Location: Concentrating mostly in 3 communes of La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu Phinh, Mu Cang Chai District, Yen Bai Province.
Characteristics: Mu Cang Chai terraced fields spread out more than 2,300ha at a height of 1,000m above the sea level in Hoang Lien Son Mountain Foot.
Mu Cang Chai is a western district of Yen Bai Province, about 350km to the north-west of Ha Noi. The district is bounded to the north by Van Ban District (Lao Cai Province), to the south by Muong La District (Son La Province), to the west by Than Uyen District (Lai Chau Province) and to the east by Van Chan District (Yen Bai Province).
After taking a trip from Ha Noi to Yen Bai City, visitors will have going 40km on National Highway No.37 before turning on the right to catch National Highway No.32 running through Nghia Lo Township to Tu Le. From Tu Le, visitors will have to pass Nam Khat Pass, which is 2,000m above the sea level, continuing to go on the western slope of Hoang Lien Son Mountain range and along Nam Kim Stream before reaching Mu Cang Chai. Another option for visitors is they can take a trip on National Highway No.32 from Ha Noi, via Son Tay and Tu Le to end in Mu Cang Chai.
Due to the steep feature, fertile soil and mountain cliffs often stock water, the local people, mainly Mong ethnic minorities, can grow rice and establish terraced fields, one after another, from the foot to nearly top of mountains. Generations to generations of these people have made terraced fields as today.
When being seen from afar, the terraced rice fields look like a picture of nature whose colour changes seasonally, exhibiting its most alluring charm when the new crop begins, green rice grows and the field is lush with ripening rice.
As usual in April and May, when local people water their fields at full to prepare for a new crop, the surface of terraced fields shines like a mirror reflecting the contrast of the reddish brown of soil, the deep blue of the sky and the green of surrounding forests. Embankments surrounding these terraces look like threads softly lined by the painter.
In June and July, the terraced rice fields with fully-grown paddy rice and forest trees spread the green out to the entire area, from the foot to top of mountains, before disappearing in mist. The green of paddy rice grown on the terraced field makes visitors think of it as a hand-made creation of uniqueness which cannot be found anywhere else.
Coming to Mu Cang Chai in September and October, when autumn ends, visitors can feel prosperity all over the area as rice in all terraced fields is ripe, giving the gold colour. During the time, the terraced rice fields look like golden silk scarves flying over in the wind above green mountain slopes, making the mountainous landscape astonishingly beautiful.
Terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai coupled with distinctive cultural practices of local ethnic minority groups have created the uniqueness of the locality. This explains why many tourists, both domestic and foreign, are increasingly flocking to Mu Cang Chai to admire these “terraced rice field masterpieces”.
On 18 October 2007, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognized 500ha - terraced fields in 3 communes of La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu Phinh (Mu Cang Chai) as a national landscape.