Only 140 km to the northwest of Hanoi, Mai Chau is one of the closest places where you can visit a hill-tribe village. It is a beautiful area surrounded by a green valley and stilt houses. Most people here are the White Thai, very friendly and helpful. And staying with the local in thatched-roof stilted house on split bamboo floors and eating local food is a great experience.
What to expect
Highlights of Mai Chau journeys are staying overnight in Thai stilt house, walking across the beautiful valley through rice fields and light or hard trekking to nearby villages, boat trips along the Ma river.
Home-stay condition is clean and basic. Mattresses and mosquito nets are provided. Before tour, bring along with you good walking shoes, raincoats, jackets, torch, insect repellent and sunscreen. In the evening, communicating with villagers and they can help to organize traditional dance performance at a reasonable price.
For keen trekkers and bikers, Mai Chau is a base for exploring the Northwest loop or to Pu Luong Nature Reserve.
It is possible to come to Mai Chau all year round; but the best period is from September to April of next year when it doesn't rain much and this weather is perfect for trekking and biking.
Mai Chau and the surrounding valleys are located about 140km from Hanoi (~ 3 hour drive). Most travellers arrive here on tour or by private car. It's not easily reached by public transport.
Mai Chau is frequently the first stop on the northern loop that travels from Hanoi to Mai Chau, Son La, Dien Bien Phu, Lai Chau, Sapa and back to Hanoi. It's a fantastic trip through some of Vietnam's most beautiful and least visited areas.