Breathtaking landscape at Thong Nguyen, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang
Breathtaking landscape at Thong Nguyen, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang

Travel Photography in Hoang Su Phi (Ha Giang)

Ha Giang perched to the top northern territory of Vietnam is an amazing place. Dong Van Karst Plateau possesses an unreal beauty that is not seen elsewhere. But in this article Paradissa would like to embark you on a photographic journey to discover a little secret of Ha Giang: the captivating rice terraces at Hoang Su Phi.

 Fresh nature at Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang
Fresh nature at Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang

When it comes to photography of golden rice terraces in Vietnam you probably have heard of Mu Cang Chai in Yen Bai Province. And there's no doubt that the rice terraces at Mu Cang Chai are overwhelming and sensational, at least in our personal thinking. At Mu Cang Chai, a photographer would find it fairly easy to obtain suitable angles for great photography. It is not that easy at Hoang Su Phi though.

A mountainside at Thong Nguyen, Hoang Su Phi
A mountainside at Thong Nguyen, Hoang Su Phi

The rice terraces at Hoang Su Phi are scattered in different areas and they are normally surrounded by forests and green mountains. It is natural that they do not look as overwhelming as those in Mu Cang Chai then. At Mu Cang Chai, it is all one huge area of rice terraces; while at Hoang Su Phi you'll have to travel a bit from one place to another. Also at Hoang Su Phi the vantage points for good photography are normally quite far from the rice terraces, which means you'd better bring along a telephoto zoom lens (70-200mm, 70-300mm…). And that's not all; you'll have to have somebody who knows Hoang Su Phi well to take you on the right trails for great photos.

Rice terraces at Thong Nguyen
Rice terraces at Thong Nguyen

Now, let's join us on a cyber photo adventure to explore the best photo spots in Hoang Su Phi. Say, you travel to Hoang Su Phi from Hanoi, you'll take the National Road 2 to Tan Quang Town and turn into the Provincial Road 177, the terrain goes up and you'll be in Thong Nguyen when you see splendid rice terraces on the mountain sides. The area of rice terraces at Thong Nguyen is about 66ha and it is at Thong Nguyen that you can feel being surrounded by rice terraces while still obtaining good angles for your photographs.

Impressive golden rice terraces at Thong Nguyen
Impressive golden rice terraces at Thong Nguyen

From Thong Nguyen you can trek or take a car or motorbike trip to Nam Khoa where there are wonderful angles for photography of the golden rice terraces. You'll have both close and distant views of the rice terraces and they appear in fluid lines which are very appealing to the eye. In the case you want to take a hiking adventure between these two spots, then it takes half a day.

Fluid lines of golden rice terraces at Nam Khoa, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang
Fluid lines of golden rice terraces at Nam Khoa, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang

From Nam Khoa, you'll have to trek through Nam Son to Ho Thau and there are some nice rice terraces on the hike. Else, you'll have to take a road trip by motorbike or car to Ho Thau from Thong Nguyen (or Nam Khoa). If you take the trekking tour, then it'd take 2 days with 1 night homestay at Nam Son. On this adventure you'll combine a photo adventure with fantastic cultural encounters and a great homestay experience. The rice terraces with good shooting angles at Ho Thau are in the distance. Surely here a telephoto zoom lens become especially useful.

Golden rice terraces in fog at Ho Thau, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang
Golden rice terraces in fog at Ho Thau, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang

 

Golden rice terraces amid forests at Ho Thau
Golden rice terraces amid forests at Ho Thau

From Ho Thau, you can trek to Ban Luoc via a scenic and mountainous route. The trek goes up most of the time and takes a full day. Else you can go by car or motorbike which takes a couple of hours on a mountain road on high altitude with breathtaking views of the mountains. The area of rice terraces at Ban Luoc is about 117.8ha and here you'll have some wide and open vistas of the rice terraces.

Sublime landscape with golden rice terraces on hillsides at Ban Luoc, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang
Sublime landscape with golden rice terraces on hillsides at Ban Luoc, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang

 

A close-range photo of the golden rice at Ban Luoc
A close-range photo of the golden rice at Ban Luoc

 

a photo with wide angle of view of golden rice terraces at Ban Luoc
a photo with wide angle of view of golden rice terraces at Ban Luoc

From Ban Luoc, a short trip by car or motorbike would bring you to Vinh Quang Town, the capital of Hoang Su Phi. There's a hidden gem for photography of golden rice terraces at Ban Phung which is about 30km from Vinh Quang Town on the road towards Xin Man; we'll reserve this amazing photogenic spot in another post. Now let's continue our photo adventure back towards Thong Nguyen from Vinh Quang via the Provincial Road 177. We'll have to turn into a small mountain road to Ban Nhung. The area of rice terraces here is quite small but you could get some nice photos for sure. The rice terraces are not in far distances, nice photos are normally to show more of the target details than panoramic ones. The angles of view are quite narrow.

A close view of golden rice terraces at Ban Nhung, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang
A close view of golden rice terraces at Ban Nhung, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang

 

A mountainside with golden rice terraces at Ban Nhung
A mountainside with golden rice terraces at Ban Nhung

 

A photo of golden rice terraces on a steep mountainside at Ban Nhung
A photo of golden rice terraces on a steep mountainside at Ban Nhung

Our journey continues back on the Provincial Road 177 and we'll get off this road again for Ban Peo where there are nice distant and close views of rice terraces. The rice area is huge but the photos can mostly be taken from distance; getting close to the rice terraces would take quite some time and the shooting angles when we get close to them are not that good anymore.

Unbelievably beautiful mountainside with golden rice at Ban Peo, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang
Unbelievably beautiful mountainside with golden rice at Ban Peo, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang

 

Breathtaking golden rice terraces at Ban Peo
Breathtaking golden rice terraces at Ban Peo

Leaving Ban Peo, we'll travel back to Road 177 and make our shooting at Nam Ty. The rice terraces are far from your standing point and again you'll need a telephoto zoom lens to get great photographs. Your targets are high up on mountain slopes and you could get unbelievably beautiful photos if you have the right lens and if you could make good use of the sunlight.

Stunning mountainside at Nam Ty, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang
Stunning mountainside at Nam Ty, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang