November 01, 2018

Up in the air: Paragliding over Vietnam’s watery terraced rice fields

A pilot and a tourist fly a paraglider over the terraced rice fields of Mu Cang Chai in northwestern Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Vietwings Hanoi Paragliding Club.

High above and down below, the famous terraced rice fields of Vietnam will not look the same next weekend.

Mu Cang Chai, the remote mountainous district of Yen Bai Province, will see its iconic terraced rice fields reflecting colorful paragliders flown by 70 local and foreign pilots during a festival next weekend.

A far-flung retreat that has escaped the claws of urbanization and tourism claws, Mu Cang Chai is said to be at its most beautiful from late September to early October when the fields are dyed yellow during the harvest season.

But a few months before during May and June when farmers flood the fields to prepare for a new crop, a spectacular sight emerges, with natural mirrors reflecting everything above them.

Next weekend, those giant mirrors will reflect colorful paragliders flown by 70 local and foreign pilots during a festival held by Yen Bai's tourism department and the Vietwings Hanoi Paragliding Club.

Over 100 flights will be available for those who want an aerial view of the flooded fields between May 18 and 20.

For those who love adventure, the experience should not disappoint, with pilots flying over the Khau Pha Pass, one of the most four dangerous passes in Vietnam.

Visit the Vietwings Hanoi Paragliding Club's website to register.

The video below can give you some idea of how it would feel to be up in the sky.

Once you're in town, take time to explore Mu Cang Chai, which was named one of the 19 most picturesque peaks on earth last year by U.S. travel site Insider, which called it “a hidden gem” where the “terraced rice fields are a shade of green so deep you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a painting.”

People from the H’Mong ethnic group started carving rice terraces into the mountain range centuries ago, and are still harvesting them today.