From Mu Cang Chai of Vietnam to Tegalalang of Indonesia, rice terraces vary in size and color, offering an endless list of breathtaking sights to those who want to tickle them off their bucket list.
"What are rice terraces?
Asia has been famed for its rice agriculture for centuries, which has greatly impacted each country’s tradition, culture, and identity. While in the delta region, rice is cultivated on flat paddies, in the mountainous area, people have to turn the hilly slopes into thousands of terraces to grow rice on. The main water supply from rain, rivers, and mountain streams will flow down the terraces to each of the levels. This unique cultivating method is believed to date back hundreds or thousands of years ago, which also helps to preserve the land from erosion."
Sapa rice terraces with vibrant tribal culture, Vietnam
Rice terraces have been cultivated in Sapa for hundreds of years by a number of ethnic minorities such as the H’mong, the Dao, the Tay, and the Ha Nhi from generation to generation. From the distance, the beautiful terraces look like a ladder with thousand steps toward the sky. The large rice fields not only provide food for the locals, but also create a breathtaking natural painting for travelers.
- How to get there: From Hanoi, you can choose to get to Sapa on an overnight train, which will take 8-9 hours. After that, you’ll have to take a bus or a taxi to get from the Lao Cai Station to the Sapa city center. Otherwise, you can take a private car or bus ride (6-7 hours).
- Best time to visit: In summer, the whole fields are filled with bright green color like a carpet of the giant, and while you are still astonished, the carpet turns to a brilliant yellow in late autumn creating the best-ever picture you have ever seen in your life
- Things to do: You can explore the cultural diversity of Sapa’s ethnic tribes through their festivals, buy handmade products and admire the colorful clothing of the ethnic groups at Sapa local market, or visit the Silver waterfall. Those who love to be active can hike the Fansipan mountains with a height of 3143 meters. Check out our Sapa ultimate guide to enjoy your Sapa vacation to the fullest.
Tegalalang rice terrace amidst lush jungle, Bali, Indonesia
Ubud is famous all over the world as a beautiful holiday destination, and you are likely to find your soul lost in the remarkable Tegalalang rice terraces. High palm trees and the surrounding lush jungle enhance the beauty of the elegant fields. It lures a large number of visitors, photographers, and painters to come here to capture the picturesque and exotic landscape of Tegalalang.
- How to get there: From Ubud, you can easily take a taxi or rent a scooter to drive to the rice terraces because it’s located just 20 minutes north of Ubud.
- Best time to visit: The harvesting season (from April to October). It’s also the dry season in Bali, best for outdoor explorations.
- Things to do: Here are some suggestions for your list: Ubud Monkey Forest which lies on the fringes of the Ubud main center, Campuhan Ridge Walk for an escape from the bustles of the main streets, Ubud Art Market where you can find beautiful silk scarves, handmade woven bags, and many other hand-crafted goods, and Pura Taman Saraswati Temple - is a great stopover along your leisure walks through Ubud town. Otherwise, Bali offers a plethora of exciting activities, promising an exciting getaway of a lifetime.
Hamanoura rice terraces with sunset on the beach, Japan
The terraced rice fields facing the Genkai Sea become filled up with water from mid-April and fully planted with rice by early May. During this period, when the setting sun dyes the ocean surface and the rice paddies are all orange, the geometric patterns formed by the reflection of the sunset and the paths between the paddies create a fantastic view. That is the reason why this has also been named “Lover’s Sanctuary.”
- How to get there: Hamanoura rice terraces are easy to access by train or bus and it is only 1 minute walk from the bus stop to the rice fields.
- Best time to visit: This place is impressive all year round but the best time to visit is in spring, from mid-April to mid-May
- Things to do: Saga in Japan is located on the island of Kyushu and is famous for its tradition. One of the things you can do is learn the history of Saga at the Saga Castle History Museum - the largest wooden reconstructions of Japan. After that, you can take a tour of 8 Shrines at Saga Shrine or enjoy a picnic at Sagajo Park to see the cherry blossoms in March and April.
Yuanyang rice terraces - UNESCO World Heritage Site, China
Yuanyang County Rice Terraces situated in the southern Ailao Mountains are home to the Hami and Yi tribes. Their ancestors had created these stunning rice terraces more than 1,000 years ago for cultivation. Yuanyang terraces now are a World Heritage Site in China, only a few tourist facilities have been set up there so it is well preserved.
- Best time to visit: From January to March when the terraces have been irrigated after harvesting, the water reflects the sky and clouds are most likely. From late February to March, pink peach blossoms and white pear blossoms fill the vast land with beautiful color.
- How to get there: It takes 8 hours by bus from Kunming to Xinjie town of Yuanyang county which is close to the terraces.
- Things to do: Yunnan Province covers an area of 394,000 square kilometers, and offers many things for you to discover. You can visit Lijiang ancient town, experience the minority cultures of Bai, Dai, Naxi groups, hike the Meili Snow Mountain and visit Songzanlin Lamasery - a Tibetan monastery.
Mu Cang Chai rice terraces for adventure seekers, Vietnam
Situated in Yen Bai province of northern Vietnam, about 300 kilometers from Hanoi, Mu Cang Chai is one of the five must-visit mountain destinations in Northern Vietnam. To get there, travelers must conquer Khau Pha Pass, which is one of the most winding, dangerous and hair- rising passes of the country. But the award for your bravery is worthy: Mu Cang Chai features the most stunning rice terraces in Vietnam.
- How to get there: After 8 hours driving from Hanoi by bus, you get the chance to admire the impressive Mu Cang Chai rice terraces and explore the local ethnic cultures of Tay and H’mong people.
- Best time to visit: Between mid - September and mid – October, when the massive fields change from green to shining yellow color which allures every photography lover
- Things to do: Once you get to Mu Cang Chai, make sure you can partake of the annual largest paragliding festival which happens from 22th - 24th of September at Khau Pha mountain pass. This festival attracts thousands of visitors and is the best way to view the breathtaking rice terraces from a height of 1,200 meters.
Annapurna rice terraces with hillside villages, Nepal
Nepal rice terraces are among the most untouched in the world; most of them are out of massive tourism, remaining rustic spirit as the backdrop of daily local life. Unlike Bali, the high altitude and cold winter of Himalaya let the fields fallow over the winter. But in late February, the fields are revived with women’s singing when they are planning for the next season’s crop.
- How to get there: You can take the bus from either Kathmandu (6 hours) or Pokhara (5 hours).
- Best time to visit: During summer when it is filled with light green color of wheat, dark green color of potatoes and lentils.
- Things to do: The legendary Annapurna region is the most diverse and popular trekking area in Nepal with Great Himalaya Trails. You can also discover your inner peace in the famous holy places like Boudhanath or Swayambhunath.
Banaue Rice Terraces with breathtaking panorama view, Philippines
Located over 1,500 meters above the sea, Banaue Rice Terraces is the steepest rice field in the world, it was hand-carved into the mountain of Ifugao more than 2,000 years ago. These rice terraces are the pride of the Filipinos, it is featured on the 20 peso banknote and is a National Cultural Treasure of the country. The rice fields are seen the best from what is called the Sunrise Viewpoint.
- How to get there: You can get to the terraces by bus from Manila by bus. The journey takes around 8 hours but the road is in good condition and the view is amazing
- Best time to visit: Between February and March and between June and July, before the harvest.
- Things to do: Ifugao has many things to offer if you take the time to find out. Visit Tam An native village to know the culture, trek to the hills, and take a ride on a wooden bike, whether you’re a nature lover, an avid trekker, or a serious mountaineer, you will find something to your liking.
Jiabang rice terraces dotted with stilt houses, China
The terraces extend over 40 kilometer square with hills and several villages of ethnic minority groups. It boasts a fascinating landscape all time of the year. When it is spring, the yellow rapeseed flowers set the tone. When the rice is planted, the terraces are changed gradually from green to yellow which provides great shots for nature lovers.
- How to get there: Driving 80 kilometers from Congjiang Town, you can meet many tribes that live in Guizhou such as Miao, Zhuang, Dong, Yao, Shui, and Han. Visiting the site can be challenging however it promises an unforgettable adventure.
- Best time to visit: If you are planning to go, take note two best times to visit are from April to June to appreciate mirror-like terraces, and from September to October for gold terraces.
- Things to do: With more than 15 minority groups settled in Guizhou, you can discover the rich culture of the land by visiting these famous sites: Qingyan Ancient Town, Hongfeng Lake, Huangguoshu Waterfall, Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village, and Zhaoxing Dong village.
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