Ancient tea trees & Red H'mong people in Suoi Giang


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The valuable trips to discover the land of legend ancient tea tree and the charming tribe hill of Dao people in Vietnam Northernmost.

I got a slow train from Hanoi to Yên Bái city. The train ride takes 5 hours as it stops at many stations. It was so pleasant to see Hanoi and the countryside landscape from the train, although the train windows are fixed with metal screens.


When I got to Yên Bái city, it was 6pm. I went to the center of the city, but then decided to go back to the railway station and stayed overnight in this area, as it was easier for me to get a bus next day and go to another destination.

On Monday morning (July 16) I took a mini bus and traveled to Nghĩa Lộ town along the Highway No. 32. On the way I got out of the mini bus at the Suối Giàng cross (70km away from Yên Bái city) and hired a local motorbike driver to take me to Suối Giàng commune (12km).


The landscape along the way was so beautiful, as we were going up mountains and passing by corn fields and tea hills. Suối Giàng (altitude 1370m) is famous for the thousands of old tea trees which are some hundreds years old, as well as beautiful stone products. This commune is also home to the Red H’mong ethnic minority people (based on the red color of their dresses).

The total tea area in Suối Giàng commune is 340ha and the Shan Tuyết tea is a famous brand name in Vietnam. When I got to the center of Suối Giàng commune, it was 9am. I spent time visiting three H’mong villages (Bản Mới, Bản Pang Cáng and Bản Giàng B). I met a H’mong boy and he invited me to visit his house.


His wife also wore traditional dress of the Red H’mong people, so that I could take some photos. I saw many old tea trees along the way, but it was pity that it was not the right time for picking tea leaves. A local man told me they would pick tea leaves in 20 days. The tea trees are high enough for the H’mong people to climb up and stand on the branches.

I went back to the center of Suối Giàng commune and visited Mr. Xá’s house. In the garden there are 6-7 big tea trees which are 300 years old. He said there was a 400 year old tea tree, but it died recently, so he used its wood to make a chair. Mr. Xá invited me a cup of tea and answered my questions. Every two months the locals pick tea leaves and there are 3 main crops per year.


The best tea is “Chè Tôm” which is sold at price of VND 1 million (about US$50) for a kg. It was lunch time, but the motorbike driver and myself coulnd’t find any place to eat even a simple bowl of noodle soup, as the locals refused to provide the service. We ate bread instead, then moved on to Tập Lăng village of the H’mong people.

The road was under construction and in bad condition, so I couldn’t reach the village. I decided that it was enough for me to see in Suối Giàng after 5 hours, so I went back to the cross, had lunch then hired another motorbike driver to take me to Nghĩa Lộ town (12km).


I could stay in Suối Giàng, but I didn’t feel comfortable to stay overnight at a local house and it seemed difficult to find food. Also, it is cold at night even in the summer time and I didn’t bring warm clothes with me (when I left Hanoi, it was 37oC, so hot and humid).

Suối Giàng Hotel near the cross and Highway No. 32 looked quite boring, so I decided to move on 12km and stay overnight in Nghĩa Lộ town which is more exciting and completetely new to me. My next blog will be about Mù Cang Chải terraced rice paddy-fields which are also famous in Yên Bái province.

Travel tips


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Suối Giàng is located 260km northwest of Hanoi. You can take a slow train (ticket US$3 – two trains every day, leaving Hanoi at 6am and 1pm), or go by fast train (night train – you will get to Yên Bái city at midnight), or by bus (US$5) to Yên Bái city (distance Hanoi – Yên Bái 181km).

There are guesthouses and restaurants outside the railway station. Then you get a bus to Nghĩa Lộ town (82km, ticket US$3). Tell driver you want to go to “Ngã ba Suối Giàng” (Suối Giàng cross - see photo No. 42). This cross is 70km away from Yên Bái city and 12km from Nghĩa Lộ town.


Then you hire a local motorbike driver. I paid VND 250,000 (US$ 13) to my local driver for the whole service (going up and down to/from Suối Giàng and visiting 3 villages). Suối Giàng Hotel is located close to the cross.

You can stay overnight in the center of Suối Giàng commune (home stay with the locals – no any guest house yet), or go back 12km and stay in Suối Giàng Hotel in Sơn Thịnh town (center of Văn Chấn district). Suối Giàng is still off the beaten path, but in the future it will be a popular tourist destination.

Coming to Vietnam airtravel, you will satisfy with every flight of Vietnam Airlines. The economy class provides comfortable seats, 32 inch between 2 rows. Devices includes pillow, blanket and other necessary devices. The airline has also added a handy 'tablet tray' beneath each seat's inbuilt screen onto which passengers can perch a tablet or even a large-screen smartphone for watching videos. Passengers can require sticker “Please do not disturb me” or “ Call me up for meal” if needed.