Photoblog: Rice Terraces of Sapa, Vietnam

Posted on May 8, 2012 by

Emerald green rice terraces shimmered in the distance, as water buffaloes ploughed through the soggy field. In the backdrop, the towering Hoang Lien Son mountain range lay shrouded in mist while clusters of bamboo huts sprawled across its foothills. It had rained the day before and now the poetic landscape seemed even more beautiful than ever. We had left the town of Sapa in Lao Cai province that morning and within a few miles of walk, we were trekking through winding valleys and steep slopes. This is one of the last frontiers of Vietnam, far out in the northern reaches close to the Chinese border.

I had long heard about the beautiful countryscape and the Hmong ethnic groups who inhabit this region — and it didn’t disappoint. While this trail is clearly well-trodden (as with most parts of Vietnam), it didn’t fail to impress — we experienced Vietnam’s backcountry, stayed in a local’s home, and met plenty of Hmong people (who all offered a helping hand during the challenging trek).  Here are some of our photos from Sapa, hope they’ll give you a good glimpse of Northern Vietnam.

Making our way into the remote villages of Lao Cai

A Hmong girl

A Hmong girl with a baby on her back. Hmong girls tend to marry very young, around the age of 14 or 15.

A water buffalo at work

Water buffalos are used to plough through the rice fields.

Rice terraces

Beautiful rice paddies shimmer under the sunshine.

A Hmong lady working on her handicraft

A Hmong lady weaving on the streets. Many of these ladies make a living from selling handicraft to tourists.

Crossing a bridge

Crossing a new bridge that spans across the river, connecting two villages in the Lao Cai province.

the red hmongs

A group of Red Hmong ladies gathering for their market day.

Trekking through bamboo forests, we slipped and slided along the muddy paths.

Our Hmong host cooking

Our homestay host cooking up a storm in her house.

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

21 Responses to “Photoblog: Rice Terraces of Sapa, Vietnam”

  1. Jeremy Branham May 8, 2012 11:36 am #

    I know this isn't the reaction you are supposed to have but when I see rice fields like this, part of me just wants to run through them, splash, and have fun like I was a little kid. Here in California, we have a lot of these as well. Fortunately, I have resisted the urge so far. However, the rice fields are not only vital for food but they are artistic as well. Beautiful photos of the fields and people – a nice glimpse into life in rural Vietnam.

  2. Barbara May 9, 2012 8:55 am #

    These pictures are amazing! I especially feel moved seeing the Hmong lady weaving.

  3. A Montrealer Abroad May 9, 2012 5:36 pm #

    Wow – love how the rice fields are organized. Reminds me of European vineyards, only slightly more wet!

  4. Ruth (Tanama Tales) May 10, 2012 12:47 am #

    This is amazing. The scenery is incredible but I would go more for the people. Hope you are going to write about your homestay.

  5. techincal writer August 3, 2012 7:18 pm #

    The rice field arrangements look hard to construct. its funny how people get adapted to the hard life which later to them seems normal

  6. Prerna September 4, 2012 8:57 pm #

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  7. Carla @ St Lucia September 24, 2012 9:42 pm #

    Looks like a hard way of making a living, thanks for sharing these thought provoking pictures.

  8. Diana October 11, 2012 8:14 am #

    Vietnam is a wonderful country. Asia is fascinating continent

  9. Agarwals October 16, 2012 2:38 am #

    Terraced rice fields are located in the northern mountainous provinces. Due to the steep feature, fertile soil thanks to it was created by weathered granite rock and mountain cliffs often stock water, local ethnic minority people can grow rice and establish terraced rice fields, one after another, from the foot to nearly top of mountains. Generations to generations of these people have made terraced rice fields as we see today.

    When being seen from afar, the terraced rice fields look like a picture of nature with heart- catching beauty keeping tourists to stay for admiration for a while. This picture however has its colour changed 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 the 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 high above 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 tourists think of it as a hand-made creation of uniqueness which cannot be found anywhere else.

  10. andrea October 17, 2012 2:03 am #

    Giving the clear information about the culture and attitude Vietnam

  11. Laurience October 30, 2012 10:04 pm #

    This group of Red Hmong people look similar to that of the Hmong in thailand. Great information

  12. venkat November 6, 2012 4:53 am #

    It was a great run, and I hope the readers who discovered us found our content useful.

  13. Travel Information November 22, 2012 2:51 am #

    Nice collection of information about sapa vietnam. Sapa would be of considerably less interest without the H’mong people, the largest ethnic groups in the region.

  14. Tabitha May 2, 2013 12:23 am #

    I like the valuable info you provide in your articles.

    I will bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly.
    I am quite sure I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  15. Hoang ngoc linh November 10, 2015 5:02 am #

    if oneday you have opportunity visiting Vietnam, I am extremely willing to welcome you. My country is very famous for a lot of beautiful destinations and plentiful nature. You can visit Dalat which is well-known with colorful flower fields and majestic waterfalls. Moreover you can enjoy a heaven of street food and unique traditional and special flavor dishes.

    • Nellie Huang November 20, 2015 6:29 am #

      Thanks Hoang! I absolutely loved Vietnam, will definitely get in touch when I head back!


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