Biking & trekking fun in Nghia Lo & Mu Cang Chai

Biking & trekking fun in Nghia Lo & Mu Cang Chai

Are you fed up with the city's bustle & hustle? You would like to enjoy peaceful rural villages surrounded by rice fields & mountainscapes? For less touristy & authentic cultures of local ethnics, you can have this bog reviewed to know more about Nghia Lo & Mu Cang Chai. If you love adventure treks & healthy bike, this travel experience could be right for you........

Biking & trekking experiences in a trip to Nghia Lo, Tu Le & Mu Cang Chai - Yen Bai province.

I love travelling and staying away from the city with office work to rural & mountainous villages for peaceful & slowly-paced lifestyle.At the begining of this April 2019, the company got two clients booked a 3 day/2 night journey to Nghia Lo & Mu Cang Chai area, I took this chance guiding them on this trip and did some more inspection of the company’s regularly- operated trip with leisurely bike & hard trek to explore this untouched mountainous region.

After a few days raining in Hanoi, luckily it stopped on the day we drove to Nghia Lo & all the journey, we got light sunny weather - ideal for outdoor activities.

Rice Terraces in Mu Cang Chai

Stepped rice fields in green time

Day 1 : Hanoi transfer to Nghia Lo valley.Overnight in a local homestay in Sa Ren village of Nghia Lo valley (B, L).

At 8h00 a.m, as our scheduled itinerary, driver & I met two German customers from their hotel and eager for a long journey to Nghia Lo valley.We chose the less traffic roads passing Ba Vi national park, then cross Da river by a newly built bridge to Thanh Son district - Phu Tho province.From here, the roads are a little bit winding & steep with the hills of green teas on both sides.

After two hours driving from Hanoi, we got a break at a large tea plantation for nice photos, coffees and toilets.

Tea Plantation in Phu Tho

Green tea plantation in Phu Tho

Continue driving past Tan Son district to Van Chan district - the land of Yen Bai Province, famous for its planted cinnamon forests & gem mines.

After a few stops, we reached Saren homestay in Nghia Lo valley at 13h15 - a right time for a good lunch well-prepared by a very warmly- hearted local Thai family.

The homestay is located in a very tranquil location : with the stream in the front and the garden & ricefields at the backside - surely give you the sense of comfort & relaxation.

Nghia Lo biking trip viewing Muong Lo valley

Muong Lo valley- Nghia Lo on biking trip

Our guests got the space (double- shared berths nicely set up & separated by curtains with others, at the back side of the homestay for a good view to the rice fields) to put their lugguage and spend their first night here.

The rest of the day in the afternoon,we got bikes at the homestay and cycling around Nghia Lo valley.At this time of the year, Nghia Lo valley is evergreen with immense rice terraces & local Thai villages surrounded by mountains.We did 1.5 hour bike along the valley on small trails experiencing local lifestyles and stopped en route taking photos & chatting to local Thai ethnics. To me, Nghia Lo valley has the similar landscapes of Mai Chau valley in Hoa Binh province and is less touristy than that valley.

Thai People - Cinamon

Local Thai processed the bark of cinnamon tree for exportation

Back to the homestay, we took a shower in public bathroom and be relaxed at leisure.

Dinner was served at 7h00 p.m with different delicious local dishes. The host invited us a few cups of local rice wine to thank our guests for staying in his homestay.

Overnight in Saren Homestay.

Day 2. Nghia Lo - Tu Le - Mua Cang Chai.Homestay in Kim Noi village (B, L,D).

After the breakfast, we took the photos with the host, said goodbye and continued to Tu Le & Mu Cang Chai - the lands of the most breathtaking rice terraces in the world.

Nghia Lo homestay photo with the host

Photo with the host of Sa Ren homestay

The journey was driving up & down this pass to another one, viewing more green tea plantations, meeting other local ethnics of Black Hmong & Red Dzao en route & captivate the beautiful rice terraces in Tu Le valley, especially the ones from Khau Pha Pass - the one of most challenging pass in this mountain route.

At this time of the year, the green rice being recently planted on different layers of rice terraces created a beautiful photos & pristine views.We did stop on various locations of Khau Pha pass and tried to get as many good shots as possible.

Rice terraces in Tu Le valley

Tu Le valley's rice terraces - photo from Khau Pha Pass

After Khau Pha Pass, we reached Nga Ba Kim town and start 8 km trek along La Pan Tan commune - one of famous sites for admiring rice terrraces. We trekked up & down along the village road viewing down the valley of massive stepped rice fields.

Different from Nghia Lo & Tu Le area, the rice was not yet much planted here.Locals wait for the raining water - the main water source running down from mountain to feed up their stepped fields with water for farming.

We trekked up to the center of La Pan Tan commune experiencing local lifestyle of Black Hmong, then stopped in Do Gu homestay for their home-cooked lunch.

Continue our trek to the top point, we had a great panoramic captivation of the region :”What breathtaking the scenery would be if we were here in harvested time!”.

Local people in La Pa Tan village

Stops for the talks with local Black Hmong in La Pan Tan Commune

From the peak, we hiked down in quite trails passing many scattered villages, visited local families and chatted getting to know more about their cultures.

Down the valley, we reached Mam Xoi rice terraces - the symblic beauty of Mu Cang Chai’s rice terraces. Travelling to Mua Cang Chai, travellers must check in and take a visit to this travel site.

Mu Cang Chai rice terraces in falling water time

The beauty of rice terraces in falling water time Mu Cang Chai

We met the driver at Ba Nha bridge area and drove past Mu Cang Chai town to Kim Noi village of Thai ethnic for dinner & homestay in Mr Em’s home - a nicely decorated house on stilts with years of serving local & international tourists. We got a nice dinner, happily drinking rice wine & tasting his delicious home- cooked dishes.

Overnight in a private corner of the home ( a soft-sleeper double bed with mosquito net, blanket & fan. At the height of 1300 metters compared with the sea level, so the climate is really pleasant in Mu Cang Chai in April. A very good sleep after a long day hike in La Pan Tan area.

Day 3. Trekking Cu Che Nha commune and back to Hanoi (L)

After breakfast with pan cakes & honey at 7h00 a.m, we were ready for a 3 hour trek on mountain slopes to contemplate Cu Che Nha’s rice terrace fields and local villages of Black Hmong.En route, we had chances to admire some falling-water rice terraces looking like different mirrors beautifully reflecting the sunlights, stopped in Lang Hang De & Ta Cho villages talking with friendly locals.

lang Hang De village

Chat with friendly local Black Hmong in Lang Hang De village

After a healthy morning trek, we met the driver and drove the same way back to Hanoi ( 8 hour drive). The 3 day Nghia Lo - Mu Cang Chai trekking tour was successfully finished at 19h00 p.m in Hanoi.We said good bye with two happy customers from Gemany and saw them again in coming trips to Vietnam.

Some of my personal reviews & suggestions after 3 day Nghia Lo - Mu Cang Chai trekking journey.

1. The area is far from Hanoi on winding & steep mountain roads so it takes quite a long time to drive.For a relaxed trip, you should do at least 3- 4 day trip. Far to reach but you can expect untouched natural landscapes, less touristic and really authentic local cultures.

2. The trip could be extended to Bac Ha market or to Sapa if you have more days (4-5 days)

3. For the beautiful photos, you should choose the right time to visit Mu Cang Chai : falling water time ( at the end of April to mid May), green rice fields (at the end of May to mid - September) and golden rice fields ( at the end of September to the early October).

Rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai

Symbolic rice terrace in MU cang Chai - golden color time 

4. For authentic culture, homestaying  & trekking in local villages are great ways to interact with local people.

5. When taking photos of locals, you should ask for their permision in advance.

6. Check the weather forecast to make sure of nice weather. If storms influenced or raining a lot, it may taking places with constant landslides en routes - especially in Khau Pha Pass.If things happened, it might take time (sometimes a few days) to solve, as the result, your trip could not continue.

7. Prepare good trekking shoes & warm clothes along because the temperature is normally lower than the low lands.

8. In need of travel consultancy for Nghia Lo - Mu Cang Chai tours, please, contact us at +84.988451530 (viber, whatsapp) or email us to

Need local support, please, let us know!

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