Mai Chau Vietnam, travel diary
- on Feb 26, 2020       By: BN
As the kingdom of the Thai ethnic group which represents more than half of its population, Mai Chau evokes a whole world peaceful nature and charming villages where it is good to roam during holidays with friends or family. It’s an ideal place to escape the hubbub of cities and to feel the sweetness of life through its wild hiking trails, ancestral customs and warm encounters in Upper Tonkin.
Guide to Mai Chau 2019
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Mai Chau is located almost 140km from Hanoi and 60km from Hoa Binh city in the Northwest.
Hoa Binh province is populated by seven ethnic groups including six minorities that are the Muong, Thai, Dao, Tay, Hmong and Chinese. Living mainly in the Mai Chau district, white Thai and black Thai are distinguishable by the colour of their traditional attire.
Distinguished by a temperature favourable to visits all year round, the climate of Mai Chau knows two distinct seasons. The rainy season lasts from May to October, the rainiest period of which varies between July and September. The rest is the dry season where there are winter days punctuated with drizzle and mist in the mountains.
Mai Chau is, without a doubt, more beautiful and more pleasant to visit between October and December or between March and April. Note also that each of the periods has its own surprises, namely:
Between March and April, the temperate climate allows you to admire the flourishing bauhinias.
Between May and June or between September and October, you can enjoy the rice harvest with huge yellow fields in beauty.
Between May and August, it is ideal to go there to avoid the heat of the North and to welcome plums and peaches.
Between November and February, the cold winter is synonymous with peach and plum blossom carpets.
Bus Hanoi - Mai Chau departs from the bus stations of Giap Bat, My Dinh and Yen Nghia with a price around 90,000 - 110,000 VND per ticket.
3 routes are possible:
+ Option 1: Departure from Nguyen Trai (Ha Dong) - Quang Trung - Ba La - Chuc Son - Xuan Mai - Luong Son - Ky Son - Hoa Binh - Cao Phong - Tan Lac - Thung Khe Pass - National Road or QL 15 - Mai Chau
+ Option 2: Thang Long avenue - Hoa Lac - Xuan Mai - National Road QL 6 - Mai Chau
+ The fastest option: motorway or CT08 connecting Hoa Lac to Hoa Binh which was put into service in October 2018.
>> Read more: Hanoi - Mai Chau: How to get to Mai Chau from Hanoi?
Thung Khe Pass
In the direction of national road 6, at an altitude of about 1000m, the Thung Khe pass which offers a breath-taking view over the whole valley is one of the most photogenic spots in Mai Chau. If the place is not known for escarpments or winding loops, it poses a real issue for drivers because of the mist that prevails in the early morning and at sunset. Along the road, you will come across small restaurants serving popular mountain treats like corn, sugar cane or even Com lam.
Mai Chau flag
Leaving Thung Khe, you can take the time, before reaching the centre of Mai Chau, to stop at the Tong Dau junction to have another superb panoramic point of view. From the flag tower, admire the magnificent scenery and breathe in its large bowl of air for a memorable moment.
Lac and Poom Coong Villages
These neighbours, who are two of the largest and most visited in Mai Chau, are ideally visited on foot or by bicycle to immerse themselves in a peaceful atmosphere and a picturesque setting. Stroll through the houses on stilts and pretty shops to meet women and girls with traditional weaving and admire, among other things, beautiful brocades created under their hands. A tour of the village allows you to meet the local culture and the Thai way of life through popular dishes and well-established customs. It is here that visitors can enjoy a friendly welcome while staying with a local.
>> Read more: The wild getaway in the peaceful Mai Chau Valley
Located at the foot of the Pu Van mountains and a ten-minute walk from Mai Chau town, Van village still retains the traditional dwellings and trades to be mentioned, notably rice farming, animal husbandry, knitting, embroidery... During the new year party, the very animated popular shows and games gathering all the tribe will entertain the guests, for example: tug of war, throw the ball, archery, the legendary demonstration of keng loong, etc.
A little further along, go to Buoc village, located thirty kilometres from the centre of Mai Chau to the southwest, which can be seen from afar by the green palm forest. The Thai people have inherited a rich intangible heritage which enriches the festivities with the delightful folklore scenes in the evening. It’s truly a feast for the eyes.
Ba Khan, a forgotten gem
This corner, like at the other end of the world, bordering on Mai Chau and Moc Chau invites you to a stopover between steep banks, rolling mountains, a lake, and waterfalls. Along the famous Black River and covering some twenty square kilometres, Ba Khan ward offers unusual and relaxing landscapes that are still little known. Nicknamed "Halong Bay on land of Hoa Binh" because of numerous drowned rocks, under two hundred metres, for thousands of years, Ba Khan has been revealed recently by those in search of tranquillity in the wilderness. A trip around the lake by boator kayak is worth to take advantage of the magnificent surroundings, well sheltered from the tourist crowds.
Mo Luong and Chieu caves
In the middle of the Pu Kha mountains and two kilometres walk from Lac village, is the Mo Luong cave which is worth a stop. Also called "Mo Luong" signifying an enormous reservoir of water by the white Thai, it consists of four caves with breathtaking ancient concretions. Historically, the place is known for hosting the meeting and working place of our compatriots and combatants during wartime. At the other end of the cave, you will hear the murmur of an underground spring which flows calmly before jumping into the lake.
A beautiful cousin of the Mo Luong cave is Hang Chieu or "Afternoon Cave" which welcomes, in the afternoon, the rays of the sun to enhance the radiance of the multiple stalactites so beautiful and mystical.
Let yourself be guided by a gourmet itinerary rich in flavours. With ingredients offered by this hilly land, you can taste the famous Com Lam of Mai Chau, its exceptional pork and many others.
Start with the most famous delicacies of Mai Chau, Com Lam or sticky rice cooked in a bamboo tube. Simple but delicate, a scent of rice served with sesame or grilled pork should whet the appetites of all who catch it’s enchanting scent.
Muong pork, also known as a pig held under your arm or dwarf pork, Muong pork is characterized by a long body and small ears that are raised in a wild environment. Its slightly greasy meat is prized for a perfect taste that cannot be lacking in all the alluring dishes of the Northwest regions.
Young bitter bamboo is another popular dish of Mai Chau that you can try in almost all meals of its ethnicities. Usually, they are put in a bottle of vinegar or dried in the sun to enhance the following meals.
In addition to a wide choice of stays offered by families in the Lac and Pom Coong villages, you will find all types of rooms in the surrounding municipalities. Here are our few suggestions for accommodation to choose according to your desires:
Resort in Mai Chau
Mai Chau Ecolodge, Mai Chau town
Mai Chau River View Bungalow, Lac village, Mai Chau town
Mai Chau Hotels
Mai Chau Sunset Boutique, Mai Chau town
Mai Chau Valley View Hotel, Mai Chau town
Hotel Mai Chau Lodge, Mai Chau town
Mai Chau Sunrise Village, Na Phon ward, Mai Chau district
Mai Chau Villas, Mai Hich ward Mai Chau district
Homestay in Mai Chau
Mai Chau Nature Lodge, Na Phon ward, Mai Chau district
Eco Homestay, Lac village, Chieng Chau ward
Mai Chau Countryside Homestay, 30 Pom Coong village, Mai Chau town
La Maison De Buoc, Buoc village, Xam Khoe ward, Mai Chau town
Tu Diep Homestay, Mai Hich town
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