Linh Farid, our Product Manager for Southeast Asia, recently travelled on one of our Vietnam tours. She had the unique experience of trekking among the rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi. This less explored corner of northern Vietnam is home to colourful hill tribes and emerald rice terraces. It a quieter area to rival popular Sapa.
We hope you enjoy Linh’s story about the hidden gem, Hoang Su Phi.
“Hoang Su Phi will unquestionably fulfil your desire for unique travel”
Authenticity, incredible rice terraces, majestic mountains and also serenity…
…these words best describe this fascinating place. Hoang Su Phi is located in northern Vietnam, approximately 300km (an 8-hour drive) from Hanoi, also close to the Chinese border. It is the ideal location for an adventure in Asia’s great outdoors. The added bonus is an up-close experience with those living in rural Vietnam. I joined one of our Discovery tours of Vietnam to have this unique experience.
Hoang Su Phi is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities like Hanoi and Saigon. It was rather like travelling back in time as we journeyed from Hanoi into the mountainous north. We stopped along the way for lunch in the town of Tuyen Quang. The food here is just as you would expect – flavoursome and delicious.
We arrived late afternoon at Pan Hou Lodge, our base for three nights. This striking eco-lodge hides away in the heart of the mountains. The rooms, inspired by traditional hill tribe houses, are spacious and the food we enjoy here is superb! I finally fall asleep to the sound of crickets and awaken in the morning to the tunes of the local birdlife.
After breakfast, led by our National Escort Hoi, we commence our first trek to a Tay ethnic village. The journey takes us up and downhill and we stop regularly to take in the views of the terraced rice paddies and adjacent bamboo forests.
We hike for around 6km (3.5 hours) to the village where Hoang and his family warmly welcome us. Hoang and his family share lunch with us in their family home. They reside in a simple stilt house, which watches steadfastly over their rice paddies. The livelihood of the community is thus through farming crops and raising livestock. We are made to feel so welcome in their home. Most noteworthy, they shared stories about their traditional ways of living, including cooking methods and farming. I felt very privileged to have this experience.
After returning to the lodge and relaxing our legs for the evening, we set off for our second day of trekking. Covering a similar distance of around 6-7km, today’s hike was mostly uphill and on sealed surfaces. We had great sunny weather with mild temperatures, which helped make the trek easier.
The further we walked, the more magnificent the scenery became.
The incredible views never become tiresome and it leaves me thinking about how amazing it is that these rice terraces are man-made with very little if any, modern-day interventions. The people make use of every inch of land and nature’s ways to consequently gain the best outcomes and incomes for their families. They live a simple, self-sustaining and also happy life.
We paid a visit to a Red Dao family for lunch where we were also treated to some of their rice wine and friendly discussion about their village and customs. Their clothing is traditional and some of the women shave their heads and eyebrows because this is a sign of beauty. They were similarly gracious in welcoming us to their village.
Finally, as we returned to the lodge for our final night in Hoang Su Phi, we pass water buffalo, mountain pigs and take in the absolute remote tranquillity of the region. It is a photographer’s paradise here. It is also perfect for those who loves exploring remote areas and meeting intriguing people.
Do spectacular landscapes and other immersive experiences interest you? Learn more about our Immerse Yourself Tours and check out our 20-day Vietnam & Cambodia Discovery tour which visits Hoang Su Phi. You can also speak with one of our consultants about creating a tailor-made independent tour.
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