Conquering Mu Cang Chai’s skies

July 13, 2020 | 22:17
Located around 300km from the capital of Hanoi, Yen Bai, the northwestern province of Vietnam, has always been popular for its majestic and poetic natural landscape. The province is also home to the vivid cultures of various ethnic groups such as the Thai, H’mong, and Dzao. On top of that, with paragliding festivals held every year, Mu Cang Chai and Yen Bai are also on the list of adventurous tourism hotspots.
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The magnificent scenery of the terraced fields in Mu Cang Chai, recognised as a special national heritage site, may make it one of the most breathtaking sites in Vietnam

Named as one of the top destinations in the world in 2020 by US news agency CNBC, Mu Cang Chai has created a strong momentum to develop its tourism even stronger in the future. With such endowments, one could hardly run out of excitement when visiting 4,500ha of Mu Cang Chai’s terraced fields.

Sparked by its renowned terrains and seasonal natural charms, Mu Cang Chai’s sport activities are plentiful, from trekking and climbing to cycling and motorcycling. For more adventurous travellers, flying across the beautiful scenery without any engine is the one of the hottest entertainment options in the area these days, promising to leave travellers with unforgettable memories.

Both skydiving and paragliding are becoming favourite sports of Vietnamese amateur pilots in recent years, with the blooming appearance of groups and clubs gathering to share their love of conquering the skies above the country.

The region’s soothing weather with its winds and topographic advantages with gentle slopes offer favourable conditions for anyone who loves adventure sports. Adventurists craving paragliding adventures often flock to the district during the two peak seasons from May to July and from September to October. Both seasons annually feature two major festivals for paragliders in the summertime and during the autumn’s harvesting period.

The festivals have been continuously organised since 2013 by Mu Cang Chai district in collaboration with Vietwings Hanoi Paragliding Club, the Northern Aviation Club, and the Air Force. Amateurs and even professionals wishing to try this adventurous recreation are required to register at least one month in advance and will be accompanied by a professional pilot.

Most of the flying performances usually take place in the district’s Khau Pha mountain pass in Cao Pha commune, which is about 1,200 metres above the sea level. The spot, which is famous for its stunning terraced fields, provides spectacular views of the beautiful natural scenery.

Khau Pha pass is ranked one of the four most beautiful paragliding sites in Vietnam and the top five most beautiful paragliding destinations over the globe. In the near future, the district is planning to open two more spots for paragliding lovers, at the top of Khau Pha pass and on Mam Xoi hill in La Pan Tan commune.

Virtually any time is the right time for paragliders to conquer the skies of Mu Cang Chai and catch memorable images as the destination emanates various vibes of its beauty in each season, dotted by rustic, hospitable charm of the local community and their colourful traditional costumes.

However, it is recommended coming to Mu Cang Chai from September to the end of October and capture the very best of this stunning area. During this period, the gold rice fields glow brightly underneath the sunlight. Yet, the locality is no less charming in the blooming spring with its unique floral system that is creating an artistic picture-perfect scenery.

In the summer, meanwhile, paraglide and photography enthusiasts will be able to catch the so-called giant “sky mirrors” as it is planting season during which the terraced fields are covered by a layer of water, reflecting the endless sky.

Unsurprisingly, not many photographers and paragliders enjoy going to the region during winter as the weather can be somewhat harsh. On the other hand, it is worth a try since the foggy veiled villages and even the icy frozen surroundings could offer exciting sceneries for some great shots to remember.

Though well-known as an amateur trend, skydiving and paragliding require professionalism and a high income to equip practitioners with the needed knowledge, skills, and physical strength, as well as to pay for all equipment and practicing fees.

The average cost for equipment ranges from VND50-100 million. An umbrella set includes a parachute with seat belts, a backup parachute, electronic devices, and a helmet – and all of that weighs easily about 12-18kg. In addition, a basic skydiving course in Vietnam costs around VND10 million for 20 sessions on weekends or until the trainees can carry out five private flights by themselves. The whole training takes at least three months. The fee also includes all essential equipment and the fee for the coach, and is similar for most clubs across the country.

Key projects to attract investment in Mu Cang Chai district during 2020-2025

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- Mu Cang Chai district has implemented detailed planning and expansion of the district’s central town to serve tourism development while Yen Bai province has also appointed French Espace Architecture Internationnal Company to formulate a master plan for Mu Cang Chai district’s development into a green, safe, and friendly tourism hotspot.

- The province is also enhancing its promoting activities to attract investment in education and training for tourism and tourism-related infrastructure, prior to developing agricultural and forestry tourism sectors.

- Attracting investment in effectively and sustainably exploring key tourist destinations with great potentialities for tourism products such as Pung Luong Peak adventure tour (known as the second-highest peak of the Indochina roof), discovering Pu Cave system and the hot spring in Nam Khat, exploring the ancient stone fields in Lao Chai and Che Cu Nha commune, and enjoying the waterfalls in De Xu and Mo De communes.

- Fostering tourism service development by carrying out promoting activities to attract both domestic and international investors for conserving and restoring the local cultural heritages and intangible objects, including the H’mong’s new rice ceremony and other cultural and religious rituals to create unique and outstanding tourism products.

- Attracting and putting into operation leisure tourism via herbal medicine planting projects in the area of Ta Cua Y (next to famous terrace-field communes of Che Cu Nha and Nam Co).

- Promoting ecotourism projects and trading centre projects in Pung Luong and Khao Mang communes, promoting ecotourism and leisure tourism projects in Cao Pha commune, Promoting flower valley projects in De Xu Phin commune.

By Thanh Mai

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