Terrace paddies in North Vietnam by Nguyen Quynh Anh. (Photo: nationalgeographic.com)

A photo of terraced rice fields by photographer Nguyen Quynh Anh has been named among the top photographs in the evaluation round of the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest.

The photo depicts terraced rice paddies in Tu Le Valley, northern Yen Bai province at the beginning of the new season with the H’mong people crossing on their way home at the end of their work day.

The annual contest is accepting entries from all around the world between September 1 and November 16 this year, classifying them into three official categories – People, Places and Nature.

The entries selected in the evaluation round will proceed to round two where the judges will select a first place winner in each category based on the following criteria: creativity, photographic quality and ingenuity and authenticity of the content.

The first place winner in each category will receive 2,500 USD and the wining photographs will be published in an edition of the National Geographic magazine.

The mountainous Yen Bai province is home to thousands of hectares of terrace rice fields, which were recognised as national heritage sites in 2007. The area is about 1,000 metres above sea level, making it impossible to grow rice fields as they are in the delta. Thus, local residents grow their own rice on terraced fields to prevent the water from flowing downhill.

Terraced fields in Yen Bai are beautiful all year round. Visitors in March are treated to the sight of glittering ponds before locals transplant rice seedlings from April to May. After May, the hills are covered in green until the fields start to turn yellow with ripe rice in early September.

During the harvest in October, the golden rice field stands out of green forests, creating a magnificent picture in Vietnam’s northern area.-VNA