Anyone who ever visited Nothern Vietnam in general and Hoa Binh particularly will never forget the peaceful and charming beauty of Mai Chau. Mai Chau is a town situated between tall cliffs and surrounded by bright-green paddies. The beauty of this place is the reason that attracts many tourists who want to make exploration by an unforgettable tour to Mai Chau.
I. The best time to visit Mai Chau
Located in the Northern part of Vietnam, Like Sapa or Hagiang, Mai Chau bears characterized features of the weather in this area. In the spring, when the sun gradually comes out after winter months, the temperature gets higher, ranging from 18 to 27 degrees Celsius. During that time, Mai Chau is covered with the colorfulness flowers of peach and plum. Late spring when the peach blossoms are wither, the town is full of white color of “Hoa Ban” (a typical flower of mountainous areas). The rainfall during this season is quite modest, which means your trip is likely to go smoothly without weather-related difficulties. Visiting Mai Chau at this period, you can expect about 4 hours of sunshine each day to enjoy the valley’s sun-dappled views. Besides, you can also be rewarded with the romantic scenery of a variety of blooming flowers.
Over the next period of the year, the weather of Mai Chau in summer becomes hotter but still lower than that of other sites in Northern Vietnam, especially in Hanoi. However, as in the rain season, the rain may become a barrier for some interesting activities like trekking and cycling. The sunshine hour of this time is a little bit longer than that of spring, from 5 – 6 hours. In summer, the town is covered with the green of forest, fields of corn. Especially, at the end of the autumn, Mai Chau turns to golden of rice paddies. Finally, the autumn months from October to November bring a tolerable chill but still allow for pleasant hiking throughout the valley.
II. How to get to Mai Chau?
Just about 130km from Hanoi to the west, it is ideal to hire a motorbike to ride to Mai Chau for such a peaceful retreat at the weekend.
However, it is highly recommended to take a bus if it is your first-time travel in Northern Vietnam, especially in the Northwest area. The price is from 11$. It will take you about 4 hours to be ready for Mai Chau exploration.
III. What to explore in Mai Chau valley?
1. Explore the Countryside on Foot or by Bike
The great outdoors are Mai Chau's most potent draw with the ricefields, locals and mountainous backdrop drive the beauty of Vietnam's northwest home to the traveler. As you bike or trek along Mai Chau's dirt roads, the scenery changes, their little details giving you something to capture on camera: wildflowers in season; rice paddies, either green with rice plants or mirror-like, depending on the time of year; and locals driving livestock from place to place. The dirt roads of Mai Chau won’t be a challenge and you can always stop to rest and admire the scenery. Get into the ethnic village to enjoy their hospitality, their authentic way of life and of course, the food as well.
Your local hotel or homestay can either recommend a bike provider or lend you a bike themselves, for a small fee.
2. Spend a night at Homestay at Lac Village
Homestay is the icon of Mai Chau. You can find at Lac Village a fairly large range of cheaper options for a homestay with a local Thai family. The houses of Thai people are traditional stilt houses with 2-storey structure, the first floor for keeping livestock and the second floor is the family’s living space.
The sleeping conditions will be the exact same as that of the host family. Futon, blanket, mosquito net and fan will be prepared. Toilet and shower are up to western standards. Homestay at a local stilt house, you’ll have a chance to watch traditional dances and singing performed by the villagers. It’s an absolute must-do activity in Mai Chau.
What is more amazing than waking up to the sound of roosters crowing and farmers going to work in the dark. Or interestingly, you sleep on a mattress laid out on the creaky bamboo floor, and you spend your evenings drinking the local wine and watching Thai cultural show.
3. Soak in the tranquil Atmosphere of Pom Coong Village
Lying next to Lac Village, Pom Coong Village is a Thai village that is less touristic than its neighbor with just equally beauties and attractions. Come to Pom Coong to enjoy the idyll nature, wooden stilt houses, traditional performances and Can wine – a communal and festive drink.
Don't forget Top 10 best homestays in Mai Chau.
4. Take in a View From Above at Thung Khe Pass
In the list of the best things to do in Mai Chau, it would be a mistake to not include Thung Khe Pass, a famous Mai Chau site to enjoy the views. The pass cuts through mountain cliffs with a perfect curve. To be more comfortable to enjoy Thung Khe’s views, it’s best to come to Mai Chau by motorbike. Buses to Mai Chau also stop here for a while. It’s such a shame to miss the local foods while admiring the view below.
While admiring the view, you can sit down at one of the stalls to eat the local fare sold by the area's Muong tribespeople. Take your pick from newly boiled or grilled corn and sugarcane, or the sticky-rice dish called com lam: all cheap but filling stuff, offering none of the sophistication of the food you'll find in Hanoi but bracingly warm against to the area's frigid winds.
5. Buy Silk Brocade From the Source
Thai women are famous for their weaving skills like every woman of any hill tribe on Vietnam mountainous areas. Buying brocade products is not only worth your money but also helps the local community prosper without abandoning their traditional practice.
Thai specializes in weaving traditional brocade: silk fabrics with rich colors and raised patterns. Their daily wear makes heavy use of brocades, as evidenced in the Tai women's snug waistbands, worn even when performing manual labor.
Mai Chau locals make their silk brocades from scratch: starting with harvesting silkworm cocoons, reeling the silk from the cocoons, dyeing the threads using natural colors, and ending with selling the brightly-colored end product in Mai Chau's villages and markets.
All this is hard labor, reeling, dyeing, and weaving takes expert hands with long experience, so bargain accordingly when you haggle for their bags, scarves, and skirts. The prices are that way for a reason.
6. Taste Mai Chau unique local cuisine
Mai Chau attracts tourists not only by the peaceful and charming beauty but also by the warmth of the minority ethnic people here. Especially, the manners of welcome guests here put a deep impression on tourists. Tourists will be invited to sit on the flower mats and then drink “Ruou Can” (stem wine), eat “com lam” (bamboo-tube rice) with grilled meat, and many ethnic cuisines that anyone ever tasted will never forget such as grilled chicken wrapped with phrynium leaves, steamed fish, fried bitter bamboo shoots, sticky rice…
Food in Mai Chau is locally grown: crops like corn, sugarcane, and rice figure heavily in the food served during dinnertime, as do herbs like coriander.
7. Enjoy the local ethnic life with traditional dance
At night, tourists are immersed in a romantic space to enjoy “Xoe dancing” and fervid rhythms of the Thai people or take part in “sap dancing” (also called bamboo dancing) with Thai girls.
Whenever a melody ends, both landlord and guest gather at the corner to enjoy the sweetness of stem wine brewed by the forest leaves.
8. Top 4 Most Popular Mai Chau tours from Hanoi
Well, besides all those simple but exciting things, there are also a lot of other things that you can’t miss while coming to Mai Chau. And to know exactly what those other things are, feel free to inbox VieGo now.