The description of a mountain pass: Tham Ma mountain pass – Ha Giang

The description of Tham Ma mountain pass in Ha Giang province – Vietnam

Lying between Yen Minh and Dong Van district, some minutes away from the buckwheat fields of Yen Minh is one of the most tortuous mountain pass one can find, Tham Ma mountain pass. The following section devotes to the description of the pass as a share of a tour experience and as a learning source for IELTS candidates.

Describing a mountain pass

Where it is

What it looks

How you feel when passing it

Vocabulary highlight:

picturesque /ˈpɪkʧərəsk/

a. đẹp như tranh

buckwheat field /ˈbʌˌkwit/

n. cánh đồng hoa tam giác mạch


a. dốc

in no time

adv. ngay lập tức

to shift to gears 1 and 2

v. chuyển sang số 1 và 2 (chạy xe)

sluggish engine

n. máy xe ì ạch


a. dốc đứng

winding road = tortuous road

/ˈwaɪndɪŋ/,  /ˈtɔrʧəwəs/ 

n. đường ngoằn ngoèo quanh co

road curves =road bends

n. khúc cua trên đường

be redeemed with

v. được bù đắp bởi

splendid mountains /ˈsplɛndid/

n. núi non hùng vĩ

mountain slopes strewn with karst cones and karst towers /kɑrst/ 

sườn núi rải đầy các nón đá vôi và tháp đá vôi

wilderness /ˈwɪldərnəs/

n. sự hoang vu

northernmost province

n. tỉnh cực bắc

climax /ˈklaɪˌmæks/ 

n. cao trào


n. tay lái (xe máy, xe đạp)


v. gào rú (máy xe)

rest area

n. điểm dừng chân

vantage point /ˈvæntəʤ/ 

n. điểm thuận lợi, cao điểm

Bird-eye view

n. cái nhìn toàn cảnh

pointed bends

n. khúc cua gấp


a. đầy kinh ngạc

Neatly /ˈnitli/

adv. một cách gọn gàng

Lung Cu commune /ˈkɑmjun/

n. xã Lũng Cú

a surge of satisfaction /sætəˈsfækʃən/

n. một sự hài lòng dâng trào

The script

I am gonna describe a mountain pass that impresses me most in my motorbike trip to Ha Giang province in North East Vietnam. It is Tham Ma mountain pass lying in the border between Yen Minh and Dong Van districts.

I remember that I left the picturesque buckwheat field in Yên Minh heading to Dong Van and did not expect to cross the pass so soon. The road turned sloppy in no time and it kept pushing me to shift to gears 1 and 2 of the motorbike and listened to the sluggish engine carrying me and my companion up the steep and very winding road. It has been the most tortuous road I have taken so far in my life, but I had prepared for taking such a riding challenge before the trip because you know what else could I expect from a mountainous area aside from road curves and sudden bends? The thrilling ride however was redeemed with magnificent scenery that made me pull over plenty of times. The splendid mountains, the deep valleys, the mountain slopes strewn with karst cones and karst towers all mixed into the wilderness of a remote northernmost province of Vietnam. The climax of my trip on Tham Ma pass came when I tried very much to turn my handlebar left and right multiple times during only a short time while the engine revved in the first gear. When I got out ouf the snake like roads, I still did not know what I have passed until I saw some backpackers gathering at a rest area on the road side. You know, that was the high vantage point for me to have a bird eye view of the whole tortuous road I had made. I couldn’t believe in my eyes when I saw the pointed bends I had gone through. They were jaw-dropping you know. It was unbelievable that I managed to get through that section of Tham Ma pass quite neatly. I took some pictures and made some short clips there before racing with the sunset to to Lung Cu commune.

The moment I got to the top of the pass and looked down, I felt a surge of satisfaction. It was like you just finish a difficult task and can sit back looking at the achievement, you know. In general, the thrill of the ride, the fantastic natural beauty, the completion of the riding challenge, all made Tham Ma mountain pass an unforgettable location in my touring memories that I really want to return to in the future.


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