Mai Chau is a vision in every season. In spring, it is a lush, bright green while in autumn, just before the rice harvest, it turns golden. Nowadays, people should count themselves lucky to get the chance to see such colours because before 1993 Mai Chau was an isolated farming town whereas now, it is a recommended stop for any traveller who wants to explore Vietnam.
Located in Hoa Binh Province, Mai Chau is in a valley about 139km from Hanoi. The town is situated between tall cliffs and is surrounded by bright-green paddies, making it a sight to behold; the beauty of the place is enough reason for many tourists to stay longer than expected.
Stilt houses are a common sight in Mai Chau. In fact, these structures line both sides of the road, with palm leaf roofs, bamboo-slat floors and large, patterned windows. Visitors can stay the night in these houses, especially in Lac, which is the village of the White Thai minority group near the main road. Here, one can live like the locals but with modern facilities.
Mai Chau Attractions
The Pu Luong Nature Reserve near Mai Chau that is worth a visit. This is actually a newly protected area that serves as home to endangered species such as langurs, leopards, civets and bears but it’s especially good for bird watching. There are also caves and local Tai and Hmong communities to visit.
There are quite a number of caves, or grottoes, in the area and visitors are advised to explore them. These include Mo Luong Cave, Chieu Cave, Pieng Kem Grotto, Lang Cave and Khau Phuc Cave. One can rent a bicycle to see the nearby hamlets and view the rice fields and indeed cycling or trekking through the villages and enjoying the stunning scenery is one of the best experiences in Mai Chau.
Lac is also an attraction in itself. After all, most day travellers and overnight tourists go to this village for accommodation and fine homemade Vietnamese fare. Like Lac, Pom Coong is also an ethnic White Tai village that offers 'homestays' to visitors.