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Five destinations with terrific terraced fields for an October visit in Vietnam

It is harvest season, and the terraced rice fields are at their most beautiful.

The terraced fields are ripening, creating amazing scenery throughout the highlands of Vietnam. If you are a person who enjoys lovely landscapes, you should check out these places for a green and gold treat.

1. Sapa

Sapa, situated 300 kilometers away from Hanoi, attracts tourists throughout the year. But the two months of autumn is when Sapa, a town in the northern province of Lao Cai, becomes truly beautiful. During the harvest season, from the mountains down into the valleys is a stunning yellow and green carpet.

The best place in Sapa is Muong Hoa Valley with villages like Ta Van, Ta Phin, Cat Cat, and Sin Chai being your main focus since the terraced fields look the best here.

Grilled salmon on tinfoil in Sapa.

Grilled salmon on tinfoil in Sapa.

Sapa is famous for salmon, sturgeon and mountain vegetables. The sturgeon and salmon are farmed in small lakes in mountain villages.

There are also street food vendors who serve bamboo tube rice with barbecued chicken and other snacks.

Lodging in Sapa is pretty cheap. A night in town will cost you only around VND300,000 ($13). You can get even cheaper prices in homestays and mountain villages, with a night’s stay costing VND100,000 ($4.2).

Sapa is cold at night and early morning. So carry a light jacket or a windbreaker. Also remember to carry a face mask to protect your nose and throat from the cold. When walking around the terraced fields, it’s best to wear a pair of boots to avoid getting dirty because sometimes it can get really muddy.

2. Pu Luong

Autumn is the best time to visit Pu Luong, a nature reserve in Thanh Hoa Province 170 kilometers away from Hanoi. The weather at Pu Luong is cool throughout the year, even in summer. In autumn Pu Luong, where it is harvest season, is magnificent with its golden rice fields creating a carpet extending from village to village.

This nature reserve also has a 1,700-meter mountain with the same name. Pu Luong Mountain is among trekkers’ favorite spots. Normally it takes six to eight hours to reach the top if the weather is good. From there you can get a panoramic view of the grand and marvelous valley.

Pho Don Market is well worth a visit in Pu Luong. It only opens on Thursday and Sunday every week. You can buy souvenirs like brocade textile and try local treats like sweet/savory doughnut, fruits and mountain vegetables.

Mountain villages like Hieu, Don and Kho Muong are also places you should check out for terraced fields.

Co Lung grilled duck

Co Lung grilled duck

A variety of delicacies can be found in Pu Luong such as grilled fish, stir-fried chicken, roasted pork marinated with Indian pepper, and bamboo shoot soup. But the most special dish in Pu Luong is grilled Co Lung duck. The meat is tender and fragrant since it’s grilled on charcoal. A whole roasted duck costs about VND450,000 ($19.4) and is good for three or four people.

A homestay in Pu Luong

A homestay in Pu Luong

There is currently only one resort in Pu Luong named Pu Luong Retreat and it is usually full. But there are many hostels and homestays there. Some notable places are Pu Luong Hostel, Tho Ha Homestay, Pu Luong Rice Road, and Pu Luong Tree House and their prices range from VND150,000 to 250,000 ($6.5 to 10.8) per night.

A good pair of walking shoes is recommended in Pu Luong. Also remember to take a bottle of insect repellent because there can be a lot of mosquitoes at night.

3. Mu Cang Chai

There are 2,200 hectares of terraced rice fields in Mu Cang Chai, including 500 ha in the three communes of La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu Phinh, which have been recognized as national landscapes by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The terraced fields here are recognized as one of the unique landscapes of Vietnam. Mu Cang Chai has become a popular destination in early October every year when the rice harvest starts.

Terrace parade of course is the way to go here. You can check out the terraced fields in valleys like Tu Le, La Pan Tan or Khau Pha , one of the four imposing mountain passes in the northwest of Vietnam. Although Mu Cang Chai is poor and relatively underdeveloped, it has a very rich natural environment

Tu Le ground green rice flakes.

Tu Le ground green rice flakes.

There are many delicacies in Mu Cang Chai, especially roasted black pig, salmon salad, Tu Le sticky rice, and bee chrysalis.

Mu Cang Chai is usually very crowded during the harvest season, and so you should book in advance if you want to go in October. The price for a night here is about VND300,000 ($13) at motels and VND100,000 ($4.3) if you choose a homestay.

Avoid driving on rainy days because the mountain road here is steep and can be really slippery.

4. Hoang Su Phi

Ha Giang Province, a neighbor of Lao Cai, is famous for its stunning mountain scenery and its border commune of Hoang Su Phi has probably the best terrace rice fields in Vietnam. The terraced fields of Hoang Su Phi were recognized as a national relic in 2012. There are around 3,000 hectares of terraces here.

You will never get tired of looking at these wonderful terraced beauties. The best terraces here are in villages like San Sa Ho, Ban Phung and Ho Thau.

Grilled mouse meat in Hoang Su Phi

Grilled mouse meat in Hoang Su Phi

You can try mouse meat in Hoang Su Phi in the form of dishes like roasted and low-heat grilled. Some say the meat tastes like chicken. Mice are an essential food for the La Chi ethnic people in Ha Giang. They also serve fried fish caught in the terraced rice fields.

There aren’t many places to stay in Hoang Su Phi because tourism has not developed much here. But you can find some homestays in the villages or motels in Vinh Quang Town for VND250,000 to 550,000 ($10.8 to 23.7) a night.

The weather in Hoang Su Phi is starting to get cold at night and in the early morning, so be sure to take a jacket with you. And be careful when you drive on the road from Ha Giang city to Hoang Su Phi because it’s narrow, winding and filled with trucks.

5. Y Ty

Y Ty is a commune in Lao Cai Province around 400 kilometers away from Hanoi. When autumn arrives, Y Ty is adorned with golden terraced rice fields and smells of grass. It is a relatively unknown place despite its wonderful landscapes.

To see terraces, you can visit A Lu and Den Thang rice fields. To catch a view of clouds, you can try trekking on the Nhi Cu San mountain range. Other attractions include the intersection of Lung Po Stream and the Red River and the Den Sang cardamom forest.

If you want to know more about the cultures of the ethnic people here, make sure to check out Lao Chai 1 and Lao Chai 2 villages, where the Ha Nhi people live.

A market day in Y Ty

A market day in Y Ty

The delicacies in Y Ty are pretty similar to other places in the northern highlands with roasted pig, chicken, mountain vegetables – but they are only cooked on festive occasions or market days. You can get regular food such as noodles and rice on normal days.

There are no hotels or resorts in Y Ty yet. But you can check out some homestays here and they cost only around VND70,000 ($3) though they have amenities like electricity, water and wifi. If the homestays are full up, you can even spend the night at the border station in Y Ty.

A pair of trekking shoes will be ideal for Y Ty since the roads here are quite muddy and slippery. And remember to carry some food since there aren’t many restaurants here.

Story by Tuan Hoang, Kieu Duong, Khanh Tran
Photos by Thao Linh, Huy Thang, Hoang Anh
Source: VNEXPRESS

  • Grilled mouse meat in Hoang Su Phi

    Grilled mouse meat in Hoang Su Phi

  • Tu Le ground green rice flakes.

    Tu Le ground green rice flakes.

  • Co Lung grilled duck

    Co Lung grilled duck

  • A homestay in Pu Luong

    A homestay in Pu Luong

  • Grilled salmon on tinfoil in Sapa.

    Grilled salmon on tinfoil in Sapa.

  • A market day in Y Ty

    A market day in Y Ty

  • Grilled mouse meat in Hoang Su Phi
  • Tu Le ground green rice flakes.
  • Co Lung grilled duck
  • A homestay in Pu Luong
  • Grilled salmon on tinfoil in Sapa.
  • A market day in Y Ty

Central Highlands

November, the best time to visit these awesome Vietnamese destinations

As chilly November arrives it is the best time to pay a visit to these places.Ha Giang – buckwheat flower festival

Ha Giang – buckwheat flower festival

Photo by VnExpress/Tung Duong

Photo by VnExpress/Tung Duong

Ha Giang Province nestles in the mountains of northern Vietnam. It is home to ethnic minorities like the H’Mong, Thai and others. Visitors to the province can witness exotic local lifestyles.

The wildness of its nature is the captivating feature of Ha Giang. The province attracts many motorbike riders and trekkers every year. Mother Nature has gifted Ha Giang with diverse scenery with mighty rocky mountains, golden rice terraces and, in November, magnificent white and magenta fields of buckwheat flowers.

Buckwheat is among the staple grains of the locals, and is usually cultivated after the summer-fall rice crop every year. Now buckwheat flowers have bloomed all over mountain slopes in Dong Van District.

This year the annual buckwheat flower festival starts on November 10 with cultural activities, traditional games and a buckwheat flower competition.

1,000-year-old capital, Hanoi

Photo by VnExpress/Trung Vo

Photo by VnExpress/Trung Vo

November may mark the start of winter in many places, but in Hanoi autumn lingers. This is arguably the best time of the year to visit the city, when it wears a whole new façade with the renowned hoa sua (milk flower) and streets gilded with fallen golden leaves and cuisine specialties.

Photo by VnExpress

Photo by VnExpress

In November do not miss a walk through Hanoi’s most romantic streets, Phan Dinh Phung, Hoang Dieu and Tran Phu. The hoa sua (milk flower) have bloomed all over these streets, giving off a glorious aroma.

Visitors can also explore the maze of alleys in the old quarter to find autumn specialties like green rice, green rice cake and ragworm, or sit by an open-air café in the cool wind and enjoy a cup of Vietnamese egg coffee.

The ancient citadel of Hue

Photo by Quoc Viet

November heralds autumn in Hue in central Vietnam. Hue typically expects pleasant weather and less rain this month, perfect for tourists to take a trip around the royal citadel and mighty tombs of old kings.

The Hue citadel complex holds in itself the historical legacy of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last imperial rulers of Vietnam. The tombs of the Nguyen kings are situated around Hue’s suburbs, which can be reached by car or motorbike.

The Hue cuisine is not to be missed. Mussels with rice/noodles, Hue beef noodles, steamed rice cake and tapioca dumplings are among the must-try dishes in the city. In the cool weather of autumn, the spicy mussels with rice can warm your stomach, and a bowl of beef noodles can give you a nutritious fix for a whole day of exploration.

Tree marigold in Gia Lai

Gia Lai museum. Photo by VnExpress

Gia Lai museum. Photo by VnExpress

Gia Lai Province is in the Central Highlands and has a tropical highland climate. Tourists should visit the province in the dry season in November or December. This is when the rice terraces on the hill slopes are ripe and marigolds have painted the paths yellow.

Tourists can stay in Pleiku City, the center of Gia Lai. One place to visit is the Gia Lai Museum where cultural and historical relics of the local ethnic groups are preserved.

Photo by VnEpxress/Thanh Nguyen

Photo by VnEpxress/Thanh Nguyen

The Chu Dang Ya volcano is a must-visit place for flower lovers since it has the best scenes of blooming tree marigold. The volcano is situated in Chu Dang Ya Commune, Chu Pah District, 30 kilometers to the northeast of Pleiku. Locals can give you directions, so if you are lost do not worry.

Da Lat, the city of dreams

Da Lat City is among the favorite destinations for tourists visiting Vietnam. The rainy season has ended in early November, so it is a good time to visit this city.

Photo by VnExpress/Trung Vo

Photo by VnExpress/Trung Vo

In Da Lat, you can visit the Valley of Love, Da Lat train station, Golden Valley, and Langbiang Mountain.

Da Lat is also in the Central Highlands, so tourists can expect to see tree marigold here.

The best floral scenes can be found at Da Lat University, Pham Hong Thai Street and the Minh Hoa seminary.

Source: By Minh Quan (VNEXPRESS)

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An Giang

The palm that sweetens life in Mekong Delta province

An Giang residents love the palmyra palm for the sustained supply of toddy, juice and raw sugar that it provides.

Known locally as the thot not, Borassus flabellifer, commonly known as doub palm, palmyra palm, tala palm, toddy palm and even wine palm, this species can be found everywhere in An Giang. The local name is derived from th’not in the Khmer language.

They provide a thirst-quenching drink, toddy, made by collecting the sap of its flowers. The palm sugar made from this also carries a special sweetness. The tall palms also beautifully break the monotony of rice fields in the Mekong Delta province.

A thirst-quencher

The thot not juice is often misunderstood as juice from its fruit. But this is actually sap tapped from its flowers. The juice has a light sweet taste and is often served with some slices of succulent thot not fruit. The drink is said to contain many minerals and vitamins that are good for health. It tastes best served with ice.

The tastiest sap is the one harvested early in the morning. If harvested in the evening the sap will get sour and have a fermented taste, which is turned into toddy, an alcoholic drink. Thot not juice is sold in many sidewalk stalls and markets in An Giang.

Sweetmeats

Thot not plays an important role in An Giang’s dessert scene. It is used as the sweetener in most dishes. The thot not pie, rich and sweet, is a steal at VND15,000 ($0.6) a pack.

To make the pies, the pulp of ripened thot not fruit is ground and the juice extracted. The flesh is then mixed with rice flour and thot not sugar and steamed.

Other snacks made here include sweet soups and jelly.

A sweet gift

Thot not sugar is one of the most famous delicacies of An Giang. It’s extracted from the thot not sap then cooked and hardened into round brown clots. The brown sugar is recommended because it retains the natural and original taste. The whiter version is refined. The sugar is not just used in daily cooking, it is also a popular gift item. Some sugar makers even let you make the sugar yourself.

A photo cover

Photographs taken in An Giang never fail to feature the palms against the rising and setting suns. If you show a Vietnamese person a photograph with these palms, she or he will know that you have been to An Giang.

Source: By Linh Sea, Tuan Hoang (VNEXPRESS)

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Destination

Pristine Nam Du islands offer a quiet getaway

The Nam Du Archipelago in southern Kien Giang Province takes some getting to, but that adds to its quiet, clean charms.

The 21 islands that form the Nam Du Archipelago offer visitors a real break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

It takes a seven-hour drive on a bus from Ho Chi Minh City and a two hour boat ride from Rach Gia City in Kien Giang Province.

The islands can be visited anytime of the year, but it’s best to go between November and May when the sea is quiet (and clean) and tourists can avoid getting seasick.

The archipelago only gets power from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day, so charging devices like phones, computers and flashlights should be done at this time.

Taking a walk along the beaches where there is no power enhances the experience of the island’s beauty.

The lack of many activities in the evening, for instance, makes a fire camp or beach barbecue far more enjoyable.

Cool and windy throughout the year, Nam Du is an ideal holiday destination.

A few resorts and homestays have set up bird stations where pigeons congregate, and watching their comings and goings is a pleasant way to while away the time.

The untouched sandy beaches and crystal blue waters of the sea are the greatest attractions on this archipelago, and one cannot get enough of gazing at this wonder.

And given the number of islands, there is a lot of gazing that can get done. For boat rides of just VND150,000 ($7), people can discover islands like Hon Ngang, Bai Nom and Da Den.

Bungalows by the beach.

At the Ngu beach, most of the people are fishermen, but they can tell you one interesting royal fact. Gia Long (1762-1820), the first Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty – the last Vietnamese dynasty – came here for a vacation.

For those who want to do more than walk on the beach, swimming and diving to see corals under the sea are favored options.

Another activity to engage in apart from long walks on the beach is to rent a bike and cycle/drive around each island. Motorbike rentals cost VND150,000 to 200,000 ($6.5 to 8.5).

Nguyen Oanh, a first time visitor, had no such interest: “Nam Du is so beautiful and pristine. I love the feeling of walking by the beach and listening to the waves.”

Source: Hong Ha(VNEXPRESS)

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