Thai village at Mai Chau
Thai village at Mai Chau

Mai Chau Travel Guide, Hoa Binh

Mai Chau is the name of a lovely district of Hoa Binh Province with secret valleys, untouched forest, Thai villages… Mai Chau is also a name of the capital town of Mai Chau District.

1/ Mai Chau Town – Mai Chau Valley
Mai Chau Town is in a scenic valley with peaceful Thai villages. The valley is home to the White Thai People who live in houses on stilts. Traveling to Mai Chau, you can discover the untouched life of the local people and the idyllic landscape of a heavenly valley with surrounding mountains and rivers.

Mai Chau - VietnamMai Chau Valley from above

1.1 Things to do in the Mai Chau Valley
Most visitors make easy sightseeing trips to Mai Chau for 2 days and 1 night from Hanoi. At Mai Chau, you can explore the valley with visits to the Lac Village and Pom Coong Village, have a leisurely stroll on the endless paths in the valley taking in the fresh air as well as observing locals going about their daily life.

Mai Chau - VietnamA White Thai Village in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh, Vietnam

For those who love biking, then Mai Chau is a great place for either leisurely cycling or mountain biking depending on your interest. Easy cycling is done on flat village roads or amid rice fields teeming with activities.

A road through rice fields at the Lac Village, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh
A road through rice fields at the Lac Village, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh

Hard mountain biking brings you to less-seen villages of Mai Chau. The roads are all hilly and the trip requires at least 2 nights in Mai Chau.

Hiking/trekking in the Mai Chau Valley is not as interesting as it once was. Small dirt paths in the past have been expanded into paved roads mostly nowadays. There are still interesting trekking tours in the far-flung villages of Mai Chau District though, and AdventureGreen can certainly work on one for you.

A view of the Mai Chau Valley and Mai Chau Town from the Chieu Cave
A view of the Mai Chau Valley and Mai Chau Town from the Chieu Cave

If you like caving/spelunking and if you do not mind hiking up over a thousand steps on a 45-degree mountainside, then there is the Chieu Cave on the Pu Kha Mountain located to the east of the Mai Chau Valley. The entrance to the cave is right in the center of Mai Chau Town. Visiting the cave takes about 2 hours. There is a railing inside the cave but the path is small and quite slippery; it is advisable exercise good caution then.

The steep staircase to the Chieu Cave, Mai Chau
The steep staircase to the Chieu Cave, Mai Chau

 

The small opening of the Chieu Cave
The small opening of the Chieu Cave

In the evening, there are options of campfire or of sampling a traditional performance of local Thai tribe. The show is for one hour and you can take part in it yourself. Thai ladies have very graceful traditional attires which include a headdress, a shirts which cover the body gracefully and a skirt. Thai brocades including traditional clothes, headdresses, bags… which are manually made in the village are available for sales in several households.

The site for campfires at the Pom Coong Village, Mai Chau
The site for campfires at the Pom Coong Village, Mai Chau

1.2 Local Thai Cuisine
Local food includes steamed rice in bamboo pipe, steamed sticky rice, grilled pork topped with roasted sesame seeds, grilled pork-paste wrapped in grapefruit leaves, stirred fried bamboo shoots, grilled river fish.

Mai Chau - VietnamRice field in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh

 1.3 Homestay at the Thai villages in the Mai Chau Valley (Lac Village, Pom Coong Village, Na Phon Commune)
There are several households in Chieng Chau Commune (Lac and Pom Coong Villages), Na Phon Commune offering homestay service at their family’s houses on stilts. Also, there are few basic hotels, ecological hotels and luxury resorts available in the valley.

A small house on stilts
A small house on stilts

 

Most houses on stilts have windows overlooking a garden or the rice field
Most houses on stilts have windows overlooking a garden or the rice field

 

A homestay amid green trees
A homestay amid green trees

 

A little pond
A little pond

 

A house on stilts with a shop underneath
A house on stilts with a shop underneath

 

A restaurant underneath a house on stilts
A restaurant underneath a house on stilts

 

A garden with a pond
The garden with a pond

 

A window opens onto a rice field
A window opens onto a rice field

 

Inside of a house on stilts
The inside of a house on stilts

 

Underneath a house on stilts
Underneath a house on stilts

 

The bamboo floor of a house-on-stilts
The bamboo floor of a house-on-stilts

 

A spacious house on stitls
A spacious house on stitls

 2/Mai Chau District and far-flung ethnic villages
Mai Chau District is home to sublime mountains, secret valleys with of blossoms, untouched forests… you name it. The best way for exploring the area is on a hard trekking adventure. You’ll need to get to Pa Co which is 40km from Mai Chau Town (on Route 6). From Pa Co you trek up hill to Hang Kia Valley, home to a Hmong community and untouched forest. From Hang Kia, you’ll trek down hill through patches of forest to a valley at Cun Pheo. From here the road is quite flat through different Thai villages. This trek requires at least 2 nights at different villages on the way.

Trekking in Hang Kia - Mai Chau
Trekking in Hang Kia - Mai Chau

3/Roads in Mai Chau District
Mai Chau District is not a spot but a vast mountainous area. You must move from one spot to another to take in the full beauty of Mai Chau.
- The road from Hanoi to Mai Chau is via Route 6 which goes up mostly at the Thung Khe Pass as you enter Mai Chau. You’ll want to stop to take in the sublime mountains below you here!

Mai Chau - Vietnam
The mountain town of Mai Chau in Hoa Binh Province, Vietnam

- From Son La, Route 6 via Moc Chau Plateau to Mai Chau goes down mostly. By the roadsides, you’ll get untouched forests, sublime mountains and ethnic villages. The road is in excellent conditions but it may be flooded temporarily during the rainy season (August-October).

The scenic Route 6 from Moc Chau Plateau (Son La) to Mai Chau - Hoa Binh
The scenic Route 6 from Moc Chau Plateau (Son La) to Mai Chau - Hoa Binh

- Route 15 from Pu Luong Nature Reserve (Thanh Hoa) to Mai Chau Town is flat mostly and in fairly good conditions. The road is flat mostly and it travels through the scenic Mai Chau Valley. There are lots of secret valleys and hidden villages if you are willing to stray off the main road and take the side paths...

Route 15 from Pu Luong Nature Reserve (Thanh Hoa) to Mai Chau - Hoa Binh
Route 15 from Pu Luong Nature Reserve (Thanh Hoa) to Mai Chau - Hoa Binh

AdventureGreen.com offers series of adventure tours through Mai Chau ranging from trekking tours, motorcycle tours, homestay experiences to bicycle tours and boat tours around the area of Mai Chau. Mai Chau can be combined with an adventure tour to the Northwest of Vietnam or with a trip to the Pu Luong Nature Reserve.