Travel Guide to Yen Bai
Yen Bai Province is situated in the Northwestern part of Vietnam, approximately 160 km away from Hanoi, bordered by Tuyen Quang, Phu Tho, Lai Chau, Son La, Lao Cai, and Ha Giang provinces. Yen Bai consists of Yen Bai City, Nghia Lo Town, and seven districts: Yen Binh, Luc Yen, Van Chan, Van Yen, Tran Yen, Tram Tau, and Mu Cang Chai.
When it comes to tourism in Yen Bai, the most prominent features are the terraced fields during the golden and water pouring seasons. Besides, Yen Bai is renowned for its majestic mountains, hot springs, ancient villages, and unique local cuisine.
Traveling from Hanoi to Yen Bai can be done through two main routes. Historically, most travelers took the road via National Highway 32, passing through Son Tay, Trung Ha Bridge, Thu Cuc (Phu Tho), covering a distance of nearly 200 km, taking around 5 hours. This route is still a viable option.
Currently, many tourists prefer the Hanoi - Lao Cai expressway, reducing the distance to about 150 km and the travel time to nearly 3 hours.
However, the choice of route may vary depending on the specific destination within Yen Bai and personal preferences. It is recommended to consult Google Maps or follow the guidance of locals or experienced individuals familiar with the routes.
Distances between some popular destinations in Yen Bai: Nghia Lo to Tu Le: 50 km; Tu Le to Mu Cang Chai: 60 km; Nghia Lo to Tram Tau: 30 km; Yen Bai City to Nghia Lo: 75 km.
Travelers from other regions can reach Hanoi by air, road, or rail, and then explore the province using various means such as private cars, buses, rented vehicles, or taxis.
Mu Cang Chai is a popular area with a variety of lodging options, primarily homestays and budget communal house accommodations. Travelers can easily find a homestay around famous tourist spots such as the district center, Ban Thai, La Pan Tan terraced fields, Che Cu Nha, and De Xu Phinh.
In recent years, Mu Cang Chai has seen the emergence of high-quality and more secluded accommodations. Visitors can choose from options like Mu Cang Chai Homestay, Mu Cang Chai Ecolodge, La Phan Tan Paradise, and Dream House Homestay. In 2024, the upscale Garrya Mu Cang Chai resort will open, providing additional choices for tourists.
Tu Le accommodations usually include homestays, communal houses, and budget guesthouses.
Room prices range from 200,000 VND to 500,000 VND per night. Communal houses cost from about 50,000 VND to 100,000 VND per person. Some popular addresses include Bung Xom Homestay, Homestay Thuy Linh, Sung A Ho Homestay, Quyet Doan Homestay, Nhan Thinh Homestay, and Suoi Tien Guesthouse.
The upscale Le Champ Tu Le Resort Hot Spring & Spa features 100 bungalows with comprehensive amenities, including hot springs, zipline, and relaxation massage services.
Tram Tau offers mainly homestays and guesthouses, with the most popular being the Homestay Suoi Khoang Nong Tram Tau (Cuong Hai) located in Zone 5.
It is built with rustic wooden materials and offers 1-2 bed bungalows, standard, premium, or VIP, and communal houses for 6 to 20 people. Prices range from 800,000 VND to 5.5 million VND per unit. The convenience here lies in the hot springs within the vicinity, saving travelers from traveling far.
Other options include the Doi Che Tram Tau Homestay in Zone 3 and the Zoni Home Tram Tau in Hat Luu village.
Yen Bai City offers various accommodation options, including 2-3-star hotels, homestays like Hong Nhung - Yen Bai, Phuong Thuy, Nhu Nguyet, Thien Huong, or more budget-friendly guesthouses. Room prices fluctuate from around 200,000 VND to 800,000 VND.
Nghia Lo Town is small with few attractions and is often a stopover for those heading to other destinations in the province. If an overnight stay is necessary, options include Muong Lo Retreat Yen Bai, Dragonfly Hotel Nghia Lo, Muong Lo Hotel, Mien Tay Hotel, and some other affordable guesthouses.
Apart from the mentioned areas, Yen Bai also has notable accommodations in some districts with tourist attractions, such as Thac Ba Paradise Islands, Dao Xanh Thac Ba Tourism Area (Thac Ba Lake, Yen Binh District), Vu Linh Homestay Thac Ba
Lake (Vinh Yen, Yen Binh District), and Xom Gio Homestay in Thac Ba Lake.
Sights and Activities
1. Mu Cang Chai Terraced Fields: These terraced fields are not only a symbol of Mu Cang Chai but also recognized as a national relic. The best time to visit is during the golden rice season, typically in September.
2. Tu Le Valley: Known for its beautiful terraced fields and hot springs, Tu Le Valley is a must-visit destination. The water pouring season, when locals flood the fields, typically takes place in April.
3. Nghia Lo Town: While small, Nghia Lo has its charm. Stroll along the peaceful town, visit the local market, and try the famous local dish "com lam."
4. Hot Springs in Tram Tau: Tram Tau is famous for its hot springs. Relax and rejuvenate in the natural mineral-rich waters.
5. Thac Ba Lake: Explore the largest artificial lake in Vietnam. The surrounding landscapes and islands offer opportunities for boat trips, hiking, and cultural experiences.
6. Climbing Khau Pha Pass: A thrilling experience for adventure enthusiasts. Khau Pha is one of the four famous passes in the northern region, known for its steepness and winding roads.
7. Discovering Ethnic Villages: Yen Bai is home to various ethnic minorities. Visit villages like La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha, Ban Thai, and experience the unique cultures and traditions.
8. Cherry Blossom Festival in Mau Son: If visiting in late January to early February, don't miss the Cherry Blossom Festival in Mau Son. The blossoms create a mesmerizing landscape.
9. Vu Linh Market in Thac Ba Lake: Experience the vibrant local market and interact with ethnic communities around Thac Ba Lake.
Yen Bai boasts a diverse culinary scene with dishes showcasing the unique flavors of the region.
1. Thang Co: A specialty dish made from horse meat and offal, often enjoyed with traditional herbs.
2. Com Lam: Sticky rice cooked in bamboo tubes, offering a distinct flavor.
3. Chestnut Cake (Banh Deo): A sweet treat made from chestnut flour, sugar, and water.
4. Lam Rice (Com Lam): Another variation of sticky rice, often paired with grilled dishes.
5. Grilled Dishes: Yen Bai is known for its delicious grilled meats, including grilled fish, chicken, and pork.
6. Five-Color Sticky Rice (Xoi Ngu Sac): Sticky rice dyed naturally with various colors, creating a visually appealing dish.
7. Local Brews: Try the local rice wine, a common beverage in the region.
1. Best Time to Visit: The golden rice season in Mu Cang Chai is from late September to early October. The water pouring season in Tu Le Valley is in April. Consider your preferred activities and weather conditions when planning your trip.
2. Transportation: It's advisable to have your transportation, especially if you plan to explore various destinations within Yen Bai. Renting a motorbike or car gives you flexibility.
3. Weather: Yen Bai experiences a temperate climate, but temperatures can vary. Pack accordingly, especially if you plan to visit high-altitude areas.
4. Cultural Sensitivity: When visiting ethnic villages, respect local customs and traditions. It's recommended to have a local guide to enhance your cultural understanding.
5. Language: While Vietnamese is widely spoken, English may not be prevalent in remote areas. Learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases can be helpful.
6. Cash: In rural areas, cash is often preferred. Make sure to have enough Vietnamese Dong for your journey.
7. Permits: Check if any permits are required for specific activities, such as trekking or photography in certain areas.
8. Health Precautions: Carry essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, and any necessary medications. Consult a healthcare professional for recommended vaccinations.
9. Local Interaction: Engage with locals to learn more about their culture and way of life. Many are welcoming and happy to share their stories.
10. Photography: Yen Bai offers stunning landscapes. Ensure your camera or smartphone is fully charged and have extra memory cards.
Explore Yen Bai and immerse yourself in the natural beauty, rich culture, and warm hospitality of this Northwestern gem in Vietnam.
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