From mid-December to the end of January, the pink of the tớ dày flower (also known as the forest peach blossom) adorns the landscape of the mountainous Mù Cang Chải district, from the majestic forests to every small village. With the tớ dày flowers in bloom, dotting the mountain peaks with pink, it’s the best time to visit Mù Cang Chải.
The mountainous district of Mù Cang Chải in the northern province of Yên Bái is famous for its magnificent terraced rice fields that make it a tourist magnet, especially in ‘peak seasons’ – the pouring water season in May and June, and the ripening rice season in September and October.
|A photo by teacher Lê Trung Kiên features a young Mông woman posing with tớ dầy flowers in background. — Photo courtesy of Lê Trung Kiên
However, during December and January, the remote district has something more than terraced rice fields to attract tourists.
From mid-December to the end of January, the pink tớ dày flower (also known as the forest peach blossom) adorns landscape of the mountainous district, from the majestic forests to every small village. With the tớ dày flowers in bloom, dotting the mountain peaks with pink, it’s the best time to visit Mù Cang Chải.
The woody plant, tớ dày grow abundantly in some communes of Mù Cang Chải District such as La Pán Tẩn, Lao Chải, Nậm Khắt, Púng Luông, Dế Xu Phình and Mồ Dề.
|A close-up photo of tớ dầy flower. — Photo courtesy of Lê Trung Kiên
Also commonly known as pằng tớ dày, tớ dày flower has strong vitality. It only grows and blooms at an altitude of over 1,000m above the sea level. The colder the weather is, the more beautiful the flowers bloom.
Thu Hoài, a woman who moved in November from the “Pearl Island” of Phú Quốc to work for a soon-to-be-launched 5-star resort in Mù Cang Chải, said that she has been in Sa Pa in the northwest region but she had no idea about tớ dầy until she started working here in Mù Cang Chải.
The woman can’t forget the first time when the pink flower got in her view.
|Tớ dầy blooms in Garrya Mù Căng Chải – a soon-to-be-launched 5-star resort in Mù Cang Chải. — Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Tuấn Vũ
“When I first saw the rows of tớ dầy trees on the roadside covered with pink blossoms, I was stunned. The vista is comparable to any spring blossom scenery in temperate-climate countries,” she said.
Hoài and her friends got lost in the vista, spending three hours taking photos of the mountainous flower.
“When I posted the photos of tớ dày flower on my Facebook, some of my friend don’t believe that the tớ dầy blossoms can be so dense and vivid. They thought that I used an app to edit the images. When I affirmed that reality is even better than photos, my friends immediately set a travel plan to enjoy the flower,” Hoài said.
Working at the Mù Cang Chải Boarding Ethnic Secondary School for 17 years, whenever having free time and to ease his homesickness, teacher Lê Trung Kiên came to forest for strolling and taking photo of the nature.
“My students were the first ones who I shared my photos with,” Kiên said.
|Tớ dầy flower in full bloom seen in front of the Mù Cang Chải Boarding Ethnic Secondary School. — Photo courtesy of Lê Trung Kiên
When Facebook became popular in Việt Nam, his photos of tớ dầy flower shared on the platform received thousands of interactions.
“That flower with small pink petals has captured my heart. Alone, I have put my footprints on all winding mountainous paths or climbed on high slopes. It was because of my deep affection for the special flowers. To capture the beauty of tớ dầy in different moments of the day, I would leave very early in the morning before the roosters crow and just return when all the mountainous area gets dark,” Kiên told Việt Nam News.
Over the years, the teacher, who became a member of the Việt Nam Association of Photographic Artists in 2022, has captured countless photos of this flower species. He even calls the season of tớ dầy flower “the season of nostalgia” because “whenever they bloom, anyone who falls in love with the flower is overwhelmed and emotional”.
A potential tourist magnet
Realising that the beauty of tớ dầy can lure tourists, since 2020, Mù Cang Chải authority has paid attention to implementing programmes to promote this mountain flower as a tourism product.
Alongside the plantation of more tớ dầy trees in the district centre and along the paths to ethnic villages and hamlets, in 2023, a festival dedicating to tớ dầy flower has been held for the first time. The festival is expected to be held annually.
Giàng A Chay, a young Mông man, decided to quit his job in a media company in the capital Hà Nội to return to his home village in Mù Cang Chải to work as a tour guide.
“When I was in Hà Nội, I realised that my hometown Mù Cang Chải has so many beautiful natural landscapes. But there are few local ethnic people who have the idea to use social media channels and knowledge on media to promote local tourism,” Chay told Việt Nam News about his decision.
|Tớ dầy trees seen alongside the way leading to Háng Gàng Hamlet in Lao Chải Commune. — Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Tuấn Vũ
Alongside sharing his photos of tớ dầy flower in several tourism groups on Facebook, Chay also has posted about the places where tớ dầy is most beautiful and how to get there.
After five months of being a tour guide, Chay has greeted four groups of tourists from Hà Nội, HCM City, and Bình Dương.
Photos of tớ dầy flower taken by teacher Kiên not only contribute significantly to promoting the flower, but also are the very first motivation for some of his old students. Inspired by the stunning beauty of the flower, and the magnificent nature of Mù Cang Chải, some of his students, after graduation, have decided to work in tourist-related businesses such as tour guide and photographer.
Currently, in Mù Cang Chải, tớ dầy flowers have been blooming brilliantly in the area of Háng Gàng Hamlet in Lao Chải Commune, and expanding towards the La Pán Tẩn Commune.