Mai Chau, located in the mountainous province of Hoa Binh province, is approximately 135 km west of Hanoi. The small town in the heart of a beautiful valley that with its numerous rice paddies, is a vibrant green, and looks stunning in any light. Surrounding by towering mountain peaks, the landscape is dramatic, and one could spend hours looking out over the lush rice-paddies towards the wonderful rock formations.
The area is home to a number of different ethnic minorities; White Thai, H'mong, Zao, Muong, Tay, Hoa and Viet, and although these days most do not wear distinctive clothing, each group has their own language, literature, handicrafts, music, dancing and festivals. The Sunday market brings hill tribe people who are usually based in the mountains into Mai Chau to sell their wares, enjoy meals together and take part in traditional dances.
The village's stunning location makes it the perfect base for a variety of outdoor activities. Spend the day walking in the village, exploring fascinating caves, or cycling past traditional stilted houses, where you’ll meet locals, and gain an insight into the rural Vietnamese way of life. Further afield, trek through remote villages, past terraced rice-paddies, kayak on serene lakes, and swim at lush waterfalls. You may also like to take part in a Vietnamese cooking lesson or even learn how to plant or harvest rice, depending on the season.
Staying in the village, one need not compromise on comfort: the characterful Mai Chai Ecolodge offers a charming base for visitors with views over the paddy fields and out to the limestone mountains, and an outdoor pool to relax at after a day’s sightseeing.
To gain a more rounded insight into Vietnam, we would highly recommend visiting the lush countryside and soaking up the atmosphere of rural Vietnam. Mai Chau is approximately 2 ½ hours’ drive from Hanoi and offers an enormous contrast with the hustle and bustle of the city. It makes a perfect addition to a tailormade tour of Vietnam and can be easily combined with Hanoi and Halong Bay.
It’s best to avoid summer months when it can be very humid and sometimes wet. The best time of year is between November and March when the weather is very pleasant in the day-time, and a little cool during the night.
Features in the following itineraries
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Leslie Siben, India