Rice paper making under scorching central Vietnam sun

Tan An, a traditional village in Quang Binh Province, has produced rice paper for over a century.


260 local households in Tan An Village, Quang Trach District's Quang Thanh Commune produce rice paper for a living, consuming a total 300 tonnes of rice each year. These days, as temperatures in Quang Binh hit 40 degrees Celsius, Tan An is at its most productive.


At 7 a.m., Mai Thi Bau, 57, stokes the stove and starts work. Her family produces rice paper combining tapioca starch, salt and black sesame. Today, some households add extra seasoning and chili.

Bau produces about 300 rice papers a day. She said sitting beside the fire for years has affected her health. "You can sit down during this job, but it’s still much heavier than working outside."



Nguyen The Phuong, 60, usually helps his wife Bau soak the rice in water before grinding it into flour. The job, usually reserved for women, suits a retired Phuong just fine.


Over 10 years ago, Tan An villagers mechanized the process of rice paper production, with 45 units currently in operation.

Nguyen Hong Chuyen, 55, owner of a mechanical production facility, said she wakes up in the early morning to grind and steam rice to avoid the blistering weather. "At 11-12 p.m., I take a break because it is too hot."



Two able hands remove rice paper rolled by machine from the drying rack. To turn them yellow, cornstarch is added to the flour.

This job only lasts from February to October each year, grinding to a halt in the rainy season amid the absence of sunshine.



Rice paper is placed into stacks of 20 and cut into squares.

"The outdoor temperature is very hot but the furnace is worse. Though we are uncomfortable, we have to work hard," said Chuyen.

At present, Tan An Village creates jobs for 80 locals earning VND100,000-200,000 VND per day.



Rice paper, including black sesame, yellow sesame and that for making spring rolls, is dried in the sun.


Black sesame rice paper is left to dry for only about three hours, else they bend and crumble, requiring villagers to keep a close eye.


A villager takes a short break while waiting for her rice paper to dry.


By the afternoon, dry rice paper is gathered and packed. Mechanization helps this facility produce 35 tonnes of rice paper a year.


Removing rice papers from the racks is a delicate procedure.


The final stage involves counting the number of rice papers in each pack before distribution to localities like Hanoi, Hue, and Da Nang.