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Mai Chau Travel Guide

All things need to know before travelling to Mai Chau

Located in the middle of the Northwest mountains and forests, Mai Chau meets all the necessary elements to become an ideal tourist destination. With a cool, temperate climate, majestic and poetic natural scenery and gentle people. More specifically, the friendly and unique traditional cultural identity still remains today. Unique and new experiences are what you will definitely get when choosing to travel to Mai Chau. Let’s explore this beautiful land with Origin Vietnam.

1. Where is Mai Chau?

Mai Chau is a mountainous district located at the westernmost point of Hoa Binh province, Vietnam. About 80 km from Hoa Binh city and about 150 km southwest of Hanoi capital. With geographical location:

  • The East borders Tan Lac district
  • The West borders Van Ho district of Son La province
  • The South borders Quan Hoa district and Ba Thuoc district in Thanh Hoa province
  • The North borders Da Bac district.

2. How is Mai Chau unique?

Mai Chau possesses a unique attractive beauty of green nature, fresh air and unique Thai ethnic identity. All images here are associated with mountains, forests, green fields and peace.

Although it is a highland district, Mai Chau is a valley surrounded by massive limestone ranges. This place has a peaceful natural beauty of green forests, rice fields laden with grains, and many small streams quietly flowing through.

In addition, you will also be surprised with the unique traditional culture, with the warmth, friendliness and hospitality of the people here. Along with that is a wonderful, unique cuisine that cannot be found anywhere else.

3. When is the best time to travel to Mai Chau?

Located in a valley surrounded by mountains and forests, Mai Chau is not too hot, but the weather is quite mild and pleasant. Therefore, visitors can choose to travel to Mai Chau at any time of the year.

However, according to Mai Chau travel experience, to be able to see the overall beauty of this peaceful land. You should choose to go at the following times:

  • January-February: Mai Chau spring, January and February will definitely make you ecstatic with the bright wild flower petals. This is the time when Ban and peach blossoms bloom at their most brilliant.
  • March – April: At this time, Mai Chau’s weather will not be too sunny, and it is also the time when lotus flowers bloom a lot. Traditional festivals here also take place very diversely.
  • July-August: You also need to note: around July-August in Mai Chau there is quite high humidity, which can cause heavy rain. Landslides and floods can easily occur, making it dangerous to travel during your trip. Therefore, you should regularly monitor weather forecasts before departing. In order to choose the appropriate time for your trip to Mai Chau this season.
  • September-October: You also have the opportunity to admire the bright yellow fields, because this is the ripe rice season in Mai Chau. Mai Chau will have 2 golden rice seasons a year: June and October.
  • October – December: This is the time when Mai Chau changes from Autumn to Winter and has quite cool and pleasant air. Besides, this time there are also Peach and Plum Blossoms blooming, so it will give you the opportunity to admire a rare and beautiful romantic scene.

4. How to get to Mai Chau?

4.1. By personal vehicle

Traveling by car:

Using a personal car, you can follow the Thang Long Avenue route to Hoa Lac, continue along the Hoa Lac – Hoa Binh route and along Highway 6 to Mai Chau. Because some routes can run on highways, the travel time from Hanoi to Mai Chau by car is only about 3 hours.

Traveling by motorbike:

With a motorbike, you can follow the Thang Long Avenue road and also go in the direction of Hoa Lac – Hoa Binh – Highway 6 or go in the direction of Ha Dong, straight on Highway 6 to Mai Chau. This route is relatively crowded with trucks, so if traveling by motorbike, you should travel during the day and have full protective gear to ensure safety.

4.2 By public transportation

If you do not have a personal vehicle or are afraid of long distances, you can use passenger cars to Mai Chau. You can easily catch a bus at bus stations such as: My Dinh, Giap Bat, Yen Nghia,… to go to Mai Chau. If you don’t make it on time, you can take the sleeper bus from Son La to Tong Dau intersection, get off and rent a motorbike taxi to go into town (about 5 km).

4.3. Traveling within Mai Chau

Walking & Trekking:

Lac village and Pom Coong village are located close to each other. So adventure Mai Chau tour walking around the village is the best way to explore the beautiful and peaceful Mai Chau. The limitation of walking is that you will only be able to go around the village, further locations will not have enough time to go if using this method.

Bicycle:

This type of bicycle tourism is increasingly chosen by many tourists, especially foreign tourists, partly. Because it is a very environmentally friendly form, and partly because it is cycling around the village in a peaceful setting. The romantic tranquility of Mai Chau will be wonderful. While cycling leisurely, breathing fresh air, and comfortably admiring the scenery, bicycles are also more convenient to go into small places.

Electric car:

Currently in Mai Chau, you can choose electric car service to go around the village. The car runs quite slowly and the price per person is relatively cheap. If you want to rent a full trip to go further (visit nearby villages), you can also negotiate directly with the driver.

Motorbike:

Coming to Mai Chau, if you only stay around Lac, Poom Coong and town areas, you probably don’t need to use a motorbike. However, for some more remote locations such as Thung Khe and Ba Khan passes, bicycles or electric vehicles cannot solve the problem. At this time, if you do not have to go to Mai Chau by motorbike, you will need to rent a car here

5. Activities and experiences in Mai Chau:

5.1. Cycling around the village

With cool and quite fresh air, in the morning you can rent a bicycle to roam around Ban Lac and cross to Poom Coong. Cycling is also a form of exercise that is quite good for the body

5.2. Enjoy coffee

If you like to have a relaxing time chatting with family and friends while sipping a cup of coffee. You can go around the villages to find the coffee shop. Currently in Mai Chau, there are a number of cafes with beautiful locations and views that you can come and experience.

5.3. Discovery 8 villages by electric car

There are quite a few electric cars in Mai Chau, each car can carry 1-10 people and is allowed to operate so it can go deep into the villages. You can rent an electric car for a full price to go around 8 small villages in Mai Chau, the travel time is about 1-1.5 hours depending on where you stop.

5.4. Boating

Those who love kayaking or SUP boards can go to the Hoa Binh hydroelectric lake bed area in Ba Khan to paddle, usually these services will be provided by local people.

6. Sightseeings in Mai Chau:

6.1. Thung Khe Pass

To get to Mai Chau Hoa Binh, you have to pass the impressive Thung Khe Pass located on Highway 6. This place is also known as White Stone Pass because the surrounding space is quite impressive.

For geological reasons, the landscape of Thung Khe Pass wears a white coat all year round as if a blizzard had just passed here. Thung Khe Pass today belongs to Tan Lac and Mai Chau.

With impressive landscapes and a layer of mist and clouds, Thung Khe Pass today has become an extremely hot selfie spot for young people when coming to Mai Chau.

6.2. Ban Lac village

Ban Lac is located in Chieng Chau commune, Mai Chau district. This place is considered an impressive tourist destination with the rustic beauty of Thai identity. Many tourists who come here favorably call Ban Lac the most beautiful village in Mai Chau.

It is no exaggeration for this name, from Ban Lac, you can admire the vast space of vast fields and rolling mountains. All converge into a charming landscape painting that makes everyone shake.

5.3. Pom Coong village

If you are familiar with Ban Lac, you can visit Pom Coong to renew the atmosphere in Mai Chau. The name of the village means a hill located on a big drum. Travelling to this area, you will fully enjoy the beauty of nature as well as admire the ripe golden rice fields. In Pom Coong village, there are 7 Thai families, so this place still retains a rich culture and national identity.

In addition, you also have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the ethnic culture here through village activities. There will be impressive national dances such as Sap and Xoe dance.

6.2. Mai Chau flagpole

Mai Chau flagpole is a location in Tong Dau commune, Mai Chau district. This is a proud selfie spot for travel enthusiasts. This is a tourist attraction quite close to Thung Khe Pass, you can combine admiration to create many great photos.

6.3. Ban Nhot village

Ban Nhot belongs to Na Phon commune, Mai Chau district. Here, you will admire houses with bold Thai architecture with structures roofed with bamboo and rattan leaves and floors 2 meters above the ground. In addition, you will experience making brocade items to take home or doing tasks such as pounding rice, making wine or preparing traditional dishes.

6.4. Ba Khan Valley

Ba Khan Valley is located next to Hoa Binh Hydroelectric Lake. This place is considered the heart of Mai Chau tourism with charming natural scenery and successive mountain ranges. Tourists also tell each other that this is an impressive sunset viewing spot that you cannot miss when traveling to Mai Chau.

6.5. Hai Son Mural Village

Hai Son mural village is located in Mai Hich commune, Mai Chau district. This place was painted by students of Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Arts on a wall more than 800 meters long. Most of the paintings are familiar ethnic images with bright, striking colors. Here, you can admire four-season murals next to unique terraced fields

6.6. Mo Luong Cave

Located in the Pu Kha mountain range in Mai Chau town. Mo Luong is a cave that many tourists pay attention to and explore in combination with Ban Lac. According to Thai people, Mo Luong means large water mine. Each cave at Mo Luong has impressive layers of limestone stalactites creating magical shapes.

6.7. Chieu Cave

Chieu Cave is another beautiful cave located in Mai Chau town. Here, you will be completely overwhelmed and attracted by the mysterious, magical and somewhat pristine beauty of Chieu Cave. To reach Chieu Cave, you have to climb 1,200 stone steps among the cool green soapberry trees.

6.8. Go Lao Waterfall

Go Lao Waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Mai Chau that many tourists must visit when coming to this land. With cool and fresh blue water, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the airy atmosphere while admiring the impressively beautiful space. Each white bubble of water splashes under the lake, creating a pleasant, gentle and relaxing feeling.

6.9. Mu Waterfall

Mu Waterfall is made up of stacked waterfalls, each level has its own path and below the waterfall is a large bathing pool, allowing everyone to soak.

In addition, you can also rent shacks from local people here so you can rest, visit, and eat comfortably. Besides, this is also the place to organize festivals such as the international skydiving festival every November or the gong festival organized by the Muong people.

7. Specialties when traveling to Mai Chau

7..1 Mai Chau Lam Rice (Bamboo tube rice)

Ingredients for making Lam rice include rice, bamboo tubes, and banana leaves. There may also be grated coconut, coconut milk, and sesame mixed with rice before baking. Sometimes, in some other regions, cassava, potatoes, and corn are cut into small pieces and stuffed into tubes to bake instead of the main ingredient, rice.

Lam rice, if made of bamboo, must not be burned on fire but must be rotated evenly over charcoal because if the thin bamboo tube is burned on fire, the rice will not be cooked in time. Eating lam rice, in addition to sesame salt, is also indispensable for a traditional Thai spice called “cham cheo”.

7.2. Grilled chicken

The chicken is marinated with unique Thai spices and then grilled over charcoal using bamboo or iron tongs. Chicken dishes go very well with sticky rice or lam rice.

7.3. Grilled stream fish

In traditional Thai festivals, this dish is indispensable. To ensure grilled fish meets standards, you need to choose stream fish weighing 4-6 ounces. Spices to marinate fish include Mac Khen, wild herbs, lotus seeds, basil leaves, lemongrass, chili, soup powder,…

After cleaning the scales, the fish is cut open from the back to remove the bile and intestines, then folded horizontally, seasoned in the middle with a fresh bamboo stick and grilled over hot wood ash for about 15 minutes. The fish is grilled over charcoal and turns from white to yellow, with a delicious aroma. The stream fish dish eaten with 3-color sticky rice and dipped in cham diagonal is absolutely delicious.

7.4. Grilled pork skewers

In Mai Chau, in addition to boiled pork, there is also another attractive option from Muong pork. After boiling the pig to a golden brown, people choose the best parts of the meat, slice them and then marinate them with many different spices: salt, chili powder, star anise, lemongrass, honey leaves, ginger, turmeric, vinegar… Depends on the amount of meat. Wait about 15-20 minutes for the spices to be absorbed evenly, the meat is skewered and grilled until all the fat is gone, golden brown, and fragrant.

7.5. Mai Chau sticky rice

Sticky rice is a popular rice substitute in the Northwest highlands. In Mai Chau, they call it “khau cang nay,” which means fragrant sticky rice. When you come to Mai Chau, you can fully experience the delicious taste by savoring the sticky rice made by Thai women.

Thai people always choose upland sticky rice to make sticky rice. It is a type of sticky rice that Thai people grow on terraced fields in Mai Chau valley. The sticky rice is soaked for many hours to soften before being cooked. Thai women do not prepare sticky rice in a pot or steamer like the Kinh people, but instead put the sticky rice in a wooden tray. The sticky rice cooks by steam rather than cooking.

8. Accommodation when traveling to Mai Chau

8.1. Resort/Bungalow

If you need a luxury resort, you can choose to stay in some beautifully built resorts or bungalows with full amenities and services. These areas will often be scattered throughout the communes of Mai Chau district and are often located in relatively isolated places and far from the center. Therefore, in these places you should have personal vehicles so you can proactively go to other places if you want.

  • Mai Chau Xanh Bungalow. Address: Ban Lac, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
  • Mai Chau Valley Retreat. Address: Mai Hich, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
  • Mai Chau Ecolodge. Address: Na Chieng, Mai Chau District, Hoa Binh.
  • Meadow Mai Chau Homestay. Address: Na Phon, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
  • Little Mai Chau Homestay. Address: Na Phon, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
  • Mai Chau Countryside Homestay. Address: No. 30 Pom Coong village, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.

8.2 Homestays:

When traveling to Mai Chau, don’t miss out on experiencing the popular form of accommodation, the stilt houses built mainly in Lac and Poom Coong villages by the Thai people. To talk more about this form of accommodation, Thai people often live and build villages in places with rivers and streams, build houses against mountains and hills, in front are often vast fields.

  • Eco Homestay. Address: Ban Lac, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
  • Mai Chau Countryside Homestay. Address: No. 30 Pom Coong village, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
  • La Maison De Buoc. Address: Ban Duoc, Xat Khoe Commune, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
  • Minh Tho Homestay. Address: Mai Hich, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.
  • Little Mai Chau Homestay. Address: Na Phon, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh.

9. Some important notes when traveling to Mai Chau

  • When coming here in the spring, you should bring an umbrella and raincoat because there will often be drizzle at this time.
  • Referring prices and bargain before buying specialties here.
  • Only bring a sufficient amount of cash to avoid going to crowded locations where the association may create conditions for theft to occur.
  • If you visit spiritual tourist destinations, you need to choose appropriate clothing.
  • Because you spend a lot of time walking between tourist destinations, you should bring low-soled, soft, anti-slip shoes.

If you are planning a tour to Mai Chau, immediately contact Origin Vietnam – a professional tour operator in Vietnam. Our team of experienced, dedicated, and deeply knowledgeable consultants and local guides will provide you with the opportunity to explore Mai Chau, offering interesting experiences and creating unforgettable memories.

Mai Chau Easy Trek

This trip offers you a voyage to discover Mai Chau to enjoy the outstanding natural beauty and ethnic Thai tribe groups. It gives you an easy trek to admire the scenic and peaceful village. Especially homestay at stilt-house to get more local cultures at the countryside in North Vietnam.
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