Mai Chau is a beautiful valley located in Hoa Binh Province. It’s about 130 km west of Hanoi in the North of Vietnam. Mai Chau is renowned for its mountain landscape, stunning terraced rice fields in the valley and tribal culture of Thai and Muong ethnic minorities. Mai Chau is ideal for a quick getaway from Hanoi as it takes about 3-hour drive from Hanoi.
How to get to Mai Chau?
Many Vietnamese backpackers choose to come to Mai Chau by motorbike because they can experience the feeling of freedom whenriding throughbeautiful scenery and meeting local people along the wway. However, traveling by motorbike is not a suitable option for foreign tourists as it is quite risky.
By public buses
There are buses to Xuan Mai (Hoa Binh Province) at My Dinh and Yen Nghia bus station. The last destination of the buses is Tong Dau three-way junction. Then you will have to take a motorbike taxi trip to get to Mai Chau. This is a little inconvenient for your trip.
Transfer from Hanoi to Mai Chau Private / Shared Car Service
This is the best way to get to Mai Chau is to use Hanoi Travel Bus’s Mai Chau Private / Shared Car Service because there are no public buses departs directly for Mai Chau.
The best time to travel to Mai Chau
Mai Chau is a valley surrounded by mountains so the weather in Mai Chau is generally dry all year round. You can visit Mai Chau any season.
Spring is probably the most beautiful season in Mai Chau when many flowers in bloom such as peach blossom, Ban flower, plum flower,…
Mai Chau in summer is covered with lush green color of the mountain trees and forests.Then its landscape is covered with yellow color of the ripe rice fields and its fresh fragrance fills the air.
The weather in Mai Chau in the evening is often colder, so you should prepare warm clothes if you come to Mai Chau in winter and early spring.
Top attractions in Mai Chau
Mai Chau town is quite small so you can rent bicycles to get around the villages. Bicycle rental service.is offered at many stilt house in Ban Lac Village.
Ban Lac Village
Ban Lac Village is the village of Thai people. Coming to the village, you can see traditional house on stilt of Thai people, the green bamboo trees surrounded by vast paddy fields.
Moreover,Ban Lac is also renowned for itscolorful brocade booths, friendly local people and delicious food.In the vening, you can join them in their exciting dance and music performance.
Chieu Cave is a national monument located in the town of Mai Chau.To get into the cave, one will 1200 stone steps with a height of 700metres. Every afternoon when the sun shines into the cave, the stalactites becomesparkling.
Entrace ticket to the cave is 10,000 VND / person. You can bike from Ban Lac village to the town to visit the cave.
Thung Khe Pass
Located on National Highway 6 in Hoa Binh Province, Thung Khe Pass is about 1,000 meters above sea level. Here, visitors can enjoy local food sold at roadside food stalls: boiled corn, boiled sugar cane, cơm lam (rice in bamboo tube) with sesame, … Moreover, from the top of Thung Khe Pass, you can view the whole valley landscape below. This is the best place to enjoy natural scenery in Hoa Binh Province.
Mo Luong Cave
Also called as Bo Luong Cave, Mo Luong Cave is located about 1km from Ban Lac Village. Mo Luong Cave has beautiful stalactites.The cave is now managed by Mai Chau Lodge. The entrance ticket is quite expensive: 40,000 VND / person (free entrance for guests staying at Mai Chau Lodge).
Van Village is a small village near Mai Chau town. Despite not as being busy as Lac Village, Van Village impresses visitors with terraced fieldson the roadsideto the village.
The villagers are quite friendly and hospitable. In addition, the village also has a garden of broccoli, white cabbage and other flowers. At the entrance of the village, there is Ban Van lodge set amongst rice fields.
If you have a chance to stay here, you will enjoy the sunrise on the beautiful terraced fields.
Thai Ethnic Museum
The museum houses the ancient Thai artifacts collected by Mr. Kien for 10 years to express his love for his lost wife.
Here you will admire the ancient objects of the Thai people, the priceless ancient money collection; all are carefully collected and preserved. It is a great way to discover more about the Thai people and their culture, and to learn more about their history.
Go Lao Waterfall
Go Lao Waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Mai Chau, Phuc San commune, about 15 km from Mai Chau. You will easily find the way to waterfall on the way from Tong Dau three-way conjunction to Moc Chau.
It is a commune of Mai Chau, stretching from Phu Cuong, through Thung Khe Pass. Ba Khan is 15km away from Go Lao Waterfall.
Things to do in Mai Chau
There are many interesting activities to do in Mai Chau
Trekking or bicycling to visit the Thai villages. The price for bicycle rental is relatively cheap, about 20,000 – 30,000 VND.
Villages in Mai Chau include Ban Lac 1, Ban Lac 2, Pom Coong, Van, Nhot, Naphon, Na Thia, Buoc. The Buoc Village has terraced fields and is the best place for trekking.
– Discovering Chieu Cave and Mo Luong Cave, or hiring floating rafts and rafting on the stream in Ban Lac Village.
– Renting motorbikes to go to Go Lao Waterfall or travel to Pu Luong (tourists can visit these 2 sites in a day). The motorcycle rental price: 100,000 VND / half day or 200.000 VND / a whole day. You can find motorbike rental service in Ban Lac 2.
– You can spend your evenings watching local people perform bamboo dancing and drinking the local wine beside the campfire.The price of for a bamboo dancing show is about 800,000 VND, fire camp is 300,000 VND.
Accommodation in Mai Chau
There is a wide range of accommodation options in Mai Chau
Houses on stilt in Mai Chau
It is the most popular accommodation in Mai Chau and is also the best way to experience Mai Chau in particular and Northwest Vietnam in general. Waking up in the morning, you can feel the fragrant rice field in the morning breeze through the windows.
The traditional Thai stilt house is built of bamboo stilts and bamboo flooring, which helps to warm up in winter and cool in summer. Ban Lac is home to many stilt houses. The sitlt houses in Ban Lac Village also offer guests with catering service.Having meals here is recommended for convenient transportation and easy sightseeings access.
You will share the accommodation with others when staying at stilt house in Ban Lac. The price is from 20,000 – 50.000 VND / person or you can rent the whole stilt house if you travel in large group with price from 500,000- 800,000 VND. Every stilt house offers many toilets and bathrooms equipped with water heater as well as high speed wifi.
Some nicestilt houses with good services in Mai Chau:
Stilt house No. 19 – Hung Mech – Ban Lac 1
Stilt house No. 29 – Long Di – Ban Lac 1
Stilt house No.6 – Tuong Mai – Ban Lac 1
Stilt house No.09 – Anh Phuc – Ban Lac 1
Stilt house No. 07 – Chi Tim – Ban Lac 1
In addition to the shared stilt house, the stilt houses also offer private rooms (with air conditioning and shared toilets) for those who want to have private space. Room rates range from 250,000 – 300,000 VND / room.
However, some new stilt houses in Ban Lac Village are not a good choice. Though it’s new and beautiful, their services are quite poor and expensive.
Hostels and hotels in Mai Chau
If you want a more convenient stay, you can choose to stay at the hostels or hotels in Mai Chau town or near the Ban Lac Village. Here are the best hostels and hotels in Mai Chau:
Good hostels in Mai Chau
|Hoa Mi Hostel||Area 4, Mai Chau Town||300,000 – 400,000 VND|
|Phuong Thao Hostel||Mai Chau Town||300,000 – 400,000 VND|
|Thanh Binh Hostel||Ban Lac Village – Mai Chau||400,000 – 500,000 VND|
|Hien Hung Hostel||At the entrance of Ban Lac Village||400,000 – 500,000 VND|
|Phong Lan Hostel||At the entrance of Ban Lac Village||400,000 – 500,000 VND|
Good hotels in Mai Chau
|Khoa Thanh Hotel||At the entrance of Ban Lac Village||500,000 – 1,000,000 VND||
|Binh Minh Hotel
|At the entrance of Ban Lac Village||500,000 – 800,000 VND||The hotel also offers dining service, bar and cafe, massage service.|
|Ngoc Bach Hotel
|Mai Chau town (2 km far from Ban Lac Village)||500,000 – 1000,000 VND||
Luxurious three-star hotels in Mai Chau
These luxurious hotels offer rooms with price from 1,500,000– 1,800,000 VND / night (including breakfast)
In addition to these 3-star hotels in Mai Chau, there are ecological resorts called bungalows and some luxury bungalows: Mai Chau Riverside Bungalow, Sol Bungalow, Mai Chau Sunrise Village with price from 1,400,000 – 2,000,000 VND / night.
Mai Chau Ecolodge
Especially Mai Chau Ecolodge is a 4-star resort located on a hill with swimming pool and restaurant. The Ecolodge has 21 private bungalows, the superior rooms also have a private pool on the balcony. Mai Chau Ecolodge’s room rates are from 2,000,000 VND / night.
Mai Chau specialties
Mai Chau has special culinary culture, it is the essence of Thai people. Traditional Thai dishes include Cơm lam (rice in bamboo tube),wild boar, bamboo shoots, grilled stream fish… are the things you definitely have to try when visiting Mai Chau.
Cơm lam (rice in bamboo tube)
It is Mai Chau’s signature dish that visitors should try. To make this dish, local people need ingredients and materials include: sticky rice, bamboo tube, banana leaves, coconut cure, coconut milk.
The cơm lam is special for its taste and the way local people cook it.The rice is put into bamboo tubes then grilled.
Cooking cơm lam is difficult. Thai women must be skillful to be able to make delicious cơm lam.
Cơm lam can be enjoyed with a traditional spice of the Thai people called “chẩm chéo”, or with sesame salt.
Grilled junglefowl is popular dish to many Vietnamese people. You can’t go to Mai Chau without trying this dish.The junglefowl’s legs are particularly delicious. The junglefowls are not as big as ordinary chickens but their meat is really delicious.
After being slaughtered, the chicken will be marinated. This spice will make chicken fragrant and delicious than ever.
This dish costs from 300,000 VND – 350,000 VND.
Grilled stream fish
The stream fish in Mai Chau is as small as goby, they live in ponds. You do not always have the opportunity to enjoy this dish when visiting Mai Chau, because it is not always available in market.
Grilled wild boar
Wild boar are fed with food and vegetables by the minors there. It can be cooked in different ways, but grilling is the best.
Five-colored sticky rice
The way of making this dish is similar to cook sticky rice. The color is created from different kind of rices. The five colors are white, red, blue, purple, yellow.