The wild getaway in the peaceful Mai Chau Valley
- on Feb 20, 2020       By: BN
Do you want to immerse yourself in ethnic villages amidst enchanting landscapes comparable to Sapa without straying too far from Hanoi? Lulled by the winding mountains of the North, let yourself be seduced by the sweetness of the Mai Chau valley where rivers, rice fields, and houses on stilts complement each other in perfect harmony. An ideal place for escaping for a weekend or going green in a few days.
Located in the Hoa Binh province, west of Hanoi, Mai Chau district borders Moc Chau (Son La) and Pu Luong (Thanh Hoa). As a little touristy spot with regard to the neighbouring attractions, the Mai Chau valley is a wild getaway where nature rhymes with the authenticity of small peaceful villages.
At the foot of the mountains, surrounded by green rice fields, Lac and Pom Coong villages are home to stilt houses where mainly families of the Thai and Muong ethnic groups live.
The Lac village
More than 700 years old, the Lac village is home to generations of 5 large families of the Thai ethnic group: Ha, Lo, Vi, Mac and Loc. The villagers previously lived on rice cultivation and brocade weaving. Visitors will be able to stay at home in well-preserved typical houses on stilts, an unmistakable experience to enjoy the exchanges with the hosts in a warm and authentic setting.
Pom Coong village
In the Thai language, Pom means "the hill" and Coong is "the drum". Pom Coong means a hill village on a giant drum which is the rice fields. The village has nearly 70 homes of more than 300 peoples including seven large families who have supported each other since time immemorial. Like other Muong and Thai families, Pom Coong village traditionally lives in groups, around rivers and springs. The house on stilts, their typical habitation, is built from bamboo and solid wood with the palm roof. 2m high, it is distinguished by large windows often overlooking the rice fields. Here you can already feel a breath of fresh air admiring the splendid rice fields as far as the eye can see. Below, we see here and there Thai women who are engaged in weaving multi-coloured brocades.
A traditional Thai dance
On the way to Mai Chau, you will cross the Thung Khe pass, a stop that is worth the detour for its breath-taking view of the Mai Chau valley
An immersion in daily life can’t take place without a treat of local specialities. Mai Chau is well known for delicious dishes rich in flavour and smells from the mountains such as Com lam (sticky rice cooked in a bamboo tube), xoi nep nuong (steamed sticky rice), grilled wild boar meat skewer and brook fish covered with steamed phrynium leaves…
Activities: bike ride, trekking, traditional Thai dance performances.
When to go?
With a pleasant and cool climate all year round, Mai Chau valley can be discovered at any time, each season has its own particularity.
In spring, Mai Chau is beautiful with so many colours of plum, peach and bauhinia flowers.
In summer, Mai Chau is covered with green carpet mixing fields and mountains.
Autumn is Mai Chau harvest season when sparkling rice fields are queens.
How to get to Mai Chau from Hanoi?
Mai Chau is 150 km from Hanoi, 3 hours by bus or 4 hours by motorbike.
The Hanoi - Mai Chau road offers good accessibility with beautiful landscapes along the way.
- On a motorbike, take the circuit: Hanoi - Xuan Mai - Luong Son - Hoa Binh - Muong Khen - Mai Chau. The easiest and quickest way is to take the national road No. 6.
The other possible road is to take the national road No. 12 which is however longer and having no sites of interest along the way.
- By bus from Hanoi: take a bus from My Dinh and Giap Bat bus stations to Mai Chau, Hoa Binh. When you arrive at the Tong Dau crossroads, Mai Chau district, rent a motorcycle taxi to access the centre of Mai Chau valley (around 5km). The bus ticket varies between 100,000-120,000 dong per person.
To take a tour of Mai Chau district which is quite small, you can explore its villages by renting a bicycle which is available at your accommodation.
Bike rental price: between 20,000-50,000 dong per bike