Khau Pha Pass

Heaven horn pierced through the sea of clouds

Along with O Quy Ho, Ma Pi Leng and Pha Din, Khau Pha Pass is popular known among adrenaline junkies as “One of the 4 greatest mountain passes” of Vietnam.

With its heart-pumping bends and breathtaking mountain scenery, Khau Pha always attracts young minds, adventurous souls as well as professional and amateur climbers every year to come sight-seeing and exploring. 

Location

Located at the top of Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai, the name of this mountain in Thai language means "Horn of Heaven" since the peaks rise in the middle of the sea of clouds like horns. Khau Pha Pass spreads the length of 30km with an altitude of up to 1200m above sea level. There's nothing like riding a motorbike on the lonely pass which eventually sends you to some of the most dramatic mountainscapes you get to see in your world journey.

Khau Pha Pass - Photo: dangerousroute.org

How to get there

By motorbike, car

  • From the capital center, follow the Highway 32 to Phu Tho Province, passing Tan Son Phu: continue the road to Nghia Lo commune and get to Khau Pha pass.
  • From Yen Bai city, go upstream along Highway 32 for about 5 hours passing Tu Le commune, Khau Pha pass will appear right in front of your eyes.

By bus

  • Go to Giap Bat or My Dinh bus station, take a bus to Yen Bai Province.
  • There are many bus trips from the capital to Nghia Lo, Yen Bai in a day, so you can easily choose the suitable one for your schedule.
  • Ticket price is about 100,000-300,000vnd/one way.

What to do

Sight-seeing: Top of Mu Cang Chai

Photo: Nguyenn.anhtuan

The first and most exciting point when tourists conquer Khau Pha Pass is the chance to contemplate the majestic natural scenery of the North when standing on this mountain. Visitors will see with their own eyes the magnificent rice padding fields, the lively life, agricultural work and daily activities of the ethnic minorities below the foot of Khau Pha mountain – Lap Thai & Lap Mong villages.

Day-trippers can also check in at Che Cu Nha commune of the Mong ethnics. It is best to come visit the pass at the time of sunrise and sunset to behold these combined beauties of custom and nature.

Exploring the thrilling Khau Pha route

The second Khau Pha’s experience which attracts many adventurous souls is to explore one of the most dangerous mountain routes in the Northwest. Excursionists would have to truly go out of their comfort zone to challenge the nature; and by the meantime, record all the beautiful sights of this place to their memories.

Note: be in good health to ride a motorbike all day and go through difficult terrains. Food, mosquito repellent, compact first aid kit, sunscreen and protective, warm clothing are also essential for you to conquer this pass.

Paragliding

Paragliding in Khau Pha - Photo: Instagram @le.thu.phuong

From the top of the pass, visitors can try paragliding service which comes with a guide: Vietwings Ha Noi, Sai Gon Paragliding, Tau Bac Paragliding… Registration time can be up to 1-2 months in advance.

Fees: up to 1.500.000vnd including paragliding flights, meals, accommodation.

Note: Unfortunately, this activity is not suitable for people in poor health condition or has heart problems.

What to eat

Five colour sticky rice a specialty of Yen Bai - Photo: cet.edu.vn

Khau Pha's specialty is grilled boar - the meat is lean and seasoned with cocoon and then wrapped in a few layers of fresh dong leaves, clamped tightly before being grilled over charcoal.

The second best food to try is the seasonal sticky rice in Tu Le, mixed with forest leaves and turned into five-color sticky rice with a surprisingly sweet and supple flavor, dipped with peanut salt. A good taste of these two dishes would surely please the most fastidious guests and somehow chase the chill in the highlands away.

Alternative specialty dish: apple cider, salted-fried crab, Mu Cang Chai sausage, Tu Le Commune’s salmon,…

When to visit

Wet season: May and June

Journeyers choose this time to witness the summer rain’s water led from the mountains pouring into the terraces, and the preparing process for a new crop.

Ripe rice season: September and October

Coming to Khau Pha at this time of the year, visitors will have a glimpse at the mesmerizing color change of terraced fields - from green to golden ripe rice.

Useful Information

  • Location: Khau Pha Pass, Yen Bai
  • Best for: Adventure Travelers
  • Entrance: N/A
  • Hours: Day time visit is recommended
  • Distance to city center: 65.2km (40.5 mi)
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