If you want to visit a hill-tribe village and do not want to travel for long hours, Mai Chau is the nearest place from the capital city of Hanoi. Even though some parts of the Village in Mai Chau have gone through a modernization phase, the villagers are proud in maintaining their cultural identity. In fact, many parts of the village area still with hill-tribe scenes. Mai Chau is surrounded with mountains and hills, foggy in the morning, fresh air with some burning rice smell and the greenery of paddy fields.
The majority inhabitants in Mai Chau are the ethnic of white Thai, Laos and China. As this area is very close to development and modernization, tourists should not expect to see local people wearing traditional clothes while doing their daily routines. However, it’s proven that Thai ethnic are very good in weaving until now.
Exploring Mai Chau
Mai Chau is located 130 kilometers to the south-west of Hanoi. There is no direct transportation from Hanoi to Mai Chau. You can take buses from Hanoi and stop at Hoa Binh and the journey will be around 2 hours. If you are not confident to self-arrange your trip to Mai Chau, travel agencies in Hanoi may assist your needs such as transportation coordination, homestay and local tour guide. To enter Mai Chau, you need to pay a small entry fee amounted VND 5,000 but sometimes there is nobody present at the entry ticket booth and you can just move on.
Exploring Mai Chau is very cheap. You may hire a tour guide (advisable to pre-arrange from a travel agency in Hanoi) and it will cost around USD5 to USD8 for 7 kilometers to 8 kilometers walking trip. It is not only an ordinary trip because you will enjoy the tranquil views of Mai Chau with greenery of paddy fields, no urban pollution and pleasant weather all day long. If you are visiting Mai Chau during harvesting season, the green field will change into yellow-gold colour and you can smell the scent of burning rice and paddy husk which is very aromatic.
Homestay in Mai Chau
Overnight homestay in Mai Chau will give you another unique experience. Since you will have a longer time in Mai Chau, you are recommended to explore the 18km trail which starts from White Thai people village and Lac Village and finish at Xa Linh Village, Huong people inhabitant that area which is located very near to a mountain pass. You can choose to stay in any homestay accommodation at the middle of your trailing trek. For more convenience trip, you may arrange your homestay and pick up at Xa Linh Village by using a tour agency in Hanoi.
There are homestays recommended which is located at two villages of White Thai ethnic, Lac Village and Pam Coong Village. One night in a stilt house will cost around VND70,000 to VND150,000 depends on the type of room. Good meals at homestay normally will cost around VND30,000 and above for each dish. As Mai Chau is a kind of rural area, some houses maybe do not have a nice toilet but of course are provided with tap water and being roofed.
There are no night entertainments available in local village instead of listening to the sound of insects and local people chit chatting while having beer or coffee. But sometimes, local villagers did organize some traditional songs and dance shows which you are free to join the crowd.