultural identities of the Hmong ethnic group.

Suoi Giang - the place where hundreds of years old special tea grows.

The area is also surrounded by small villages and wooden houses of Thai and Hmong ethnic people. The town also held variegated market where you can buy almost anything. You can visit the area near the village of Suoi Giang, where you can see the tea trees which are 100–400 of years old. Local people of the area call this tea „medicinal tea“ (Zie Sua) and believes that it is a medicine. This area is located approximately 1500–2200 meters above sea level, there is a mild climate and average annual temperature is 20 °C.

Hmong women in the province of Yen Bai

A cheap guesthouses and hotels you will find in Mu Cang Chai area.

You can find some cheap vietnamese guesthouses in Yen Bai city, Nghia Lo and Mu Cang Chai. Prices are very low, around 6 USD / person. For short-term sleep are quite sufficient, in Yen Bai you will not find any luxury hotels. Check out the selection of hotels in Yen Bai. If you travel to north of Vietnam (Lai Chau, Sapa), you can take the bus that leaves at 7:00 from Mu Cang Chai in the city center.

Luc Yen district with the gem market in Yen The town.

In the northern part of the Thac Ba lake is small inconspicuous town Yen The (Luc Yen district). Not at first glance different from other cities in northern Vietnam. In the city, however a smaller market with precious stones and gems takes place every day in the morning (7.00–10.00 pm). Some stones found in this area reaching from the treatment of high prices, but some stones are also cheap. The whole area is well-known for mining and searching for these stones, for example ruby and sapphire. Yen The town is a little out of hand from Yen Bai town (about 80km, see map), but if you have your way around, you can stop.

The Gem Market in Luc Yen — Yen The town (photo:, licensed under CC by 3.0)

Weather in Yen Bai:

The coldest period in Mu Cang Chai and Nghia Lo is from December to February. There is often too thick fog in the winter, but then can be a very nice sunny day and everything changes rapidly.

If you like trekking it is recommended in months from September to November and March to May. In these months is very good weather and temperature from 15 to 28 °C and a night temperature from 10–18 °C. Average temperature in Yen Bai from 18–22 °C. Rice getting yellow from 15 september to 20 october.

How to get to Yen Bai:

You can go from Hanoi wit a buses (My Dinh bus station) to the town of Yen Bai and Nghia Lo. You can also use a train to the town of Yen Bai (direction Lao Cai) and here take the local bus to Nghia Lo. Use a search engine of transport links Baolau or, here you can buy train tickets to Yen Bai town.

You can take the direct bus to Mu Cang Chai from Hanoi, however,the road is long, about 300 km, journey can take up to 8 hours (this time may be even higher). The roads are not in good condition. You can use eg. bus from Hungthanhtravel, bus that goes from Hanoi to Lai Chau town just over Mu Cang Chai town.

When you are going from Sapa you can use a local buses to Nghia Lo town. Mu Cang Chai and Khau Pa pass are most beautiful places with huge rice terraces in Yen Bai.

Places of interest in Yen Bai:

• pristine rice terraces in a rural mountain valley
• Dong Cuong palace and neighborhood
• Thac Ba Lake
(10 km from Yen Bai town)
• Nghia Lo town and surrounding villages
• Mu Cang Chai
(mountains and rice terraces)
• La Pan Tan district
(rice terraces and valley)
• Phu Luong Nature Reserve
• villages with ethnic people in Mu Cang Chai
(Che Cu Nha, Ze Xu Phinh…)
• Hac Y mountain with Dai Cai citadel and palace
• Suoi Giang village and old tea trees
• The Gem Market in Luc Yen town

Rice terraces in Yen Bai
Hi, my name is Milan. I´am from the Czech Republic. I created this site about northern Vietnam for you. I collected a lot of information from my traveling in northern Vietnam, so I decided to pass it on, and I hope that will be useful and help you during your travel. Why is it only about the north? It is very easy answer — because I was not in the south. Mountains, villages of ethnic minorities, authenticity — it attracts me.

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