Hoang Su Phi is a district in Ha Giang, about 300km away from the city of Hanoi. The terrain of the area is mostly steep mountain alternating with deep valleys and primary forests.
One of the most spectacular wonders of Hoang Su Phi is the terraces, which have been recognized as a National Heritage in 2012. Home to 12 different ethnic minorities, the indigenous culture here is very distinctive and unique.
Visiting the place, you’re going to get blown away by the breathtaking views of nature. And if you’re lucky enough, you may get the chance to experience various cultural festivals of the native people. Hence, Hoang Su Phi is not only perfect for a getaway from the bustling city life but also an ideal destination for those who want to know more about the local lifestyle. The best way to discover this rural paradise is by joining a Hoang Su Phi trekking tour from Hanoi. This quick travel guide to Hoang Su Phi will reveal you all the necessary information before visiting this land.
When To Visit?
Famous for its beautiful terraces, Hoang Su Phi immerses in a yellow shade of ripe paddy fields from August to September. Hence, this is the most beautiful season to pay a visit. The first few months of the year are when most of the festivals take place and from April till June, you can see the terraces during the flooding season.
What To See?
• Rice Terraces
Hoang Su Phi is the place with the highest terraces in Vietnam. Due to the terrain, there isn’t much land for local people to cultivate and grow crops. Hence, the terrace system was developed as a way to make use of the mountain flanks.
Unlike the usual paddy fields in the plains, people can only grow rice once a year when the flood starts to fill the terraces with water. During the flooding season, looking from above, the terraces seem like a mirror reflecting the clear blue sky and sunlight.
The fall (August to September) is when the rice starts to ripen, creating an amazing sight of ripe crops painting the whole area in the shade of green and yellow. This landscape will surely bring you an idyllic feeling of the mountainous countryside.
• Chieu Lau Thi Peak
The Chieu Lau Thi Peak belongs to the Tay Con Linh mountain range, one of the highest mountains in Vietnam. The name Chieu Lau Thi belongs to the local language which means “nine levels of stairs”.
The highest point of the mountain is 2402 meters above sea level. From the top, you can see as far as dozens of kilometers away. If you are an adventurous soul, you will definitely find it amusing to conquer this mountain peak.
• Local Weekly Market
Rather than a trading place, this is more of cultural and communal activity. The market is held every Sunday. People come here to buy some groceries, but mostly, this is the place for young people to meet up and have fun.
It looks like a festival more than a market. Therefore, boys and girls prepare to go to the market the night before in order to arrive on time. They try to look their best by putting on their most beautiful clothes. On the way to the market, they are still dressed in normal clothing, but once they get to the place, casual clothing is taken off to make place for the fancy outfits.
The fair is a chance for boys and girls to meet and get to know each other, for the elderly to reunite with old friends, for families to take each other out to buy goods, for the children to get excited over the treats and for everyone to get together and simply have a good time. Coming to Hoang Su Phi fair, visitors will be mesmerized by the colorful dresses and the warm, friendly atmosphere of the local ethnic people here.
What To Eat?
• Cơm Lam (Sticky rice cooked in bamboo tubes)
Rice is a staple in the traditional Vietnamese meal. But the way the indigenous people in Hoang Su Phi cook rice brings a twist to this basic dish. They use the bamboo stem as a container. Then they stuff rice inside the tube, fill them with water and add some seasoning. They will then seal the opening end with banana leaves, and finally, cook them until they give off a nice smell of glutinous rice.
Not only are the terraces used to grow rice, but the local people also take advantage of them as a place to raise carp. Hence, they have many dishes made from this kind of fish. You can try to catch them and then treat yourself to a delicious meal.
If you are looking for an exotic special dish in Hoang Su Phi, then this might be the right one for you. The mouse is an important animal in the spiritual life of the La Chí people – an ethnic minority native to the area.
In any offering ceremony, ancestor worship, or tree spirit worship; the mountain worship, or even wedding ceremony, mouse meat is an indispensable dish. The mice live in the paddy field and eat ripe rice. That’s why their meat is edible and very delicious. The local people have many ways to cook them such as roasted, grilled, or even dried.