Yen Bai location map

General Information

Situated on the gateway to North-West Vietnam, Yen Bai province is bounded by Lao Cai in the north, Son La in the south, Tuyen Quang in the northeast, and Phu Tho in the southeast. The province is in the northern midland and mountainous region of Vietnam, covering an area of 6,899.5 square kilometers and having a population of 750,200 people (according to the statistics in 2008). Several ethnic minorities live in Yen Bai province, namely the H’mong, Dao, Tay, Thai, Nung, San Chay, Phu La, and Kinh.

Yen Bai has a steep topography, rising from Southeast to Northwest and it is constituted by three majestic colossal mountain range in Northwest-Southeast direction including Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range – Pu Luong lying between Red River and Da River, con Voi Mountain (Elephant Mountain) between Red River and Chay river and limestone mountain and limestone mountain between Chay river and Lo river. There are 2 major areas: highland and lowland. Highland is averagely 600m in height or even more, covering 67.66% of the province. This area is sparsely populated, with many potentialities in land, forest products and minerals and high capability of mobilizing into socio-economic development. Lowland with elevations below 600m and mainly low mountainous terrain and basin valley accounts for 32.44% of the natural area of the province.

Yen Bai Weather

Yen Bai is located in a tropical monsoon climate with the average temperature at 22oC to 23oC. The climate is divided into two seasons: the cold season lasts from November to March and the hot season is from April to October. This province has less solar radiation than the other surrounding provinces.

Yen Bai weather - Yen Bai Travel Guide
Weather in Yen Bai

Ethnic Minorities in Yen Bai

Thai people in Yen Bai - Yen Bai Travel Guide
Thai people in Yen Bai

Due to a mountainous province, Yen Bai is the home to 30 ethnic groups living together, each of which has its own unique customs and culture identity associating with the natural terrain of every region to create a vibrant, lively and characteristic cultural picture of Yen Bai. This stunning enormous picture is divided into three sections. First is the west part of Yen Bai province. There, travelers will be attracted by the immense exclusive terraces, the mountain markets where local people trade many local handicraft products to meet the demands of enjoying and souvenirs shopping of visitors and the charming traditional Thai folk songs and dance. The second section called Chay River cultural area, in association with the national landmark Thac Ba Lake (Yen Binh district, Luc Yen district). This area is famous for not only its stunning scenery but also the unique terrific cultural feature of Cao Lan, White Dao, Tay ethnic minorities along with festivals, architecture, traditional handicrafts. The last area is Red river cultural area which is the center of religious festivals such as Dong Cuong temple, Nam Cuong temple, Tuan Quan temple, Nhu Son temple, Am pagoda, etc. annually maintained to have been becoming spiritual destinations in Northern Vietnam trip.

Getting to Yen Bai

Yen Bai City is 180km from Ha Noi. There are National Road No.32 between Hanoi and Lai Chau and National Road No.37 connecting Thai Binh and Son La via Yen Bai.

  • Bus: There is always daily bus for Yen Bai from My Dinh, Yen Nghia and Giap Bat Bus Station (Hanoi)
  • Train: The province is on the railway from Hanoi to Yen Bai then Lao Cai. The Yen Bai Railway station is on 218 Tran Hung Dao St., Yen Bai City.

What to See in Yen Bai

Thac Ba Lake

The poetic beauty of Thac Ba Lake - Yen Bai Travel Guide
The poetic beauty of Thac Ba Lake

Thac Ba is featured as one of three Vietnam’s largest artificial lakes, coving an area of 23.400 ha, of which water area accounts for 19.05 ha and the remaining 4.35ha of islets on the Reservoir. There are 1,133 islands hand hills with rich ecological conditions. Thanks to the impressively blue and clear water and a beauteous cave system formed by limestone mountain ranges, the lake becomes Yen Bai tourism’s pride. Thac Ba is very well-known not only for its impressive natural statutes, excellent works of the creators, but also its historical value. In 1285, Tran Nhat Duat led the war against Mongolian invaders and gained victory in Thu Vat Battle. Thuy Tien case also used to be the revolutionary base of Yen Bai provincial committee during the resistance war against American.

Activities that tourist can do there:

  • Enjoy sightseeing in Thuy Tien Cave, Xuan Long Cave, Trinh Nam island, etc.
  • Mountain climbing (From the peak of Cao Bien – the largest and longest mountain range, tourist will have bird’s eye-view of foggy Thac Ba lake in the early morning)
  • Hiking
  • Interact with ethnic groups such as Tay, Cao Lan, Nung, H’Mong, Dao, Phu La
  • Listen to the folk songs
  • Enjoy local fish dishes such as bream, hemibagrus, snake-head, etc. and Dai Minh famous sweet mandarins and pomelos.

Mu Cang Chai Terraced Fields

Mu Cang Chai rice terraces - Yen Bai Travel Guide
Mu Cang Chai rice terraces

Mu Cang Chai, which is 300 kilometers from Hanoi, is a renowned district of Yen Bai, has been attracting thousands of arrivals each year because of the magnificent scenery and breathtaking beauty. Located in the northeastern part of Vietnam and some 100 meters above sea level, Mu Cang Chai consists of 700 hectares of terraced rice fields, with 70% at three communes: La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha, De Su Phin, which has been recognized as national landscapes.

The heart-stoppingly exquisite terraced paddy field is the masterpiece created by human hands, which, once more time, prove the value of great labor and creativity of humans. A trip to Mu Cang Chai terraces is an unforgettable experience in the heart of travelers on a tour to Vietnam. In September and October, the terraced fields are lush with ripening rice, which is the best time to visit Mu Cang Chai.

Muong Lo Town

Muong Lo Town - Yen Bai Travel Guide
Muong Lo Town (Nghia Lo)

Nghia Lo (Muong Lo) is situated in a mountainous region with a mass of ladder fields, which makes it the second largest filed in the Northwest and also the homeland of Thai ethnic people.  There are 17 ethnic groups inhabiting in the valley, of which the Thai takes the majority. The town is a popular destination for the authentic cultural explorers who desire to learn about the culture and daily life in Vietnam northwestern mountainous region.

Some highlighted activity in Muong Lo itinerary:

  • Visiting Thai idyllic villages and engaging into Thai’s daily life (bicycle tour or on foot)
  • Visiting suspension bridges, the Ngoi Thia River, historical sites, etc.
  • Hot spring bathing
  • Staying in stilt houses
  • Cooking Thai food and enjoying local traditional performances.

Dong Cuong Temple

Dong Cuong Temple - Yen Bai Travel Guide
Dong Cuong Temple

Dong Cuong Temple, also called Mau Thuong Ngan, is about 50km from the city of Yen Bai, is one of two largest temples in the upper reaches of the Red River in Yen Bai.

The temple worships Ve Quoc and the national heroes who fought against the Nguyen Mong (Mongolian) aggressor in the 13th century.

A festival is held yearly here on 27-28 February, drawing a crowd of thousands of near and far tourists praying for a lucky year. There are a variety of traditional games such as singing, shuttlecock, wrestling, dancing, etc.

What to Eat in Yen Bai

Northern Vietnam owns the most special and distinct cuisine in Vietnam with the amazing ingredients and complicated cooking procedure. Following are wonderful foods that should be on the list of must-try dishes for a Vietnam discovery tour.

1. Luc Yen banana cake

Luc Yen Banana cake - Yen Bai Travel Guide
Luc Yen Banana cake

This cake is made from ripe bananas soaked in hot water, ground and mixed with rice powder to coat and finally stuffed with the sugar, pounded steamed bean and peanuts inside. After that they wrap the cake by banana leaves and steam for 25-30 minutes, bringing this cake a distinct sweet cake.

2. Muong Lo Fungus (Muom muom rang)

Muom muom is a kind of insect. This food can surprise tourists when they first hear of it, but Fungus is the main ingredient in Thai’s culinary culture. Fungus is wrapped in banana leaves and then grilled until the fat and green liquid come out from the fresh fungus.

3. Sinh fish

Sinh fish - Yen Bai Travel Guide
Sinh fish

Van Chan town is the unique place where this kind of fish habitats. In spite of its small size (about four human fingers in width), the meat is tender and bonders are very soft.

4. Yen Bai sausage

Yen Bai sausage - Yen Bai Travel Guide
Yen Bai sausage

This food is made of chopped bacon, pepper, honey, sugar, etc. The sausage is dried by charcoal, biogases, chaff and bay leaf. Locals have their own technique secret to get this food seasoned, so you will find nowhere else to have the similar taste. That is the pleasant smoky scent of the cane when eating.