Located about 135km from Hanoi, toward the Northwest of Hoa Binh province, Mai Chau, which hidden in idyllic valleys and hills, is really a good recommendation for those want to escape from the hot weather and the hustle environment in Hanoi to find a peaceful world for their own of relaxing and entertaining. Mai Chau valley is considered as the place for gathering and exchanging cultures among many ethnic groups and hence imbued with ecological tourism. The best time to visit Mai Chau is May – Jun or Sep – Oct when the rice fields starts to turn their colors into the yellow color which from the faraway distance, Mai Chau is look like a beautiful picture.
There are up to seven ethnic minority groups living in Mai Chau valley but the most inhabitants are “white Thai” ethnic group. Also, “Ban Lac Village” of white Thai is the most attractive village in Mai Chau together with Poom Coong Village. There are many interesting things you can do in two of these famous villages like: learning how to cook “Com Lam” (rice cooked in a bamboo tube), how to weave the brocade, discovering the culture, life and festivals of Mai Chau people, or do trekking, biking and hiking around the villages. The home stay overnight services here are so good that you would want to stay here longer than you expected.
Mai Chau valley has many other interesting things awaiting you to discover. Let’s put on your trekking shoes and discover Mai Chau the most following famous attractions:
– Thung Khe Pass (the white mountain pass): On your way to Mai Chau, you will pass this point, the most favorite route of young backpackers. Thung Khe Pass is also an ideal place for take a comprehensive view of Mai Chau from the height of 1000 meters above the sea level. The gorgeous scenery, seclusion and fresh air of this lofty spot are well worth the climb. More special, the weather here changes quickly throughout the day.Mornings are cool and hazy like the rain in a Vietnamese spring, the afternoon brings an autumn wind but the warmth of a bright summer sun, and winter beckons with fingers of ice in the evening.
– Mo Luong and Chieu Cave: These are the combination of two giant caves in Mai Chau. With their ages of thousands of years ago, their stalactites are diversified in various shapes and multi colors which quite similar to the stalactites in Phong Nha Cave in Quang Binh province.
– Other attractions: Van village, Nhot village, yellow rice field, green vegetable fields, is an estimated 48,570 inhabitants including 7 Ethnic Minority groups. ‘White Thai’, ‘H’Mong’, ’Zao’, ’Muong’, ’Tay’, ’Hoa’, and ‘Viet’. Mai Chau consists mainly of the ‘White Thai’ people. The Ban Lac People have Thai ancestors that settled in the North-Western area of Vietnam. The two tribes, White Thai and Black Thai, settled in the same area and make up the largest ethnic population of the region. The small town of Mai Chau itself is unappealing, but just outside the patchwork of rice fields rolls out, speckled by tiny Thai villages where visitors doss down for the night in traditional stilt houses and wake up to a rural soundtrack defined by gurgling irrigation streams and birdsong.
The villagers in Mai Chau are mostly White Thai, distantly related to tribes in Thailand, Laos and China. Most no longer wear traditional dress, but the Thai women are masterful weavers producing plenty of traditional-style textiles. Locals do not employ strong-arm sales tactics here: polite bargaining is the norm.
Mai Chau valley is a successful grassroots tourism project and the village homestays here are firmly stamped on the tour-group agenda, as well as being an extremely popular weekend getaway for locals from Hanoi – try to come midweek if possible. Due to its popularity, some find the experience too sanitized. If you’re looking for hard-core exploration, this is not the place, but for biking, hiking and relaxation, Mai Chau fits the bill nicely.