A pristine landscape at Bat Xat, Lao Cai

Photo Tour Of the Golden Rice Terraces in Bat Xat – Lao Cai

Autumn! The temperatures in Hanoi dropped down from warm to pleasant. The air was fresher and the breezes were gentler. It was still bright sunshine but the scorching sun had been replaced by a kissing and caressing one. My temptation to hit the road was gradually dominating the love for work. I knew it was best to wrap things up as soon as possible… Somewhere up in the mountains, the golden rice terraces were calling my name!

  Golden rice at Muong Hum, Bat Xat
Golden rice at Muong Hum, Bat Xat

 Autumn brings along the perfect combination of refreshing atmosphere and sensational landscapes. For a month's time, rice terraces in the mountainous far-north of Vietnam seamlessly change their appearance from dark green to shimmering yellow and dazzling golden colors. The beautiful landscapes are usually accompanied by blue skies. And dotted in the sensational backdrops are hill tribe ladies in traditional attire tending or harvesting the rice. This happens once per year only. It is high time to ditch the desk and set out on the journey of one's dreams!

A gorgeous patch of terraced rice fiels at Muong Hum
A gorgeous patch of terraced rice fiels at Muong Hum

 I have been to Bat Xat (Lao Cai Province) a few times and still it doesn't lessen my excitement coming back here each time. Local ethnic people are genuine and the landscape is just beautiful. The land is home to some of the highest mountain peaks in Vietnam that I vow to scale one after the other… And on this journey I was looking for photography of the golden rice terraces here. There is no doubt that they are beautiful always. But to have beautiful photos of them, then it is not always that easy a job.

A house in idyllic rice terraces at Muong Hum
A house in idyllic rice terraces at Muong Hum

 The endless steep gradients leading to Muong Hum made me feel thrilled again. It is these gradients and mountains that seem to separate the area from the outside world. The air is cooler and fresher which makes the visitors palpable of a pure land that they are in.

A mountain slope awash with a simmering golden tinge
A mountain slope awash with a shimmering golden tinge

 Then came a vantage point that offered a sweeping view of the surrounding nature that could make you gasp if you saw it for the first time! The blue mountain peaks in the distance were wrapped in fog still and the whole mountain slopes on the other side of a river were changing colors. It was a kind of gradient ranging from dark green to burning golden colors.

A farmer coming towards his water buffalos in a golden rice field
A farmer coming towards his water buffalos in a golden rice field

 Following the instincts of a photographer for the perfect angles to take in the stunning nature I moved from one point to another until I was completely lost amid the heavenly landscape. There were some families harvesting their rice. And some patches of terraced fields had been harvested revealing yellow stubble or toad-brown soil. Gaining a high point allowed me to have a spectacular bird eye view of a valley which looked like a multicolored brocade. The curved lines were sharply defined, and huts or houses on stilts  littered in the valley. What a beautiful life living here then! I could smell the fragrance of ripe rice in the air now.

Buffalo grazing in a terraced rice field
Buffalo grazing in a terraced rice field

 

 

Farmers harvesting rice at Muong Hum
Farmers harvesting rice at Muong Hum

 

 

Rice terraces on a mountain slope awash with golden colors
Rice terraces on a mountain slope awash with golden colors

 

 

Farmers harvesting on a scenic mountain slope
Farmers harvesting on a scenic mountain slope

 

 

Alone!
Alone!

 

 

Scenic rice terraces at Sang Ma Sao
Scenic rice terraces at Sang Ma Sao

 

 

 A colorful brocade of rice
A colorful brocade of rice

 Lighting conditions were better at Sang Ma Sao and Den Sang. There were more people working in the rice terraces here, too. There were meandering trails from the main road to different villages which allowed me to move freely from one vantage point to another. I could have more spectacular views of the terraces and mountains and it was easier to have clean compositions, too.

A scenic mountain slope with a meandering road amid rice terraces
A scenic mountain slope with a meandering road amid rice terraces

 

 

Rice terraces at Den Sang
Rice terraces at Den Sang

 

 

A Red Dao lady tending golden rice terraces
A Red Dao lady tending golden rice terraces

 

 

A scenic mountain slope decorated by golden rice terraces
A scenic mountain slope decorated by golden rice terraces

 Late in the afternoon, I got some time shooting photos in the surreal landscape of the The Pa Valley at Y Ty. The altitudes here are more or less than 2,000m above sea level. The rice terraces on a mountain slope were like a mirror reflecting sunlight while the dark green mountain slopes were getting darker and darker. You could feel that the rice fields were glowing in a dark-colored backdrop…

Glowing rice terraces at the The Pa Valley at Y Ty
Glowing rice terraces at the The Pa Valley at Y Ty

 

 

A hillside with hypnotizing rice terraces
A hillside with hypnotizing rice terraces

 The morning after there were more opportunities for me to take photos at Ngai Thau, A Lu and A Mu Sung. The light was soft and I got some nice photos at first. But soon fog and haze made my photos blurry. I had to move on anyway as people were harvesting the rice in the other areas soon. My photo adventure continued...

Smooth rice terraces at Ngai Thau
Smooth rice terraces at Ngai Thau