Mai Chau is well known for its mountainous environment, mountains, stilt houses, and rice fields, and is one of the best trekking and biking destinations in Northern Vietnam. Check out the following Mai Chau travel guide so that you can best prepare for your trip to this eco-tourism paradise of Vietnam.

General Information

Mai Chau is a district in Hoa Binh Province, which is a popular tourist destination in northwestern Vietnam. The district is normally called Mai Chau Village for its highlights and is suitable for short trekking and biking tours. It is 160 kilometers from Hanoi. This town’s mighty mountains, emerald rice fields, and unique houses on stilts astound visitors.

Mai Chau location- Travel Guide

Mai Chau location- Travel Guide

When you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, a short cycling tour to Mai Chau is recommended. If you don’t have enough time for a Sapa excursion but want to see a mountainous town and ethnic minority life, this is a great alternative.

Ethnic Minorities in Mai Chau

The villages are home to seven ethnic groups: Thai, H’Mong, Dao, Muong, Tay, Hoa, and Viet, with Thai making up the majority of the population. The two tribes, White Thai and Black Thai, originated in Thailand and are currently the two main ethnic groups in Mai Chau. They live on stilts and are well-known for their sophisticated traditional brocade. Discover their way of life in Lac and Pom Coong villages, participate in their ‘Xoe Dance,’ and learn their traditional plow-farming method.

Mai Chau Weather and best time to visit

Mai Chau Weather and best time to visit

Mai Chau Weather and best time to visit

Because Mai Chau is in the mountains, the weather is cool and pleasant all year. It is neither too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter. You can visit the destination at any time of year, but certain seasons are more poetic and romantic than others:

  • October to December: In the winter, the weather in Mai Chau becomes cooler and more pleasant. It is also the time of year when you can see peach blossoms and plum blossoms all over town. This flowery scene’s ethereal beauty makes an ideal backdrop for your photos. However, it is humid and foggy there in the winter, so bring warm clothing and exercise caution when hiking.
  • March to April: From March to April, the ‘ban’ flower (Hoa Ban), a unique flower of Northwestern Vietnam, blooms throughout the hills. This is also the season for many ethnic festivals in the area. Mai Chau is best visited between March and April.

Getting to Mai Chau

Daily tours to Mai Chau from Hanoi are available in both join-with-group and private formats. Visitors can visit the villages on 1-day or 2-day daily tours from Hanoi by rented private car, minivan, or tourist bus. You can ride your own motorcycle to the villages, but we do not recommend it.

To book a Mai Chau tour, contact IDC Travel a few days in advance for the option you want, or check with us at our office as early as 1 day before your departure date.

By motorbike

Mai Chau is accessible by road from Ha Noi. The trip takes about 5 hours. The recommended route from Hanoi to Tam Dao is Hanoi-Xuan Mai-Long Son-Hoa Binh-Muong Khen-Mai Chau. The most direct route from Hanoi to Luong Son is Highway No. 6. Take the Thang Long Highway (28 km) out of Hanoi, then turn left at the end of the highway for the crossroads at Xuan Mai (12 km), then Highway No.6 to Luong Son. Once in Hoa Binh, you can travel directly from Doc Cun to Mai Chau. You can take Highway 12B, but it will take longer and there aren’t many attractions along the way. The roads are reasonably good, and the scenery is breathtaking. Don’t miss the breathtaking view from Thung Khe Pass!

By bus

You can take a bus to Mai Chau that will drop you off directly in town at My Dinh Bus Station (20 Pham Hung, My Dinh District, Hanoi). The buses leave at 6:00, 7:30, 14:00, and 14:30, and the fare is VND 80,000 dong. It takes approximately 4 hours to travel to Mai Chau. Yen Nghia Bus Station is another bus station where you can purchase a bus ticket to Mai Chau (Highway No.6, Ha Dong, Hanoi). The trip from Yen Nghia to Mai Chau takes about 3 hours. From Hanoi’s Old Quarter, take a bus or taxi to Yen Nghia Bus Station. For your convenience, here are the prices:

  • From Yen Nghia Bus Station (by direct bus): about 3 hours; VND 100,000 – 130,000 dong or more
  • From Hoa Binh City center: about 1.5 hours, VND 20,000 dong or more (all those prices would be changed when you get there, but not too much)

You can move from Hanoi to Hoa Binh and then to Mai Chau. Buses to Hoa Binh leave Hanoi every 15 minutes between 06:00 and 18:00 (VND 50,000 – 100,000 dong), and there are regular buses to villages from the Hoa Binh bus station. If you tell the driver you’re going to Mai Chau, the bus will drop you off at the correct location. Hoa Binh and the villages are 65 kilometers apart.

Getting around Mai Chau

  • On foot: The Mai Chau Valley is easily accessible on foot. There are many clean footpaths here.
  • Xe Om (motorbike taxi): In the villages, there are many xe om drivers in front of the market. Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike from a local family and explore Mai Chau at your leisure.
  • By boat: A cruise down the Ma River is highly recommended. Before you leave, make sure you know where you’re going.

Where to Stay in Mai Chau

There are numerous homestays and hotels in town. The majority of these accommodations meet the expectations of tourists by providing good sanitary facilities, Wifi, and hot water. You can choose between an ethnic homestay and a resort/hotel based on your budget and expected experiences. Here are some high-quality village accommodations:

  • Chieng Chau Village (Sol Bungalows): Sol Bungalows is a tranquil retreat surrounded by lush rice paddies. This bungalow has large rooms, modern amenities, authentic dining, and a well-trained staff. Price range: $105-138 USD.
  • Mai Chau Villas (Cha Lang Valley, Mai Hich): Mai Chau Villas is a boutique hotel in the misty mountains that can accommodate up to 30 guests. It has thatched-roof bungalows with air conditioning and views of the rice paddies. Price range: US $57-94.
  • Mai Chau Lodge: This lodging provides a tranquil atmosphere as well as superior amenities. It provides a hot tub, sauna, outdoor pool, massage, and garden for your convenience during your stay in Mai Chau. Price range: $40 – $43.
  • Valley View Hotel: With impeccable services and excellent facilities, this hotel allows you to completely escape from the busy and noisy urban life. The hotel has a restaurant, a car park, airport transfers, and bicycle rentals. Price range: US $29-39.
  • Mai Chau Ecolodge (Na Phon Village): Beautiful rooms and suites with a balcony, seating area, and mini-bar are available at this eco-lodge. Transfers to other attractions such as Lac Village and Pom Coong Village are relatively easy from this hotel. Price range: $130-350 USD.

What to See in Mai Chau

In a Northern Vietnam tour, Mai Chau is a rustic and atmospheric destination. This off-the-beaten-path destination has plenty to offer.

1. Lac Village and Pom Coong Village

Ethnic villages are must-sees during your visit to Mai Chau. You can not only relax and cycle around emerald green rice paddies, but you can also see how people work in the fields and interact with locals. White Thai people live in Lac Village and Pom Coong Village. The unique feature of these villages is the stilt houses, which are raised 3 meters above the ground to keep families safe from wild animals.

Lac Village

Lac Village

Don’t miss out on a ‘Xoe’ dance performance here. The Xoe dance has a long history dating back to around the year 1000 AD. Ethnic boys and girls from various villages participate by dancing, holding hands, and forming circles. This is a traditional activity in northern Vietnam that can be seen at many ethnic festivals.

2. Mo Luong Cave and Chieu Cave

Mo Luong Cave

Mo Luong Cave

If you enjoy hiking and trekking, Mo Luong Cave and Chieu Cave are must-see destinations. Discovering colorful caves in this area is an exciting activity that draws many adventurous tourists to the area. The distance between these attractions and the villages is short, making it very convenient for you to visit.

3. Pa Co Market

Pa Co Market in Mai Chau is a bustling ethnic market. Every week, it takes place on Sunday. Many local agricultural products as well as traditional brocade are available here. Pa Co Market, like other markets in Northern Vietnam, is a cultural activity of ethnic people. They come to the market not only to exchange goods but also to meet new people and talk.

4. Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Pu Luong Nature Reserve

If you have three days or more, consider staying in Pu Luong to continue your cycling tour to our picturesque ethnic villages. Pu Luong (Thanh Hoa Province), 40 kilometers from Mai Chau, is a new tourist destination in Northern Vietnam that has recently surpassed Sapa and Ha Giang on tourists’ itineraries. It is well-known for its golden rice fields and magnificent waterwheels, which have become a popular image when people check in on Facebook and Instagram.

Things to Do in Mai Chau

Cycling in Mai Chau

Cycling in Mai Chau

  • Rafting and boating on the Ma River
  • Cycling through rice paddies and ethnic villages
  • While on an eco-tour in Vietnam, stay in an ethnic house and observe how they work in their rice fields.
  • Hiking and trekking
  • Visiting an ethnic market and learning how traditional brocade is made by local women

What to Eat in Mai Chau

Aside from its natural beauty, Mai Chau is well known for its delectable local cuisine. Many of the resorts and lodges in the area provide excellent dining experiences; however, for more authentic options, try home-cooked meals at ethnic homestays.

Here are the top four foods to try:

1. Steamed sticky rice in bamboo tubes (Com lam)

Com lam

Com lam

Mai Chau is a town in Vietnam that grows the most delicious and high-quality rice with a sweet, light flavor and a fragrant aroma. Com lam is a must-try dish when visiting this lovely town. Before cooking the sticky rice, it must be soaked overnight or for at least 4 hours to soften. Then it is carefully placed inside the bamboo tubes. Do you know why the locals make Com Lam with coconut water? It’s very simple because coconut water softens and perfumes the rice.

Where to try Com Lam?

Because Com Lam is a popular dish here, you can find it in almost every restaurant, homestay, and resort.

2. Man pork (lon man)

Pork appears to be a common food that we consume on a daily basis. However, the White Thai of Mai Chau has a special type of pig that can be used to make an addictive food called ‘Man’ pork.

Boiled meat

Boiled meat

Pigs in Mai Chau are raised in the wild, so their meat is juicier and lower in fat than regular pork. There are numerous ways to prepare Man pork, including boiling, grilling, and making ground meat.

Where to try Man pork?

  • Mai Chau Stilt House: Stilt House No. 2, Lac Village
  • Hop Thuy Restaurant: Tieu khu 2
  • Binh Minh Restaurant: Lac Village Crossroad
  • You can try Man pork in other restaurants and homestays in the villages as well.

3. Grilled pork

Eating grilled food in Mai Chau’s cool weather is the best thing in the world. The destination provides the most appealing grilled foods with its special pigs.

Lon quay - grilled pork

Juicy grilled meat – lon man quay

Marinating the meat with salt, chili powder, turmeric, lime leaves, ginger, citronella, and vinegar takes time. It is then grilled in charcoal until it turns yellow.

Where can you try grilled pork?

Grilled pork and other local cuisines can be found in Lac Village and Pom Coong Village.

4. Hill chicken (ga doi)

The chickens here are known as ‘hill chickens’ because they are raised in the wild. They are free to roam the hills and are not confined to the farm. As a result, the meat of the hill chicken is firmer and the fragrance is more daring.

Chicken with sour bamboo

Chicken hot pot

Hill chicken is either boiled or grilled by the locals. Lemon leaves are typically served with the chicken. Tourists frequently pair this food with canned wine to keep their bodies warm.

Where can you try hill chicken?

In ethnic homestays, you can sample chickens raised by locals.

Furthermore, there are more appetizing and unusual foods to try in this town:

  • Xoi nep nuong (colorful steamed sticky rice)
  • Stir-fried bees with bamboo shoots
  • Sour meat
  • Bitter bamboo shoots
  • Grapefruit leaves roll
  • Grilled fish
  • Can wine

We hope the preceding article was helpful in providing you with information about Mai Chau. Please do not hesitate to contact us and begin planning your Mai Chau tours right away!

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