Muong Hum – Photography in the land of curves

Few places in Vietnam possesses such jaw dropping mountain and rice terraces landscape as Muong Hum. A land where one photographer can simply burn his memory card for one scene, at the right light. Muong Hum is surrounded by all photogenic subjects: Waterfalls, forests, mountains and the everlasting rice terraces that open up at every turn of the winding road.

The landscape is picturesque all year round, but there are 2 times of the year that one would love to pack his camera gears for Muong Hum, it’s the time the local grow rice and the time rice is harvested. Muong Hum is surrounded by all the curves of rice terraces – an amazing hand-work of local farmers for hundreds of years. These terraces cover mountain sides, stretch across valleys and bisected by trickles of water from the mountains. In May, when the rain seasons send an abundant amount of water down, the farmers begin to grow rice. And every rice paddy becomes a giant mirror reflecting the sky above. In September, the whole regions become a gold carpet as the rice turns yellow, an indication that the harvest is about to come.

Becoming one of the few photographers in a quiet regions, surrounded by beautiful landscape and traditional lifestyle of the local, what could possibly better that?

Muong Hum photography highlights

Muong Hum photography travel guide

How to get to Muong Hum – Y Ty for photography?

At 334 km from Hanoi, it takes a day to get to Muong Hum. Most people follow highway CT05 to get to Lao Cai. From here, DT158 – a winding road (not always smooth) will lead you to Muong Hum.

Map from Hanoi to Muong Hum

Most travelers use car or provincial buses to get to Lao Cai. As Lao Cai is an important tourism hub, most bus stations have buses heading here on daily basis. For those who love riding motorcycle, you can consider renting one from Hanoi. In this case, there are choices of road, as CT05 is available for only cars and bigger vehicles. There are various motorbike shops in Hanoi for the rental.

Where to stay in Muong Hum – Y Ty for photography?

Muong Hum is a small town and there are a couple of households offering home-stay service. However, since Muong Hum was always outshone by more developed Sa Pa, the tourism infrastructure never bothered soaring. Even up till now, there are only 02 selections:

  • Homestay Mr. Hung:  +84 98 945 1305. The place has some private rooms and a large lounge with soft mattresses on the floor. There are shared bathrooms.
  • Suoi Muong Hum motel: +84 35 288 1266. This place has private rooms with built-in shower.

Both places provide main meals. As for breakfast, you might want to go out. There’s a nice restaurant selling Pho nearby, just ask your host.

Y Ty are somewhat more developed than Muong Hum due to its infrastructure. The place is home to more home-stays and there’s currently one newly built lodge. Y Ty lies 1500 meters above sea level and one can expect to see misty clouds come and go, making everything more photogenic. The places to stay are:

Where to photograph the rice terraces in Muong Hum – Y Ty area?

The whole region is surrounded by rice terraces so you are actually in it. However, there’s a road that you might want to circle:

Map of Muong Hum area

This road encompasses the great valley of Den Sang. At any time, the valley is to one side, the other one being the mountain side. Thus, it is fairly easy to access the rice fields in the valley. Therefore, you can expect to photograph scenes of the friendly locals working in their field.

Just like Muong Hum, Y Ty is another heaven for rice terraces with numerous photography corners. So after a night staying in Muong Hum, it is worth to spend another night in Y Ty to scout the regions for more photography.

Which lens and photography gears to use for photography in Muong Hum and Y Ty area?

A tele lens is the first must. You will be doing quite a number of distance photography, such as shooting from one hillside to the valley. I use a 70-200mm on my crop body and for me, it’s practically enough. So you might consider using.

A mid-range lens is highly suggested, since there will be numerous chances to encounter scenes of working farmers. They are super friendly and tend to be very open to photography.

A wide angle lens, of course, to include the mountains into your view finder.

Additionally, you might consider bringing:

  • An UV filter for the haze. Muong Hum and the mountains of northern Vietnam, thanks to the climate, are somewhat hazy.
  • A tripod: We suggest using this when shooting with tele lens
  • Extra camera memory card or external device for photo storage
  • Good walking shoes, hat, sunglasses, insect repellent, long sleeves shirts (for the sun).

Check out our tour “The Hidden Paradise” – which includes the beautiful regions of Muong Hum and Y Ty.

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