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Jaw-dropping rice terrace views have become synonymous with Vietnam, but they’re not postcard perfect all year round. Senior Product Executive Chris Greener shares his favourite countryside corners and the best times to go to avoid disappointment.
Where to find rice terraces in Vietnam
Asia is synonymous with rice. Literally every meal is served with it and the local tipple made from it, but it takes seeing it grow in the countryside to appreciate its true beauty. The changes in the season; watching it fill the barren landscape with vivid colours; and slowly watching it mature into a rich yellow before harvest. This landscape is easily one of the most photogenic in Vietnam, especially on its fertile northern terraces.
You are far from guaranteed to see these picture-postcard vistas, depending on the timing of your trip. You may well be met with muddy or dried out fields, so its important to understand the growing seasons in Vietnam, one of the world’s richest agricultural regions.
Without doubt one of the most famous regions to see rice terraces. It’s home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country; colourfully dressed ethnic minorities; and a wealth of places to stay. It’s also now much easier to access than ever before with a new 5-hour road journey from Hanoi, although this has brought more tourists and development.
When to go: Due to its topography, Sapa only has one annual rice harvest between September to October. Travel June – August isn’t recommended due to the rain so its worth getting there March – May as the rice is growing and September – October when it turns to its lush yellow before harvest.
If Sapa is one of the most stunning places in Vietnam, Ha Giang is off the charts. Situated in Vietnam’s remote north, it does involve a chunk of time to add to your itinerary and a much lesser standard of accommodation, but boy is it worth it. As well as endless mountains, rural villages, picturesque rivers and forested valleys, it’s home to some of the most spectacular rice terraces in the world.
When to go: Much the same as Sapa, it only has one rice harvest per year between September-October, so travel before the green season kicks in from March-May while the rice is growing, or before the harvest ends.
Similar to Sapa, with mountainous scenery and rice terraces, Pu Luong is a stunning place to visit in Vietnam. At a lower elevation, it’s not quite as spectacular but is devoid of tourists, so you are likely to get hills and surrounding valleys pretty much to yourself. It’s also more accessible than Sapa or Ha Giang and easier to link up and include in an itinerary.
When to go:Due to a complex irrigation system, there are two rice crops per year from May-June and October, so you have more opportunity to see these incredible panoramas. Travelling anytime between mid-February – May and September-October you are pretty much guaranteed the postcard rice terrace and field scenery. Make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card!
Known as the ‘rice-bowl’ of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta doesn’t have the majestic terraces of the north, but with endless lush and exotic landscapes, it’s well worth a mention. Producing half of all Vietnamese rice and accounting for 70% of all exported rice, the delta region enjoys near year-round rice production.
When to go: Apart from the green season (June-August) where almost 50% of the total delta area is flooded because of overflow of the Mekong River, you are practically guaranteed to see endless green fields being worked on.