Thursday, November 11, 2021

Discovering Ngải Thầu Thượng, the highest village in Lào Cai

Ngải Thầu Thượng is considered the highest village in Lào Cai Province and features charming natural scenery with year-round white clouds and a romantic sunset.

Located at an altitude of more than 2,000m above sea level, the village in Ngải Thầu Commune, Bát Xát District, about 80km from Lào Cai City, possesses a cool climate all year round. Almost every season of the year, the village is covered by fluffy white clouds, painting a beautiful picture of nature.

Ngải Thầu Commune includes Ngải Thầu Thượng and Ngải Thầu Hạ. Ngải Thầu Hạ (the lower area) and is located on the provincial Road 158 and features ravishing valleys of terraced fields. Meanwhile, Ngải Thầu Thượng (the upper region) is located on the top of Ma Cha Va Mountain which is the highest position in Lào Cai Province.

We had the opportunity to visit Ngải Thầu Thượng and felt more deeply the intense, resilient vitality, changes of the borderland and met the ethnic Mông people in this village.

Ngải Thầu Thượng is like a land separate from the plains and other famous villages of Sa Pa Town. People often choose to explore Cát Cát Village, Tả Phìn Village more than visiting to Ngải Thầu because these villages are closer.

For many people, the highest village in Lào Cai is still relatively unknown.

Although not being as famous as Sa Pa, Ngải Thầu Thượng is still considered a "muse" of those who like to immerse themselves in pristine and pure nature. 

The road to Ngải Thầu has also been improved, so it is no longer difficult to travel. However, to reach this place, we went by motorbikes through the steep roads. If you just want to go to Ngải Thầu Hạ, it will be easier choice of travel and this was also the route where we could see the beautiful terraced fields of the northwest.

The fields of all shapes and sizes look like sparkling umbrellas, embracing the hillsides.


Ngải Thầu features valleys of terraced fields. — Photo

We were captivated and ecstatic at the beauty of the lower region. But how could we miss a beautiful village in the upper region that was still waiting? 

The road to Ngải Thầu Thượng hasn’t developed in tourism and modern services, everything is still very primitive. The way of life and the culture and customs of the residents still retains traditional beauty.

The winding roads with an abyss on one side, mountains and forests in the distance, floating white clouds made us fall in love with the natural beauty. Then, when entering the village, gradually appearing in front of our eyes are the traditional houses and brilliant costumes of the Mông.

Ngải Thầu in the local language is "rock cape", protruding from the top of the majestic Ma Cha Va Mountain with four seasons of white fog and strong winds. Just early autumn but the weather here was already cold like winter.


The road to Ngải Thầu Thượng Village. — Photo

Standing at Ngải Thầu Thượng, we saw Thiên Sinh valley and terraced fields spreading endlessly on the mountain slopes, glowing with a warm golden colours at the border [with China].

We went to Ngải Thầu Thượng in October when we could still search for the beautiful clouds. But perhaps winter and spring from November to April are best suited for cloud hunting. During this time, the sea of clouds here is almost always floating, white and dense like soap bubbles.

Thanks to the high terrain, cold and humid climate all year round, white clouds at Ngải Thầu Thượng always fill the valleys and crept into the high mountains. Sometimes, the white clouds fly to the villages which look like ocean waves, creating a wild beauty.

Compared to many other villages in the province, in Ngải Thầu Thượng tourism has not really developed. However, recently, many tourists have come to visit, so locals have also started  homestay service for visitors.

Ngải Thầu Thượng is the highest village but also the "youngest" village in Ngải Thầu Commune because most of the families here are young couples, leaving the lower villages with cramped land to come here to make their future.

In the early morning, the dawn breaks through the dense sea of clouds to illuminate the Mông villages along the mountainside in Ngải Thầu Thượng.

Life here is very peaceful. Every morning, the elderly stay at home to look after the children or do errands in front of their earth houses. Adults go to terraced fields to work. Some children carry baskets and take herds of goats into the forest to graze.

The locals are very sincere, friendly, enthusiastic and hospitable. We feel the warmth and joy from the elderly to the children in every house we visit.

A beautiful little corner in Ngải Thầu. — Photo

Compared to many destinations in Lào Cai, Ngải Thầu Thượng is still not as famous. However with the imposing beauty of the mountains, terraced fields, white clouds and the hospitality and friendliness of the villagers, we always want to come back. VNS


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