Yen Bai Province General Information

Yen Bai province, Northern Vietnam
Region: Northeast
Capital: Yên Bái
Area: 6,887.46 km2
Population: 821,030 (2019 Census)
Density: 119/km2
Demographics: Kinh, Tày, Thai, Muong, Nung, Dao, and H’Mông
Calling code: 216

Yên Bái is an agricultural province Tây Bac, the northern part of northern-central Vietnam. Yen Bai province shares borders with five provinces which are Lào Cai Province, Lai Châu Province, Son La Province, Tuyên Quang Province, and Phú Tho Province. The province covers an area of 6899.5 square kilometres and as of 2008, it had a population of 750,200 people.

Yên Bái’s history is important under the French colony, particularly the subsequent “Yên Bái mutiny”, an uprising of Vietnamese soldiers in the French colonial army on 10 February 1930 in collaboration with civilian supporters who were members of the Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang (VNQDD, the Vietnamese Nationalist Party).

Forestry and farming are the main economic stay of the province. Thác Bà Lake is a natural asset of the country along with its Thác Bà Hydroelectric Plant. Dong Cuong Festival is an important festival in the province.


Yen Bai Province’s name derives from Sino-Vietnamese like most of the provinces in Vietnam.


According to the General Statistics Office of the Government of Vietnam, the population of Yên Bái Province as of 2008 was 750,200 with a density of 109 persons per sq km over a total land area of 6,899.5 square kilometres (2,663.9 sq mi) of the province. The male population during this period was 372,000 with females accounting for 378,200. There are many ethnic groups in Yen Bai province. Kinh people who form the majority population of the country, settled here a long time back and in unison with the local minority tribes established themselves in the region and developed cultivation practices. Kinh people’s ancestry is traced to the Hai Duong Pham Ba Luc for nine generations to date and a monument erected in 1937 in Doc village in Hong Commune is highly revered as an ancestral home.


The area had habitats in ancient times, given the favourable communications along the Hong and Chay Rivers. Several archaeological digs in the province have unearthed ancient temples and other sites. Archaeologists found stone tools in Mù Cang Chai District.

Vietnamese Nationalist Party

Vietnam had gradually become a French colony between 1859 and 1883. Initially, military resistance to French rule came through the Can Vuong movement led by Tôn That Thuyet and Phan Dinh Phung, which sought to install the boy, Emperor Hàm Nghi, at the head of an independent nation. However, with the death of Phung in 1895, military opposition effectively ended. The only other notable incident after this came in 1917 was the Thái Nguyên rebellion. The lack of militant activity changed in the late 1920s with the formation of the VNQDD, or Vietnamese Nationalist Party.

The VNQDD attempted clandestine activities to undermine French rule, which resulted in French scrutiny of their activities. This led to their leadership group taking the risk of staging a large-scale military attack in the Red River Delta in Northern Vietnam. It was only on 10 February 1931 that VNQD could, in collaboration with civilian supporters, launch the Yên Bái mutiny, an uprising of Vietnamese soldiers in the French colonial army. Thus, Yên Bái was the first of the battles during the First Indochina War. Yên Bái and Thai Yugyen were key military posts of the Viet Minh, which were supplied with arms from China to fight the French during this War.

On 9 February 1930 part of the 4th Regiment of Tonkinese Rifles stationed at Yên Bái mutinied against their French officers but were suppressed by loyal troops from the same unit. The attack was the largest disturbance against the colonisation of Vietnam since the Can Vuong monarchist movement of the late 19th century. The aim of the revolt was to inspire a wider uprising among the general populace in an attempt to overthrow the colonial regime and establish independence.

Vietnamese Nationalist Party

The Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang (VNQDD, the Vietnamese Nationalist Party) had previously attempted to engage in clandestine activities to undermine French rule, but increasing French scrutiny on their activities led to their leadership group taking the risk of staging a large scale military attack in the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam. This incident led to widespread disturbances against French rule across north-eastern Vietnam during 1930-31.

Yen Bai Uprising of 1930

In the “Yen Bai Uprising of 1930” against French colonial rule, many French army officers were killed. To put down the uprising, the French resorted to aerial bombardment and even used Napalm Bombs. The rebellion was put down ruthlessly by the French within a day. Many Vietnamese soldiers and 12 VNQDD leaders died. Following this repressive action by the French, there were frequent anti-colonialist strikes and riots throughout the country, which were all put down ruthlessly. This resulted in breaking the backbone of the VNQDD and the Communist Party in North Vietnam for a considerable period.

The French maintained control of their colonies until World War II when the Japanese war in the Pacific triggered the invasion of French Indochina in 1941.

In 1961, archaeological discovered a large bronze cylindrical jar with carving images of males and females in the population. An 80,000-year-old skeleton was unearthed in Hum Cave in Luc Yen District in 1964. In 1996, another bronze jar was discovered along with the 2000-year-old remains of a 6-year-old girl on Choi Mountain in the commune of Hop Minh, Tran Yen District.

Offroad Vietnam Motorbike Adventures - Yen Bai Province, Northern Vietnam


Yen Bai province covers an area of 6,899.5 km2 (2,663.9 sq mi), and the Red River passes through the province. Yên Bái is a mountain province, characterised by the rugged mountainous scenery and green rice paddy fields in the valleys. The Hoàng Liên Son mountain range runs through the province. The Red (or Thao) River and Chay River flow through the province. Their origin is in Yunnan, China. The valley created by these two river systems in the Yen Bai province is fertile, though an uneven territory; Muong Lo plain is the rice bowl of the province.

The topography is steep, rising from east to west and from south to north. The average elevation is about 600 metres (2,000 ft) above sea level. There are two regions: low-lying regions on the left bank of the Red River basin and the high right bank of the Red River. In the plateau between the Red River and Da River, there are many mountains. Besides the two main rivers, the province has about 200 canals, small streams, and large lakes and swamps.

Thác Bà Lake

Thác Bà Lake is in Yen Bai province. In fact, it’s an artificial lake that has an area of 23,400 hectares (90 sq mi) and 1,331 islands and hills. It has a capacity of 3 to 3.9 billion cubic meters of water and its original intention was to run the Thác Bà hydroelectric plant, one of the first large hydropower projects in Vietnam. The water in the lake is blue and clear and reflects the surrounding green forests. The thousands of hills and islands have many caves, including Hum, Cau Cuoi, and Bach Xa. A Thác Bà Temple is located in the lake area. Thác Bà Lake has changed the climatic pattern in the western districts of the province, to a moderate condition from its hot and dry status.

The main eco-zones of the province are rainforest, subtropical, and temperate mountainous zones. It experiences a tropical monsoon season. The 20,293 hectares (78.35 sq mi) conservation area Mu Cang Chai Species / Habitat Conservation Area (MCC SHCA) was established in 2004 to protect the endangered mountain wildlife in Cang Chai district on the border of Lào Cai Province.


The mean temperature in Yen Bai province at elevations above 1500m is about 20°C (68°F) and drops to 0°C (32°F) with frost and snow in some parts. December-January are winter months when the climate is dry. Frequent drizzle is during the late winter months. This type of rain has earned Yên Bái the epithet “drizzle centre of the country”. April to December are summer months and the rainy period. The mean temperature is stable for the district as a whole and is in the range of 18°C (64°F) to 28°C (82°F).

Archaeological Findings

Many archaeological findings have been unearthed in the provinces in places. The date of human settlement is 8,000 years to the recent 2000 years. These are on display in the Archaeological Museum in Yên Bái City. The archaeological antiquaries found to include a large cylindrical jar in Dao Thinh Commune depicting a scene of human cohabitation, a skeleton of an ancient Viet, and another bronze jar containing the remnants of a six-year-old girl in Hum Cave in Luc Yen.

Yen Bai Province Administrative Divisions

Yên Bái is subdivided into 9 district-level sub-divisions and 173 commune-level sub-divisions:

City (1)

Yên Bái (9 wards, 6 communes)

District-level town (1)

Nghia Lo (4 wards, 10 communes)

Districts (7)

Luc Yên (1 town, 23 communes)
Mù Cang Chai (1 town, 13 communes)
Tram Tau (1 town, 11 communes)
Tran Yên (1 town, 20 communes)
Van Chan (3 towns, 21 communes)
Van Yên (1 town, 24 communes)
Yên Binh (2 towns, 22 communes)


The Yên Bái city is an important transport hub of Northern Vietnam.


Yên Bái lies on the railway that runs northwest from Hanoi to the border town of Lào Cai and into Yunnan in China. In fact, the railway also passes through the towns of Mau A and Co Phuc. The railway has been a major freight corridor between China and Vietnam since its construction. In reality, it runs approximately along the Red River. The National Road 70 is the highway that goes from Lào Cai south-east into Yên Bái Province, through Yen Binh just north of the town of Yên Bái, and joins up with National Road 2 – which leads to Hanoi – at Doan Hung.


Running parallel to and a few kilometres to the southwest of National Road 70 is National Road 32. This road starts from Hanoi to the town of Yên Bái through Son Tay, Lam Thao, and Phú Tho province. National Road 37 connects the town of Yên Bái to Nong Truong Tran Phu to the south. The latter town is also on National Road 32, which takes a northwesterly direction through Nghia Lo, Nong Truong Lien Son into the mountainous northwest of the province and into neighbouring Lào Cai Province. The province lies about 183 km away on the 340 km Lào Cai to Ha Noi road.


Yên Bái Airbase (ICAO: VVYB) is about 5 km north of downtown Yên Bái. It is currently a training facility for jet fighter pilots serving in the Vietnam People’s Air Force.

For more details about other provinces and cities of Vietnam, please follow this link.

Back to top of page Offroad Vietnam Motorbike Adventures - Yen Bai Province, Northern Vietnam