Located in the west of Hoa Binh, adjacent to Moc Chau District, Son La province, Mai Chau is always the first rank of ideal places for nature-lovers and peace-seekers. This captivating valley is also a place to discover the unique culture of ethnic minorities in the mountainous area.
Coming to Mai Chau valley, you will have a chance to discover the natural beauty, culture as well as local cuisine. But before coming, let’s with AZ Local Trip discover everything you need to know about this valley.
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1. Best Time To Visit Mai Chau
An outstanding feature of Mai Chau is that tourists can visit Mai Chau all around the year and each year Mai Chau has different attractive beauty. If you would like to have a special and wonderful travel, please take a look at our suggestions. Here are the list of times and its respective short descriptions about climate and natural scenery of Mai Chau:
- From November to February: The climate is a bit cold. Mai Chau, in this time, is full of the white color of peach and plum blossoms.
- From March to April: The climate is cool and pleasant. Ban flowers, which are the typical feature of Mai Chau, are also in full bloom at this time.
- From May to August: It is rather cool. In the peach and the plum trees, the blossoms will disappear to make up for their fruits.
2. How To Go To Mai Chau?
Mai Chau is about 140 kilometers and 60 kilometers to the northwest from Hanoi city and Hoa Binh province, respectively. Mai Chau is an upland part of Hoa Binh. To get to Mai Chau, tourists can travel by motorbikes or tourist buses. However, for foreign tourists, motorbikes are not recommended. Hence, you should choose tourist buses.
From Hanoi capital, tourists can take the buses at My Dinh or Giap Bat Bus Station to get to Tong Dau Junction with the reasonably price ranging from VND 100.000 – 200.000. After reaching Tong Dau Junction, tourists can catch a motortaxi and go for further 5 kilometers to arrive Mai Chau Town.
Mai Chau Town is rather small so bicycles are the common way to move around. You can rent bicycles everywhere in the town with the price of VND 30.000 – 50.000/ each time.
3. Places To Visit in Mai Chau
Thung Khe Mountain Pass
Belonging to Highway 6, Hoa Binh province, Thung Khe Mountain Pass is at the height of about 1000 meters above the sea level. Coming to this place, visitors will have the chance to enjoy plenty of local food available along the roads. In addition, at the top of Thung Khe, tourists can see the panoramic view of the valley at the foot of mountain pass. This is also one of the most ideal positions to contemplate the natural scenery in Hoa Binh city.
Lac Village is over 700 years old. Residents living there are mainly Thai ethnic minority people. They live on rice cultivation and brocade garment. Coming to this village, tourists have a great chance to immerse in fresh green space of forests. Lac Village is really an ideal destination for the one who prefers the quiet and tranquility.
Up until now, Lac village offers nearly 30 homestays. An interesting trait in this village is that the stilt houses are constructed and based on ancient architecture. They are mostly tall, spacious and clean. Inside each house, all the essential stuff such as blankets, mattresses and pillows are fully and neatly equipped.
Unlike many other tourist destinations, when walking around the village, visitors will not see any impolite sellers who try to ask the customers to buy their products. A variety of items such as scarfs, flare skirts, bamboo flutes, gongs and horns are available in front of the door of each house. Tourists are free to try or take photos these goods because the residents here are very hospitable and friendly.
Pom Coong Village
Like many other villages of Muong or Thai ethnic people, the residents in Pom Coong normally live in the areas near rivers and streams. Their houses are typically lean on the mountains and the hills. In front of the houses are large.
A contributing factor in Pom Coong Tour is the sanity of accommodation. Moreover, the rubbish here is also categorized and disposed appropriately. Therefore, tourists coming here can enjoy the fresh air and the peaceful life.
Mo Luong Cave
Mo Luong Cave is situated in Pu Kha Mountain Range. It is about 2 kilometers from Lac Village. This is an ideal destination for tourists who have the passion for exploring and experiencing the new natural beauty. Mo Luong Cave is also called Bo Luong which means “huge water source”. This cave includes four main caves and it is well-known for amazing stalactite systems forming various unique shapes.
Chieu Cave lies at the top of Pu Kha mountain range. Chieu Cave was named by the residents living here. “Chieu” means “afternoon”. The explanation for the name of this cave is that the sunlight shines straight into the cave every afternoon, which creates the magnificent beauty of cave with gorgeous stalactites.
Chieu Cave is fairly large and divided into two floors. The paths inside the cave are relatively flat and large. Entering the cave, tourists will be overwhelmed by the unique and splendid beauty of the cave. There are numerous stalactites in various shapes covering almost all parts of the cave.
After 1200 straight staircase, you with have the chance to discover this small but amazing cave
Pa Co Market
Pa Co Market is about 40 kilometers to the north from Mai Chau town. It lies among three communes, namely Hang Kia, Pa Co and Loong Luong (Moc Chau District). Pa Co Market only opens weekly on Sunday. When the dense fog still covers all around the forests and mountains, Hmong people living in upland areas go to the market together. The markets here are not only the places for trading and exchanging goods but also for socializing and making friends.
Pa Co market, though opens once a week, is as lively and crowded as big festivals in lowlands. Tourists will be overwhelmed by a wide range of goods from crop goods, castles, fabrics, brocade, farming equipments to household appliances, mechanics and cosmetics.
Pa Co Market is situated in Pa Co Commune, Mai Chau District. From the centre of Mai Chau town, tourists can go by motorbikes or cars following Highway 6 to get there.
Beautiful brocade pom pom for decoration and souvenir
4. Mai Chau Cuisine Worth Trying
The first and most famous dish of Mai Chau is bamboo-tube rice. This dish is not complex with bamboo tubes covering much rice and using fire to cook. Tourists can eat this cuisine with salt and roasted pork. However, this dish requires carefulness and skillfulness. Rice is the main ingredient and makers often choose the rice of the mountainous areas with small and flavored rice.
Grilled sticky rice
Coming Mai Chau and enjoying the grilled sticky rice made by Thai women, tourists can feel the whole taste of this dish. Thai people always choose fragrant sticky rice to make steamed glutinous rice. This is the type of rice which is grown by Thai people in the terraced paddy fields in Mai Chau valley.
Sticky rice is soaked in many hours before making steamed glutinous rice. Unlike Kinh people, Thai women make xoi by wooden steamers. The process of making xoi requires a lot of skillfulness and carefulness of the makers.
Muong pig is small with pointed nose, thing legs, small ears and is raised in the natural habitat. These pigs only eat grass and trees so their meat is so tough, lean and flavored.
This is one of the featured dishes of the mountainous area, an indispensable dish in the meals of ethnic minorities to welcome guests
Chicken (Ga Doi)
Chickens here are raised naturally in the gardens, on the hills, and in the forests. Anyone who has the chance to enjoy this dish cannot forget its special and tasty flavor. They are not as big as the normal chickens which are raised by industrial methods. However, the meat of this kind of chicken is really firm and fragrant. If you keen on the barbecue chicken, Mai Chau is the wise choice for you.
Stir-fried bees with bamboo shoots
Bees living in forests are very rare and only available in some certain seasons. If you want to try this dish, it had better for you to come to Mai Chau in the end of summer. Many big beehives are collected by the dwellers to bring home and make drugs or food.
Both jungle bee and bamboo come from nature. This combination creates a perfect flavor that creates the striking feature for Mai Chau. The spicy taste of this dish makes any tourist who has tried at least one time unforgettable.
Phao leave water
This is a special beverage of Mai Chau, made from a kind of forest leaves. The leaves are collected, dried and cut. When being cooked, the water has an acrid flavor, having the taste of Chinese traditional medicine, Vietnamese one and forest leaves. This drink is very beneficial, which improves digestion and human immunity.
5. Where To Stay in Mai Chau
Tourism services in Mai Chau are very developed, there are lots of accommodation from high-end resorts to affordable guesthouses for you to choose.
Homestay and hostels: This type of accommodation is suitable for solo travellers or budget travellers. There are many homestays in Ban Lac village and Pom Coong village. All are stilt houses, motels. The price of Homestay is quite cheap only about VND60.000 – 100.000/person/night.
If you choose to stay in a homestay, you can blend in with the daily life of the locals here
Resort, Hotel in Mai Chau: Normally for groups of families and friends and people with high affordability, you should choose a hotel or resort, because the rooms are more confortable and private. The price usually ranges from VND 1.000.000 – 2.000.000/night.