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Ta Xua, Vietnam’s northwestern mountainous cloud heaven

Cloud hunting

Ta Xua is a mountain range located in Bac Yen District of Son La Province, about 240km northwest of the capital Hanoi. This mountain range forms a border between the two provinces of Son La and Yen Bai.

At a height of 2,865 meters, the highest peak of Ta Xua is the tenth highest mountain top in Vietnam. Its three main peaks create a line resembling the back of a dinosaur.

Phuong, a Ta Xua inhabitant and a tour guide, told Vietnam Economic News that the best time to hunt clouds in Ta Xua is from October to April.

Trekking in Ta Xua is unquestionably a challenging activity, but has been made far easier lately due to road improvements and new paths. Ta Xua is famous for the formation of thick, shadowy Opacus clouds around its mountains, making travelers feel suspended in space.

Travelers waking to the bitterly cold mornings of Ta Xua can see the sun rising amid a vast sea of fluffy clouds and feel as if they are floating in an ocean of clouds. A half hour of climbing brings hikers to an awe-inspiring sight. Heaven has never felt closer, the clouds just a gentle touch away.

According to backpackers, the best places to hunt for clouds are Ta Xua, Xim Vang and Hang Dong communes, and the “dinosaur backbone” mountain that is located 1,600 meters above sea level is an ideal place for adventure lovers.

From the 11th to the second lunar month, red peach forests blossom along more than ten kilometers of hills and roads from Bac Yen Town to Ta Xua Commune. In recent years, the number of tourists flocking to Ta Xua during this period has increased sharply, particularly during Tet - the Lunar New Year Holiday.

Unique cuisine

According to legend, the rooster symbolizes the sun god that gives light and life to the people, making it an appropriate dish with which to celebrate the new year. Other Tet foods include round sticky rice cake (locally known as banh day) that according to the H’Mong, symbolizes the moon and the sun - the origin of humans and all species on earth.

Ta Xua offers many unique dishes and specialties, including nam pia, dried buffalo meat, Mac Nhung fruit porridge, pickled pork, rice tubes, pa pinh top, buffalo skin salad, stone snails from Bang Stream, and Ta Xua tea.

With the uniqueness of the local dishes, the beauty of the clouds and landscape, and the attraction of the local culture, Ta Xua has attracted thousands of visitors despite the pandemic. Ta Xua Commune’s leadership said one of the key goals of the commune is to develop tourism pertaining to sustainable agricultural production. The commune set a target of welcoming more than 100,000 tourists earning revenue of over VND90 billion in the 2020-2025 period.

As one of the first accommodation service investors in Ta Xua, Mua A Binh from Ta Xua Village said his family invested nearly VD900 million to build a 10-bedroom community guesthouse capable of serving 55-60 people. Binh went to Moc Chau, another famous tourist destination in Son La Province, to learn from the experience of homestay operators there and the needs of visitors to the northwest highlands. His household business earned a profit of VND10-15 million a month and provides regular jobs for four local workers with a monthly salary of VND4 million.

Ta Xua Commune in the northwestern mountainous province of Son La’s Bac Yen District is a relatively unexplored tourist destination that offers visitors a rare slice of heaven, apple trees, ancient tea gardens and the colorful villages of the H’Mong people.

Thanh Tam

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