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Mai Chau travel guide 2023(Updated)

This is an ultimate Mai Chau travel guide , provides you with details information on advice and tips for a trip to Mai Chau, Vietnam on things to do in Mai Chau, what to see in Mai Chau, where to stay in Mai Chau, what to eat, Mai Chau restaurant, how to get there, how to get around.

This version 2023 written by a local guide who has been working in tourism industry in Vietnam over 10 years with tons of experience about travelling Mai Chau Vietnam 

Table of Contents

Where is Mai Chau?

Mai Chau is a picturesque valley that lies amidst the majestic mountains in Vietnam’s northwest region. It is a 150-kilometer way from Northwest of the capital of Hanoi. This is an ideal destination to explore pictures natural beauty and fascinating local culture, travelling off the beaten track and less touristy than Sapa

Mai Chau Travel guide

Mai Chau reviews

Mai Chau is an awesome place to relax, unwind and connect with beautiful nature. You can also interact with locals as you go. There is an endless photo opportunity of green rice paddy field, water buffalo, locals working on the field and more

What I like about Mai Chau since it is much less touristy than Sapa and locals are really friendly with a warm smile. Moreover, the scenery is amazing with lush green rice paddy fields surrounded by limestone karst mountains.

Mai Chau is easy to get around, especially biking along the pathways from villages to villages and stop to take photos wherever you want is an amazing experience.

What to do in Mai Chau?

Many options are dependent on where you are based. You can go trekking or cycling to visit nearby villages. There are five main villages: Lac village no 1 and 2, PomCoong Village, Van Village, Nhot Village, and Na Phon Village. The terraced rice paddies in Buoc village are a photographers’ paradise.

Other what to do in Mai Chau include:

  • Hiking up to the Afternoon and Mo Luong caves.
  • Bamboo rafting in Lac Village number 2 along the river.
  • Hire a motorbike to explore Go Lao waterfall.
  • Go for a boat trip in HoaBinh lake.
  • Take a motorbike trip to Pu Luong nature reserve to see the rice paddy harvests in either May or September.
  • Watch traditional Thai dance and drink local wine in the evening.
  • Visit the Sunday market in Mai Chau town which is the busiest day of the week in the marketplace when ethnic groups from other parts of Mai Chau come to sell and buy.
  • Visit Sunday market of Paco which is around 30 kilometers from Mai Chau town
  • Join an eco farming and fishing tour to learn more about local living in Mai Chau area

When is the best time to visit Mai Chau?

Rice field in Mai Chau

Rice harvest season in Mai Chau

Mai Chau is suitable to visit all year round. Nevertheless, the best times of the year for traveling in Mai Chau is from October to November or March to April. The days are sunny and warm but not too hot.  In December, January and occasionally February, the days and especially the nights can get very chilly.

Harvest season in May or late September are the best times to travel to Mai Chua if you are an avid landscape photographer – for capturing the landscapes at their best and the bustle of farmers working the fields.

In the wintertime, November to February can be chilly during the day with an average temperature of sixteen degrees, but it is the only time you will see the peach and plum trees blossoming. Ensure that you pack warm clothing as the temperature drops significantly at night.

The Bauhinia variegate, commonly known as the Orchid Tree, starts to flower in September and continues blooming for a few months. The reunification holiday on September 2nd attracts thousands of Vietnamese and overseas travelers who celebrate the day the Vietnam War ended and the beginning of unification after the war.

Summertime in Vietnam is from May through to August; with daytime temperatures ranging from 25 to 35 degrees Celsius. Be sure to pack sun protection like hats, sunblock, and sunglasses, but also pack a rain jacket as it is prone to heavy rain, seemingly without warning. Bring plenty of insect spray and sturdy walking shoes if you plan on getting off the beaten path.

List of Cultural and Traditional Festivals in Mai Chau

Xen Muong Festival

Xen Muong Festival Mai Chau @Bao Hoa Binh

The Xen Xo Phon festival happens every fourth lunar month (April or May) in which the White Thai people of Mai Chau beg the heavens for rain with songs and dancing. During the evenings, gatherings of White Thai sing and dance amongst the houses in their villages; singing songs by torchlight and accepting offerings in exchange for the blessing of good rains that season. The villages, which are reliant on good rain for the rice and vegetable yields, pray for help each year from the heavens for more rain to come. The bigger the celebration, the more plentiful the showers when the weather turns.

Tet Trung Nguyen Festival held in early September is for people to pray for the ‘lost souls’ or ‘wandering spirits.’  According to ancient beliefs, spirits of their deceased loved ones are set free on this day and return to their homes in search of their earthbound families. The Vietnamese people honor them by preparing grand feasts for the lost souls; with all kinds of foods including meat, rice, cakes and more.

The Gong festival of Muong ethnic group is held in Spring and Lunar New Year (usually around November) and is a unique folklore ritual. Bands visit families in the villages from the first through to the seventh days of the lunar new year, singing songs and playing gongs to wish a new year of good health, prosperity, and peace to the hosts.

In September to early October, the New Rice Crop Festivals take place in the region. Immediately after harvesting the rice crop, the Tay people enter into the “New Rice” Festival. They offer the fruits of their labor to worship heaven and earth – for good weather, affluence, a good harvest, healthy family and express respect to departed ancestors.

How to get to Mai Chau from Hanoi

By local bus

How to get to Mai Chau by public bus from My Dinh bus station

Hoang Thao Bus Route: My Dinh bus station – Mai Chau

Departure time: From My Dinh bus station: 14.30pm, from Mai Chau town 8.45am

Rate: 80.000VND per person

Mobile: 0914 688533

Ha Loan bus route: My Dinh bus station – Mai Chau

Departure time: From My Dinh bus station: 7.50am, from Mai Chau town 1.30pm

Ticket rate: 80.000VND per person

Mobile: 0982712418 and 0912490679

Note: The Mai Chau to Ha Loan bus will also pick up from Lac Village number 1 at 12.30pm, it will be an extra $1 on top of the regular fare. In order to arrange this, please call them in advance.

Cuong Coi bus route: My Dinh – Mai Chau

From My Dinh bus station: 6.30am, from Mai Chau : 11.30am

This schedule is suitable for Vietnamese I guess due to early departure for the morning.

Rate : 80.000VND

Mobile :  091 279 6896

Khanh Linh bus route : My Dinh – Mai Chau

From My Dinh : 13.30pm,  from Mai Chau : 6.50am

Ticket rate : 80.000VND

Mobile : 0912796896

Tuan Dung bus route: My Dinh – Mai Chau

From My Dinh : 14.00pm, From Mai Chau : 8.00am

Ticket rate : 80.000VND

Telephone :  0962.800.074

Among those choices, Ha Loan is kind of the best so far due to its schedule. Please note that all bus with air conditioning. But there is a small room for your leg. You’d better get the middle back seat for more room. Sometime, the bus is filled up with many people, especially weekend, lunar new year, May day…Please be prepared for that to avoid disappointment

If you departs from Hanoi around 5.00pm, take a taxi to My Dinh bus station, and take a sleeping bus to Son La, Moc Chau or Dien Bien at 150.000VND per person. Ask for a ticket at ticket booth.

 Tourist bus from Hanoi to Mai Chau

It is properly the best choice for tourists who have a bit more money than travelling on a budget

Mai Chau Sunrise village bus

Transportation to Mai Chau is at $8 per passenger for a one-way bus ride from Hanoi Old Quarter to Mai Chau Town. You may ask the hotel to reserve a seat for you.

There is a tourist bus ride from the Hanoi Old Quarter that departs around 7.15am to 7.45am; the service includes pick up at your hotel in Hanoi Old Quarter to Mai Chau. Be aware that this bus will only drop you off at Mai Chau Sunrise village. You will need to contact your homestay host to arrange transportation to your accommodation.

The bus back to Hanoi departs around 3.00pm to 3.30pm from Mai Chau to Hanoi Old Quarter. They may not drop you at your hotel on Friday, Saturday or Sunday because traffic in the main streets in Hanoi Old Quarter and around Hoan Kiem lake is busy during these days. Let the bus driver know which hotel you are staying at and ask them which is the best stop nearest to your hotel to get off.

Mobile :  +84 946.888.804

Mai Chau shuttle bus

Shuttle Bus to Mai Chau

Mai Chau Shuttle Bus – A reputable company for transport service to Mai Chau

This company provides transfer service by bus from Hanoi to Mai Chau with a pick up from the Old Quarter of Hanoi. There are several stops on the way at Thung Khe market and Mai Chau flag pole for taking cool photos.

Price: 300.000VND per person for Mai Chau and Mai Hich, 350.000VND per person for Buoc village

Timetable Pick up from the Old Quarter of Hanoi from 7.00am to 7.30am

13.00pm – 13.30pm: They will pick you up from Mai Hinh and Buoc village. Pick up in Pom Cong, Lac village or the town of Mai Chau in around 14.00pm.

Telephone and WhatsApp: +84 961671168

Mai Chau Hoa Binh bus company

Mai Chau bus

Mai Chau Hoa Binh bus

This company offers both shuttle bus 29 seaters and a minivan 16 seaters with a pick up from Hanoi Old Quarter.

Hotline: 0947494889

Ticket rate: 150.000VND per person

Moc Chau express

Moc Chau express

Moc Chau Express – Bus to Mai Chau and Moc Chau

This company specialized in providing transfer service for tourists from Hanoi to Moc Chau en route Mai Chau. Stop at Mai Chau valley view from here, you can take a taxi for 30.000VND to Lac village

Ticket rate: 200.000VND per person

Schedule: From Hanoi Old Quarter to Mai Chau: 6.30am to 7.00am

From Mai Chau to Hanoi: 14.30pm

Hotline: 0981 937 750

By private car from Hanoi to Mai Chau

Renting a private car for the round trip from Hanoi to Mai Chau for two days and one night will cost around $120. one way transfer from Hanoi to Mai Chau or Mai Chau to Hanoi cost around $95 per person

There is an extra cost if you would like to combine with Mai Hich, Ban Buoc, Ba Khan, Pu Luong. Please discuss with the travel agents or car rental companies about your itinerary before arranging the car and check what’s included and stopover on the way for pictures and rest

In regular, gasoline, toll fee, driver, car, the overnight fee for the driver

Private transfer service in Mai Chau : Contact David Nguyen at +84974313104 (Whatsap, Viber) for further information

By motorbike

If you travel by motorbike to Mai Chau, don’t forget to stop at the side road market in Thung Khe pass to pick up some local specialties and stop at Flagpole to get a great view of the entire Mai Chau valley.

Read more : How to get from Hanoi to Mai Chau

How to get to Mai Chau from Ninh Binh?

There is a company called Thai Travel Bus which offers transfer service from Ninh Binh (Tam Coc) to Mai Chau for tourists. I recommend this tour bus for those who are from Ninh Binh .

Schedule :

MORNING BUS (MAI CHAU – TAM COC)

You will be picked up from Mai Chau valley view hotel Pick up at Mai Chau Valley View Hotel at 8.30 AM, and take a drive along Ho Chi Minh trail to get to Trang An, Ninh Binh and Tam Coc.

Please click on the places where you would like to go for detailed location on GOOGLE MAP. ​AFTERNOON (TAM COC – MAI CHAU)

You will be picked up at  Duc Tuan Hotel & Restaurant (Just opposite to Tam Coc boat ride ) at 2.00 PM drive back to Mai Chau Mai Chau : Departure at 8.30 AM and arrive inTam Coc 12.00 PM Tam Coc : Departure 2.00 PM and arrive in Mai Chau 5.30 PM Rate : $14 USD per person per way

How to get around in Mai Chau?

Walking

If you enjoy walking, then a stroll around the surrounding villages for a couple of hours is the perfect way to see all the sights in the town and is an especially good choice for colder weather.

Biking

Biking Mai Chau

Cycling Mai Chau is a great thing to do

The best option to get around Mai Chau is cycling; you can bike for 2 hours to visit other villages, don’t forget to get a map and ask the host family for the best routes to get around. Most importantly let your host family know where you are going and what time you expect to return.

Motorbike

If you would like to travel to a few nearby places of Mai Chau – such as the Go Lao waterfall, Hoa Binh lake, Pu Luong nature reserve – then a motorbike is the best means of transportation. The traffic around the township of Mai Chau is light, which makes it safe to negotiate your way around.

A automatic scooter is better than a gear motorbike

Private car or taxi

Hire cars or taxis are available for you to get around Mai Chau and its surrounding area.

You’d better contact your homestay/hotels/bungalow, resorts where you are staying for further information.

Or contact David who offer private transfer service in Mai Chau area via Whatsap at +84974313104

Electric bus

Mai Chau Electric Bus

Electric Bus in Mai Chau

The electric bus uses the same route as biking; it will take you to most nearby villages which are the perfect option for days when it is raining. Ask your homestay owner to arrange an electric bus ride. It costs around $15 for a maximum of 8 passengers.

Motorbike rental in Mai Chau, Mai Chau bike for rent

You can rent a bicycle for $3 per day, Motorbike rental starts at $12 per day and excludes fuel. Ume Mai Chau shop offers bike and motorbike rental service

Where to Stay in Mai Chau ? Top choices Mai Chau accommodation based on your budget

Mai Chau homestay

Staying in a homestay in Mai Chau is a great way to learn about local living

There is a wide variety of choices for accommodation in Mai Chau such as homestays, hotels, and resorts. The recommendations for good quality motels and homestays in Mai Chau are as follow:

Homestay in Mai Chau

  • Ume Mai Chau Eco Homestay at Lac village number 2

Email: umemaichauecohomestay@gmail.com

Mobile: +84 974313104

Rates: $5 for a bed including breakfast,

$15 for a private room,

$18 for a private room with balcony including breakfast.

  • Mai Chau countryside homestay at PoomCoong village

Mobile: +84 164 423 5140

  • Mai Chau family homestay at Van Mai village, 10 kilometers from Mai Chau

Mobile: + 84 91 592 19 15

  • Quan Hang homestay at Lac 1 village

Mobile: +84 97 898 67 40

Hotels in Mai Chau town

  • Mai Chau Valley View

Address: Mai Chau town, Mai Chau Dist

Email: info@maichauvalleyview.com

Hotline: +84 972 058 696

Rate: $35/room

  • Khoa Thanh Hotel

Address: Mo Luong lake, Chieng Chau commune

Mobile:  098.751.6668

Rate: $35/per room/per night

There are a few good three stars hotels and resort in Mai Chau such as Mai Chau Sunset Boutique, Mai Chau Villa, Mai Chau Sunrise Village, Sol Bungalow, and Mai Chau Lodge.

Mai Chau Eco Lodge is known as the best accommodation in Mai Chau. It is the most luxurious resort in Mai Chau.

Travel tips for finding accommodation in Mai Chau area

  • Do not stay in Lac Village number 1. This village is very touristy. It is only suitable for domestic travelers.
  • The Van Village near Mai Chau town started tourism services recently. The locals are friendly and hospitable. Van Village has a beautiful garden with hundreds of flower varieties.
  • Please consider to stay in a homestay from May to July which is summertime in Vietnam when it comes to high temperature. Most of the homestays have the only fan, but no airconditioning. Check with the homestay owner the room condition if it is hot or not
  • If you have a good budget, Mai Chau Eco Lodge is the best choice so far with comfortable stay. But eating in a resort may not a great ideal due to a bit pricy food. If you are looking for more reasonable rate, there are quite a few local restaurants nearby
  • If you are travelling with kids, find a hotels, resorts or bungalow with swimming pool.

Volunteer work in Mai Chau

Volunteer in Mai Chau

Hand Embroidery Class with Vina Volunteer Service

VEO and Vina Volunteer Service is two organizations which offer volunteer works in Mai Chau such as teaching, farming, community development and more.

What to see in Mai Chau

Check out top Mai Chau best attractions

Thung Khe Pass

Thung Khe pass

Thung Khe Pass – A stopover on the way to Mai Chau

Travel three hours out of Hanoi on National Highway 6 to the HoaBinh Province, and as you rise to an altitude of one thousand meters above sea level, you leave behind a congested city and replace it with vast, open rice fields, quaint villages, and majestic mountains.

Stalls that sell all kinds of the local food crowd the side of the highway here. The stall vendors sell everything from boiled corn to com lam, which is sticky rice bound in banana tree leaves and then cooked in bamboo pipes.

The view of the entire valley from this vantage point is considered to be one of the best panoramas in the whole province.

Lac Village

Lac village

Lac village Mai Chau @Peter The Anh

Lac Village, whose history dates back well over seven hundred years is two villages. Lac Village number 1 is the commercial hub of the two communities. Food and gift shopping are abundant for tourists and locals alike. The markets sell clothing from traditional Tai dress, beautifully adorned scarves, flutes made from bamboo, water buffalo bells, and handmade gongs to name a few of the gifts you can find. The locals are very amicable and love to pose for photographs in their stalls or homes happily offering smiles for the camera.

On the other hand, Lac Village number 2 is the quieter, more tranquil area and is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Immerse yourself in the lush surroundings of the surrounding forest with the locals who spend their days growing rice and weaving. The local Thai ethnic group who have for generations called Lac Village home have fifty homestay accommodation houses furnished with blankets, cushions, and mattresses that are available in both villages.

Poom Coong Village

Pom Coong village

Pom Coong village Mai Chau @Mayur Gaudana

Nestled on the side of the hills with rice paddies stretching as far as you can see is Poom Coong Village. Poom Coong is a favored destination with many tourists because the village is relatively uncrowded. The fresh water from the nearby river and is used in the washrooms and for cooking and drinking.

Poom Coong village is the preferred place for tourists to sleep in the province due to its peaceful atmosphere and quiet surrounding. Tourists who spend time here can travel the short distance to Lac Village number 1 for the shopping and the food and then return to Poom Coong Village for an evening of traditional Tai dancing and some local wine.

Mo Luong Cave

Mo Luong cave

Mo Luong cave Mai Chau @Lotus XuKa

The distinctive shape of Mai Chau’s mountains comes from the karst limestone bedrock, the same type of geological deposits that formed the Dragons’ Back Islands of Ha Long Bay further to the east.

As the saying goes “Where there is karst there are caves,” and this area of Mai Chau does not disappoint. A short two kilometers from Lac Village is Mo Luong Cave which is a favored destination for photographers and adventurers alike. Mo Luong Cave is called Bo Luong by the locals which means “Huge Water Mine.” The cave itself consists of four large caves with a breath-taking array of unique stalagmite and stalactite formations which are a photographers’ delight. At the rear of the cave system, the cold, clean waters of an underground stream flow into a nearby lake. During the Resistance War on the French, this cave system was a Vietnamese Army base and used as a meeting place for soldiers and civilians in the area.

Mo Luong cave belongs to Mai Chau Lodge. Entrance fee is 40k VND per person. Free of charge for guests staying in Mai Chau Lodge.

Chieu Cave (Afternoon cave) -1000 steps cave

Afternoon cave

Chieu Cave – Afternoon cave Mai Chau @Nguyen Thi Thuy Lan

Mai Chau town boasts another cave, Chieu Cave, known as Afternoon Cave by the locals because the afternoon sunlight which shines into the cave entrance each day lights up the stalagmites and stalactites. The effect is one that creates a sparkling world inside the cave that has been described as “Heaven on Earth,” by many people. Chieu is a large cave divided into two different chambers, both of which have hundreds of stalagmite and stalactite formations that catch the suns’ rays each afternoon and make for stunning photographs.

The entrance fee to the Afternoon Cave is 10,000VND/per person. You can ride a bike from Lac village to the town, park your bike and walk 1000 steps to the cave to enjoy a fantastic panoramic view of Mai Chau valley.

Tips : Getting there in the morning to avoid a big crowd and it isn’t too hot. You can also combine with Mai Chau market too.

Go Lao Waterfall

Go Lao waterfall

Go Lao waterfall in Mai Chau

Located fifteen kilometers from Mai Chau Town in the commune of Phuc San is the picturesque Go Lao Waterfall. The waterfall is made up of two small waterfalls that drop fifteen meters into a pool surrounded by a large area that is an ideal spot for a picnic. In warmer weather swimming and bathing is enjoyed in the pool at the base of the waterfall.

To find the waterfall you will drive from Mai Chau Town to the T-junction of Tong Dau and turn left towards Son La. You will then come to another T-junction to Dong Bang, turn right here and follow this road for seven kilometers until you reach Phuc San Health Station. You will have to leave your car here and complete the rest of the journey on foot. Parking your car at Mr. Tuan House will require you to pay a 10,000VND fee, which is for the upkeep of the paths and tracks. Turn right and follow a small trail for sixty or seventy meters and you will reach the track-way that leads down to Go Lao Waterfall.

Be extremely careful and watch your footing. If it is raining or has rained recently as the paths to the waterfall are very slippery.

Ba Khan

Ba Khan boat ride

Ba Khan boat ride in Mai Chau

In the valley at the foot of Thung Khe Pass, Ba Khan sits on the banks of the HoaBinh Reservoir. Ba Khan is known as the “forgotten paradise,” because tourists and sightseers often miss this spectacular location because they gravitate towards the more tourist orientated Mai Chau and Moc Chau townships. Ba Khan sits on Halong Bay where the mountain peaks are two hundred meters below sea level. You have the choice of hiring kayaks, boats or going on a sightseeing junk boat trip.

The spectacular limestone islands that tower out of the lake covered on top with thick, lush rainforest appropriately named for their shapes, like Dog Island or Tea Pot Island. There are hundreds of caves to explore that are only accessible by boat or kayak. Swimming, scuba diving, and rock climbing are other pastimes that you can enjoy in this spectacular location.

Tip: If the weather is rainy or foggy you will not see the stunning scenery.

How to find Hoa Binh Reservoir? Return to the main road from Go Lao waterfall and turn right. Continue on this route for three kilometers, and you will arrive at the reservoir.

There is a homestay right there where you can hire a boat. When it comes to summertime, don’t forget to bring some changes of clothes and swimming suits for swimming in the lake

What in eat in Mai Chau – Top food to try in Mai Chau

When talking about the Mai Chau village in Vietnam, it is important not to forget mentioning its extremely special and popular food culture. Most of the dishes have been handed down from ancient Thai culture.

The Com Lam (a sticky rice dish wrapped in banana leaves and then cooked inside a bamboo-pipe), Nep Nuong (a dish made of sticky rice harvested in terraced rice field), grilled stream (fresh-water) fish, bitter-tasting bamboo shoot, and more, are just some of the must-try Mai Chau specialties.

Mai Chau’s Com Lam – Sticky rice dish wrapped in banana leaves and then bamboo-pipe cooked

Mai Chau speciality

bamboo tube sticky rice mai chau

One of the most popular dishes in Mai Chau, is the Com Lam. Its main ingredient is sticky rice and in making this special dish, one will also need banana leaves and a bamboo pipe. Additional or optional ingredients are coconut milk and coconut pulp.

The sticky rice is first prepared by washing and letting steep for two to three hours before being placed in the bamboo pipe – a straight and small bamboo is needed.

It takes skills and patience to make this dish and Thai women are known for being experts in making good and delicious Com Lam. They say the secret is ensuring careful and proper rotation during the grilling process. Failure may result in pulpous and low-quality dish.

When the rice is cooked, the bamboo’s singed skin is removed and only the thin cover is left – which will be peeled off anyway before you take a bite. Com Lam is a combination of taste and aroma that would surely make anyone fall in love with the dish. Just imagine the special aromatic blend of banana leaves, fresh bamboo and sticky rice combined with a fusion of great flavors of coconut, sesame, rice and bamboo. A serving of Com Lam is best enjoyed with the local straw or rice wine (ruou can) and grilled meat.

Ga Doi – Free Ran on the hill

Mai Chau free ran chicken

free ran chicken on the hill Mai Chau

The Ga Doi is a chicken that is not raised in the normal or industrial way. It is a free-run kind of chicken, meaning they are raised in big scale and let loose on the hill to hunt for their own food. Since these chickens are not fed like regular farm-raised chicken, they are small in size and lighter in weight. Their meat though is very fragrant, tough and has a really nice flavor. The Ga Doi chicken can cost between $15 and $25.

Once the chicken has been dressed and cleaned, marinating it in mac ken is the next process. Mac ken is a type of seasoning that enhances the meat flavor. The chicken is usually steamed along lime leaf or cooked over smokeless charcoal.

Grilled Stream (Fresh-water) Fish

Mai Chau Stream Fish

BBQ Stream fish in Mai Chau

This stream fish is small in size and similar to go by. When you are in Mai Chau and someone offered you this kind of fish, you must grab the chance as it is not always available in the market. Aside from grilled, you can also have the fish deep-fried.

Skewered Organic Pig

Mai Chau BBQ pork

bbq pork skewer mai chau

In the villages, they raise their pigs the natural or organic way – fed only with vegetables and food with no stimulants.  That is why the skewered roasted pork is really delicious. To prepare the pig for grilling, it is first marinated with turmeric, seasonings and lemongrass. The secret to best-skewered pork is to not over grill it. It should be slow grilling until the skin of the pork turns to a nice golden brown.

Terraced-Rice Paddy Sticky Rice (Nep Nuong)

Mai Chau sticky rice

Terrace field sticky rice in mai Chau @Thu Phuong

One of the most common substitutes for ordinary rice is sticky or glutinous rice. If you are visiting Mai Chau, you will surely encounter a serving of steamed sticky rice. This kind of rice is planted, grown and harvested on traditional terraced rice paddies.

To prepare, the rice is steeped for a few hours – to soften – before steaming. Thai women use wooden steamers instead of pots when cooking this rice meal. The process can be a bit complicated though and it really takes some effort. Once the fragrant smell is out, the rice is taken out of the steamer and placed in a basket made of bamboo. This is done before the rice gets cooked. The rice is then turned up before being placed back into the steamer to finish cooking. This sticky rice is best served with barbecued meals like fish, pork or chicken.

Bitter Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo Shoot Mai Chau

Bitter Bamboo Shoot Mai Chau @Trang Vu

Bitter bamboo shoots are also popular in Mai Chau. It is a specialty in the village and is available in most kitchens. The shoots are gathered from the forest and then steeped in rice vinegar or dried for eating. Most visitors love bamboo shoots and they even call it a dish-of-love. It could be a bit bitter in the first bite, but you will get to experience the sweet taste once you swallow it.

Where to eat in Mai Chau – Mai Chau restaurant

Authentic lunch in Mai Chau

Lunch in Mai Chau

High-end restaurant: Bo Luong restaurant belongs to Mai Chau Lodge near Mai Chau town and Mai Chau Eco Lodge’s restaurant in Na Thia village Rate : $15 per person for a set menu restaurant Cheap and good homecook local food :

Ume Mai Chau restaurant Address : No 2, Lac 2 village, Chieng Chau commune, Mai Chau Dist, Hoa Binh Mobile : +84 974313104

Three sister restaurants 

Good food at reasonable rate

They services breakfast, lunch, dinner with Vietnamese, Western food, pizza. Especially, there is an option for vegetarian as well.

Address: Chieng Sai village, Mai Chau (Go to Mai Chau town, when you see the sign Mai Chau Eco Lodge, keep going 300 meters, it is on your right hand side Hotline : 097 736 27 99

Entertainment in Mai Chau

If you are looking for a café in Lac village, a few homestays offer coffee and drink at Lac Village number 1. For a western-style coffee, go to Mai Chau Sunset Bar where they sell a variety of western style coffees.

Mai Chau town which is 1.5 kilometers from Lac village has a broader range of coffee houses and is well worth the trip if good coffee is your thing.

Karaoke – Go to Mai Chau town, and there’s karaoke services available in a few hotels such as Ngoc Bach and Khoa Thanh.

Massage – There are two local massage shops in Lac Village number 1. One is on the main road from Lac 2 to Lac 1 village and another is in Lac 1 village proper. Tip: If you go to the massage shop located within Lac Village number 1, ask for the older lady who does a better job than the younger one. Don’t expect professional services like Hanoi.There are also massage shops in Mai Chau and at a few of the hotels such as Khoa Thanh and Ngoc Bach.

Swimming – For those who like swimming, Mai Chau lodge and Sol Bungalow offer $5 ticket for non-guests at the motel, included in room price if you are a guest. However, Sol Bungalow is better in term of scale.

Bars -There is only one bar located adjacent to Mai Chau Hostel, and it is found in Lac Village number one, this hostel’s primary guests are usually backpackers.

ATM in Mai Chau

There’s only two ATM available in Mai Chau, and that is at the Agribank branch and near the hospital. You can withdraw maximum per transaction by 2,000,000VND (around $90) . So, remember to bring cash to Mai Chau to cover your expenses.

Convenience Stores in Mai Chau

There are small convenience stores in Lac Village number 1. However, these stores are very tourist orientated and do not have a large variety of goods. If you are looking for good convenience store, then go to Mai Chau town which offers a lot more choices.

Pharmacies in Mai Chau

There are a few pharmacies located in Mai Chau town only.

Hospitals and Clinics in Mai Chau

There’s only one hospital located in Mai Chau district and it can be reached at mobile number + 84 218 3867 397, with address at Zone 4, Mai Chau Dist, Hoa Binh province. There is also the Mai Chau Methadone Clinic and the Mai Chau District Preventive Health Center (Zone 4, Mai Chau Town, Mai Chau District, Hoa Binh Province with mobile number +84 (0)218 3868858).

Local guide service in Mai Chau area

If you are looking for a local guide in Mai Chau, please get in touch with David who are able to help you find a local guide in Mai Chau.

Please note that most of them speak limited English but they can understand what you have said, but speaking is a bit problem and they are not professional as a guide in Hanoi.

Contact David via Whatsap at +849743413104 for further information.

Top day tours from Mai Chau

Check out top day trips from Mai Chau with local insider tips, please check it out

Paco Sunday market

The market day of Paco is on Sunday of Hmong ethnic living in Mai Chau region, which is 30 kilometres from Mai Chau town, on the way to Moc Chau.. You could see a tons of different products from fresh vegetables and fruits to the colorful dress of Hmong woman. Meet many Hmong  who has been to the market for the market day, you can also try some local cuisines and warm up yourself with a cup of rice liquor

Read more : Paco day tour from Mai Chau

Pu Luong nature reserve

A day trip from Mai Chau to Pu Luong nature reserve is a great choice for those who like traveling off the beaten path, love nature and have a limited time. You will explore the fabulous beauty of the mountainous region, real local lives, enjoy good local good and learn more about the Thai ethnic group.

A day trip can be arranged either on a motorbike ride or car. I do recommend to go with a local guide or someone who know the way to save your time.

Some of famous spots in Pu Luong area : Kho Muong area with stunning view of terraced rice paddy fields, Don village where most of tourists staying overnight, Hieu village with a waterfall

Read more : Pu Luong day trip from Mai Chau

Mai Hich village

12 kilometres from Mai Chau town, Mai Hich is a great place and less touristy than Mai Chau. A walk through the village along the local stream and rice paddy field for 2 hours start from suspension bridge to the main road. There are homestays for having lunch and staying overnight available in the area. If you like off the beaten track, it is a great place to be. A taxi ride costs around $7USD each way. If you are travelling in a group from 2 people above, it is better and more convenient to travel by private car or taxi from Mai Chau to Mai Hich

Mai Chau travel tips

  • Bring along with a Simcard for internet access if you would like to get around on your own. Most of homestays, hotels and resort offer free wifi access.
  • If you don’t have any Simcard, please ask the hotel or resorts where you are staying if a map is available so you can easily get around.
  • Having dinner with your local host family is a great experience. Eat, interact with a local family to learn more about their way of living, culture and transition. You can also try to taste their homemade rice liquor.
  • In my opinion, avoid staying in the villages where most of Vietnamese staying such as Lac 1 village, Lac 2 village. If you are staying in remote villages such as Te, Mai Hich
  • If you choose to stay in the town, there is a lot of local restaurant round. Having breakfast in a local place is a cool thing to do.

Suggested Mai Chau itinerary for 2 days 1 night trip

See our suggestions for a good Mai Chau itinerary from Hanoi, recommended by a local expert

Day 1 : Hanoi – Mai Chau – Biking

7.-00am to 7.30am : Taking a morning tourist bus from Hanoi Old Quarter with 4 hours drive to Mai Chau.

Arrive in Mai Chau, taking a rest and have lunch.

 After lunch, take 2 to 2.5 hours bike ride around the village.

Back to the homestay. Dinner and stay overnight

Day 2 : 1000 steps cave – Mai Chau market – Hanoi

Conquering 1000 steps cave (it is actually 1300 steps) and Mai Chau local market. Taking some shopping in Lac 1 village for souvenirs

Budget for travelling Mai Chau in 2 days

As an independent traveller

Items Expenses in American Dollar
Food (street food) 20
Drink (casual place) 8
Activities (Entrance fee) 0
Transport (Bicycle+Bus) 25
Accommodation (Homestay – Private room) 15
Total amount  68

Rate for tours in and around Hanoi (All rate in American Dollar)

Taking a guided tour

Seat in coach : $85 USD per person

Private tour : $185 USD per person

All rate includes 02 lunches, 01 dinner, 02 breakfast, accommodation, bicycle, English speaking guide

Mai Chau map for tourists

 

 

 

 

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Mai Chau travel guide 2023

Hanoi Eco Tour hope this Mai Chau travel guide provides you with useful information to plan a wonderful trip to Mai Chau. If you are looking for a Mai Chau tours , please contact Hanoi Eco Tours via email at info@hanoiecotour.com

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