Anybody who has ever visited the northern region during the harvest season cannot help but be astonished at the stunning beauty of terraced fields which undulate around the hillsides and mountainsides as well as streams and rivers, resembling giant yellow staircases allowing people to step from Earth to heaven. Report by Radio The Voice of Vietnam.

Vietnam’s northern mountains provide a wealth of inspiration to photographers. The region attracts tourists for its unspoiled beauty and winding terraced fields nestled in the valleys and mountain slopes. Terraced field have become a typical feature of local inhabitants.

The history of terraced fields is associated with the history of residence of ethnic groups in Vietnam’s northern mountains. Their cultural values are reflected in the farming experience, production customs, the formation of terraced fields of each ethnic group.

Khoang Van Tien of the White Thai ethnic group in Dien Bien province told VOV: “Our main production custom is wet rice cultivation. We have utilised desert land for growing wet rice”.

A terraced field has many levels in series and each level is a small field. The more levels there are, the more farming techniques the owner has. Given the scarcity of flat land, wet rice growers use hillsides to create an even and flat plot of land which looks like a three-step staircase. That’s the way terraced fields were created, a rare feature of Vietnam’s wet rice civilisation.

Giang A Pua of the Mong ethnic group in Ha Giang province told VOV about how he chooses the land for growing rice: “The hardest work is land reclamation. The field location should not be very sloppy with less gravel. A good place is where there is thick grass or big trees”.

After a place is chosen, the improvement of soil is very important. The first step is to dig a ditch to supply water to the newly-exploited field.

Luong Van Thiet of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology explains that the digging is undertaken by men, who must be skillful enough to make water flow constantly into the rice fields, particularly during the transplanting of rice seedlings. The water flows from the upper levels down and each piece of field is part of this irrigation system. If the terraced field is owned by many households, the management and distribution of water is shared between them.

The land exploitation and rice cultivation has been maintained from generation to generation over hundreds of years. Each terraced field creates a beautiful picture on the hillside.

Together with the formation of terraced fields and the sedentary farming, ethnic groups the northern mountains have adopted many traditional festivals and cultural activities associated with agricultural production.

Thao Thu Do of the Mong ethnic group in La Ban Tan commune, Mu Cang Chai district, Ha Giang province, told VOV: “The Mong people consider a terraced field an invaluable basket of rice. The field is most beautiful when the paddies turn yellow. When there are abundant rice, we feel very happy”.

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