By Ngan Duong  November 29, 2020 | 10:48 am GMT+7
December is great time to trek the mountains of northwestern Vietnam as maple forests change color from green to yellowish-red.
Early winter, forests across the northwestern mountainous region are dyed the yellowish-red of maple leaves. The most famous local trekking routes include the peaks of Pu Ta Leng in Lai Chau, Ta Xua in Yen Bai, the Hoang Lien Son range in Lao Cai, home to resort town Sapa and Fansipan – nicknamed “roof of Indochina”, as well as Bach Moc Luong Tu, located between Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces.
Maple leaves on the way to Ta Xua peak. Situated 230 km (143 miles) north of Hanoi, Ta Xua, a 2,800-meter-high mountain range in Son La Province, is renowned among ‘cloud hunting’ trekkers. The most ideal trekking time is between December and March.
Maple leaves in a stream on the way to the Nam Kang Ho Tao peak in Lai Chau Province.
Maple trees shed their leaves near the top of Nam Kang Ho Tao, which connects Lai Chau to Lao Cai. This peak is 2,881 m high, considered by many to be the most difficult trek in the northwestern region because of its dangerous terrain, including cliffs and slippery rocks.
A maple forest on the road to the top of Nhiu Co San Mountain, which is 2,965 meters above sea level and one of Vietnam’s 10 highest mountains, in Lao Cai Province. “Maple leaves may not be as brilliant or plentiful as much as in colder countries. But the red and yellow leaves here are enough to create an unforgettable impression on those who conquer this mountain,” said trekker Nguyen Viet Hung.
The road to Pu Ta Leng peak is dyed the yellow of maple leaves. Pu Ta Leng forms part of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range in Lai Chau Province’s Tam Duong District. Standing at 3,143 meters, the peak is Vietnam’s second highest peak after Fansipan.
Maple leaf season lasts till the end of December. Fern leaves have also begun turning yellow, adding to the beauty of the forests. Remote northwestern Vietnam’s mountainous areas remain untouched by mass tourism, offering pristine trekking conditions.
Photos by Lekima Hung, Khac Nghia, Tuan Mach, Lu Sao, Quang Long