Sapa has some of the most stunning rice fields in Vietnam. And for a good reason! The Sapa rice fields are impressively built in terraces along the high mountains, some of which date back over 100 years.
- Best time visit
- How to explore them
- How are they built
- Best Sapa rice fields
- Tips for other terraced rice fields in Vietnam
Best time visit the Sapa terraced rice fields
It is important to visit the Sapa rice fields in the right season, because during some months there are no rice fields at all and other months the temperatures can drop to 10 degrees. The best time to visit Sapa terraced rice fields are September and early October. This is the harvest time, when the color of the rice fields turn gold and yellow.
In May and June they start watering the rice fields, which is called the poring season. During this time, the fields are filled with water and turn into a giant mirror. Also this period is a good time to visit and great for photographers.
In the months between the poring and harvest you can see the rice growing in different stages. The closer you are to harvest, the longer the rice will be. Expect to see nice green fields of rice in the months before.
How to explore the Sapa rice fields
The best way to explore this cultivated highlight, is making a trekking in Sapa through the rice fields and from ethnic minority village to village. By this way you will not only have stunning views of the rice fields in Sapa, but you also explore the unique culture of the local hills tribes living there. There are different trekking routes and options. From half day, full day to multiple days.
If you are not into trekking or healthy enough, you can also choose to go by car along scenic roads. Another way is to go by motorbike, with different routes you can take. You can drive the Sapa Loop if you are really into motorbike driving. The loop takes 2 to 3 days, but keep in mind that driving through the mountains of Vietnam is not without danger and only meant for experience drivers. The last option to explore the rice fields of Sapa is cycling by mountain bike. There are a few tours you can do, as it is wise to go with a guide.
For the complete experience you can stay overnight in a local homestay in Sapa. These are owned by the minorities. Don’t expect much luxury, because you stay here for the experience. They do all have western toilets and mosquito nets. In the evening you join them at dinner and if you do a trekking with a guide, he can help you communicate with them. Some homestays also have an option to do a herbal bath. In the morning you will wake up from the sounds of the farm animals in the village, with stunning views of a rising sun above the rice fields.
Tip! Check out our Sapa tours, including trekking through the Sapa rice fields. In addition, there are also tours with sightseeing by car, visiting local markets and mountain biking.
How are the Sapa rice fields built?
Some of the rice fields in Sapa are more than 100 years old. These paddy fields are made by hand using simple farm tools and with the help of farm animals such as buffaloes. The people that made them are ethnic minorities. These ethnic people are mainly the Dao, H’mong, Giay and Tay people who shared the technique of land cultivation from generation to generation.
When you are visiting the Sapa rice fields you will still see these ethnic minorities, often in their traditional clothing, working on the land. They harvest the rice by hand and use buffaloes to plow the land.
Best Sapa rice fields
The best rice fields of Sapa can be found in the Muong Hoa Valley. The whole valley is covered in paddy fields, but to guide you around, we listed a few villages and communes to indicate where the best places are to view them.
1. Y Ty
For the most beautiful rice fields around Sapa you have to travel the farthest. Around 75 km or 3,5 hours to be more precise. Y Ty is located high in the mountains, close to the Chinese border. Because of a height of more than 2000 meter, it is often covered in clouds. Because of the distance it is not visited by many tourist and manly known under the photographer community. The reason for that is obvious, in this commune the terraced rice fields are enormous and high, interspersed with remote villages of ethnic minorities.
2. Ta Van
Ta Van village is one of the more known villages around Sapa and a popular place to stay overnight in a homestay. The popularity is because this village is completely surrounded by the rice fields of Sapa. Staying overnight here is a unique experience.
3. Ta Phin
Ta Phin village is another village located in the Muong Hoa Valley, surrounded with rice fields. It is around 15 km from the center of Sapa. There are many trekking tours to this village, with enough homestays for an overnight stay and surrounded by the famous rice paddy fields.
4. Ban Ho
Ban Ho is with 32 km from Sapa and because it is located deeper in the Muong Hoa Valley, it is also a less visited village. There are two day trekking tours that end here and some 3 day trekking tours stay here overnight (at the second night). There are great trekking trails between Ta Van and Ban Ho, but it is wise to do this with a guide, as the trails are not indicated on online maps. On the way you can spot some stunning rice fields.
5. Thanh Kim
At Thanh Kim you can find Topas Ecolodge, the most famous eco lodge of north Vietnam. Enjoy the infinity pool on top of the mountain with a scenic view on the rice fields below. Bungalows are dotted along the mountain side with similar views. But there is a high price tag for staying in this resort and if it does not fit in you budget, you can still explore the Thanh Kim area and enjoy the views.
Tips for other terraced rice fields in Vietnam
Are the rice fields in Sapa too far from your planned route? Or do you prefer more off the beaten track, without many tourist visiting? Then there are still plenty of alternatives to Sapa.
- Mu Cang Chai – Here you will find the most stunning rice fields of Vietnam. It is mostly visited during harvest season, because it lacks of other sights compared to Sapa. It also has some of the best options for trekking in Vietnam.
- Hoang Su Phi – This is almost as off the beaten as you can find. Far away for any tourist hot spot, in the province of Ha Giang you will find some of the most epic rice fields in combination with authentic villages of ethnic minority.
- Pu Luong – This nature reserve is further south, between Mai Chau and Ninh Binh. It is smaller than the rice fields in Sapa, but also more quiet and picturesque. here you can find a valley full of terraced rice fields with small villages. Perfect trekking destination.